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Tech Tip Of The Day: Shotgun Mics And Sound Reinforcement

Can a shotgun microphone be used effectively in a sound reinforcement environment?

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: At church we often find ourselves needing to get mics on people in some rather precarious situations.

Because of this, a friend of the church offered to donate some unused shotgun microphones from his video business.

However, it occurred to a few of the volunteers that you really don’t see shotgun microphones used on stage.

Why is that? Should we just start saving for a few inexpensive lav’s instead?

A: Shotgun microphones are designed to record, or pickup, sound sources that are at a distance.

What’s more, they’re exceptionally good at pinpointing a sound source, while rejecting other extraneous noises to the side and back. This is useful for film or video where the microphone cannot be close to the sound source.

However, shotgun microphones generally need an operator (someone to hold them and point them in the direction of the desired sound source) to make them effective.

On stage it usually isn’t that difficult to place a mic very close to the sound source. And, while they are selective in their pickup patterns, they are not so selective that they can be used from a long distance in an application where sound reinforcement is being used – a shotgun mic would likely feedback.

A few situations where a shotgun microphone with a wide pattern might be used on stage include choral performances, stage plays/musicals or soloist situations.

The donation from the churches friend is indeed generous, and if you’re needing to amplify a church choir or something similar, they wouldn’t be the worst choice.  However, if you need to amplify a worship leader, I’d certainly advise saving money for some entry-level lavaliers.

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