Best microphones for video production — 2024

Ever watch a low-budget movie and wonder, “How did this film make the cut?” The cinematography may have been average, the story derivative but — the sound. The quality of the sound design may be the reason the film made it onto the screen. Surprisingly, many film festival programmers rate sound quality as the element they weigh most heavily when looking at entries. In fact, sound in cinema can be very deceptive. Having the best microphone possible is an important element in achieving good sound.

Techniques that many films use — such as audio editing, ADR (automated dialog replacement, also known as dubbing or looping), remixing and sound sweetening — occur in post-production and can be very time-consuming as well as expensive.

Because sound plays such an important role in audience perception, it’s important to get the audio right. That means you need the right microphone for the job. Here are our picks for the best microphones for video production in several categories. At the end of the list, we’ll go over the most important factors to consider as you shop for your next mic.


The Editors’ Choice award recognizes exceptional video production equipment, software and services. These products must help videographers be more effective storytellers while being affordable, easy to use and dependable. The products must also deliver a superior user experience.


Best large diaphragm condenser

Telefunken TF11

Strengths:

  • High SPL
  • Low self noise

Weaknesses:

  • Single polar pattern

The Telefunken TF11 offers an outstanding balance of high-performance features. Its CK12-style capsule and ultra-low-noise FET amplifier enable pristine audio capture. It also handles sound pressure levels up to 135 dB without distortion. While its cardioid-only pattern limits versatility, the microphone excels in the studio for recording voiceovers or where clear, robust sound is needed.

Top features:

  • Cardioid pattern
  • Handles SPLs up to 135 dB
  • CK12-Style condenser capsule
  • Ultra-low noise FET amplifier

___

Category runner-up

Soyuz 1973c

We choose the Telefunken TF11 over the Soyuz 1973 for its enhanced lower end. This makes it ideal for voiceover work. While the Soyuz 1973 is noted for its articulate midrange, the TF11’s robust build and superior bass response make it our choice.


Best budget large diaphragm condenser

Austrian Audio OC16

Strengths:

  • Price
  • Low self noise

Weaknesses:

  • Handeling noise

The Austrian Audio OC16 is the best budget large diaphragm condenser on the market right now because of its acoustics technology and transformerless design. It effectively manages high SPLs up to 148 dB, with a versatile low-cut filter to tailor recording to various environments. Although handling noise presents a challenge, the OC16’s overall performance and affordability make it great for budget-conscious professionals.

Top features:

  • Open acoustics technology
  • Cardioid pattern
  • Transformerless design
  • Handles up to 148 dB SPL
  • Low-cut filter: Off, 40 Hz and 160 Hz

___

Category runner-up

Sennheiser MK 4

We choose the Austrian Audio OC16 over the Sennheiser MK 4, primarily due to its superior sound clarity. Despite the MK 4’s lower price point, the OC16 delivers clearer capture.


Best shotgun

Sennheiser MKH 8060

Strengths:

  • Size
  • Durability
  • Low-self noise

Weaknesses:

  • Price

The Sennheiser MKH 8060 offers a robust design and superior sound quality. Its moisture resistance and straightforward, switch-free operation enhance its overall durability and make it easy to pick up and use. Also, its supercardioid and lobar patterns, coupled with low self-noise and high sensitivity, ensure transparent, undistorted off-axis tone capture. Despite its higher price point, the MKH 8060’s performance and compact size justify the investment for professionals seeking reliability and precision.

Top features:

  • Moisture-resistant for humid conditions
  • No switches, buttons or dials
  • 50 Hz to 25 kHz frequency response
  • Supercardioid and lobar pattern
  • Low 11 dBA self-noise
  • Ultra-high sensitivity of -24 dB
  • Transparent, undistorted off-axis tone

___

Category runner-up

Sennheiser MKH 416-P48U3

We choose the Sennheiser MKH 8060 over the industry-standard MKH 416-P48U3 because of its exceptionally low inherent self-noise. This lower self-noise level ensures that the MKH 8060 delivers clearer and more pristine audio capture.


Best budget shotgun

Audio-Technica AT8015

Strengths:

  • Power flexibility
  • Long interference tube

Weaknesses:

  • Moderate self noise

The Audio-Technica AT8015 is Videomaker’s best shotgun because of its dual power options — battery or phantom — providing exceptional versatility in the field. The microphone’s switchable low-frequency roll-off and long interference tube design effectively reject side and rear sounds, focusing audio capture on the subject in front. Despite some moderate self-noise, the AT8015’s power flexibility and directional accuracy make it a valuable tool for professional videographers.

Top features:

  • Operates on battery or phantom power
  • Switchable low-frequency roll-off switch
  • Rejects sound from sides and rear of mic

___

Category runner-up

RØDE NTG2

We choose the Audio-Technica AT8015 over the RØDE NTG2 due to its superior sound and build quality. The AT8015 offers clearer audio capture and a more durable construction, which significantly enhances its overall performance and reliability in various recording environments. These advantages make it an ideal choice for budget-conscious filmmakers and audio professionals seeking quality without compromise.


Best studio dynamic mic

Shure SM7dB

Strengths:

  • Durable
  • Low self noise
  • Built in preamp

Weaknesses:

  • Weight
  • Size

The Shure SM7dB is the best studio dynamic mic currently on the market because of its combination of durability, low self-noise and a built-in preamp offering up to +28 dB gain. Powered via 48V phantom power, this microphone features a dynamic cardioid pattern that focuses on the sound source while minimizing background noise. Its substantial weight and size are small compromises for its robust performance and audio control capabilities, including bass roll-off and midrange adjustments.

Top features:

  • Built-in preamp with +18 or +28 dB gain
  • Preamp powered via 48V phantom power
  • Dynamic cardioid pickup pattern
  • Bass roll-off and midrange controls
  • Detachable windscreen

___

Category runner-up

RØDE Procaster

We choose the Shure SM7dB over the RØDE Procaster because of its +28 dB output which offers greater headroom, especially when paired with lower quality pre-amps. This feature is particularly beneficial as it compensates for the typical low output issue seen in many dynamic mics, including the Procaster. Additionally, the SM7dB’s dark and smooth sound profile enhances its appeal, making it more pleasing to the ear.


Best budget studio dynamic mic

RØDE PodMic

Strengths:

  • Price
  • Build quality

Weaknesses:

  • Weight
  • Low output level

The RØDE PodMic is our go-to camera-top shotgun mic due to it exceptional build quality and affordability. It’s an ideal choice for budding podcasters and studio professionals alike. Its rugged solid-brass construction, integrated shockmount and internal pop filter ensure clean audio capture with minimal handling noise. While the mic’s weight and low output level are noted drawbacks, these are easily outweighed by its robust design and excellent price point, offering significant value to users on a budget.

Top features:

  • End-address, XLR mic
  • Dynamic capsule
  • Internal pop filter
  • Integrated shockmount
  • Rugged solid-brass construction
  • Swing mount for easy positioning

___

Category runner-up

Audio-Technica AT2040

We choose the RØDE PodMic over the Audio-Technica AT2040 because it has superior handling noise control. The AT2040 generates significant handling noise that necessitates a shockmount to avoid capturing unwanted handling noise. The PodMic demonstrates a much lower susceptibility.


Best handheld dynamic mic

Audio-Technica AE-6100

Strengths:

  • Low handling noise
  • Build quality

Weaknesses:

  • Weight
  • Low output level

The Audio-Technica AE-6100 is the best handheld dynamic mic on the market due to its superb build quality. Featuring a hypercardioid polar pattern, the mic excels in isolating the voice from ambient noise while its internal shock mounting significantly reduces handling noise. Despite its relatively low output level, the AE-6100’s rugged design and excellent presence boost its appeal as a top choice for dynamic vocal capture in any setting.

Top features:

  • Excellent presence
  • Low frequency noise
  • Hypercardioid polar pattern
  • Internal shock mounting
  • Rugged design

___

Category runner-up

Telefunken M80

We picked the Audio-Technica AE-6100 over the Telefunken M80 due to its richer low-end response, which adds body and warmth to its output.


Best budget handheld dynamic mic

sE Electronics V7

Strengths:

  • Durable
  • Low self noise

Weaknesses:

The sE Electronics V7 is a highly-capable budget handheld dynamic microphone because of its combination of durability and affordability. Its supercardioid pattern and dynamic capsule with neodymium magnets ensure focused sound capture with minimal background noise. It’s complemented by a built-in shockmount that curbs handling noise effectively. It’s durable construction and a gold-plated XLR connector round out a mic that delivers high-quality audio without breaking the bank.

Top features:

  • Supercardioid pattern
  • Dynamic capsule with neodymium magnets
  • Low handling noise/ built-in shockmount
  • Gold-plated XLR connector
  • Includes mic clip and carrying pouch

___

Category runner-up

Shure SM58

We choose the sE Electronics V7 over the Shure SM58 because of its superior performance and higher output. The V7 provides enhanced sound clarity and greater output gain.


Best camera-top shotgun

RØDE VideoMic NTG

Strengths:

  • USB-C connectivity
  • Rechargeable battery

Weaknesses:

  • Price

The RØDE VideoMic NTG is our best camera-top shotgun pick for its innovative design and versatility. It features a 30-hour USB rechargeable battery and multiple output options, including USB and 3.5 mm out with a safety channel, making it highly adaptable for various filming scenarios. The mic’s USB-C connectivity and advanced controls like variable gain enhance its functionality. Despite its higher price point, it’s a valuable tool for serious videographers.

Top features:

  • 30-hour USB rechargeable battery
  • Variable gain, pad, roll-off and HF boost
  • USB out or 3.5 mm out with safety channel
  • Power switch with LED and auto on/off
  • Peak warning LED
  • Windscreen reduces wind noise

___

Category runner-up

Sennheiser MKE 400

We choose the RØDE VideoMic NTG over the Sennheiser MKE 400 due to its superior build quality and versatility. Unlike the MKE 400, which is primarily constructed from plastic, the VideoMic NTG features more durable materials, enhancing its longevity and performance reliability. Additionally, the VideoMic NTG’s dual functionality as both a shotgun and USB microphone significantly broadens its usability, making it a more adaptable and valuable tool for videographers.


Best budget camera-top shotgun

Sennheiser MKE 200

Strengths:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Price
  • No battery needed

Weaknesses:

  • Cheap build materials

With its battery-free operation via plug-in power, combined with built-in wind protection and shockmount, the Sennheiser MKE 200 is the best bang for your buck camera-top shotgun microphone. The microphone’s compact size, light weight and affordability make it appealing. Though, that comes at a cost of cheaper build materials.

Top features:

  • Battery-free operation via plug-in power
  • Built-in wind protection and shockmount
  • Locking 3.5 mm TRS output
  • 3.5 mm TRS and TRRS output cables

___

Category runner-up

RØDE VideoMic GO II

We choose the Sennheiser MKE 200 over the RØDE VideoMic GO II because of its solid performance that meets expectations for its price range. That means the MKE 200 provides excellent value for filmmakers and content creators who need reliable audio capture without a significant investment.


Best digital wireless

Sennheiser EW-DP ME 2

Strengths:

  • Build quality
  • Display

Weaknesses:

  • Price
  • Receiver size

The Sennheiser EW-DP ME 2 is our best digital wireless system for its performance and scalability. This system features a lightweight bodypack transmitter with an impressive 134 dB dynamic range. It also has 24-bit audio across the 56 MHz bandwidth and offering 2,240 selectable frequencies. The robust build quality and informative display enhance user experience, although its price and the size of the receiver are considerations for potential users. This system’s capability to expand up to 58 mic channels makes it a versatile choice for demanding audio environments.

Top features:

  • Lightweight bodypack transmitter
  • 134 dB of dynamic range, 24-bit audio
  • 56 MHz bandwidth, 2240 frequencies
  • 12-Hr bodypack/7-Hr receiver + USB Power
  • Expandable to 58 mic channels

___

Category runner-up

Shure SLXD15

We choose the Sennheiser EW-DP ME 2 over the Shure SLXD15 because it offers a longer battery life, providing up to 12 hours compared to the 8 hours available with the SLXD15. Additionally, the innovative design of the Sennheiser’s receiver allows for stacking of multiple units. Plus, the Sennheiser system includes a lavalier, where the Shure package does not.


Best budget digital wireless

Hollyland LARK M2

Strengths:

  • Price
  • Sound quality
  • Charging case

Weaknesses:

  • Large logo to cover

The Hollyland LARK M2’s advanced and user-friendly features, as well as its accessible price point, put the mic at the top of the digital wireless market. This system boasts two transmitters with built-in omnidirectional mics and a dual-channel camera-mount receiver, delivering 48 kHz 24-bit audio and environmental noise cancellation. Its compact form factor, LED indicators and iOS/Android app control, along with an included charging case, make it a highly practical choice. Although the prominently displayed logo may require concealment, the overall value and sound quality make the LARK M2 stand out.

Top features:

  • Two transmitters with built-in omni mics
  • Dual-channel camera-mount receiver
  • Clip-on, compact form factor
  • 48 kHz 24-bit Hi-Fi sound
  • Environmental noise cancellation
  • LED indicators, built-in batteries
  • iOS/Android app control
  • Charging case

___

Category runner up

RØDE Wireless ME

We choose the Hollyland LARK M2 over the RØDE Wireless ME because of its superior audio quality and its practical design. The LARK M2 features microphones that deliver clearer and more present sound, along with a more discrete size that enhances versatility for users. Additionally, for a modest increase in price, the LARK M2 provides two microphone/transmitters, offering significant value and flexibility compared to the single-transmitter setup in the Wireless Me.


Best inline mic pre

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1

Strengths:

  • Build quality
  • Simple

Weaknesses:

  • Price

The Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 delivers 25 dB of transparent gain powered by phantom power. This allows it to enhance any passive microphone’s performance. Its solid build quality and operational ease make it valuable, despite its higher price point. It’s a top choice for professionals seeking reliable and effective audio enhancement.

Top features:

  • 25 dB of clean, transparent gain
  • Requires only phantom power to operate

___

Category runner-up

Soyuz Microphones Launcher

We chose the Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 over the Soyuz Microphones Launcher because we believe its more versatile due its gain is transparent. While coloration from a mic pre can be appealing, the CL-1’s ability to provide a clean, discrete boost in gain is generally more essential for a variety of recording situations. As an added bonus, the CL-1 costs less.


Best budget inline mic pre

Samson High-Rise

Strengths:

  • 30db of gain
  • Low cut filter
  • Switchable gain output

Weaknesses:

  • Build material

The Samson High-Rise is our best budget inline mic pre for its effective blend of performance and affordability. It delivers up to +30 dB of transparent gain, enhanced by a selectable gain level and low-cut switch, making it a versatile tool for improving microphone output without excessive cost. Although its build materials are not the most durable, it’s a good choice for budget-conscious users.

Top features:

  • Up to +30 dB of transparent gain
  • 48V phantom-powered, does not pass power
  • Selectable gain level and low-cut switch

___

Category runner-up

Triton Audio FetHead

We choose the Samson High-Rise over the Triton Audio FetHead because its more affordable and has more features. It provides greater control over sound quality with options like variable gain boost and a low-cut filter, allowing you to finely tune your audio inputs to suit diverse recording conditions.


Best lavalier

Sennheiser MKE 2

Strengths:

  • Size
  • Compatibility
  • Moisture-resistant

Weaknesses:

  • Price

The Sennheiser MKE 2 features an exceptional design and delivers high performance in challenging conditions. Its omnidirectional pickup pattern and sweat-resistant dual-diaphragm design excel at minimizing unwanted contact and rustling noise. Despite its higher price, it’s broad compatibility, size and moisture resistance make it a top choice for professionals seeking a reliable, high-quality lav.

Top features:

  • Omnidirectional
  • Sweat-resistant dual-diaphragm design
  • Resists contact and rustling noise
  • Requires 7.5V power

___

Category runner-up

Shure WL183

We choose the Sennheiser MKE 2 over the Shure WL183 primarily due to its more versatile connector. While the Shure WL183 delivers great sound quality, the MKE 2 features a 3.5 mm connector, which is more universally compatible with a wider range of devices compared to the TA4F connector used by the WL183. This broader compatibility makes the MKE 2 more accessible and practical for a larger number of users, enhancing its appeal in diverse audio setups.


Best ribbon mic

Royer R-10 Hot Rod

Strengths:

  • High SPL
  • Off-axis rejection
  • Build quality

Weaknesses:

  • Price

The Royer R-10 Hot Rod is the best ribbon mic right now, thanks to its robust build quality for high-SPL environments. It features a figure-8 polar pattern and a custom transformer that boosts output by +5 dB. It can handle loud sources up to 160 dB SPL. The mic’s 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon ensures a precise frequency response from 30 Hz to 15 kHz, and its three-layer windscreen system enhances durability. While the price is on the higher side, the R-10 Hot Rod’s exceptional build quality and off-axis rejection justify the investment for professionals seeking top-tier microphone.

Top features:

  • Figure-8 polar pattern
  • Custom transformer with +5 dB more level
  • Handles loud sources up to 160 dB SPL
  • 2.5 micron aluminum ribbon
  • 30 Hz to 15 kHz frequency response
  • 3-layer windscreen system

___

Category runner-up

sE Electronics Voodoo VR1

We choose the Royer R-10 Hot Rod over the sE Electronics Voodoo VR1 because of it’s robust construction and superior sound quality. While both microphones share the typical ribbon mic characteristics of producing dark, smooth, and mid-forward audio, the R-10 Hot Rod’s custom transformer allows it to deliver a punchier sound with a distinctive focus on the low-midrange. This makes it not only more durable but also more capable of delivering a richer audio performance.


Best tube/valve mic

Avantone Pro BV-1 mkII

Strengths:

  • Build quality
  • Warm sound
  • Multiple pickup patterns

Weaknesses:

  • Susceptibility to hum and noise

With its craftsmanship and versatile performance, the Avantone Pro BV-1 mkII is our pick for the best tube/valve mic. It features an edge-terminated CK12-style capsule with nine variable polar patterns and a gold-sputtered, 6-micron Mylar diaphragm. It’s powered by a Russian 6072A low-noise tube/valve. This produces a warm, rich sound. The mic’s high build quality and multiple pickup options greatly enhance its recording flexibility, though it’s somewhat susceptible to hum and noise.

Top features:

  • Edge-terminated CK12-style capsule
  • Nine variable polar patterns
  • Gold-sputtered, 6 micron Mylar diaphragm
  • Russian 6072A low-noise tube
  • 80 Hz HPF and -10 dB pad

___

Category runner-up

sE Electronics Z5600A-II

We choose the Avantone Pro BV-1 mkII over the sE Electronics Z5600A-II, because it delivered the coveted classic tube mic sound. With its warm and beefy audio capture, the BV-1 mkII provides the rich, vintage tube quality that the Z5600A-II lacks.


Best USB mic

Shure MV7+ Podcast Mic

Strengths:

  • Dual USB/XLR output
  • Build quality
  • Headphone monitoring

Weaknesses:

  • Weight

The Shure MV7+ Podcast Mic offers versatility and professional-grade audio quality, ideal for podcasters and content creators. It boasts a dynamic mic capsule with both USB-C and XLR outputs, allowing for easy integration with various recording setups. The MV7+ enhances user control with a customizable color LED touch panel and features like DSP for auto-level and noise reduction, alongside direct headphone monitoring. While its weight may be substantial, the mic’s robust build and dual-output capability make it a top choice.

Top features:

  • Dynamic mic capsule, USB-C and XLR outputs
  • Physical and digital pop filters, reverb
  • 3.5 mm jack with direct monitoring
  • DSP for auto-level, noise reduction
  • Cardioid pattern
  • Customizable color LED touch panel
  • High-quality 48 kHz / 24-bit audio

___

Category runner-up

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-X

We choose the Shure MV7+ over the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-X because its very adaptable and user-friendly. The MV7+ offers dual connectivity with both USB-C and XLR outputs, providing flexibility for various recording setups, whether digital or analog. Additionally, its customizable features, including adjustable sound settings via software, enhance its functionality. This makes it a more versatile choice for podcasters and content creators who require quality and adaptability in their recording equipment.


Factors we considered

The best microphone is the right one for your shooting situation. To get a better idea of how to choose the right mic, let’s take a look at some key specs.

Form factor

The first thing you’ll need to consider is form factor. There are several basic types of microphones you can use in production.

Handheld microphones

Whether wired or wireless, handheld microphones are held by an interviewer or talent. They’re great for getting run-and-gun interviews in noisy environments where you don’t have the time for a lavalier. Handheld mics can also be used on a stand to pick-up audio from a subject who will not be moving around. Handheld mics can deliver a very rich, full sound. However, if you don’t want your microphone in your shot, a lav or shotgun mic would be a better option.

Lavalier

This tiny microphone clips to a lapel or shirt, or it can be completely concealed under the talent’s clothing. Lav mics come in both wired and wireless forms. Lav mics can be helpful at times in blocking outside noise because of their close placement to the sound source; however, the noise created by your subject’s clothing moving around while wearing a lav can make the audio captured by the microphone unusable. Lavalier mics typically don’t produce as rich of a sound as handheld or shotgun mics. If it’s possible, use a shotgun mic instead of or in addition to the lav.

Shotgun mic

This long, thin type of microphone mounts to a stand, boom pole or your camera rig. Shotgun mics can be placed much further away from your subject than lavs or handheld mics while still doing a good job of rejecting outside noise. Shotgun mics are sensitive to handling noise, however, which can make using one mounted to a camera rig or even on a boom pole challenging.

Microphones in post-production

Microphones used for ADR or narration vary from handheld mics to large condenser mics. While many have XLR outs to connect with pro audio gear, many are now being built to connect directly to computers via USB. Foley — the background sounds in film and TV productions — is often recorded with a large variety of mics depending on many variables, including whether the recording is in a studio or outside and what the desired sound is.

Need-to-know tech specs

This is a quick and dirty breakdown. It’s important to note that audio recording is an art unto itself, similar to cinematography. Many chapters of many books have been written about types of microphones, the construction of mics and their pickup patterns.

Condenser vs. dynamic mics

The design of a microphone element or capsule will affect how the mic performs. There are many types of microphone elements; however, due to cost, durability and function, there are only two that should be considered for production and post: condenser and dynamic.

In the most basic sense, condenser microphones use electrical current to power a series of plates that vibrate when sound waves hit them. The obvious con to this type of microphone is that it needs power at all times in order to work. Pro audio systems use phantom power to send power down the microphone cable to condenser mics without interfering with the audio signal. Otherwise, the mic will need a battery.

Condenser mics can be very sensitive, allowing them to pick up audio from a distance. A good example of this use is shotgun microphones. This same sensitivity can result in a condenser mic picking up a lot of extra wind noise and background noise. That’s why a good windscreen is also a vital accessory for your shotgun mic. It’s also important to note that condenser mics can be a bit delicate.

Dynamic microphones are the most rugged mics available.

Dynamic microphones use an electromagnetic coil and diaphragm. While that may sound a lot more delicate than a condenser, it’s not. Dynamic microphones are the most rugged mics available. They do have a limited sensitivity, which actually is not always a downside; however, dynamic microphones don’t usually have as tight of a polar pattern as many condenser mics have.

Polar patterns

Polar patterns, also commonly known as pickup patterns, are the areas where a microphone will be sensitive to sound. The common polar patterns used in production recording mics are omnidirectional, cardioid, hypercardioid, supercardioid and line. Some microphones can even switch between polar patterns.

An omnidirectional mic has a polar pattern that is round in shape, while a cardioid polar pattern is heart-shaped. The line polar pattern used for shotgun mics is almost completely in front of the mic and very directional. This helps explain the shotgun’s rejection of noise along the sides of the mic and its popularity for use on film shoots.

Lav and handheld mics commonly use cardioid and hypercardioid patterns. They offer a good balance between wide pick up and rejection of outside noise.

Frequency response

Perhaps the most overlooked element when shopping for a new microphone is frequency response. This is a measurement of the audio frequencies a microphone is most sensitive to. This is usually expressed in Hertz (Hz). Each model will have a different frequency response, so you’ll need to know how you plan to use it. For example, if you record only spoken word, you only need a microphone that has good reproduction down to around 75 Hz. Most people’s voices when speaking are not any lower than that. On the other hand, many audio engineers feel that accurate reproduction of up to and in excess of 15,000 Hz (15 kHz) is important for good intelligibility and a feeling of clarity of the spoken word.

Wireless vs. wired

As a rule, wired microphones are more reliable than wireless; wireless always runs the risk of having radio frequency interference. There are new wireless systems that help eliminate many of those interference issues, making the difference more about money. Wireless systems are typically much more expensive.

Adjusting to the situation

The right mic for the job may be using more than one microphone. For instance, say you’re doing an interview on the sideline of a football game using a handheld mic. You can hear the subject holding the mic but not the crowd behind him. If you see the crowd making a lot of noise behind the subject of the interview but can’t hear the crowd making noise, it’s going to be rather awkward for viewers. In this case, record from a pair of microphones. You can use the built-in mic on your camera to pick up the crowd while the handheld mic picks up your subject. This gives you the ambient sound of your location without overpowering the track from your subject in your mix.

The right mic is only half the job.

Once you’ve determined the right mic(s) for a job, you’ll need to focus on microphone placement. Sound experts have written entire books on microphone placement for recording. Taking the time to learn mic placement techniques will likely improve your audio more than better gear.

Final thoughts

Many microphones require accessories such as a windscreen, pop filter, zeppelin, shock mount or even a boom pole. Purchase them with your mic so you don’t find yourself facing an overnight shipping situation. Remember also that proper placement of your new microphone can make a huge difference.

Don’t settle for acceptable audio when you can have sensational sound.

Contributors to this article include W. H. Bourne and the Videomaker Editorial Staff.