7 Best Boom Microphones for Filmmaking & Recording in 2022

Ever get the chance to see film production in action? If so, you’ve probably noticed those guys holding long poles above the actors. They aren’t there for their health. Those guys are using one of the most essential pieces of equipment onset: a boom mic!

These mics are a filmmaking staple. The best boom mic will capture usable audio, ensuring that excessive noise doesn’t ruin your take!

Best boom mic

What is a Boom Mic?

There’s a bit of confusion out there about what a boom mic is. Technically speaking, any microphone can be a boom mic! It’s nothing more than a microphone attached to a boom pole.

The boom pole is the long post that operators utilize to pick up sound while staying out of frame. There are a lot of booming techniques out there, but most involve holding the mic anywhere between three and ten feet away from the talent.

Whenever you have a microphone attached to a boom pole, you have a boom mic!

That said, the mic itself is called a shotgun mic. Shotgun mics are highly directional. They typically have a tubular design that helps to create a very distinct polar pattern.

You can use any microphone with a boom pole, but shotgun mics are the go-to. The best shotgun mic for recording stays out of sight. However, it’s powerful enough to capture dialog and significant audio effects without missing a beat.

How Does a Boom Mic Work?

The magic of boom mics comes from the microphone itself. Shotgun mics are very refined and efficient.

The first thing you’ll notice is the long tubular shape. The long tube isn’t just for aesthetics. It’s a strategic engineering choice that results in a powerful interference tube.

You see, the capsule diaphragm is deep within the tube of a shotgun mic. Slits on the front and sides of the tube allow sound waves in, forcing them to travel a defined path down to the capsule.

The idea of the interference tube is that targeted sounds can travel to the capsule unencumbered. However, off-axis sounds can only enter from those side slits. Thanks to some clever placement, off-axis sounds get to the diaphragm in different phases.

The end result? Phase cancellation! In this case, phase cancellation is not a bad thing. It’s something that you work to your advantage!

Shogun mics already have a tight polar pattern. They utilize a super-cardioid pattern to reject most sounds naturally. But, phase cancellation takes things a step further.

The best shotgun mic for recording will capture the sounds you want while rejecting the ones you don’t.

Can a Boom Mic be Useful for Recording Music or Live Sound?

There’s nothing stopping you from using a boom mic in the studio or on the stage. In fact, they’re a great tool to have in your arsenal. On paper, these mics have a lot to offer studio and live engineers. They have a flat frequency response, reject off-axis noise, and are super directional.

So why not take advantage of them?

One of the biggest reasons you don’t see too many shotgun mics in studios is because of its limited polar pattern. Sure, you can use it to isolate specific instruments and reject ambient noise. But, you’re also going to lose some of the stuff that makes recordings sound amazing.

We’re talking about room tone and natural reverb here.

Shotgun mics don’t perform well in tight, enclosed spaces. The polar patterns get even tighter and narrower. This results in recordings sounding like they are in a vacuum. In audio engineering circles, some refer to this as microphone “suck.”

It’s when the audio lacks character and warmth because those complex overtones and room noise are stripped out. When you record with a shotgun mic in the home studio, you often end up with that colored and dull sound.

Feel free to experiment with a boom mic. There are certainly instances where one would come in handy in the studio or on stage. But don’t expect it to be a go-to!

7 Best Boom Mics for Filmmaking: Top Picks

Finding a top-notch boom mic in today’s saturated market is not easy! Luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you. Here are some of our favorite boom mics to take your filmmaking to a new level!

1. Rode VideoMic Pro (Best for On-Camera Use)

  • Half-inch condenser
  • 14 dB of self-noise
  • Simple 3.5mm connector
  • Frequency response: 40Hz – 20kHz

This Rode shotgun mic is a classic choice! You can see it adorning cameras of professional operators and YouTubers alike. Reasonably priced and easy to use, you can’t go wrong.

This mic is built with flexibility in mind. It’s equipped with a standard camera shoe, allowing you to slip it on most DSLRs without any issues. It doesn’t use a clunky XLR either. Just plug it into the 3.5mm jack on your camera, and you’re good to go.

Thanks to its small and lightweight footprint, this isn’t a mic that you need any extra hands for. It’s perfect for single-operator productions. Of course, you can use it on a larger boom pole if you want. The equipment has all the versatility you need.

Pros:

  • Super compact and lightweight
  • Stable Rycote shockmount
  • Includes dense windscreen
  • Flexible use

Cons:

  • Uses 9-volt battery

2. Audio-Technica AT875R (Best Value for Entry-Level)

  • Condenser mic
  • XLR connection
  • Frequency response: 90Hz – 20kHz

If you need to keep things small, check out this Audio-Technica boom mic. Like the previous model, this one is flexible enough to use how you want. Attach it to a smaller digital camera or use a traditional boom. The choice is yours.

Tipping the scales at only 80 grams, it’s a pint-sized mic that’s not going to weigh you down as a boom operator.

Despite its tiny size, the microphone is surprisingly effective. Most of the body plays into the interference tube design. Large slits in the side help cancel out off-axis sounds. As a result, this microphone sounds clear and accurate when pointed at your target.

Pros:

  • Less than seven inches long
  • Super narrow pickup pattern
  • Fantastic sound rejection
  • Versatile use cases

Cons:

  • Requires phantom power
  • Can be a bit bass heavy

3. Sennheiser MKH 416 (Best Professional Standard)

  • Condenser mic
  • Includes faux fur windshield
  • Frequency response: 40Hz – 20kHz

The Sennheiser MKH 416 is considered by many to be the gold standard for professional productions. While there are a lot of high-quality mics out there, this one takes the cake!

Right off the bat, you can see that the mic has a massive interference tube. More than half of the equipment’s length is dedicated to reducing off-axis noise. It does a fantastic job of canceling out sounds you don’t want, creating a super tight polar pattern.

It’s also very sensitive, allowing you to pick up quiet sounds without any issues. The microphone produces less noise as well. Thanks to the integrated RF technology, you won’t have to worry about picking up any annoying hum.

Pros:

  • Low-noise operation
  • Exceptional directionality
  • More off-axis rejection in higher frequencies
  • Immune to environmental factors

Cons:

  • High price tag

4. Audio-Technica AT897 (Best Broadcast Quality)

  • Condenser mic
  • About 41 dB sensitivity
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz

This broadcast-ready boom mic from Audio-Technica has a lot to offer. It’s a lightweight microphone that’s only about 11 inches long. While not the most extended shotgun mic out there, it still offers some impressive off-axis rejection.

The sides of the mic feature well-placed slats that promote organic phase cancellation. On the front tip, you’ll find a standard grille. The arrangement of the capsule and interference tube results in superb directionality.

The mic even has a low-frequency roll-off. With a flip of a switch, you can instantly cut back on ambient noise. A high pass filter attenuates the lower end, limiting crowd noise in a noisy broadcast venue.

Pros:

  • Low-frequency rolloff switch
  • Great side rejection
  • Natural sound
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Higher noise floor

5. Sennheiser MKE 600 (Best Natural-Sounding)

  • Condenser mic
  • About 15 to 16 dB of self-noise
  • Frequency response: 40Hz – 20kHz

The MKE 600 from Sennheiser is another high-quality mic that can capture true-to-life sound. This one is a favorite for broadcasters and filmmakers alike. The reason for its popularity is its flat and even response. The mic is not colored, allowing you to capture sound as it was meant to be heard!

The unit is pretty easy to use and offers tons of flexible features to meet your needs. On the back, a physical switch lets you control the amount of attenuation on the low end. You can easily cut back on ambient noise at the source, saving you some time in post.

The mic even has some versatility for powering. You can use traditional phantom power to charge the condenser capsule. Or, you can use a battery for more portability.

Pros:

  • Low-frequency attentuation
  • Good directionality
  • Decent sensitivity
  • Reliable side rejection
  • Versatile power options

Cons:

  • Sound floor could be better

6. Deity V-Mic D3 Pro (Best Durable Quality)

  • Condenser mic
  • Internal rechargeable battery
  • Frequency response: 50Hz – 20kHz

No matter where your filmmaking adventure takes you, the boom mic from Deity has you covered! It’s a surprisingly resilient piece of equipment that’s perfect for shooting on location.

Of course, it’s not indestructible. But, the metal housing offers ample protection from weather and light drops. It’s far tougher than other condenser mics!

The boom mic is also flexible enough to adapt to changing shooting conditions. It uses a TRS output, which eliminates the need for standalone decks. You can plug it directly into your camera for synced recording.

Like other boom mics, it also has a low-cut filter to reduce ambient noise. One unique feature, however, is the stepless gain knob. It lets you fine-tune the sensitivity without any preset levels.

Pros:

  • Automatic powering mode
  • TRS output
  • Built-in attenuation filter
  • Flexible gain adjustments
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • Smart power function isn’t always reliable

7. Rode NTG4+ (Best USB Boom Mic on a Budget)

  • Condenser mic
  • USB charging port for battery
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Last, but not least, we have another killer mic from Rode. The NTG4+ is a beautifully built shotgun mic that’s hiding some great convenience features.

One of the first things you’ll notice is the USB port on the back. Hidden within the male XLR connector is a USB port to charge the integrated battery. The unit is a condenser, so it requires power to run efficiently. But thanks to the battery, you can leave a standalone phantom power supply behind!

The mic also has low-noise circuitry. Despite everything going on in the slender body, the boom mic is quiet and efficient. There are also some great filtering options to cut back on ambient noise even more.

Pros:

  • Flexible filter options
  • Over 150 hours of battery life
  • Super lightweight
  • Low-noise circuitry
  • Flat and natural sound

Cons:

  • Sound may be too hollow for some

The Purpose of a Boom Mic

Boom mics are pretty versatile and serve a wide range of purposes. While most mics are catered towards the music industry, boom mics are geared toward film and television. Here are just a few common uses for boom mics.

Filmmaking

The most obvious use for a boom mic is filmmaking. Thanks to the tight pickup pattern and high directionality, these mics are very effective in filmmaking.

They’re most useful when you have a focal audio source. For example, you can use one to pick up the dialog between two characters. Or, you can use it to pick up singular audio effects, such as a car’s engine running.

You may still need to do some work in post to make the audio pop. But, the best boom mic can prevent you from having to do too much ADR later on.

Foley Work

Boom mics are a must-have for foley artists, too. Foley artists recreate sound effects during the post-production phase. They can replace audio that didn’t get picked up or create brand-new sounds from scratch.

Like dialog, sound effects are a single focal point that you can record. You can get close and pick up all the raw details of the sound, which is always a plus.

Broadcasting

You might see news anchors and journalists using boom mics, too. Some will prefer to use a lavalier. But in very loud or chaotic environments, boom mics may be better.

Boom operators can focus on the broadcaster, tuning everything else out. The mic will capture their audio while dampening the rest for a cleaner final product.

Wildlife Recording

Finally, boom mics are great for wildlife videography! The core design of this gear makes it a better choice over some of the alternatives. They pick up several feet away, allowing you to record an animal’s natural sounds without getting so close that you scare them off.

Choose the Best Boom Mic: What to Consider

Boom mics are unique. While they can be versatile, most serve a particular purpose. To ensure that you’re getting one that works for your filmmaking needs, keep the following factors in mind!

Flat Frequency Response

The best boom mic will have a flat frequency response with very minimal coloring.

Chances are, you’re going to have to do some processing in post to make audio styles match from one scene to the next. Getting a mic that picks up more mid-ranged tones will make that job more challenging.

Its frequency response should be natural and even. Not only that, but you should make sure that your mic can cover the gamut of human hearing. That way, all the finer details of human speed and sound effects come into play.

High Sensitivity

When you’re recording in open spaces, high sensitivity levels are a must. The sensitivity refers to the microphone’s ability to pick up sounds. The higher the sensitivity, the more capable it is without the help of any additional gear.

You have to keep in mind that you’ll probably use several accessories with your boom mic. You might use a blimp or wind muff to block out extraneous noise. So, sensitivity has to be at a good place to get through that and still capture sounds clearly.

Directionality

Finally, pay attention to the boom mic’s directionality. The best boom mic for filmmaking has extreme directionality with superior off-axis rejection.

This means that the polar pattern is ultra-tight, only recordings sound that the front of the microphone is pointed at. Generally, longer microphones offer the most directionality.

Verdict

Any of these shotgun mics can bring your project to life with sound. But if we had to choose our favorite, it would be the Sennheiser MKH 416. There’s a reason why it’s considered the best boom mic in the film industry!

From a sheer design standpoint, this mic is well-built for precise directionality. Most of the housing is an interference tube that rejects off-axis noise. As a result, it has a tight pickup pattern that lets you focus on your talent and nothing else.

Pair that with the high sensitivity levels and low self-noise, and you have a boom mic that’s ready for prime time!

It’s certainly on the pricier side. But if you want the best of the best, you can’t go wrong with Sennheiser’s iconic mic. Check it out if you get the chance and see how much of a difference it makes.