Today's highly compact camcorders and DSLRs are capable of producing beautiful results. Low light sensitivity is improving, color reproduction is stunning, and in the case of DSLRs in particular, the shallow depth of field is breathtaking. The Achilles heel of all these wonderful devices, however, is their notably poor audio capabilities. Built-in microphones are never the best choice, unless they're the only choice, but traditional external mics may be too bulky and work against the compact nature of today's cameras. Companies such as Que Audio are stepping up, however, with professional solutions like the Q Sniper PRO Kit, to solve the biggest problem with these little cameras.
Run and (Shot)gun
Imagine carrying your entire professional mic setup around in a nice little zippered, leatherette case, complete with carrying handle, shoulder strap and extras pouch. And what if the case measured a mere 16 1/4-inches long, eight inches wide and three inches deep? Well, that's exactly what Que Audio has done with its Q Sniper PRO Kit. In keeping with the high quality audio and portability needs of today's run-n-gun shooter, the Sniper Kit packs everything you want in order to capture awesome audio under any condition, into a very small amount of space.
The professional quality and attention to detail are immediately apparent upon opening the case. A thick, semi-rigid foam liner, with individual compartments for each component, keeps everything snug and well protected against the usual shocks and bumps. The kit includes a mini boom pole with rubberized grip. Made of stainless steel and measuring less than 13 1/2-inches when collapsed, it is quite sturdy and telescopes to about 47-inches. At the business end is a 1/4-inch-20 thread mount to attach the microphone. By itself, it is a very effective pole for location booming, but for added versatility, the opposite end has a hole for mounting to the included base. The base is heavy, measures 5-inches across and is very stable. Attach the mic directly to the base for use as a table or podium stand, or pair the boom pole together with the base to create a standard mic stand.
Of course, the microphone is included along with a shock mount and detachable accessory shoe adapter. The adapter enables on-camera mounting. With it off, the mic may be attached directly to the boom pole or boom pole base. For wind noise reduction, both a foam windscreen and Wombat Fluffy Wind Muff are included. A set of 10 extra rubber bands for the shock mount also come in the kit, as well as a rubber shock absorber. The shock absorber is a 3/4-inch length of rubber tubing with a 1/4-inch-20 male mount on one end and female on the other. This allows it to be placed between the microphone and whatever it's being mounted to for added separation, flexibility, and reduced handling noise.
Our kit came with two cables: an 11.8-inch coiled cable and a 6.5-foot straight cable for use with the boom pole. The mic and cables are equipped with the Que Compact Connection System (QCCS). Tiny, threaded connectors join cables, microphone and adapters for enhanced flexibility and replacement options. For added versatility, optional adapters are available for use with many third-party wireless transmitters. If you are using a device that provides 48V phantom power, the included phantom powered XLR adapter can be used for balanced, low-impedance operation. It also effectively boosts the output of the mic by up to 6dB. A QCCS 1/8-inch adapter is included for use with cameras having the 1/8-inch external mic jack.
The Q Mini Shotgun microphone resembles a baby shotgun mic, measuring 7.5-inches in length with a diameter of about half an inch. Power comes from the two included AG4 1.5V button-style batteries, or phantom power, using the aforementioned XLR adapter. The batteries must remain in the mic, however, even when using phantom power, as they work together in concert with one another.
How's That Sound?
The Q Mini Shotgun mic is very compact and well suited for travel. It's perfectly sized for use with DSLR and other small cameras. One might easily wonder if its reduced size has somehow resulted in equally reduced performance, and the answer, is a resounding, No! This mic may be small in stature but it's definitely big on performance. Acquiring pristine audio is half the battle in producing video excellence and this little mic puts up a very good fight. The audio is clear and natural; it's perfect for dialogue, with extremely good vocal clarity. Rejection properties are impressive. In interview testing, the subject is nice and crisp, with background noises kept to a minimum. Distortion resistance also proved to be good, as it was exposed to a variety of loud sounds without any significant problems.
Affordably priced, the Que Audio Q Sniper PRO Kit is well worth the attention of serious users at all levels. For a series of videos demonstrating the various elements of this kit, check out Que Audio's website.
Capsule Principle: Back electret
Frequency Response: 50Hz > 16KHz
Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
Sensitivity: -46dB @ 1V/Pa
Sound Pressure Level: 130dB @ 1kHz
Capsule Impedance: 250 ohms
Power Requirement: 3V internal
Battery Type: AG4 (2) 1.5V button cell
Battery Life: approximately 100 hours of continuous use
Size: Length - 125mm; Diameter - 10mm
- Battery or phantom power operation
- Excellent quality audio capture
- Reasonably priced
- The shock mount swivel point seems flimsy
Whether a serious enthusiast or pro-on-the-go, the Que Audio Q Sniper PRO Kit is a great solution to your small camera audio problems.
Colin Marks is a video producer and trainer.