A parabola in mathematic and scientific terms is a smooth curved plane in the shape of a cone. In audio engineering, a parabolic dish microphone resembles a contact lens, but captures crisp sounds from distances away. When looking at the parabolic dish and imagining how it could be used one might believe that only spies and special ops use the dish for secret surveillance. Others might think that the dish was built and is used by aliens for scientific experimentation. When in reality the JonyShot parabolic mic was made by humans for humans.
Lightweight Durable Design
JonyJib creates the JonyShot parabolic mic, which has a diameter of 24 inches and weighs six pounds. It has durable aluminum framing with sturdy yet comfortable handgrips. Attached to the framing is a mic mount, which will accept most lapel, handheld or shotgun microphones. An added bonus would be that it also comes with a 3/8-inch mount for tripod placement, so you won’t have to deal with the pains of holding a six-pound dish, plus a wired mic.
Not Just For Spies
Most known for it’s espionage use by the military, the parabolic dish can be used to harness sound from safe distances away from a source. Yet, due to the JonyShot’s size and reflective surfaces, the device lends itself to more conspicuous activity. Parabolic microphones have also been used for sporting events that are broadcasted on TV, specifically, American football. If you are watching a football game on TV you might catch a glimpse of one or two operators holding one of these impressive devices on the sidelines – yards away from the action. For the most part, the parabolic mics do their part in bringing the life of the game to your living room. As you watch the game you most likely will hear the grunting or the crunch of players colliding together and it seems as if they’re wearing microphones on their uniforms. The fact of the matter is that the sound is actually being captured yards away by parabolic mics.
Stepping Behind The Dish
We took the JonyShot parabolic dish microphone to a nearby park and set up the microphone to listen to some park-goers playing basketball, soccer, and flag football. The information provided by JonyJib explains that audio can be picked up as few as three feet and as far away as 500 feet, depending on the weather. For our testing, the day was perfect with only a slight breeze, so we got within 10 feet and listened to the audio for a few minutes and then moved back to about 100 feet away. The quality of the audio diminished as we stepped back, but only slightly.
The great thing about the dish is that it is highly directional allowing the audio to come in clear even from greater distances away. The high tones came out clean and we could hear a ball being bounced. It was as if we could hear the rubber expanding and moving whenever the ball touched the ground. On the other hand, whenever a player was talking, the bass sounds didn’t really round out the audio and it was like listening to audio through a tin can telephone.
One downside to using a parabolic dish is working in an area of high winds or even breezes. One thing that we noticed was that when a breeze picked up the audio diminished the further away we were from the source.
The price-range for this kind of microphone ranges anywhere from $100 to $4,000, the reason being the difference in size, with the largest discs being the most expensive. JonyJib’s JonyShot parabolic microphone comes right in at the middle at $1,320 without electronics, which is what we got to test. You can also purchase the dish ready to go’ with microphone, preamp, headphones and cable for $1,995.
The JonyShot parabolic dish is more ideal for picking up the smaller sounds that go unnoticed by human ears. So for the average consumer this might not be the perfect equipment to invest in, but for the professional looking for highly directional sound, then the JonyShot parabolic microphone will be perfect. Whether you are recording sound for sporting events or you are recording audio at a speaker-oriented event, the lightweight JonyShot allows the operator to pick up high quality sounds from a safe distance.
Parabolic Size: 24″ or .6 meters
Weight: 6lbs or 3 kilos
Range: 3′ to 500′ or .9 to 150 meters (varies by conditions)
Supports: Handheld or tripod/monopod mount (3/8″)
Materials: Acrylic and Aluminum
- Comfortable handles
- Easy to use, lightweight
- Universal isolated mic mount
- One piece dish
- Water resistant
- Large device, difficult to store
- Limited, situational use
- Sound quality depends on the weather
The lightweight JonyShot parabolic microphone is easy to use and perfect for long distance audio recording situations such as sports and special events.
$1,320 without electronics
Zachary Fernandez is a freelance videographer and documentary filmmaker.