Guide to Different Microphones

John shows us different types of mics to determine which is best for your needs.

Video Transcript

John Burkhart: Hi, and welcome to Tips and Tricks. This week we are going to take a look at different microphone types, lavaliers, shotguns, handheld microphones, and their different pick up patterns. Why you should use a certain mike in a certain location or certain place. So, go ahead and take a look! Perry Jenkins: Welcome to our segment on microphone types! In this segment we'll discuss different types of microphone you can use in video production. We’re going to start with a camera built-in microphone. Well, this microphone is decent quality. It tends to pick up a lot of background noise if you’re using it in, like, outdoors situation where you have a lot of background noise. This microphone is best used at distances about 4 to 6 feet from your subject, so keep that in mind when you’re using just cameras for camera mike. Shotgun microphone – this is a shotgun microphone. It can either be mounted to your camcorder or mounted to your boom pole. The shotgun microphone has a very narrow pick up pattern, and it’s very useful for picking up audio from long distances, say if it’s mounted to your camcorder, or miking up close on a kind of boom pole. Here we have the handheld mike. Typically handheld mikes have a cardioid pick up pattern, which means they pick up more what’s happening in front of the mike than sounds coming from behind it. They are used well for, like, picking up speeches or picking up vocals, and also used well for miking up instruments. And here we have the lavalier microphone. These are great because they’re small, they’re concealable, and they’re almost used exclusively for miking on camera talent. Most levels of microphones have omni-directional pick up pattern, which means they’re great for up-close miking. Finally we come to PZM, or pressure zone microphone, also known as a boundary mike. These mikes are meant to work on hard flat surfaces, and are used indoors. They’re great for when you have to mike a large group of people, but you don’t want to mike everyone in the group. Set these down in the room and get best results. Let’s hear some examples. The On-camera Mike: Built-in microphone on a camcorder can work great if you get it real close to the subject. When you’re shooting more than 4 or 5 feet away, it becomes difficult to get a high quality recording of speech. In a noisy situation, on-camera mike will tend to pick up a lot of background noise. The Shotgun Mike: The hyper cardioid, or shotgun microphones, picks up only sound from the front and is very directional. You must point it to the sound source to get a good pick up. This type of pick up pattern is excellent for isolating sound sources like bird calls, actors talking in a drama, or one voice in a noisy location. The Handheld Mike: This handheld cardioids, or unidirectional microphone picks up sound in a primarily in a heart-shape in front of the microphone, little from the sides, and it does not pick up from the back. This pick up pattern is excellent for voice mikes, and miking musical instruments. The Lavalier Mike: this omnidirectional lavalier microphone picks up sound in every direction – front, back, and sides. This microphone is good when the sound source comes from a wide variety of directions or is moving from one side to another in front of the mike. The PZM Mike: The PZM or boundary mike, sitting right in front of me, has a 360° pick up pattern, and is designed to sit flat on a hard surface. PZM mikes are great for conferences and for use in live theatrical productions. PZM mikes do have a characteristic of making things sound a bit hollow in a really large room. Well, we’ve shown you many examples and different types of microphones that you can use in your video production. It’s up to you to decide which microphone you want to use in situations you encounter. On Scree: To learn more on audio for video, you can purchase “Videomaker presents SOUND SUCCESS” at