The 12 Best Microphones For Field Recording 2024

The 12 Best Microphones For Field Recording | integraudio.com

When embarking on a field recording project, the right mic is an essential tool that directly impacts your final product. Whether for capturing nature’s sound to add ambiance to a film score or an interview in a bustling city, it can ensure that you get a recording that accurately represents your environment.

In a nutshell, here are our picks:

1. Sennheiser MKH 416 P48

2. Audio-Technica AT897

3. RODE M5 (Pair)

4. AKG C451B (Pair)

5. Comica CVM-VM2

6. Sennheiser MKE 600

7. Shure KSM 137

8. RODE NTG2

9. Neumann KM184

10. Zoom SSH6

11. Audio-Technica AT875R

12. Shure VP88

Field recording is a crucial aspect of sound design and filmmaking. It involves capturing real-life sounds in an outdoor environment and incorporating them into the creative process. However, capturing quality sounds on a field recording project requires more than just pointing a microphone at a source.

These are some key aspects to mind when capturing sounds outdoors:

  • Choose the Polar Pattern Accordingly

    It is essential to consider your equipment. Choosing the right microphone for the task is crucial to capture solid-quality sound. A shotgun microphone is a great choice for directional recording, while a condenser microphone is ideal for capturing ambient sounds.

  • Scout for the Ideal Location

    Location is key when recording sounds in the field. The recording environment can drastically affect the sound quality; for example, recording in an open field will result in different acoustics than recording in a forest or a city street.
    It’s essential to scout the location beforehand and note any potential sound obstacles or background noises that may interfere with the recording.

  • Set the Recording Levels

    It’s important to pay attention to the recording levels. Recording too softly can result in a low-quality, noisy recording, whereas recording too loudly can result in distortion.
    It’s best to start with a low recording level and gradually increase it until the desired volume is achieved.

  • Real-Time Monitoring Is Key

    Monitoring the recording is also crucial, as wearing headphones allows the recordist to hear what is being recorded in real-time and make any necessary adjustments to the recording level or microphone position.
    Monitoring the recording for unwanted sounds, such as wind or handling noise, will enable you to prevent any surprises that must be taken care of later in post-production.

  • Enhance the Track with Post-Processing

    Lastly, post-processing can enhance the quality of the recording. Noise reduction, EQ, and compression can all be used to improve sound quality. However, it’s important not to over-process the recording, which can result in an artificial-sounding product.

The 12 Best Microphones For Field Recording 2024

1. Sennheiser MKH 416 P48

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From busy city streets to windy mountaintops, the MKH 416 delivers clear audio to make your videos stand out. 

The audio world is constantly evolving, but few companies like Sennheiser have made such a lasting impact. With a reputation for producing high-quality audio products, the company has been synonymous with crisp, clear sound for decades.

With its optimum directional capabilities and low self-noise, the MKH416P48 is ideal for various applications, from film and TV production to live sound capturing.

It’s essential to have equipment you can rely on, and its included shock mount and windscreen minimize unwanted noises, allowing for clear audio recordings.

Built to last with rugged all-metal construction and a moisture-resistant design, it’s well-suited for demanding environments, allowing for solid recordings no matter where you work.

Whether you’re a professional audio engineer or a content creator, this mic offers superior sound quality and versatility. With its unique design and advanced technology, this microphone will be valuable to any recording setup.

Key Features:

  • Super-Cardioid Polar Pattern

A super-cardioid polar pattern makes it highly directional, meaning it picks up sound from the front of the mic while rejecting sound from the sides and rear. The result is focused and clear sound, making it ideal for capturing dialogue and other sound effects.

  • Frequency Response

Boasting a frequency response ranging from 40Hz to 20kHz, this mic can capture a wide range of sound frequencies. It has a slight peak in the high frequencies around 8kHz, which can help to accentuate spoken sources.

  • Low Self-Noise

With a low self-noise of only 13 dBA, much lower than most recording environments’ noise floor, it captures sound with great clarity without adding any unwanted noise to the recording.

  • Sensitivity

Being able to pick up even the faintest sounds with great clarity, with a high sensitivity rating of 25 dBV/Pa, this mic is well-suitable for recording light sound sources such as whispers or rustling leaves.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Its maximum SPL handling of 130 dB makes it suitable for recording loud sound sources such as gunfire, explosions, or live music performances without the risk of distortion or damage to the microphone. This feature makes it popular among sound engineers and filmmakers who must record sound in noisy and dynamic environments.

  • Included Accessories

Along with the MKH416, Sennheiser has included the MZW415 Windshield, made of a durable foam that fits snugly over the microphone and is designed to reduce wind noise when recording outdoors. It also features an MZQ100 Microphone Clamp designed to attach the microphone to a stand or boom pole.

  • Zip Pouch

Designed to protect the microphone during transport and storage, its protective case is made of high-quality materials, securing it from physical damage, moisture, and dust. It has a soft foam lining that helps to cushion the mic from impacts and scratches.

Pros:

A high-end microphone that is widely regarded as one of the best shotgun microphones on the market. It has several pros, including superior sound quality, ruggedness and durability, low self-noise, versatility, and impressive low-frequency response.

These features make it ideal for various applications, such as film and television production, field recording, voiceovers, and music recording.

Cons: 

Yet, there are some cons to consider, the mic’s rear rejection is not as strong as some other shotgun mics on the market, and its weight can make it uncomfortable to hold for extended periods. Additionally, some may find its price to be a barrier.

2. Audio-Technica AT897

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Whether you’re recording music concerts or wildlife documentaries, this shotgun mic can help eliminate unwanted noise and interference caused by surrounding elements.

Whether you’re shooting a documentary in the middle of a bustling city or capturing a live performance in a dimly lit venue, the AT897’s solid noise rejection capabilities and wide dynamic range ensure you’ll capture crystal audio every time.

It’s no secret that setting up audio equipment can be a daunting task, even for seasoned professionals. But with this mic, you can rest assured that the setup process is straightforward and user-friendly.

The build quality is impeccable, the directional pattern is spot-on, and the frequency response captures the whole spectrum of human hearing.

But what sets it apart is how it captures any environment’s ambiance. Whether shooting in a crowded street or a quiet church, it will make you feel right there amid the action.

Key Features:

  • Line-Gradient Polar Pattern

Achieved by using a long interference tube that helps to isolate the sound source from ambient noise, the AT897 has a highly directional pickup pattern. This tube creates an acoustic phase shift between the sound waves entering the tube from different angles, which causes the sound waves to interfere, helping to isolate the sound source from ambient noise.

  • Frequency response

From low bass to high treble, featuring a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, this mic can capture a wide range of audio frequencies. It is designed to produce a natural, transparent sound, emphasizing the upper midrange to enhance vocal clarity.

  • Low Self-Noise

With a self-noise rating of just 19 dB, the AT897 produces very little noise, ensuring the audio signal is as clean and clear as possible. This is key in professional audio applications where the mic is used to capture quiet sounds or when it is used in conjunction with other microphones.

  • Sensitivity

Boasting a sensitivity rating of -40dBV/Pa, it is an ideal choice for capturing dialogue in video productions and other audio applications requiring a high level of detail, as it can pick up even the quietest sounds with a high level of accuracy.

  • Switchable Low-Frequency Roll-Off

Another key feature of this mic is its switchable low-frequency roll-off, which allows you to selectively reduce the amount of low-frequency noise picked up by the mic. A feature that can be particularly useful in noisy environments.

Located on the side of the microphone, near the XLR connector, this switch operates in two positions, “flat” will capture sound across its entire frequency range, from low to high frequencies, and “roll-off” will reduce the amount of low-frequency noise it picks up.

Its low-frequency roll-off reduces noise below 80 Hz, typically associated with wind noise, traffic rumble, and other low-frequency ambient sounds. By reducing it, the mic can capture cleaner, clearer sound in challenging environments.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Designed to handle high sound pressure levels, with a maximum SPL rating of 129 dB, means that the microphone can handle very loud sound sources without distorting the signal.

When recording outside, for example, the microphone may be exposed to loud ambient sounds like traffic or wind; however, this mic is designed to handle these kinds of loud sound sources without distortion, making it a great choice for recording things like loud explosions in a movie, or other high-energy sound effects.

  • Included Accessories

Included with the mic are the AT8134 Windscreen, designed to reduce wind noise and other unwanted sounds that the microphone can pick up during recording, and an AT8405a Stand Clamp, which allows for easy and secure attachment of the microphone to stands with a 5/8″-27 threaded mount.

Pros:

Ideal for use in situations where you want to isolate and capture specific sounds or voices while rejecting background noise, this mic is a directional microphone, which means it picks up sound primarily from the direction it is pointed in.

Its low self-noise allows it for use in quiet environments or when recording dialogues; meanwhile, its high sensitivity enables it to be used when capturing audio from a distance, such as in wildlife filming.

Cons: 

Users have reported that the microphone can pick up handling noise, which can be problematic if handheld or mounted on a camera. Additionally, the AT897 is a relatively expensive microphone, which may not be affordable for all users.

3. RODE M5 (Pair)

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With their sleek, compact design, powerful sound-capturing capabilities, and easy-to-use functionality, the Rode M5’s are the go-to mics for any audio recording enthusiast looking to up their game.

The M5 boasts a cardioid polar pattern, giving it excellent off-axis noise rejection while allowing for a natural sound. Its wide frequency range and high sensitivity make it a great option for recordings requiring plenty of detail and nuance.

Its specifications are impressive, with a maximum SPL of 140 dB and a self-noise of 19 dBA, making for one of the quietest mics on the market.

You’ll feel confident knowing that every nuance of your performance or sound effect source will be captured accurately.

Perfect for interviewers, documentary filmmakers, and videographers looking for a high-quality microphone, the M5 is compact and easy to use. Its lightweight design makes it remarkably portable, allowing you to capture solid audio anywhere.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

Featuring a cardioid polar pattern, it captures sound primarily from the front and sides of the microphone while rejecting sound from the rear. It is ideal for recording individual instruments and voices without picking up unwanted background noise.

  • Interchangeable Capsules

Switching between cardioid and omnidirectional (sold separately) capsules provide flexibility when recording in the field. Cardioid mode is ideal for isolating sound sources and reducing background noise, while omnidirectional mode can capture a more natural and spacious sound in the environment.

  • Frequency Response

With a standard frequency range for most mics of 20Hz to 20kHz, it captures from deep bass tones to high-pitched treble notes. The frequency response graph is relatively flat from around 100Hz to 1kHz, the range where most vocals and acoustic instruments fall. The M5 is well-suited for capturing these types of sources accurately and with great detail.

  • Low Self-Noise

The M5 has a low self-noise level of just 19 dBA, meaning it captures sound with very little background noise, which is particularly important for recording quiet sources or when using the mic in a noisy environment. It enables you to capture the ambiance and sound effects with clear quality.

  • Sensitivity

Able to produce a strong output level even with relatively low sound pressure levels, this mic has a sensitivity of -34 dBV/Pa, a relatively high sensitivity compared to many other mics.

This is beneficial for several reasons, as it makes it easier to capture quieter sources without pushing the mic’s gain too hard and allows the microphone to capture more detail and nuance in the sound, especially in the high-frequency range.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

A high SPL handling of 140 dB makes it suitable for recording loud sound sources such as engines, gunfire, or explosions without distorting the audio. This can be particularly useful for field recording applications where loud, dynamic sounds are part of the recording environment.

  • Included Accessories

Providing a stable and adjustable mounting solution for recording in various situations, this mic includes an RM5 Stand Mount, which allows you to attach the M5 to a microphone stand or boom pole. The WS5 Windshield is a foam cover that fits over the mic and provides additional protection against wind noise and plosives.

  • Zip Pouch

A small carrying case is included in the box, a ZP1 zip pouch designed to provide a convenient way to transport the microphone and its accessories while protecting them from dust and scratches.

Pros:

User experiences with the Rode M5 have generally been positive, praising the mic’s sound quality and versatility. Many also appreciate the mic’s compact size and low-noise floor, making it ideal for field recordings and home studio use.

Cons: 

Some have reported that the microphone can produce sibilance (harsh “s” or “sh” sounds) in certain recording situations; users have also noted fragility issues, so care should be taken when transporting or handling the mic.

4. AKG C451B (Pair)

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In the ever-evolving audio recording industry, the AKG C7B Condenser Microphone stands tall as the top choice for professionals, with its innovative design that took years to perfect.

The universe of audio recording equipment is vast and intricate, requiring an understanding of sound’s technical and artistic aspects. It’s a journey of exploration, experimentation, and execution. And at the heart of it is the microphone, the device that captures the sound and brings it to life.

AKG is a well-known name in this industry, and the C451B condenser microphone affirms their expertise. Thanks to its clear sound and solid recording capabilities, this powerful mic has been a top choice among professional audio engineers for years.

But what makes this mic stand out from the competition is its ability to capture every nuance and detail of sound, even the most complex sound sources.

Its cardioid polar pattern provides a high level of off-axis rejection, which means it can pick up sound clearly while minimizing background noise, and its ability to handle high sound pressure levels makes it a versatile option for any audio recording.

Boasting a stainless steel grille and robust housing, this mic can withstand heavy use and abuse. But durability is not just about surviving rough handling but also consistency.

Its construction ensures the mic’s internal components remain stable and reliable, resulting in consistently great sound on every recording.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

A cardioid polar pattern means this mic is more sensitive to sounds coming from the front of the microphone and less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides and rear, helping to reject unwanted background noise and focusing on the sound source, making it ideal for recording in noisy, opened environments.

  • Frequency Response

Featuring a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, the AKG C451B can capture a wide range of sounds, from bird songs to rustling leaves, with clarity and accuracy, making it well-suited for recording various instruments and sound sources in the field.

  • Low Self-Noise

It boasts a low self-noise level of 18 dBA, which means it can record in quiet environments or capture delicate sounds that require high levels of detail and clarity. This is especially important in field recording, where background noise can be problematic.

  • Sensitivity

With a 9 dBV/Pa sensitivity, it can pick up even the faintest sounds, making it ideal for recording quiet or distant sources in the field. This means you can capture subtle nuances in a sound that other microphones may miss, allowing for more detailed and accurate recordings.

  • Switchable High-Pass Filter

The C451B features a switchable high-pass filter that can reduce low-frequency noise; it allows you to capture a track clear of wind or traffic background sounds, for example.

  • Pre-Atenuation Pad

By engaging the pre-attenuation pad, you can reduce the mic’s sensitivity by 10 dB and protect it from distortion when recording loud sound sources. This feature also expands the mic’s dynamic range, allowing it to capture soft sounds accurately without the risk of overload when a loud sound suddenly occurs.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

With the pad engaged, it can handle high SPLs of up to 155 dB, making it suitable for capturing loud sound sources without distortion. The pre-attenuation pad is also useful when recording dialogue in noisy environments, as it can capture the speaker’s voice more clearly and reduce background noise, improving the overall quality of the recording.

  • Included Accessories

It comes with a W90 Windscreen, a foam windscreen that helps to reduce wind noise when recording outdoors or in windy environments, an H85 Shock Mount, designed to reduce handling noise and vibrations when recording, and an SA60 Stand Adapter, which allows you to mount it onto a mic stand securely.

It features a 5/8″-27 female thread that fits most microphone stands.

  • Zip Pouch

Designed to hold the C451B and its included accessories, including the SA60 Stand Adapter, W90 windscreen, and H85 shock mount, it features a zippered closure that ensures the microphone and accessories remain securely inside the bag while in transit.

Pros:

This mic has several pros, including its wide frequency response range, high sensitivity, low self-noise, and ability to handle high sound pressure levels; it also features a switchable pad and high-pass filter, making it ideal for use in a variety of recording environments.

Cons: 

Some downsides to consider include the microphone’s price point, sensitivity to handling noise, and its high-end frequencies, which some may find somewhat harsh, depending on their recording preferences.

5. Comica CVM-VM20

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With Adjustable Stepless Gain Control, you’ll never have to worry about missed or distorted dialogue again.

This versatile mic is designed with an innovative shock mount system that reduces handling noise and unwanted vibrations to capture high-quality sound, even on the go. Its adaptability to various settings, from interviews to gaming streams to vlogging, without compromising on the audio definition is one of the most interesting aspects of this mic.

The CVM-VM20 boasts a super-cardioid pickup pattern and 16mm diaphragm, ensuring better directional sound and reducing unwanted background noise. Unlike other microphones requiring extensive setup and calibration, they can be installed in minutes. And once installed, you’ll immediately notice the difference in sound quality.

Its compact size makes it easy to carry on any adventure, while its shock-resistant mount ensures stability in any field recording situation.

Key Features:

  • Hyper-Cardioid Polar Pattern

Allowing it to focus on the sound in front of it while rejecting unwanted noise from the sides and rear, the CVM-VM20 boasts a hyper-cardioid polar pattern, which makes it ideal for capturing clear, directional audio in noisy or crowded environments, such as in a busy street or the outdoors.

  • Frequency Response

Ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz, this mic boasts a frequency response ideal for recording speech and other audio sources with a wide dynamic range, capturing from deep bass to high treble frequencies with solid accuracy.

  • Low Self-Noise

With a low self-noise level of less than 24dB, this mic can capture clean, high-quality audio with minimal background noise, making it ideal for use in quiet environments or when recording subtle sounds, such as nature recordings.

  • Sensitivity

Its high sensitivity of -43 dB means it can capture even quiet sounds with great detail, enabling it to record speech, music, and other sound sources with a wide dynamic range, a particularly useful feature for recording quiet or distant sources, such as wildlife, nature sounds, or distant dialogue.

  • Two Low-Cut Filter Modes

Featuring two low-cut modes that are designed to reduce low-frequency rumbles, such as wind noise, traffic noise, or vibrations, the CVM-VM20 offers greater flexibility in controlling the sound quality of your recordings, allowing you to tailor your microphone settings to the specific needs of each recording situation.

The 75 Hz filter is ideal for recording dialogue or other sources where you want to retain some low-end warmth. In comparison, the 150 Hz filter is more aggressive and is better suited for noisy environments like busy streets.

  • Adjustable Stepless Gain Control

Stepless gain control means that the mic’s gain can be adjusted gradually and smoothly rather than in fixed increments, providing more precise control over the mic’s sensitivity.

This feature is quite useful for field recording, where conditions can be unpredictable and vary greatly from one location to another, as it allows you to make very fine adjustments to the microphone’s gain to capture the ideal sound level, whether recording quiet dialogue or loud sound effects.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Capable of handling sound pressure levels of up to 105 dB, this mic is ideal for recording live events and other noisy environments where sound levels can be high, as it can handle loud sounds without distorting or clipping.

  • Included Accessories

Included with the mic are two windscreen types, a shock mount, and two TRS coiled cables. The Foam Windscreen reduces plosives and other vocal pops when recording dialogue or spoken words.

Meanwhile, the Furry Windscreen is designed for use in particularly windy or harsh environments, providing even greater protection against wind noise and other environmental factors that could affect the quality of your recordings.

  • Hard Protective Bag

They are designed to keep the microphone safe and secure during transportation and storage, helping to prevent damage from bumps, scratches, and other forms of wear and tear. This case is made from a durable and lightweight material and features a padded interior that provides additional protection for the microphone.

Pros:

The Comica CVM-VM20 is a highly directional mic designed for field recordings, video and film production, and other audio applications. Its pros include its compact size, affordable price point, and ease of use.

Boasting two low-cut modes that help reduce low-frequency noise and interference, this mic is a formidable tool for any set.

Cons: 

Some users noted that the microphone’s build quality is not as robust as more expensive models, which may make it less durable over time.

6. Sennheiser MKE 600

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No more messy dialogue or straining to hear the faintest sounds; with the MKE 600, you can upgrade your field recordings to a higher level of professionalism. 

A shotgun-style directional mic that’s perfect for DSLR cameras, camcorders, and audio recorders while recording audio in the field, this mic provides a super-cardioid polar pattern that ensures maximum isolation of the source sound and minimizes background noise.

It features a low-cut filter that helps remove unwanted low frequencies that could be problematic in noisy environments, considerably improving the overall audio quality.

The MKE 600 has a few ergonomic features that will make field recordings easier, including a low battery cutoff to protect the mic from damage during extended use and a built-in shock absorption system to ensure ideal sound quality, even in rugged environments.

With its remarkable directional audio quality, versatility, and durability, this microphone provides users with a great audio recording experience, filling every field recordist’s needs for capturing high-quality audio while on the move.

Key Features:

  • Super-Cardioid/Lobar Polar Pattern

A super-cardioid pattern helps to reduce off-axis noise further and improve the focus on the sound source in front of the mic, providing excellent directionality, while a lobar pattern is a sub-type of super-cardioid that has an even narrower pickup angle, making it ideal for capturing sound where there is a lot of ambient noise.

This pattern is commonly used in film and video production, as it helps to isolate the sound of the person speaking in a field recording environment.

  • Frequency Response

With a wide frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, it can capture a wide range of frequencies, which is important for accurately reproducing sound and minimizing distortion.

  • Low Self-Noise

Boasting a low self-noise of 15 dBA is important for recording dialogue, ambient sound effects, and other audio elements in video productions, as it can capture audio without introducing any unwanted noise, even when trying to capture subtle sounds in a quiet room.

  • Sensitivity

A high-sensitivity microphone is ideal for capturing low-level sounds or for use in situations where it needs to be positioned further away from the sound source. With a sensitivity of -21 dBV, this mic can pick up even the slightest sound vibrations in the air and convert them into electrical signals with high accuracy.

  • Switchable Low-Cut Filter

It includes a switchable low-cut filter that reduces low-frequency noise and rumbles from wind, traffic, and airplane turbines. This is useful in outdoor recording situations, where wind and other environmental noise are major issues.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Another key feature of the MKE 600 is its high maximum SPL handling, as this mic can handle sound pressure levels up to 132 dB, making it suitable for use in a wide range of recording scenarios, from live music to field recording of explosions and other loud sound effects.

  • Included Accessories

Along with the MKE 600, in the box are included the MZW 600 Windscreen, the MZS 600 Shock Mount, and the KA 600 Cable, which is a high-quality XLR to 3.5mm TRS cable designed to connect the microphone to a DSLR camera or other recording device, allowing you to easily transfer audio from the mic to the camera without any loss of quality.

  • Zip Pouch

Made of durable materials that protect the microphone from scratches, dust, and minor impacts, this pouch is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry in a backpack or camera bag. Its drawstring closure allows quick and easy access to the mic while keeping it secure and protected when not in use.

Pros:

Featuring high sensitivity and low self-noise, make this mic is capable of capturing subtle nuances in sound, while its ability to handle high sound pressure levels enables it to record even the loudest sources without distortion.

Its switchable low-cut filter, which reduces low-frequency noise and interference, adds to the highly resistant wind noise capabilities, making it ideal for outdoor recording.

Cons: 

However, its relatively high price point may concern some users, and its highly directional nature may not be suitable for all applications, as it may require careful positioning to achieve optimal results.

7. Shure KSM 137

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With its cardioid polar pattern and ultra-thin diaphragm, it’s the perfect choice for capturing even the most delicate of sounds.

This condenser mic is designed to deliver a warm and natural sound, making it an ideal choice for capturing instruments and ambient sounds outdoors, as its cardioid polar pattern helps mitigate unwanted background noise and focus on the sound source. At the same time, its rugged construction ensures that it can withstand the elements.

Add to the mic’s low self-noise, high SPL handling, and flat frequency response, and you have a mic that would be a valuable asset to any field recording setup.

With its precision and reliability, the Shure KSM 137 can help you capture the most intricate and subtle sounds while standing up to the demands of the great outdoors.

It caters to a wide range of recording needs and is backed by a company that has been at the forefront of audio innovation for over 95 years. This mic is a testament to Shure’s commitment to delivering reliable audio equipment across various applications.

But the KSM 137 isn’t just a highly capable mic; it’s also easy to use and highly compatible with a wide range of recording equipment, making it an ideal tool to carry on your field recording rig.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

This directional characteristic allows the microphone to isolate the sound source and reduce ambient noise, making it ideal for field recording where external noise can be a significant problem. The cardioid pattern provides natural sound reproduction and excellent off-axis rejection, ensuring clear and focused recordings.

  • Frequency Response

Its extended frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz enables it to accurately capture a wide range of sound frequencies. Because it can capture the natural sound of spoken voice and environments, it is an excellent choice for field recording.

  • Low Self-Noise

It boasts a low self-noise of 14 dBA, one of the lowest in its class, meaning the mic’s internal electronics generate very little noise, producing a clean and clear recording. This feature is especially important for field recording, where the environment can be noisy, and low self-noise helps to capture the desired sound source without any unwanted noise.

  • Sensitivity

With a -37 dBV/Pa sensitivity, the KSM 137 is ideal for recording delicate sound effects and even string instruments. This high sensitivity also helps to capture the nuances and subtleties of the performance, resulting in a natural and dynamic sound.

  • 3-Position Switchable Low-Frequency Filter

Tailoring the mic’s response to different recording situations allows users to achieve a more accurate and detailed sound source recording. With three switchable low-frequency filter positions, this mic can quickly switch between each, allowing for more efficient recording sessions, as it eliminates the need to make manual adjustments to the recording setup.

  • 3-Position Switchable Pad

Additionally, it features a 3-position switchable pad, which allows you to reduce the mic’s sensitivity to high sound pressure levels, making it suitable for recording loud sound sources without distortion.

The first position, Flat, bypasses the low-frequency filter and captures the full frequency range of the sound source, and its second and third positions attenuate low-frequency sounds below 80 Hz by 15 dB and 25 dB, respectively.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

When a microphone is exposed to sound pressure levels above its maximum SPL handling, the diaphragm can become overloaded, resulting in distortion or clipping of the recorded sound.

This can make the recording unusable, as the distorted sound cannot be fixed in post-production. In the case of the Shure KSM137, its maximum SPL handling is 170 dB, which is quite high for a small diaphragm condenser microphone, and allows it to handle loud instruments and sound sources without any distortion or clipping.

  • Included Accessories

Designed to enhance its functionality and ease of use, this mic has several included accessories. The A27M Stereo Mic Adapter features two XLR inputs and a single XLR output, allowing it to be used in a stereo configuration with another KSM 137; the A100WS Windscreen is a foam cover that fits over the mic to help reduce wind noise and plosives during recording; and the A57F Stand Adapter is a simple but essential accessory that allows it to be securely mounted on a mic features standard 5/8″-27 thread stand or boom arm.

  • A100C Hard Case

Its exterior is made of durable plastic material designed to withstand the rigors of travel and handling.

It features a locking mechanism that keeps the case closed during transport, preventing the microphone and accessories from being damaged or lost, and an interior foam cut precisely to the shape of the mic and accessories, ensuring a snug and secure fit that prevents any movement or jostling during transport.

Pros:

A versatile, cardioid condenser microphone designed for use in a wide range of recording applications, its pros include its extended frequency response, low self-noise, and ability to handle high sound pressure levels.

The KSM 137 also features a switchable low-frequency filter to reduce rumble and other low-frequency noise and a switchable pad for close miking of loud sound sources.

Cons: 

Users have noted that the mic’s swivel mount may not be as secure or sturdy as they would like and may require frequent adjustment or tightening.

Another potential drawback of this mic is its extended frequency response which may be too bright or harsh for certain applications or recording styles and might require additional EQ or processing to achieve the desired sound.

8. RODE NTG2

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The Rode NTG7 is a powerful and versatile shotgun microphone that has proved to be a game-changer for audio professionals.

Whether you are recording a podcast, film, or documentary, the Rode NTG7 captures a high-quality sound that is crisp and clear, no matter the environment. A highly directional pickup pattern makes it easy to focus on your intended target and eliminate unwanted noise.

A few of its key features are its ability to handle high SPLs, and the inclusion of a high-pass filter and high-frequency boost, which makes it ideal for capturing audio in almost any environment.

Its compact size also makes it a great choice for on-the-go recording, as it doesn’t take much space out of your bag and is also easily mountable, allowing you to maneuver it more freely.

With an impressive 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, this microphone can pick up even the faintest of whispers, delivering remarkable clarity and richness in the final audio output.

Whether recording wildlife sounds, outdoor interviews, or capturing the hustle-bustle of a busy street, the NTG2 will deliver solid sound quality every time.

Key Features:

  • Line-Gradient Polar Pattern

Ideal for field recording because it helps to isolate the sound you want to capture from the surrounding noise; this polar pattern is highly directional, meaning that it picks up sound from a very specific area in front of the microphone.

  • Frequency Response

With a frequency response generally considered flat, with a range of 20Hz to 20kHz, it has no significant boosts or cuts in any particular frequency range. This flat response is ideal for capturing natural, uncolored sound and reproducing sound as accurately as possible without adding tonal characteristics.

  • Low Self-Noise

Featuring a self-noise rating of only 18 dBA, which is very low for a shotgun microphone, the NTG2 is less prone to pick up unwanted noise from the mic itself, such as hiss or hum, which is key when recording in quiet environments or when using the mic to record subtle sound effects.

  • Sensitivity

Especially useful when recording dialogue or other subtle sounds that other microphones may miss, this mic boasts a high sensitivity of -36 dB, meaning that it can pick up even the quietest of sounds and still produce a strong, clear signal.

  • Switchable High-Pass Filter

This filter has a cutoff frequency of 80 Hz and can be switched on or off depending on the recording situation, helping to reduce low-frequency noise such as wind noise or rumble from handling the microphone.

  • Switchable Pad

The NTG2 includes a switchable pad that reduces the microphone’s sensitivity by 10 dB. This is useful when recording loud sound sources such as gunshots or explosions, where a microphone with high SPL handling capability may still be overloaded.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

A maximum SPL handling capability of 131 dB means it can handle loud sound sources without distorting or clipping, which is especially useful when recording in loud scenarios like busy streets or demanding field environments.

  • Included Accessories

The WSVM Foam Windscreen is designed to be acoustically transparent, meaning it doesn’t significantly affect the mic’s frequency response or sensitivity as it fits over its capsule to help reduce wind noise and plosive sounds.

Compatible with most standard microphone stands, the RM5 Stand Mount is a shock mount designed to isolate the microphone from vibrations and handling noise.

  • Zip Pouch

Designed to protect the microphone during transport and storage, the ZP2 lightweight Zip Pouch is a soft, padded carrying case made from durable materials. It features a zippered closure to keep the microphone secure.

Pros:

The NTG2 is remarkably versatile, and it can capture sound from a distance, eliminating unwanted background noise and giving you clear reproduction of the sounds you’re focusing on.

And with its lightweight design, portability, and ease of use, it’s a must-have accessory for every aspiring audiophile looking to take their recordings to the next level.

Cons: 

While the NTG2 has a highly directional polar pattern, some users have noted that there can be some off-axis coloration or distortion when recording sound sources that are not directly in front of the microphone.

9. Neumann KM184

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Designed to capture the most unadulterated sound possible, this mic offers precision and accuracy that can make all the difference in a recording.

At first glance, the Neumann KM184 might seem like any other high-end microphone on the market. However, a closer look into its specifications and capabilities reveals its true value for capturing the authenticity of sound in any outdoor environment.

Its small diaphragm condenser design allows for highly detailed recording of dialogues, sound effects, and other sources with incredible accuracy. It also features a highly directional polar pattern, perfect for isolating a single source within a noisy environment.

But perhaps most impressively, this mic boasts a remarkably low self-noise, ensuring you can capture even the quietest nuances of sound without any added interference.

The KM184 frequency response, a staggering 20 Hz to 20 kHz, ensures that every subtle sound is captured vividly, while the cardioid pickup pattern reduces unwanted noise from off-axis sources.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

Featuring a cardioid polar pattern, the KM184 is most sensitive to sound directly in front of the microphone while still slightly sensitive to sound from the sides, making it a popular choice for recording vocals and other sound sources where you want to isolate the sound.

  • Frequency Response

Covering the entire range of human hearing, this mic has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, ensuring it captures every detail of the recorded audio. Being able to pick up both high and low frequencies results in a more natural and balanced sound.

  • Low Self-Noise

Low self-noise is critical for capturing delicate sounds; with a low self-noise of only 22 dBA, it produces very little noise when recording quiet sources, making it ideal for recording delicate acoustic instruments and ambient soundscapes with solid fidelity and detail.

  • Transformerless Circuitry

By not using a transformer to convert the electrical signal from the diaphragm to the output, transformerless circuitry offers several benefits. The absence of a transformer means less distortion and phase shift, resulting in a more accurate representation of the recorded sound.

At the same time, it is more efficient and reliable, providing a longer lifespan for the mic.
All of it results in improved transient response, lower noise, and a more natural and transparent sound.

  • Sensitivity

High sensitivity is key for recording low-level sounds, such as subtle nuances in acoustic instruments or distant sources like bird songs. Boasting a 15 mV/Pa sensitivity, the KM184 ensures that these sounds are captured with maximum detail without additional amplification.

  • Switchable Pad

Designed to reduce the mic’s sensitivity by 10 dB, this pad allows the microphone to handle even more dynamic range without distortion; this feature makes the microphone ideal for recording loud sound effects in film production or live performances.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Boasting a maximum SPL handling of 148 dB, it can capture the full dynamic range of the sound source, resulting in a more natural and accurate recording.

  • Included Accessories

Coming with a WNS 100 Windscreen, which helps to reduce wind noise and plosives when recording outdoors or in windy environments, and an SG 21 Stand Mount Swivel, which allows the mic to be mounted securely onto a stand, the KM184 has all you need to start recording right away.

  • Wooden Case

Its carrying case is constructed from high-quality wood with a durable, protective exterior finish, with an elegant design that adds a refined style to the piece. Its interior is lined with foam, which helps to protect the microphone and its accessories from impact and damage during transit.

Pros:

With pros including its clear, detailed sound quality, low self-noise, and ability to handle high sound pressure levels, this mic is designed for a wide range of recording applications. It also features a -10 dB pad for close miking of loud sound sources.

Cons: 

Its low-frequency roll-off may be too steep or pronounced for some, requiring additional EQ or processing to achieve a more balanced sound. Also, some users may find the mic’s cardioid polar pattern too sensitive to off-axis sound sources, resulting in unwanted room noise or bleeding from other sources.

10. Zoom SSH6

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The SSH6 is an excellent upgrade for those looking to elevate their recording quality. Its intuitive design, and impressive features make it a must-have for those in the filmmaking or journalism industry.

With its unique design, this mic offers superior stereo sound for field recording. Its capsule system ensures that your recordings capture nuanced sound and maintain low-frequency rumble.

The addition of mid-side mics allows you to alter the stereo width easily, making it ideal for capturing wildlife sounds, ambient recordings, music, or even live events.

Small enough to fit into your pocket, perfect for on-the-go recording, this mic is designed to work seamlessly with most recording devices, giving you a versatile and practical recording solution.

With its rugged exterior and exceptional sound quality, this mic is a must-have for content creators looking to elevate their craft.

Key Features:

  • Switchable Directionality

One of the key features of the SSH6 is its switchable directionality, allowing you to choose between a super-cardioid more directional pattern or a cardioid polar pattern, which captures a wider angle, providing added flexibility in various recording scenarios.

  • Side Microphone

Developed to capture ambient sounds from surrounding sources, it features a built-in side mic with a 120-degree polar pattern, which helps capture sound from a wide area and provides a natural stereo sound.

  • Mid-Side Recording

Allowing you to fine-tune the stereo width of the recorded sound to suit your needs, this mic supports mid-side recording for added flexibility in post-production.

  • Frequency Response

Spanning from 20Hz to 20kHz, the SSH6 offers clear and accurate audio reproduction, resulting in high-quality recordings. This wide range ensures that the microphone can capture various sound frequencies and gets the most out of its bi-directional recording capability.

  • Low Self-Noise

With a low self-noise level of -120 dB, it can capture audio in quiet environments without introducing unwanted hiss or noise. This feature is particularly important for recording scenarios like classical music concerts or film sets where background noise is undesirable.

  • Sensitivity

It boasts a sensitivity of -39 dBV/Pa, this being adjustable using the attenuation pad, allowing you to reduce the mic’s sensitivity by 10 or 20 dB. This high sensitivity ensures that even low-level sounds are captured with excellent detail and clarity.

  • Analog-Style Gain Control

Offering up to 12 dB of gain adjustment, the analog-style gain control is particularly useful in situations where the sound source is constantly changing, such as capturing the sounds of a street performance or live set, allowing you to quickly adjust the mic’s sensitivity without having to stop the recording.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

Thanks to its high maximum SPL handling, the SSH6 can handle sound pressure levels of up to 122 dB SPL without distortion, which makes it ideal for recording loud sounds like thunder, fireworks, or heavy machinery.

  • Hairy Windscreen

Designed to reduce wind noise when recording outdoors, this mic comes with a hairy windscreen. Wind noise can be a significant problem when recording outdoors, as even a light breeze can create unwanted noise; it helps to reduce this problem by diffusing the wind and reducing its impact on the mic.

Pros:

Designed to provide high-quality directional audio recording for video and film applications, its pros include its versatile stereo shotgun microphone design, which allows users to capture focused, directional sound while maintaining a wide stereo image.

Additionally, the SSH6 is compact and easy to attach and detach from compatible Zoom Handy Recorders, making it a convenient option for on-the-go recording.

Cons: 

As an add-on accessory designed for select Zoom Handy Recorders (although compatible with several models such as H5, H6, H8, Q8, U-44, and F4), one of the biggest drawbacks is its incompatibility with other recording devices.

11. Audio-Technica AT875R

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Its ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold for extended periods, and its shock mount minimizes handling noise, ensuring clear audio even when handling or maneuvering it mid-recording.

In a world where everything needs instantaneous, capturing high-quality audio in the field can be challenging. And the AT875R shotgun mic is one of the top choices that audio professionals and journalists turn to for this task.

Whether shooting in a bustling city or a quiet nature setting, this mic’s directional nature helps zero in on your subject and preserve your voice with crystal clarity. At the same time, its tailored frequency response also ensures clear and articulate audio.

The compact design of the AT875R makes it easy to mount on cameras, booms, and other equipment, making it a versatile option for any recording scenario. Plus, with its rugged all-metal construction, this microphone is built to withstand the rigors of the field.

Surely, for anyone planning to create captivating videos or films, this shotgun microphone is an ideal tool to boast on your rig.

Key Features:

  • Line-Gradient Polar Pattern

A type of super-cardioid polar pattern, this highly directional pattern can pick up sounds from an even narrower angle while rejecting sounds from other directions.

This very focused capture is especially useful when recording in noisy environments, as the microphone can be aimed directly at the sound source, minimizing the amount of background noise picked up.

  • Frequency Response

It boasts a slight cut on the low frequencies with a range spanning from 90 Hz to 20 kHz; this does not affect its capability of capturing low sounds but will provide less detail than the other mics from the same class.

  • Low Self-Noise

The AT875R has a very low self-noise level of 14 dB, which means that it doesn’t add any hiss to your sound, ensuring that your recordings are clean and free from unwanted noise.

  • Sensitivity

Capable of capturing all sound details, even in challenging conditions, this mic is ideal for working in noisy environments like outdoors or live sets with its high sensitivity of -30 dBV/Pa.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

The benefit of the high maximum SPL handling of 127 dB of this microphone is that it allows you to record loud sound sources without any issues. This is particularly useful when recording dialogue and sound effects in live music performances, sports events, or industrial settings.

  • Included Accessories

Several accessories that make it a versatile and convenient tool for file recording are included in the box. The AT8405a Stand Clamp allows you to mount the mic onto any microphone stand that has a 5/8″-27 threaded connector, for the stands that have a 3/8″-16 threaded connector, there is a 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 Threaded Adapter so that you can connect your mic with ease.

Designed to reduce wind noise and other environmental sounds that can affect the quality of your recording, the included windscreen is made of foam material that reduces the amount of wind noise picked up. Additionally, two O-rings are included as replacement parts for the mic’s shock mount.

  • Soft Protective Pouch

Made of durable material that protects the mic from dust, dirt, and other environmental elements during storage and transport, the kit also includes a soft protective pouch that provides a convenient and protective carrying solution for the mic.

Pros:

Boasting a high sensitivity rating, low self-noise, and a compact, lightweight build, this mic is a remarkable choice for on-the-go field recordings.

Especially useful for video production or other applications where precise sound capture is necessary, it is a highly directional microphone, meaning that it excels at picking up sound in a specific direction.

Cons: 

While it excels at picking up sound in a specific direction, being a highly directional microphone can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, as it may not be the best choice for recording more ambient or general sound.

Unlike other shotgun microphones, the AT875R does not have switchable polar patterns, limiting its versatility in different recording situations.

12. Shure VP88

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With the ability to switch between cardioid, omnidirectional, and bi-directional polar patterns, the VP7 offers remarkable flexibility in capturing the exact sound you’re looking for

The world of professional audio has seen significant progress over the years. The ever-growing technological advancement has enabled sound enthusiasts to create impeccable audio projects rivaling Hollywood’s most expensive studios. From its sleek design to solid technology, the Shure VP88 is a force to be reckoned with.

Its dual-capsule design captures the nuances of the environment with clarity and accuracy, whether it’s a roaring waterfall or a quiet morning at the beach. Its low self-noise and wide frequency range make it a top choice for film and broadcast professionals.

With its sophisticated condenser technology and advanced switchable polar pattern options, the VP88 is a versatile solution for any situation. But what sets this microphone apart are its specs and features.

From its low noise floor to its high SPL handling, it is designed to capture audio in crisp detail, making it an ideal option for any professional looking to enhance their recordings.

One thing to note, however, is that this mic does come with a higher price tag than some other competitive options on the market. But if the top-quality sound is your priority, the investment is worth it.

Key Features:

  • Switchable Directionality

Featuring directional and omnidirectional polar patterns, you can switch between the two patterns depending on the recording environment. The directional pattern is ideal for capturing sound from a specific direction, such as dialogue or voiceover.

On the other hand, the omnidirectional pattern captures sound from all directions, making it ideal for capturing ambient sounds and room tone.

  • Side Microphone

With a configuration with two diaphragms (one is directional, while the other is bi-directional). The MS captures sound from the sides, enabling you to adjust the stereo width during post-production. This feature makes it ideal for field recording and film production, enabling you to fine-tune the stereo image to your desired effect.

  • Mid-Side Recording

The mid-side technique works by recording the mono or center signal while recording the stereo or side signal. During post-production, the user can adjust the stereo or side signal level to control the stereo width.

  • Frequency Response

Ranging from 40Hz to 20kHz, its wide frequency response ensures that the microphone can capture a wide range of frequencies, from low bass to high treble, which is very useful when recording dialogue, as it captures both the low and high pitches of the voice.

  • Low Self-Noise

When recording quiet or delicate sound sources, such as natural soundscapes, acoustic instruments, or quiet dialogue in a film, any sound produced by the mic can distort the recording.

The low self-noise level ensures that the mic’s electronic components are not adding any significant noise, and the 24 dBA level of this mic is considered relatively low, resulting in a cleaner and more accurate recording.

  • Sensitivity

Making it suitable for recording delicate acoustic instruments or capturing distant sounds in field recording applications, a high mic sensitivity can allow it to pick up quieter sound sources. The VP88 features a sensitivity of -36 dBV/Pa, which means it can generate a relatively high electrical output in response to a given SPL.

  • Switchable High-Pass Filter

A high-pass filter works by attenuating frequencies below a certain cutoff point; in the case of the VP88, the filter starts at 100Hz and decreases at a rate of 6dB per octave. This feature is useful when recording environments with low-frequency noise, such as wind or rumble.

  • Low-Frequency Roll-Off

Designed to ensure that the recorded audio is clear and free of unwanted distortion, the low-frequency roll-off feature eliminates low-frequency noise, and for this mic, the roll-off starts at 80Hz and decreases at a rate of 18dB per octave.

  • Maximum SPL Handling

High SPL handling ensures that the recorded audio is clean and distortion-free, even in high-volume situations. With a maximum SPL handling of 135 dB, this mic is suitable for recording loud sound sources such as jet engines or gun blasts.

  • Included Accessories

There are a few accessories included in the box, the 49A91 Foam Windscreen, essential for outdoor recordings; the 90B4046 Swivel Adapter, which allows the mic to be mounted on a stand; and the 90A4148 Y-Splitter Cable, particularly useful when recording in stereo or when using two separate audio devices, such as a mixer and a recorder.

  • Carrying Bag

A padded, zippered bag designed to protect the microphone during transport, the 26A14 Carrying Bag features an adjustable shoulder strap, making it easy to carry the mic and its accessories to and from recording locations, and a small pocket for storing the mic’s windscreen and other small accessories.

Pros:

On the plus side, the VP88 boasts a wide frequency response range, allowing for consistent quality regardless of the recording environment or source.

With its solid ability to capture audio in crisp detail, this microphone is a must-have for any professional looking to enhance their recordings.

Cons: 

However, to the VP88, known for its sensitivity to movement, handling noise can be an issue. But for those who take the time to master its technique, the payoff is remarkable audio quality suitable for any professional setting.

Conclusion

In conclusion, selecting the ideal microphones for your field recording needs is an essential task that requires careful consideration. When identifying the perfect microphone, the key features to keep in mind include its directional pattern, sensitivity, frequency response, and noise-handling capabilities.

Knowing where to begin your search can be daunting, but in this list, we’ve run through the twelve mics for field recording that’ll capture your on-the-go recording projects with professional quality.

These microphones offer various features and capabilities, ranging from omnidirectional to directional polar patterns, making them ideal for recording field interviews or capturing nature sounds.

This list got you covered as each of these microphones boasts solid sound clarity, reliable durability, and noise-cancellation capabilities, so look for which best suits your project need and take your sound to the next level.

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