A very well respected name in audio, Shure has been crafting superior quality microphones for many years. And their recently released VP89, scalable microphone system, is no exception. Its modular design allows the use of a single preamplifier and up to three different microphone capsules of varying lengths for maximum adaptability in just about any shooting situation.
A Shotgun Mic?
No, you won’t have to run out and buy a 12-gauge microphone capsule to go with your new shotgun mic. Somewhat similar in appearance to a gun barrel, the shotgun microphone is long and cylinder-shaped. Lengths vary, with each having slightly different pickup characteristics, but as a group, they all have several similarities. Designed with a narrower focus than other microphones, shotgun mics are great at capturing sounds originating from directly in front of them and rejecting sounds coming from the sides and from behind. They also do an excellent job of picking up human speech frequencies, accounting for their heavy use in Hollywood.
Scalability = Versatility
The modular design of the VP89 is a great concept. Rather than having to buy three different shotguns to match the recording needs of different surroundings, the professional has the option of purchasing the preamplifier and mic capsules separately. As they are interchangeable, the appropriate capsule may be screwed onto the preamp to record in a particular venue and then swapped out for a different capsule as recording needs change.
Shotgun mics are distinguishable from other types of microphones by the long, vented tube located in front of the capsule known as the interference tube. Longer tubes have a tighter acceptance angle, resulting in higher focus and greater directionality. The VP89L has a length of 15.21-inches and an acceptance angle of 30 degrees. The VP89M is 9.41-inches with an acceptance angle of 50 degrees and the VP89S is 5.41-inches long with an acceptance angle of 70 degrees.
Our test model was the mid-sized VP89M. It came housed in a protective case and fitted with a foam windscreen. Simply constructed, the microphone capsule and interference tube from the preamplifier have very sensitive components within and you’ll do well to treat it like a camera’s sensor and keep it protected. At one end of the preamp is the recessed low frequency or, low-cut, filter switch and at the other is the XLR cable connector. And don’t go looking for a place to pop in a battery – these mics require phantom power.
In windy conditions, the included windscreen does okay, but for even greater protection, Rycote has some custom solutions for these microphones, including wind-protection devices such as fuzzy windscreens and blimps. Another very cool accessory is the double-barrel adapter, which allows you to use a longer mic in a small space by mounting the preamplifier beneath the mic capsule.
We tested the microphone in a typical evening-at-home environment – television in the background, kids talking and laughing. From a distance of approximately 10-feet, conversation was picked up without difficulty. Speech was clear and detailed. Background noise stayed where it belonged – in the background. Not surprisingly, the VP89M, with its 50-degree acceptance angle, is quite focused. Standing directly in front of it our voices picked up beautifully but as we moved from side-to-side, on and off axis, the fall off was noticeable. Not as focused as the longer VP89L, with its 30-degree acceptance angle, the mid-size shotgun is better suited for recording venues where some ambient sound is desirable, such as with a live audience or concert.
In order to try out the VP89M in a completely different environment we stepped outside into the darkness of a remote country estate. As we listened carefully, we heard with perfect clarity the calls of the distant snow geese, the rumblings of frogs, screeches of owls and nighthawks, and finally, a low growling from some unknown, yet obviously approaching creature that caused us to quickly head back to noisier surroundings.
In addition to being a great night-beast detector, we found that the VP89M is an excellent, high quality microphone that is “Shure” to become a favorite audio capture tool of professionals everywhere.
Cartridge Type: Electret Condenser
Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid / Lobar
Frequency Response: VP89L: 60-20,000Hz; VP89M: 100-20,000Hz; VP89S: 140-20,000Hz
Output Impedance: 115 Ohms
Sensitivity (open circuit voltage, @ 1 kHz, typical): -33.5dBV/Pa (2.1 mV)
Maximum SPL (1 kHz at 1% THD): 2500 Ohms load: 132dB SPL; 1000 Ohms load: 128.5dB SPL
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 79dB
Dynamic Range (@ 1 kHz): 2500 Ohms load: 117dB; 1000 Ohms load: 113.5dB
Clipping Level (@ 1 kHz, 1% THD): 2500 Ohms load: 4dBV; 1000 Ohms load: 0dBV
Self Noise (equivalent SPL, A-weighted, typical): 15dB
Common Mode Rejection: 20-20,000Hz ≥70dB
Low-Frequency Filter Switch: -12dB/oct below specified frequency;
Flat Response: 100Hz;
Low Frequency Roll-off: 200Hz
Polarity: Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 with respect to pin 3
Housing: Charcoal-gray metallic painted aluminum alloy handle and grille with stainless steel screen
Power Requirements: 11-52V DC phantom power (IEC-61938), <2.0 mA
Net Weight: VP89L – 6.1oz.; VP89M – 4.9oz.; VP89S – 4.1oz.
- Excellent quality audio capture
- Modular design
- Scalable with purchase of additional capsules
- Excellent off-axis rejection
- Low frequency filter
- Life-saving night-beast detector
- High price for typical consumer
Aimed at the professional, Shure continues its tradition of superior quality with the VP89 end-address shotgun condenser microphone.
Price: $875 – 1,250
Contributing editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.