I own two shotgun mics, an AT-897 and a Rode NTG-2, and I'm having the same problem with each (which makes me think that what I'm experiencing is not a "problem" and is completely normal). Here's the situation: When I have one of the mics connected to a Zoom H4N audio recorder, I have to have the recording levels all the way up (to level 100). With the levels all the way up, I have to be just 6-inches directly in front of the mic to be able to talk in a normal voice volume and register -12db on the Zoom (in an otherwise silent room). If I back up to 3 feet from the front of the mic, speaking in a normal voice volume only gets me to -24db. Now, I know you need to be as close to the mic as possible to obtain the best quality, but I would expect to be able to be at least 3ft away and not have to turn the audio recorder's levels to their max. Because when I bring the -24db to normal levels in post, the amount of noise increases as well.
My question is: are shotgun mics supposed to be like this? Is this an issue with the Zoom H4N? It would seem to me that I should have more wiggle room with the Zoom's recording levels to make the mic much more sensitive.
Any advice would be very much appreciated.