Best SOUND GEAR FOR FILMMAKERS
I'm sure you have heard how Sound is half of filmmaking or if you have bad sound in your film it immediately makes it seem amateurish, even with great visuals.
I don't think I need you over the head with that so with that being said, I created a list for filmmakers to find the best audio gear, microphones for different shooting situations, recorders, and anything in between that you need to build a strong audio kit that can give you the best sound for your film wether you are a lone wolf shooting or have a small or big crew.
In this post we are going to look at the best Shotgun Microphones, Lavaliere mics, and recorders.
Shotguns mics have an extremely long and narrow pick up pattern and are used for capturing sound in a directional way and are usually positioned right outside of frame.
1 - RODE NTG3
If you are looking for a really really solid mic that can give you a high end sound with a minimal amount of work and set up than this shotgun mic will deliver.
I think it is placed at the perfect price for someone that is trying to beef up their sound capturing methods on set without having to shell out a ton of money and sacrificing on quality.
This mic isn't really for run and gun shooters unless they have a dedicated sound recordist as this will deliver the best results when not plugged into a DSLR body directly but rather into an external recorder that can provide phantom power.
This mic has a great flat frequency response with a touch of added brightness to give it a touch of character and has a superb and very clean sound quality. The low shelf noise is of 13 dB which is amazing for the price point that this mic is at.
The NTG3 has a slightly wider pick up pattern than most other shotgun microphones which results in capturing a bit more of what is your scene rather than just what is directly in front of it. This isn't a bad thing as I sometimes prefer this for realism but it is all a matter of preference.
Again, this is a higher end mic than your VideoMic Pro that can plug into your camera so you will need some kind of device to capture sound into and to power the mic (It requires phantom power).
The last section of this post will focus on the best recorders you can get and pair with a microphone such as this one.
I really love working with this mic as it produces a beautiful and natural sound while giving you some really clean sounding files to work with. If you have the ability to have a recorder or mixer with you when shooting then this mic is one of the best option for the money.
Check out this video by Justin Melson to hear how it sounds:
You can buy the RODE NTG3 here:
2 - SENNHEISER MKH - 416
The brand behind this mic and the Mkh - 416 has had a well known legacy in the movie industry as the go to mic for shooting. It has really grown to be the standard on most movie sets and I keep bumping into professionals that use this mic time and time again.
There are some very good reasons for this: the pick up pattern is very flexible in terms of distance and proximity. It is an Ultra-directional mic which means that it can give you great results from short to long distances.
It also does not exaggerate the lower end of sounds the closer they get and keeps them consistent and picks them up incredibly well even at a longer range. This detail has been great for interviews and dialogue where you sometimes can't get the mic directly in front of people's faces.
It also does a very nice job at rejecting anything that it is not directly aimed at. It can reject sound at about a 120 degrees field from behind.
This mic would be on the top of my list if it wasn't for the price. It is worth the money for the build quality and what sound it has to offer but for the jump in price I would feel more okay with myself when buying the NTG3 instead which still gives amazing results that come imperceptibly close to the quality of the Mkh 416.
ProAV TV has a great video covering why so many professionals choose to use the 416:
You can buy the SENNHEISER 416 here:
3 - AUDIO-TECHNICA AT8035
In a similar category to the previous two mics reviewed but at a significantly cheaper price, the Audio Technica AT8035 can still deliver great sounds without sacrificing too much of your moneys.
This is by no means a perfect mic but it a bit of EQ work you can get it very close to sounding like the other two big boys previously mentioned.
Just like the other two mics this is not a plug and play mic and does require a larger camera body or recorder but it can be powered by a AA battery that give it the juice needed for phantom power.
The build quality is very good and I really can't complain about the sound in any way since most of these mics during shooting uses will have very little noticeable difference that in my opinion is very negligible.
I believe that if you get nitpicky in a review or while testing them you can see why they are priced differently but if you are concerned about money, I would suggest grabbing a mic like this and investing the remaining price difference into a solid mixer or recorder.
O'Brian takes a look at how this mic sounds and it can give you a pretty good idea at how this mic sounds:
You can buy the AT8035 here:
4 - RODE VIDEO MIC PRO +
This is by far my most used and favorite mic. It made it this far down the list simply because the sound quality is not as great as the other shotgun microphones mentioned above.
With that being said, this is still an amazing mic that can offer great options and a great soundthat can be directly captured from the mic jack of your DSLR or Mirrorless camera body.
The new VideoMic Pro from Rode offers a ton of great and much needed improvements.
The battery is now easily detachable and can even be charged while still plugged into the mic itself.
It also offers a few Low and high end adjustments as buttons on the back of the mic as well as 3 different dB levels that you can change depending on what you are recording.
Another small but massive improvement is the ability for the mic to automatically turn off when the camera gets powered off to save battery and to turn on when the camera gets turned on.
This alone is a huge and well welcomed improvement as I have gotten so mad at myself in the past when forgetting to turn on the mic when shooting and getting no audio as a result. This feature alone can save you from your own forgetfulness and to me that is a huge plus.
Phenomenal Creations made a solid video showing how this mic behaves under different shooting distances:
You can buy the RODE VIDEO MIC PRO + here:
5 - RODE VIDEO MICRO
If you are looking for something that is still affordable as the VideoMic Pro but want something that has a smaller form factor then this might be the perfect mic for you.
I have seen this especially used on smaller camera bodies like the Sony a6500 which can make for excellent B cameras or BTS cameras.
The quality on this mic is surprisingly good considering its size and price and can definitely recomend this to anyone starting out or that needs something small to add to their rig.
Here's a video from Caleb Wojcik testing this out:
You can buy the RODE VIDEO MICRO here:
Lavaliere mics are omni directional mics typically clipped or tapped directly onto the subject's chest area and work great for dialogue when placed in close proximity to the talent's voice.
1 - RODE SMARTLAV+
This is my favorite and most used Lavalier mic not so much because of its quality but for the accessibility and ease of use this cheap lav offers.
It plugs directly into you smart phone which makes this a very handy tool to have with you without having to worry about wireless transmitters and receivers or having mixers/recorders or any other means of getting the sound to your camera. This of course means that you will have to sync things later in post but for the convenience you get while shooting I think that is alright.
The quality isn't as good as a the other lavs we will soon look at but you can't expect greatness in sound from anything coming out of a smart phone.
I personally own two of these and they have been amazing for my documentary work or when
traveling and wanting to capture a clear source from the subjects without having to carry an entire sound bag with me.
If you are a run and gun shooter where your priority is on efficiency then there is no better portable lav out there for the price.
Curtis Judd has an excellent overview of this lav:
You can buy the RODE SMARTLAV+ here:
2 - SENNHEISER EW 100 ENG G3 - A
Get ready because things are about to get expensive. When it comes to Wireless lav mics there is nothing out there that has dominated this market and that can offer as good of a quality as the Sennheiser Ew 100 eng g4-a (That is a very long name).
They have been industry standard for a very long time and I keep seeing these on sets.
For this high price you get two receivers, a transforming converter for XLR mics and the lav with its clip on.
They have a nice graphic display that lights up which makes controlling these a breeze.
They run with AA batteries which last a decent amount of time.
The transmitter and receiver communicate with AF frequencies and do a really solid job at not allowing any outside interference to disturb the signal.
This is why they are so expensive, they give you reliability and confidence when using them