John Bosley and I have been actively working on producing our second Level 1: Post-Processing Basics video and we have decided to look into getting a shotgun microphone for the studio environment. While our lavalier microphones have been working great for the most part, they tend to collect ambient noise quite a bit, especially when the subject moves or accidentally touches the microphone. Additionally, lavalier mikes can be painful to deal when there is a lot of interference, particularly in a busy urban environment.
When shooting in San Francisco, we experienced some sort of interference practically in every channel, which made it difficult to shoot (and that’s considering that we had two different transmitters at completely different radio frequency ranges). So it was time to look for a different solution that gives us good quality sound without the problems of the lavalier microphones. We decided to evaluate a number of popular shotgun microphones and we came up with the following list: Sennheiser MKE 600, Audio Technica AT897, Rode NTG2 and Rode NTG3. While the first three are in the same price range (around $300) and therefore can be considered direct competitors, the Rode NTG3 was a higher-end unit priced at around $700. The big question was – which of the four microphones would win us over? Take a look at our video below:
As you can see, we ended up choosing the Sennheiser MKE 600 for our needs, based on the following:
- The Sennheiser MKE 600 has superb sound recording capabilities, with excellent audio recording levels. While both the AT897 and the NTG2 are also battery-powered, they seem to draw much less power, resulting in rather low audio output. Even with our audio sensitivity level set to the maximum output (100) on the Zoom H4n recording device, we could not reach the desired recording levels. This meant that the audio had to be increased in post, which is not a good option, since increasing audio levels in post typically increases ambient noise. While drawing more battery power surely decreases the number of hours the microphone can be used for on a single battery, the specs say that the unit will still last over 150 hours, which is way more than what we need in the field.
- Out of the three battery-powered units, the Sennheiser MKE 600 was the only unit that offered an On/Off switch. So the AT897 and the NTG2 constantly draw battery power whether you are using them or not, whereas you can cut it off on the MKE 600. I don’t understand why the other two failed to implement such a simple feature – it is easier to turn the unit off, rather than fiddle with the battery removal process on the field.
- The Sennheiser MKE 600 is smaller and lighter compared to the Audio Technica AT897 and the Rode NTG2.
- We have been heavily relying on the Sennheiser EW112 Wireless solution for our audio needs, which works amazingly well in most situations and it makes sense to continue to work with the brand we trust and rely on.
While the most expensive Rode NTG3 did produce very clear and pleasant sound, the fact that it requires external power was a deal breaker for us, since replenishing a single AA battery is much easier than lugging external battery packs with us in the field.
If you are into video production and you are looking for a reliable shotgun microphone, take a closer look at the Sennheiser MKE 600 – that’s what we ended up purchasing for our needs.