What is a Shotgun Microphone?

Shotgun Microphone

A shotgun microphone is a highly directional microphone that must be pointed directly at its target sound source for proper recording. Shotgun microphones use unidirectional microphones to achieve this high beam of concentration on the sound source to record the sound. Being that they use unidirectional microphones, they pick up sound well when the sound source is directly in front of them but begin to pick up the sound worse (much lower) when the sound source is moved to the sides and rear. A shotgun gets its name from the fact that the body of the microphone is shaped like the barrel of a shotgun, and just like a shotgun, the microphone must be aimed or pointed directly at its target source in order to effectively to pick it up.

Shotgun Polar Response

A typical polar response for a shotgun microphone is shown. Polar plots tell us the gain of the microphone for all the various directions that it points to in relation to the sound source. The 0° reference point is when the shotgun microphone is pointing directly in front of the sound source that it is recording. Here, at this 0° point, you can see that the microphone has its highest gain, which in this case is -11dB. As the microphone turns to its side, away from the sound source, the gain that it picks up begins to decrease. The 180° reference point is when the microphone is facing completely away from the sound source, pointing in the opposite direction. Here, at this position, is where the gain of the microphone is the lowest, which in this case is -28dB. These gain responses of a shotgun microphone illustrate that it picks up sound with high gain only when it points directly to the sound source and decreases when rotated to its side.

The advantage of shotgun microphones is they focus directly on the sound source in front and pick up the sound with high gain, while recording any other noises present in the environment very low, if at all, that may be to the sides or rear. This is advantageous because it can pick up the sound only that the user desires, directly in front, while disregarding any other unwanted sounds that may be present in the environment. Therefore, shotgun microphones are highly used in applications where only the sound directly in front of the microphone is to be recorded so that all other noises will be reduced and the sound source is in a fixed position, directly in front of the shotgun microphone, and doesn't move much.

Uses of Shotgun Microphones

Common uses of shotgun microphones are for talks or speeches in meetings, conferences, and lectures. In scenarios such as these, the speaker does not need to hold a microphone and speak into it or wire a microphone on his body in order to record his speech or lecture. He can just stand and talk at a distance as long as he talks to the front of the shotgun microphone. This way, the speaker can just focus on talking during his lecture without the cumbersomeness of having to have a microphone on him. So a shotgun microphone is advantageous in any situations where distance speaking will occur and the speaker will stay in a vicinity where he talks in front of the microphone, such as a professor lecturing throughout a class who stands centered in the classroom throughout his talk.

Related Resources

What is a Directional Microphone?

What is a Microphone Array?

What are Unidirectional Microphones?

What are Omnidirectional Microphones?

What are Bidirectional Microphones?

What are Cardioid Microphones?