The best shotgun mics in 2024

Capture every nuanced note and subtly spoken word with these great microphones.

Best overall

Sennheiser MKH 416 is the best shotgun mic overall.

Sennheiser MKH 416

See It

Best compact

Rode NTG3B is the best compact shotgun mic.

Rode NTG3B

See It

Best for DSLR

Rode VideoMic Pro+ is the best shotgun mic for DSLR.

Rode VideoMic Pro+

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Shotgun mics are flexible tools for capturing natural, focused sound for film and television, environmental recordings, sporting and live events, vlogs, or voice-overs. Their narrow pickup pattern rejects noise from the sides and, to a certain extent, the back, keeping the focus on your subject. The best shotgun mics are light enough to mount on a camera or carry on a boom pole all day and, in many cases, built with enough durability to survive the rough-and-tumble life of location recording. 

Plenty of times, you’re on the street or live streaming and don’t have the luxury of individually miking people, or you’re filming a scene where you can’t have a visible lavalier mic. That’s why you’ll find top-notch shotgun mics throughout the professional world—often accompanied by professional-level prices. But shotguns have been around for a while, and these ubiquitous tools of the trade are often inexpensive enough that even beginners and budget-minded users can add quality equipment to their kit bags. 

With every reputable—and less than reputable—microphone manufacturer producing them, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which shotgun mics deliver on their promise of great sound. So to help you out, we’ve rounded up a list of tips, advice, and the best shotgun mics.  

How we chose the best shotgun mics

We based our selection of the best shotgun mics on our own personal experience in the film, TV, and professional audio worlds, as well as conversations with other professional audio engineers and filmmakers, experts at equipment rental houses, and musicians. We consulted specialty review sites, industry trade magazines, and blogs, and read through the online impressions of typical users to see if performance typically matched a mic’s promise. In evaluating our selections, we prioritized sound quality and looked at construction (including moisture resistance), price, size, and how each microphone is powered.

The best shotgun mics: Reviews & Recommendations

Shotgun mics are ideal for recording dialogue on a movie set, the action on the court at a basketball game, or animals out in nature. It’s important to note that no shotguns will reject all off-axis sound. But they do an excellent job of keeping the focus on your subject.

Best overall: Sennheiser MKH 416

Best overall

See It

Specs

  • Weight: 6.17 ounces
  • Length: 9.84 inches
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Wide frequency response for clear, natural sound
  • Tight polar pattern isolates sound sources
  • Moisture resistant

Cons

  • Expensive

Sennheiser’s name repeatedly pops up when discussing the best microphones, and the venerable German manufacturer doesn’t slack off with their flagship MKH 416 shotgun mic. This professional-grade piece of kit has a wide 40-20,000 Hz frequency response, with a hyper-cardioid polar pattern at the low to mid frequencies that does an excellent job of rejecting off-axis sounds while zeroing in on the dialogue and other mid-frequency sources.

The shotgun works great indoors or out across various environments, thanks to an RF condenser design that’s highly moisture-resistant. And the MKH 416’s compact and light construction makes it easy to mount the mic on a boom pole without sacrificing maneuverability or tiring out your operator.

Make no mistake; you can get excellent shotgun mics for less money. But as good as they are, none provide the combined level of sonic quality, robust construction, and all-around utility of the MKH 416.

Best compact: Rode NTG3B

Best compact

See It

Specs

  • Weight: 5.75 ounces
  • Length: 10.4 inches
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Wide frequency response for natural sound
  • Moisture resistant 
  • Easy to mount on a camera or boom

Cons

  • Slightly thinner sounding

Rode makes excellent mics. And thanks to its relatively moderate price tag, the NTG3B represents a common first step into the world of high-quality microphones. But thanks to its wide, natural 40-20,000 Hz frequency response and excellent build quality, it’s also the last stop for many pro and semi-pro indie filmmakers, documentarians, broadcast journalists, podcasters, and in-house audio-video teams.

It has excellent off-axis rejection, and its RF condenser technology protects it from moderate moisture. It isn’t quite as sensitive or directional as our top pick, Sennheiser’s MKH 416, but it usually costs about $300 less—and includes a handy metal case. For all but the most demanding users, that is often worth the trade-off. It’s still not what we’d consider “budget-priced,” but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of sonic integrity and build. 

Best for DSLR: Rode VideoMic Pro+

Best for DSLR

See It

Specs

  • Weight: 4.3 ounces
  • Length: 6.69 inches
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Built-in shockmount resists handling noise
  • Extremely compact design
  • Multiple power options
  • 3.5mm TRS connectors

Cons

  • No XLR connectivity
  • Off-axis rejection could be better

Rode designed this compact and handy shotgun mic with mobile journalists, vloggers, and run-and-gun shooters in mind. It connects to cameras or audio recorders via a 3.5mm TRS cable and features an integrated shockmount that protects it from handling noise. The VideoMic Pro+ also has a built-in cold-shoe mount—so no extra arms or connectors are needed to mount it on your camera. 

The mic can be tuned to handle different recording environments, with buttons providing low-cut filters at 75 Hz or 150 Hz. You can also boost the frequency at 7 kHz if things start sounding a bit muddy. The mic has adjustable gain, as well, to help compensate for very loud or soft sounds. 

The VideoMic Pro+ won’t accept phantom power, but it does allow you to use AA batteries, Rode’s rechargeable battery, or an external battery that can connect via USB. 

With a shorter barrel, this shotgun mic sometimes has trouble rejecting off-axis sounds, especially in environments with large and noisy crowds. But if you want to keep your kit low-profile and nimble, this trade-off might be worth it.

Premium pick: Schoeps CMIT 5

Premium pick

See It

Specs 

  • Weight: 3.35 ounces
  • Length: 9.88 inches
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Natural sound
  • Three switchable filters
  • Shielded against electronic interference
  • Compact design

Cons 

  • Very expensive.
  • Sensitive to environmental issues

Shoeps makes some of the best-sounding microphones in the business, and the CMIT 5 is no exception. It has a frequency response of 40-20,000 Hz tuned to provide flat, transparent, natural audio. But it also has three filters in case some additional acoustic sculpting is required: increase vocal clarity with a 5 dB boost at 10 Hz; roll off some bass at 300 Hz to offset proximity effect; or do a steep cut below 80 Hz to help wrangle handling-noise from a mic boom. It’s designed to perform best when paired with a high-gain mic preamp and is ideal for high-end applications like capturing dialogue, foley work, sound effects, or recording nuanced instruments.

However, Schoeps mics are some of the most sensitive to environmental issues like humidity. You don’t want to bring the CMIT 5 into the jungle or shoot down in Florida outside of an environmentally controlled building. This microphone is for the studio, concert hall, or closed set.

Remember that the best of the best comes with a high price tag, and the Schoeps CMIT 5 might be more microphone than many people outside the professional field need. 

Most versatile: Shure VP89M

Shure VP89M

See It

Specs 

  • Weight: 4.9 ounces
  • Length: 9.41 inches (Capsule), 4.02 inches (Preamp)
  • Frequency response: 50 Hz to 20 kHz

Pros

  • Unique modular capsule design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Switchable low-cut filter
  • Rugged yet lightweight build quality

Cons

  • Requires 11 to 52 VDC phantom power

If you record in various situations, you typically need multiple shotgun mics to suit each scenario. But the Shure VP89M offers a unique modular design with interchangeable capsules, so you can stick with one mic even across indoor or outdoor applications. This version has a medium capsule, but you can also purchase short and long capsules to round out your kit. 

Shure built this mic around a Class-A transformerless preamplifier. It features a switchable low-cut filter to assist with less-than-desirable bass frequencies. The Medium capsule provides a narrow 50-degree acceptance angle, while the Long capsule offers a narrower angle, and the Short is wider. The mic produces a clean and natural sound that is very well-balanced. And it can easily pick up sound from up to 10 feet away, making it a worthy long-range mic option.

The Shure VP89M features a standard XLR 3-pin output. The aircraft-grade aluminum alloy construction adds to its durability but keeps the mic lightweight, making it easier to use for long periods. And it can operate in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. Though you must purchase the different capsules separately, this comes with a windscreen and carrying case. 

Best professional: Neumann KMR 81 i

Neumann KMR 81 i

See It

Specs 

  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Length: 8.9 inches
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Warm, clear sound
  • Works in a variety of situations
  • Low sensitivity to wind and handling noise
  • Compact enough to mount on a camera

Cons

  • Expensive

Neumann makes some of the best microphones, and the KMR 81 i is no exception. It has a steep price tag, but you get a lot for that high price. It is a super-cardioid mic and uses a pressure gradient transducer and an interference tube depending on the wavelength of the frequency for versatile use. 

The Neumann KMR 81 i is compact and light enough to be used on a camera for handheld shooting. Though the mic is specifically designed for film and TV applications, it also works well for recording individual musicians, orchestras, and more. The limited off-axis coloration keeps the sound consistent even if the subject is moving around. 

Most importantly, the KMR 81 i produces a high-quality, clear, warm sound. The 90-degree recording angle picks up just the right amount of sound. It offers switches to control a 200Hz low-cut filter and a -10dB pad to reduce traffic and wind noises. It also comes with a windscreen for even better results when outdoors. You’ll also get a leather carrying case and a one-year warranty.

Best mini: Rode VideoMicro II

Rode VideoMicro II

See It

Specs 

  • Weight: 1.4 ounces
  • Length: 3.1 inches
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Pros

  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Straightforward and easy to use
  • Excellent sound quality

Cons

  • Only supports 3.5mm analog output

The Rode VideoMicro II, is, as the name suggests, tiny. At only 3.1 inches long and weight 1.4 ounces, it’s smaller than just about everything out there. This small shotgun mic is ideal for beginners getting into filmmaking or vlogging, partly because of its compact size. It’s also very simple to use. You mount it to your camera’s hot shoe, plug in the 3.5mm TRS cable, and you are good to go. It can even connect to a smartphone or tablet should you want to.

The VideoMicro II is also reasonably priced, under $100. But, despite the budget-friendly price, it produces quality sound. It comes with both foam and furry windshields, which do an excellent job of filtering out background noise. And Rode’s built-in HELIX isolation mount system keeps noise from any knocks and bumps down to a minimum. 

The mic has no physical controls, so you are more limited than when using more expensive models. But it only draws a tiny bit of power from your camera, so you won’t have to cut recordings short to charge back up. The short form factor even makes it feasible to use on gimbals, making it an ideal microphone choice for run-and-gun videographers and vloggers.

Best budget: Audio-Technica AT897

Best budget

See It

Specs 

  • Weight: 5.11 ounces
  • Length: 10.98 inches
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • 80 Hz low-cut switch
  • Lightweight
  • Battery and phantom powered

Cons

  • Susceptible to moisture
  • Slightly brittle sounding 

With microphones, you often get what you pay for. But Audio-Technica’s AT897 delivers high-quality results while still costing less than $250. Its wide 20-20,000 Hz frequency response, with a switchable roll-off at 80 Hz, allows the mic to capture very natural sound. That said, the response across all those frequencies could be flatter, and you can expect some brittleness in the higher end that you won’t find on more professional-grade mics. Off-axis sound rejection is good but not great.

The AT897 is built like a tank, and while I wouldn’t suggest tossing it onto concrete or driving over it with a truck, it’ll generally survive the mishaps you’re likely to encounter when recording on location or out in nature. However, it’s susceptible to moisture and high humidity, so keep an eye on the weather if you’re using it outdoors. 

A nice bonus: This mic can run off an AA battery, which is particularly handy when the budget doesn’t allow for recorders or cameras that supply phantom power—for instance, in a classroom. Despite some shortcomings, this is an excellent shotgun microphone for beginners who want to develop their technique, schools, or anyone operating under a tight budget while still wanting plenty of features and quality. 

Things to consider before buying the best shotgun mics

Microphones have polar, or response, patterns, which describe how they “hear” sound sources depending on where they’re placed. A shotgun microphone is a type of mic with a very narrow, front-facing response known as a “supercardioid” pattern. This means the mic mostly picks up sound from whatever you point it at while rejecting sound from the sides and, to a lesser extent, the back.

Frequency response

Frequency response is measured in Hertz (Hz) and describes how well the microphone captures sound at different frequencies. Shotgun microphones tend to have very wide, flat responses—that is, they pick up a range of frequencies more or less equally well—to better represent what the human ear can hear. They’re often tuned a bit to help emphasize dialogue and other mid-range frequencies. 

Condenser vs. dynamic microphones

There are two main types of microphones: condenser mics and dynamic mics. In very basic terms, microphones use diaphragms that vibrate when hit by sound waves. These vibrations generate electronic impulses that can be recorded or converted directly back into sound. Condenser mics have very thin diaphragms sensitive to subtle, quiet, nuanced sounds. But they’re more delicate and susceptible to heavy handling and moisture.

Dynamic mics, with their thicker diaphragms, aren’t as good with nuance but do very well when blasted with loud noises. They’re also robust and can survive a lot of abuse. (Singers usually use dynamic mics on stage; if you’ve ever been to a punk show, you’ve seen the damage they can withstand.) 

Because shotguns are meant to capture even whispered dialogue, they’re almost always condenser mics. Some mics—like those in Sennheiser’s MKH series—use RF condensers in their capsules versus AF condensers, which do a better job of resisting humidity. But it’s important to understand the options and even test a mic to ensure you get the right one for the job at hand.

Length

Shotgun mics come in various lengths, from a compact 3 inches or 4 inches to more than one-foot long. Consider how you’ll use the mic when deciding whether you want a compact one. If you’re mounting it on a camera, a smaller profile makes the mic lighter and much more maneuverable. Longer shotguns tend to have tighter polar patterns; they’re great when recording concerts or sporting events, and you want to minimize the overwhelming crowd noise. But put one on a camera, and you’re liable to poke someone’s eye out!   

Power

Like all condenser mics, shotguns require some power source. They usually rely on 48v phantom power delivered from a recording device, mixer, or camera. But some also have an option of using an AA battery, which can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in a situation where phantom power isn’t available. (For instance, some wireless rigs don’t deliver power themselves, so pick up and power up those rechargeable batteries.)

FAQs

Q: How do I choose a shotgun mic? 

When choosing a shotgun mic, look for one that suits the projects you’re likely to work on. Are you an indie filmmaker? A vlogger? Do you like to livestream content? Do you record music? Are you working indoors or outside? How controlled an environment will you be recording in? Also, consider your budget—spend enough to get a mic that will serve you well as your projects develop, but not one that completely empties your wallet or provides features you know you’ll never need. 

Q: How good are shotgun mics?

Shotgun mics are great if used correctly and for the right application—just like any mic! If you need to pick up specific sound sources, like an actor delivering dialogue or a guitarist playing on a street corner, shotgun mics are ideal because of the way they minimize surrounding (off-axis) noise.

Q: How much does a shotgun mic cost?

Shotgun mics cost anywhere from about $200 to $2,500. But you often get what you pay for, and lower-priced mics sometimes sacrifice sonic clarity and off-axis rejection or might not be built well enough to protect them from bangs and bumps. On the other hand, the highest-priced mics are designed for professionals in demanding situations, and many people won’t need to take advantage of all those mics offer. Many excellent shotgun mics can be found in the $300-$800 price range.

Q: Is a shotgun mic good for YouTube?

A shotgun mic is great for YouTube. Anything that captures audio clearly and helps you deliver your creative vision is a tool you want in your kit. 

Q: Can you use a shotgun mic to record music?

Yes, you can use a shotgun mic to record music. A good quality shotgun has a flat frequency response and directionality, making it very effective at capturing warm and subtle tones.   

Final thoughts on the best shotgun mics

If you’re shopping for a shotgun microphone, you’ve got a lot of options—that’s the good news. Manufacturers like Sennheiser and Rode make mics at different prices that all deliver excellent audio. The trick is figuring out which mic suits your needs best without accidentally overspending. It’s not easy—and that’s the bad news. Navigating all these microphones takes time and careful research. It also helps to use the mics before you buy one so you can tell from first-hand experience if it’s right for you.

That said, our own experience working with these mics professionally takes us back, time and again, to the classic Sennheiser MKH 416. It’s hard to beat the sound quality, which is simply excellent. But if you can’t quite afford one, Rode’s NTG3B, our pick for the best compact shotgun mic, is an excellent second choice. It sounds almost as good and has the same resistance to humidity. I’ve used both in professional settings and never had any complaints. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

Share

Abby Ferguson Avatar

Abby Ferguson

PopPhoto Associate Editor of Gear & Reviews

Abby Ferguson is the Associate Editor for Gear and Reviews at PopPhoto, joining the team in 2022. She has been involved with the photography industry in various capacities since her undergraduate training at the University of Kentucky, with work ranging from client photography to program development and management of the photo department at Evolve, a vacation rental company. Education within the photography sphere has always been a big focus for Abby. She strives to help new and experienced photographers alike better understand the technology and techniques necessary to succeed within the medium.