How Does A Shotgun Microphone Work?



How Does A Shotgun Microphone Work With On Tour Events

Welcome to the On Tour Events technical blogs, here we talk about some of the technical aspects of the equipment we stock from microphones to lighting equipment to staging & LED screen equipment we give our customers / researchers solid information about what a product does & hopefully gives you a much better understand of how it works and what the equipment is used for & this will include information about the type of events you would hire & use the equipment for and why certain sound, lighting or microphones are chosen.

Today On Tour Events is going to explain to you everything you need to know about ''Shotgun microphones'' and what shotgun microphone to hire for your next event. So let's get this underway!

What is a Shotgun microphone & why should i hire a shotgun microphone?

A shotgun microphone is better at rejecting ambient noise and off-access sound sources than other microphone types. Its narrow pick up angle allows a shotgun mic to be located somewhat farther from the source than a conventional mic. A shotgun microphone does not let you zoom in on a conversation from 100 feet away however. Shotgun microphones are often used for outdoor live streaming / broadcasting, TV and film production, sports and other applications where it's impractical or undesirable for the subject to wear or hold a microphone.


Depending on the production, the microphone can be connected to the input on the camera, or to an external audio recorder again these microphones are used alot when live streaming events. A shotgun microphone is a unidirectional microphone with a slotted tube, called an interference tube mounted to the front. The slots cause sounds coming from the sides to be greatly reduced in level.

So what is the pick angle of a Shotgun microphone?


The pickup angle is the angle within which the level of the sound source will be reasonably consistent. Sounds coming from outside of this angle will be significantly reduced in level. The pickup angle of a shotgun microphone is determined by the length of the interference tube. The longer the tube, the narrower the pickup angle. For example, On Tour Events stocks the Shure VP89 shotgun mic & is available in three lengths. The VP89S has a short tube and has a pickup angle of about 70 degrees. The VP89M has a medium length tube and has a pickup angle of about 50 degrees. The VP89L has a long tube and has a pickup angle of about 30 degrees so depending on the event / application we can hire you the right shotgun mic, don't worry.

To take advantage of the mic's narrow pickup angle the mic should be positioned so that it is angled at the desired sound source or stage but away from undesired sound sources, including sources that are behind the subject. What you want to do is position the microphone so that your desired sound source is on-access to the microphone and your undesired sound source is off-access to the microphone. In this case we want to pick up the sound of my voice and we want to minimise the sound of the machine that's there behind me.

One option is to put the microphone below me, below the talker facing upwards so that the machine noise is perpendicular to the microphone. However, in some situations you might pick up a lot of reflected sound off the ceiling that way. Another option would be to put the microphone directly in front of me, pointing at me. Now, in this case it's still pointed at me but we might be getting too much sound of the machine depending on the location and the nature of the sound coming off of it.


Another option with shotgun mics is to position the mic above the subject, pointing down at their face. That way you can still pick up the sound of the talker and pick up a little bit less of the noise source behind them, such as the machine in this case. So, with shotgun microphones what you want to do is make sure you pay attention to not only the desired sound source but the nature and position of your undesired sound source. And that's how you'll get the best results in a variety of environments.

Most shotgun microphone include hardware that allows for different mounting options in different applications. The most common approach in film / live streaming and video conference production is the boom or fish pole, which can be secured to a stand for fixed shots or held by an operator during moving shots.

Another option is the pistol grip, which allows the microphone to be moved more quickly. Pistol grips are often used when recording sounds outdoors. In TV news gathering a short shotgun microphone is typically mounted on top of the camera. With some cameras the noise of the zoom lens or image stabilisation system may create noise that an on camera microphone will pick up in quiet recording environments.


All mounting hardware should be designed to isolate the microphone from vibration transmitted through the stand, grip, or camera if your hiring a complete production setup from us then don't worry about all of this, we will take care of it & make sure the event sounds perfect.

Shotgun microphones are more susceptible to wind noise than conventional microphones. A foam windscreen is sometimes used indoors to prevent noise if the mic is moved rapidly. Outdoors a larger windshield called a Zeppelin or Blimp is usually necessary. These consist of layers of materials that diffuse air currents without significantly altering sound quality.


A synthetic fur cover allows the mic to be used even in extreme conditions. Listen to the difference that the windscreen can make on a windy day. We work with a lot with orchestral events providing outdoor stages with sound & lighting production & we have found that some shotgun microphones can be a real asset for micing up orchestras when used with the right windshield

On Tour Events stock the standard Shure foam windscreen, we also have the the Rycote Softie windshield for hire as well as the complete Rycote Zeppelin windscreen system with the fur cover on it, perfect for outdoor events. The shotgun microphone is an important tool for sound technician. By enabling clear sound pickup in noisy conditions or at longer working distances, a shotgun mic can help you to create more professional sounding production / event.


So that's about it for Shotgun mics, for more information about shotgun microphones & how On Tour Events can help you with your event sound please visit our hire catalog


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