Updated on Apr 12, 2021
Boom microphones are audio devices attached to the end of a boom stand, often used in films as a method of getting the recording device close enough to a sound source without showing up in the frame. While referred to as a boom microphone, more often than not we’re actually talking about shotgun microphones at the end of the boom stand. The great thing about these mics is that they’re usually cross-compatible with cameras, so many options on this list will be very versatile for filmmakers.
Having worked with many Boom Operators, the team here at Musician Nerd knows a lot about these microphones and are qualified to give you an educated buyers list. Whether you’re new to the industry, or a veteran filmmaker, our list pertains to all budgets so that everyone can find the right choice here. Along with the features we love about each option, we’ll go into detail about what they’re best for so you can be confident in your final purchase.
We’re going to run you through a list of our favorite boom microphones, and afterward, we’ll discuss the purpose and use cases of these devices in further detail. Without further a due, we’ll get right into it starting with the more beginner-friendly option (and a hobbyist favorite), the Rode VideoMicPro!
The Rode VideoMic Pro is one of the most popular boom microphones on the market, offering state of the art quality at a reasonable cost. This shotgun microphone is designed for camcorders, DSLR cameras and audio field mixers, but also works great on the end of a boom pole.
The Rode VideoMic Pro comes equipped with a Rycote Lyre shock mounting onboard, helping you maintain pristine and consistent audio quality despite the conditions your microphone is used in. The foam windscreen that gives it that “puffy” look will help protect your sound from weather factors as well as plosive sounds. Condenser microphones are very sensitive by nature, and so we value every accessory that aids in protecting our sound.
Most importantly, the sound produced is what I would consider being professional quality. Offering a selectable high-pass filter, the Rode VideoMic Pro can bring the low-end of the frequency response from 40Hz to 80Hz to prevent lower frequencies from coming in, such as air conditioners and traffic. The attenuation pads also give you the flexibility to record loud sound sources without compromising your audio.
For the price this boom microphone comes in at, I have to say it’s remarkable. I’ve worked with many similar microphones and have found most in the Rode series to be very impressive.
If you’re looking for a microphone around $100, the Deity V-Mic D3 is by far the choice for you. Utilizing a super-cardioid polar pattern, this boom microphone does an incredible job at picking up sound from the direction you’re aiming at, which is exactly what we look for in the film. Reduce the pickup from our surroundings and focus on what’s in the frame!
Though very lightweight, the Deity V-Mic D3 is built with a durable & rugged aluminum construction design, allowing it to withstand even the harshest environments without weighing you down. Unlike other microphones that require 9V batteries, this boom microphone uses a single AAA battery with a quick-wake/mic-sleep energy-saving mode. If you’ve ever used a microphone that shuts off out of nowhere when the battery is drained, rest assured that this bad boy will give you a low battery indicator. But don’t worry, your battery will last 100 hours.
One feature I appreciate about the Deity V-Mic D3 is that they use a standard wide-range response, from 20Hz to 20kHz, similar to many studio microphones. This is typically the “sweet spot” for most recordings as it will pick up all of the audio you’re looking for with incredible detail.
For a more affordable boom microphone, you can’t beat these features. I highly recommend giving this one a closer look if your budget caps around $100.
The Audio-Technica ATR-6550 is by far the most affordable boom microphone on this list and offers the absolute best bang for your buck out of all the other competitors under $100. If you know much about Audio Technica as a brand, then you would know that they do an incredible job in both affordable markets and high-end markets. The ATR-6550 is no exception!
This super-cardioid condenser microphone offers a crisp intelligible pickup for both close and far range uses in your film. The boom microphone itself has multiple setting modes, one known as “normal”, which works great for close range, and then a “tele” mode, for further away audio. This feature combined with the price point makes the Audio-Technica ATR-6550 as solid choice for both a solo microphone as well as an additional microphone. If you’re recording multiple sound sources at different ranges but have a set budget, you can buy multiple of these for the same price as a mid-range boom microphone.
The frequency response range on the Audio-Technica ATR-6550 cuts off the low-end at 70Hz, which will reduce the amount of rumbling noises you pick up, whether its traffic or AC units. When used at long range, the polar pattern shifts from “cardioid” to “supercardioid”, which is absolutely key at a distance. This feature helps the microphone focus on the specific sound source you’re aimed at.
At the end of the day, it’s a very affordable microphone and so you shouldn’t expect the most high-end audio, but it’s certainly impressive. I’ve found it really easy to work with, and any beginner or even intermediate filmmaker will have a great time with this one.
The Audio-Technica AT897 is one of my favorite mid-range boom microphones, by far. From the quality of the sound to the rich features built-in, this choice has it all. Designed for video production and broadcasting, the Audio-Technica AT897 works great as both an on-camera mic or boom microphone, able to withstand most environments.
Sized at just under one foot, this mic is really simple to work with while staying out of the video frame. The on-axis audio quality returns a smooth & natural recording, with professional-grade off-axis rejection. Protecting your audio from unwanted sounds is one of the biggest challenges with boom microphones, and with a switchable low-frequency roll-off, you’ll be able to take it a step further by blocking out ambient & mechanical noises.
The narrow acceptance angle makes the Audio-Technica AT897 a great choice for long-distance recording, though it still works great close up. I’ve used this one on a boom on several occasions as well as on-camera and found it to be extremely versatile.
If you want clear, professional sounding audio at a reasonable cost, this might be the right microphone for you.
As the second most expensive option on this list, the Rode NTG3B makes for an absolutely incredible boom microphone, offering you best-in-class sound with intuitive engineering. Rode really excels at making mid-range microphones sound high-end, and as this one falls between $500 and $1000, it’s no surprise that it’s as good as it is.
The superior broadcast sound quality comes from several factors. The first is the high sensitivity, offering a deep, rich, and warm quality sound, tailored with the full frequency response. Professional quality relies on capturing the full picture of your sound, and the Rode NTG3B does exactly that.
The low handling noise paired with the high level of immunity for radio frequency interference assures us that the only sound we’re capturing is what’s in front of the microphone. The durability of this mic also makes it perfect for use in any conditions, indoors or out.
If you’re going to spend over $500 on a boom microphone, you want to know that you’re getting the most for your money. The Rode NTG3B is exactly that, and I would argue it’s worth even more than the asking price. Big fan of this one!
The Deity S-Mic 2 is an amazing boom microphone for under $500. When I work with beginners and intermediate video producers, I’ve found this one to be a popular choice as it comes in at such a moderate price but offers excellent quality from the sound to the physical build.
Utilizing an ultra-low off-axis correlation, the Deity S-Mic 2 will give you that incredible broadcast sound with a linear response performance of 50Hz – 20kHz. It also works really well in ambient settings thanks to the 50Hz cut-off of the lower frequencies.
Just like others on this list, the Deity S-Mic 2 uses a supercardioid pickup pattern for isolating the recording to where you’re aiming the boom microphone. This feature combined with the -18dB of off-axis rejection helps ensure you’re only recording what’s important to your production.
The physical protection of the microphone help withstands even the harshest environments, using a waterproof hard case with a rubber o-ring seal. The all-brass body with the computer-designed gold-coated circuitry board allows the mic to work in bad weather environments.
It’s fair to say the Deity S-Mic 2 has a lot of great features. I always recommend this to someone looking for a boom microphone under $500 because it really gives you a lot for this price point.
Despite being last on the list, this is my favorite microphone and one I’ve used on many, many occasions. If you’re looking for one of the best boom microphones on the market, the Sennheiser MKH416 very well may be the choice for you.
High-end condensers are very well known for their extremely low self-noise. This boom microphone is no exception, offering very low inherent self-noise with high sensitivity. If you’re not aware of the interference tube principle, it gives the Sennheiser MKH416 increased directivity so that you can focus on picking up very specific sound sources. When recording two people speaking at a table, for example, it will focus more on that and less on the surrounding tables.
A unique factor about the Sennheiser MKH416 is that it uses two microphone types, a pressure gradient transducer and an interference tube mic. We already mentioned how the latter provides the low self-noise, but this unique combination gives us a supercardioid pick-up pattern at the lower & mid-range frequencies while transitioning to a lobar characteristic at the higher frequencies. This intuitive design is a real-time optimization of the way the microphone records your audio and is a single factor for why you should invest in this boom microphone.
Honestly, the Sennheiser MKH416 does everything you could ask for and does it all above and beyond any other microphone on this list. It’s an absolute beast and I could go on and on for days about why I love it. If you can invest the $1000, I couldn’t recommend anything better.
The first thing you need to keep in mind when recording audio for film is how close the microphone is to the speaker’s mouth. In music, we often say “close, but not too close”, but in film, that’s probably not going to be an issue. So, for all intents and purposes, we want to get that microphone as close to the speaker's mouth as we can. Thanks to the boom pole, this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge depending on the number of angles being shot. For a single camera scene, you’ll have a much easier time.
While keeping the microphone out of the shot is common knowledge, other aspects less considered are the microphone & boom pole shadows. People such as I get a kick out of finding little mistakes like that, so it’s an important factor to consider. This is why we typically block the scene before filming. The general idea of that is to work out the details of each actors’ movements throughout the scene. Preparing beforehand will help save a ton of time if you know every angle the camera will be capturing.
The last component to consider is the shock mount. I don’t care how careful you think you are, we use shock mounts in studios where we’re 100% confident nobody is going to bang into the microphone stand because vibrations will happen. Now, a boom stand that’s handheld? Yeah, you definitely need one! If you don’t know already, shock mounts will absorb any vibrations or “shocks”, keeping your audio clean.
I hope that you were able to find the best choice for you from our list. Our past experiences have taught us a lot about working with boom microphones, and our objective is to use that knowledge to help guide you towards the most educated purchase regardless of your budget. You can also find the best microphone boom arm stands here, if needed.
We’re always looking for feedback, so let us know what you think! If you’ve purchased a boom microphone from this list and are currently using it, let us know how that’s working out for you! If you have any suggested options that you think this list is missing, we’re always looking to expand our top choices. Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to check it out. Good luck!
Posted on Nov 24, 2020
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