Shotgun Mic vs. Condenser Mic: Which Is Better for Streaming?


If you want to stream content, you should invest in a good microphone. But there are many different types of microphones, and you need to pick the right one to deliver the best audio to your audience. You may be wondering whether you should get a shotgun mic or a condenser mic for your streaming setup.

A shotgun mic is an excellent choice for streaming, and a condenser shotgun microphone works best of all. You need to choose between a dynamic or condenser mic, and shotgun microphones with condensers have better frequency response and sensitivity than dynamic mics.

In this article, you are going to learn about what a shotgun microphone is. I will also explain the difference between a condenser mic and a dynamic mic and help you decide between a condenser shotgun mic and a dynamic shotgun mic for streaming.

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What Exactly Is a Shotgun Mic?

A shotgun mic is a type of microphone characterized by a long, narrow tube and a highly directional polar pickup pattern. This mic is designed to allow sound coming from the front to pass towards the capsule or diaphragm near its rear. 

The tube also has a series of evenly spaced slits or holes on the side. These function as a phase cancellation feature that rejects sounds from the sides and the rear.

In other words, a shotgun mic is meant to be pointed directly at the sound source for proper audio recording. It is also great at capturing sound from far away without picking up ambient or surrounding noise.

Shotgun Microphones for Streaming: Yes or No?

A shotgun microphone is great for streaming and podcasts because of its narrow pickup pattern and high directionality. It focuses directly on the sound source right in front of it and picks up those sounds with high gain. Meanwhile, sounds that are coming from the sides and rear are either rejected or recorded very low.

A shotgun mic captures high-quality audio and lets you control the sound you want to capture by positioning the mic. These are things that streamers value greatly. And because most streamers talk right in front of the microphone and stay at a fixed position, a shotgun mic does the job perfectly.

With a shotgun microphone, you can focus on talking or giving lectures and speeches at a distance from the camera, or at your desk where the camera is nearer. As long as the mic is positioned directly at you, you can be sure that it will capture your voice clearly with little or no unwanted noise.

When a Shotgun Mic Is Not Ideal for Streaming

There are also disadvantages to using a shotgun microphone for streaming. One is that it requires you to be in a fixed position. If you move a lot during your stream, especially away from the mic’s reference point, this could result in inconsistent sound quality and decreased gain.

A single shotgun mic is also not ideal if your stream involves two or more people talking. If you are doing an interview-style talk, the best solution is a shotgun mic for you and another for your guest. Otherwise, you can use an omnidirectional microphone to capture both your voices coming from different sides. 

Shotgun microphones should also not be used in small rooms or spaces with hard surfaces that carry high echoes. Because the off-axis and on-axis sounds in such rooms are almost identical, your mic could not do a proper job rejecting the off-axis sounds.

If you use a shotgun mic while shooting far from your camera, you will need a skilled boom mic operator or additional equipment to hold the mic overhead, at the right angle. This adds further expense or an extra burden on your assistants. 

For more information, check out my full guide to whether shotgun mics are good enough for streaming.

Condenser vs. Dynamic

Condenser microphones and dynamic microphones are two types of mics based on their capsule components and their mechanisms. There are shotgun microphones that are condenser type, and there are also shotgun mics that are dynamic type.

What Is a Condenser Mic?

A condenser mic is a type of microphone characterized by a capacitor design, which consists of three capsule components that work together to produce sound: a thin, lightweight electrically-conductive diaphragm, a metal disc called a backplate, and a diaphragm case that holds everything together. 

The capsule generates an electrical field when it is charged. As the sound waves hit the diaphragm, it moves back and forth or towards and away from the backplate. This movement converts the sound signals into electrical signals.

There are two different kinds of condenser mics. One is a standard condenser mic, which requires phantom power to charge the capsule. The other one is an electric condenser mic, which has a permanently charged capsule. 

Condenser mics usually require a small battery to provide the external voltage they need across the capacitor.

For more information, check out if a condenser mic needs a preamp.

What Is a Dynamic Mic?

A dynamic microphone has three main components: diaphragm, voice coil, and magnet. When sound hits the diaphragm, its voice coil vibrates. As the coil moves within the magnetic field, it creates a current. The current’s electrical signals are then interpreted by your amplifier or audio interface.

Differences Between Condenser and Dynamic Mics 

Dynamic mics boast a very simple construction. As such, they end up being very rugged. They also handle loud and booming sound signals, as well as power vocals, very well and do a great job at rejecting background noise. 

On the downside, dynamic mics have relatively low sensitivity. It means that they have a lower output level and, most of the time, they lack a full frequency response.

Condenser mics are more complex in terms of construction, and they are more fragile. But they can pick up a wider frequency response and create a more natural sound. They also have better sensitivity and a higher output level.

Due to their rugged construction, dynamic mics are more popular for stage use and live sound performances. On the other hand, condenser mics are the preferred type of mic for studio recording or streaming in controlled environments because they pick up sounds with great accuracy and detail.

Take a look at this video explaining and demonstrating the differences between a condenser microphone and a dynamic microphone:

Condenser Shotgun Mic vs. Dynamic Shotgun Mic

It is easy to understand how a condenser mic and a dynamic mic can be different, and which one is better to use in a given scenario. But when you add the shotgun mic component to it, things can get confusing.

So, if you want to see the differences between a condenser shotgun mic and a dynamic shotgun mic, check out the video below. It shows a comparison between the Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone and the Rode NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone from Amazon.com.

Sale
Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone
3,591 Reviews
Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone
  • ONE MICROPHONE FOR EVERYTHING - Studio Recording, Home Recording, Podcasting & Streaming. The SM7B Is Trusted By The Worlds Leading Vocalists, Podcasters & Streamers.
  • STUDIO VOCAL RECORDING - The SM7B’s Dynamic Cartridge With Smooth, Flat, Wide-range Frequency Response Produces Exceptionally Clean & Natural Reproduction Of Both Music & Speech.
  • PODCAST & BROADCAST - Found In The Top Podcasting Studios Around The World, The SM7B Air Suspension Shock Isolation & Pop Filter Eliminate Both Mechanical Noise And Breathiness. So Words Get Through And The Rest Stays Out Of The Mix.
Sale
Rode NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone with Inbuilt Battery
966 Reviews
Rode NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone with Inbuilt Battery
  • Broadcast sound quality
  • Low noise circuitry
  • Internal rechargeable lithium battery, supplying over 150 hours operation

Conclusion

A shotgun mic and a condenser mic are not two different types or categories of microphones. So there is no such thing as choosing one over the other for streaming purposes. Instead, you can get a shotgun microphone that is condenser-type instead of one that is dynamic-type.

More so, a condenser shotgun microphone is a good microphone to use for streaming given the right conditions. For one, you need to be in a fixed position or facing the microphone directly. You also need to be in a conducive environment or a room with ideal acoustics.

Sources

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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