Why I’m Trying a Shotgun Mic for Videos

I love my Shure SM7B. It’s a fantastic sounding, forgiving microphone that I’ve been able to fine-tune over the last 18 months. It’s perfect for podcasts and screencasts. But when I got my Sony a6400, I noticed one problem: the mic is always in my way.

The Wrong Focus

This is most apparent in the first video I published with my Sony. The camera was focused on the mic because that was close and more dominant in the frame.

Mic more in focus than me!

Now, whenever I set up a new video, I need to make sure the camera is focused on my face and stays that way – not exactly what I want to think about while I’m recording.

Moving the Mic Out of Frame

Like I said, the Shure SM7B is very forgiving of the environment. It’s also a power hog, so I need a lot of power to get it at a good level. Moving the Shure above me and out of frame wouldn’t work because of that, and the fact that I’d need to rearrange my setup depending on whether I’m podcasting or shooting video.

Enter the Shotgun Mic

Luckily, there are mics made for this specific tasks. Shotgun mics, or boom mics, are designed to have good pick up while staying out of frame. I picked up the Audio Technica AT8035 after doing some research and asking around.

AT8035 mounted to Sony a6400

It’s currently mounted to the Sony and is always out of frame. It’s also pretty long, so with the movable arm + the mic’s length, I can get it pretty close to my face.

I’m also more free to move and talk with my hands – something very important for this Italian American

Tradeoffs

That said, there are a few tradeoffs. The first is that with both mics plugged into my UA Arrow, I need to make sure one is muted while I’m recording. They are technically left/right channel but I don’t want to risk echo or interference.

The second is that the sound quality for the shotgun is not as good as the Shure. That’s to be expected considering the Shure is designed for exactly what I use it for. There’s probably a better shotgun mic out of my price range I could have sprung for.

Some Echo

Most notably is the echo I’m getting from the shotgun. I know I can dial in my settings a little more to make it sound perfect. But I’m speaking louder since the mic isn’t right in front of my face, and the wall behind the mic isn’t sound-treated yet.

It’s also pretty power hungry, and as a result I need to have the gain up pretty high to get good volume. It also means I’m picking up more room noise than I’d like.

Lowpass Filter

However, there is a lowpass filter on the mic designed to cut out environment noise. This is marketed as a “field” mic, so it’s designed to cut out noises you might hear outside – cars driving by, wind, etc.

I haven’t done a ton of testing as I write this, but I think between my interface and the lowpass filter, I can cut out most room noise and echo.

I’ll also have to get used to the face that some echo is OK.

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