The 7 Best Shotgun Microphones

Updated on Apr 12, 2021



If you’re looking for the best shotgun microphones, we’ve got you covered. As microphone specialists, we know a lot about what it takes to record audio for film, YouTube, or travel vlogging.

Shotgun microphones are most notable for their extremely directional polar pattern, picking up sound from directly in front with extreme accuracy while blocking out other noises. These microphones use what’s called phase canceling to block out noise from the rear, using side slots that can phase out sound coming from the wrong direction. Using a longer tube, there is more room for these holes, further enhancing the directionality.

Often times you’ll see shotgun microphones mounted on top of cameras or used as boom microphones suspended from a long boom pole. Regardless of what you’re looking for, or the room in your budget, our list will have you covered.

We’ll start by running through our selections and then dive into the details of each one. If money isn't an issue and you only want the best, skip down to number 5, the Neumann KMR 81i, because it's by far the best-grade shotgun microphone on this list.

The Best Shotgun Microphones

Our Picks


Best Overall

1. Sennheiser MKE 600


The Sennheiser MKE 600 is our top choice for the best shotgun microphone, with the highest quality to cost ratio. The impeccable quality of audio that this microphone picks up is absolutely incredible.

Sennheiser Pro MKE600 Shotgun Microphone
Sennheiser Pro MKE600 Shotgun Microphone

I love the strength of directivity that this shotgun microphone offers, picking up audio at a good distance from the front, while properly attenuating noise coming from the sides and rear. I want to really emphasize here just how well it handles rejecting side noise.

There’s an optional low-cut filter that’ll minimize wind noise and other grumblings such as nearby traffic. This is a highly effective switch to have when filming outdoors. You can also connect to a live-power source that uses phantom power, or use their battery powering for on the go. It’s very compact and works both on-camera and on a boom stand.

For the moderate price point that the Sennheiser MKE 600 comes in around, it’s a serious bargain. There’s not really anything bad I can say about it, and I recommend it to all of my clients.

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Consumer-Grade

2. Rode NTG5


The Rode NTG5 is another incredible choice that costs a little more than our last, and the quality will knock your socks off. Rode makes awesome shotgun microphones for consumers, and this one is my personal favorite of theirs.

Rode NTG5 Shotgun Microphone Kit
Rode NTG5 Shotgun Microphone Kit

The acoustic design with the circular ports provides you with a clean, natural-sounding audio recording. Authenticity is key when recording audio for film and Rode microphones have always stuck true to this nature. The off-axis response is impeccable, and the microphone gives extremely low self-noise.

The directionality comes in strong, and the frequency response is well balanced. Your audio is going to have a rich level of depth to it. I’ve also found it to record really well in all types of environments, indoors or out. The mic itself can withstand almost anything, from humid environments to dry & cold places.

Lastly, the Rode NTG5 is very light, at 76g. If you’re throwing this mic onto a boom stand, then this will be music to your ears. All said and done, this shotgun microphone is worth every penny.

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High-End

3. Sennheiser MK416


Okay, now we’re looking at a more high-end professional sounding shotgun microphone. The Sennheiser MK416 is for those who are really serious about getting top notch audio.

Sennheiser MKH416 P48U3 Shotgun Microphone
Sennheiser MKH416 P48U3 Shotgun Microphone

The powerful directivity of this short shotgun microphone, about its size, is unmatched by any on this list, other than the Neumann microphone below. This compact pressure-gradient microphone is highly immune to humidity thanks to the RF condenser design. This makes it great for working in different environments, both inside and outdoors.

The supercardioid pattern with the short interference tube gives you extreme precision when recording at a distance. There’s a wide-range frequency response that cuts off the low end at 40Hz, which is perfect. The self-noise is competitively low, and it comes with a windshield for filming outdoors. The SPL (Sound Pressure Level) of this shotgun microphone is 130dB, which will allow you to record very loud audio sources without any distortion.

I’m a huge, huge fan of the Sennheiser MK416 and have had the pleasure of using it on many occasions. The only high-end microphone I recommend over this is the Neumann down below. So, if you’re going for the best, this Sennheiser or the Neumann is for you.

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Budget Option

4. Rode VideoMic Pro


The Rode VideoMic Pro is definitely one of the most popular shotgun microphones on the market, and for good reason. It’s affordable & sounds great.

Rode VideoMicPro On Camera And Shotgun Microphone
Rode VideoMicPro On Camera And Shotgun Microphone

The compact design of the Rode VideoMic Pro makes it simple to bring around and for mounting on your camera. It uses a Rycote Lyre shock mounting system. This shotgun microphone has strong directionality and is highly sensitive, while offering very low self-noise.

The condenser microphone within is, like many other Rode products, broadcast recording quality, giving you a raw, authentic, acoustic sound. It uses 9V battery power, so you won’t need to worry about using a live power source. One single battery offers 70 hours of use.

Lastly, there’s an integrated windscreen that makes it simple to use outdoors. If you’re getting started in film audio, I, and ton of other people, put full confidence behind this microphone. It’s the standard for this price range and you won’t find anything better.

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Read Our Review: Rode VideoMic Pro+


Best Quality Option

5. Neumann KMR 81i


The Neumann KMR 81i is a medium distance shotgun microphone with the most outstanding quality out of any choice on this list. When you hear the result of using this mic, you'll understand why it costs as much as it does.

Neumann MKR 81-i Shotgun Microphone
Neumann MKR 81-i Shotgun Microphone

The Neumann KMR 81i uses a lobe-shaped pattern that acts as a cardioid pattern, with a 90-degree pickup radius. The high-directivity of the microphone capsule is attributes to the impeccable design of the side slots. Whether you're mounting it on a camera or using it on a boom pole, the level of accuracy and quality, even at a distance, will be unmatched.

The brilliant design combines a pressure-gradient condenser capsule with a medium-length interference tube, achieving that 90-degree angle with an incredible rejection of unwanted sounds. The level of detail in the recordings & the ability to withstand harsh conditions is another aspect worth mentioning.

There's no doubt that the Neumann KMR 81i is worth every single penny. I've used it a few times in a variety of environments, and I'm always floored by the level of detail.

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High-End

6. Shure VP89M


The Shure VP89M is another beautiful, high end choice for finding the best shotgun microphone. With state-of-the-art preamplifier redesign, you’re going to find that you’re getting a whole lot of sound with superior depth at a great price.

Shure VP89M Dynamic Shotgun Microphone
Shure VP89M Dynamic Shotgun Microphone

The first most notable feature is the internal low-frequency roll-off. This gives a more natural well-balanced sound. There’s also an optional low-cut filter that will help reduce grumbling low-frequency noise like traffic, A/C units, and more. This is super effective if you’re filming outdoors.

It’s also extremely modular and offers long, medium & short barrel housings depending on your need. The strength of the directionality is highly competitive, giving you superior accuracy with a hypercardioid polar pattern.

Lastly, the quality of the off-axis rejection is really impressive. Shure nailed it with the Shure VP89M, and I highly recommend this shotgun microphone to anyone.

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Budget Option

7. Audio Technica AT987


The Audio Technica AT987 is a highly affordable shotgun microphone that we strongly endorse. Audio Technica makes some of the best affordable microphones, and this one is another fine example of that.

Audio Technica AT987 Shotgun Boom Microphone On Stand
Audio Technica AT987 Shotgun Boom Microphone On Stand

Popular uses for this shotgun microphone are in the field, on film sets, and in wildlife recording. The strength of the directionality plus the quality of the audio is extremely impressive at this price point. I've used it on several occasions outdoors at a decent range.

The natural-sounding on-axis audio quality is incredibly smooth with superior off-axis rejection. I've found it to pick up minimal noise from the sides and rear. It uses a wide range frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which is the entire spectrum of the common human ear. The level of depth you get from that is phenomenal.

The Audio Technica AT987 is not one to be overlooked. If you're looking for a high-quality shotgun microphone to be used either on a boom or on-mount, definitely give this one a look.

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Conclusion

By now you should have an idea of which shotgun microphone is right for you. It's also important to remember you'll want an audio field mixer for capturing audio. Whether you want one to be used as a boom microphone, or mounted on top of your camera, our list contains the best options on the market.

Microphones are complicated. And that’s an understatement. The amount of engineering to accurately create something with such direction is mind-blowing. Polar patterns on their own are complicated enough, controlling the level of input from different sides of the capsule.

If you go ahead with one of our suggestions here, let us know in the comments below how it’s working for you! Your feedback helps us & our audience know which suggestions are working the best, and therefore allows us to tweak for our future readers. Thanks!


Posted on Feb 06, 2021

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