Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our large directional microphone test 2021. Here we present all the directional microphones we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best directional microphone for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a directional microphone.




The most important facts

  • Directional microphones are ideal for recording frontal sound. The microphone is directed towards the sound source and ensures an optimal sound experience.
  • A distinction is made between the directional characteristics lobe, cardioid and figure-of-eight. Depending on the intended use, the correct characteristic should be chosen with care.
  • Directional microphones should not be used for listening to people. This is considered illegal and is not tolerated even with glib arguments.

The Best Directional Microphone: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a directional microphone

What can a directional microphone do?

A so-called directional microphone is basically used to pick up sound coming from the front. This makes sounds from a greater distance audible. The directional microphone can be used in many ways. On the one hand, it is very well suited for speech recordings, which is why it is also used as a listening device. On the other hand, directional microphones can be used for professional video recordings. For this purpose, the microphone is connected to the film camera suitable for such purposes.

Directional microphones are versatile and are often used for professional recordings.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Matt Botsford)

Since such a condenser microphone is mostly used for voice recordings, the basic aim is to increase speech intelligibility and minimise background noise. The closer the speaker is to the microphone, the clearer the sound.

What does a directional microphone cost?

The price range for directional microphones is approximately 20-300 €. A high-quality directional microphone can be purchased for as little as €45.

Equipment price range
Amateur approx. 20-39 €
Advanced approx. 40-149 €
Professional approx. 150-300 €

Large differences in price are due to features such as range, sound quality and size of the microphone. With a longer range, better sound quality and a larger directional microphone, the price of the product increases.

Cheap directional microphones should only be used for private amateur recordings, while directional microphones in the high price segment are suitable for professional recordings, such as vocal performances. Nevertheless, cheap directional microphones are also recommended, as they are more suitable for recording than the microphone of a mobile phone.

How does a directional microphone work?

Incoming sound is picked up and amplified by the directional microphone. Sound from further directions is attenuated so that the focus is directed in only one direction. Interviews or vocal performances are a good example of this, because they focus only on individual voices. In such cases, the audience is classified as background noise and should be filtered out.

A directional microphone, also known as a shotgun microphone, is designed to pick up sound from one direction.

Smartphone microphones use similar technology. Phone calls should thus be intelligible even in noisy areas. With directional microphones, however, the quality of the sound and the range is clearly higher.

What are the alternatives to directional microphones?

The directional microphone is only one of many types of microphones. Depending on the intended use, this should be considered before purchasing. The following section is intended to provide an overview of the different microphones.

Alternatives Description
Pressure microphone Also known as an omnidirectional microphone. Picks up sound evenly from any direction and is suitable for recording with many sound sources.
Lavalier microphone Also known as a lapel microphone. Small microphone without precise characteristics that is attached to individual speakers. Used for interviews as well as TV broadcasts.
Boundary microphone Used for recording from a limited area. Advantageous in large halls where many speakers are to be recorded.

The lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel microphone, is also suitable for interviews. It is therefore often used for TV broadcasts, as a directional microphone can only record outside the video recording with difficulty.

Decision: What types of directional microphones are there and which is the right one for you?

Since a directional microphone is already a separate type of microphone, they are already very specialised. However, directional microphones can still be distinguished from each other by their directional characteristic. The following directional characteristics are available:

  • Club directional microphone
  • Cardioid directional microphone
  • Eight-way directional microphone

The directional pattern should be chosen carefully, because it has a significant influence on the recording.

Therefore, the strengths and weaknesses of the individual polar patterns are discussed in the following section. This should help you in your purchase decision.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a directional lobe microphone?

Lobe directional microphones are mainly found in interference or shotgun microphones. They have a stronger pick-up of acoustic signals coming from the front than sounds arriving from the side. Likewise, the sound from behind is captured weakly. The sound is only picked up in a very small radius, therefore extremely accurate recordings are possible. Interviews in noisy rooms are no problem at all for the directional microphone with lobe characteristics.

A lobe directional microphone is ideal for voice recordings and film recordings.

In professional filming, too, a lobe directional microphone is usually held above the scenery with the help of a boom, for an optimal sound experience. The microphone should not be in the camera's field of vision to enable film scenes that are as close to reality as possible.

Advantages
  • Very detailed sound radius for accurate recordings
  • frontal sound is picked up more strongly than from the side
  • ideal for interviews in noisy environments
Disadvantages
  • Very susceptible to noise (wind and pop)
  • Low risk of feedback effect
  • Sound is also picked up from behind

Club microphones show a high sensitivity to pop noise and may start to hiss if there is a strong influence of the wind. A windshield or pop shield can provide relief, depending on the situation.

What are the characteristics of a cardioid directional microphone and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Cardioid microphones are the most common type of directional microphone. Here, the sound is perceived exclusively from one direction. In contrast to a lobe, a cardioid characteristic picks up a wider section, which is directed at the microphone. In return, sounds coming from the side or from behind are almost completely faded out. Thus, background noises are muted and the complete focus is on the direction of the microphone.

Further subcategories of the cardioid characteristic are:

  • Wide cardioid
  • Supercardioid
  • Hypercardioid

The characteristics differ slightly. In contrast to the cardioid, the subcategories attenuate background noise but do not completely neutralise it.

Condenser microphones can record and reproduce voices without distortion.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Jacek Dylag)

Cardioid directional microphones are therefore ideal for stage performances where people sing, for example. They pick up the frontal sound well and thus ensure a successful vocal performance. Cardioid microphones are also often used in music studios.

Advantages
  • Sound is only picked up from one direction
  • Hardly susceptible to feedback effects
  • Ideal for vocal performances
Disadvantages
  • Susceptible to proximity effect
  • Subcategories have different characteristics
  • Sound could be bent

The proximity effect can cause a sound recording to have different bass characteristics. Depending on the distance to the recording microphone, the bass varies, so a constant distance should be maintained as much as possible.

What are the characteristics of an eight-way microphone and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The figure-of-eight directional microphone has a very special polar pattern. It is shaped like an eight, because it picks up sound from the front and the back in equal measure. Sound coming from the side is strongly attenuated and can only be heard very discreetly.

Such a microphone is perfect for situations in which two opposing sound sources are to be recorded. Likewise, a microphone with an eight-channel characteristic is a prerequisite for mid/side (MS) stereo recordings in which no distinction is made between left and right, but instead are separated from each other by a centre channel and a side channel.

Advantages
  • Prerequisite for MS stereo recordings
  • sound is recorded equally from two directions
  • lateral sound is almost completely attenuated
Disadvantages
  • Only suitable for special recording scenarios
  • Same effect can be created with 2 cardioid microphones
  • No large selection of eight-way microphones

Since figure-of-eight microphones are very special, they are not too widespread and are used just as rarely. They are therefore not intended for general use. Similar effects can be achieved using 2 cardioid microphones, so an alternative is provided.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate directional microphones

Directional microphones can differ from each other in a number of ways. Depending on the purpose for which you want to buy a directional microphone, you should take a closer look at the various purchase criteria. You can distinguish between directional microphones based on the following criteria: You can find more information on the individual criteria in the next paragraphs.

Sound quality

The sound quality of a directional microphone is an essential factor for good recordings and is therefore the most important criterion for a good microphone. Microphones in a low price segment have poor sound quality and are therefore unsuitable for professional recordings. Noise, such as static, can be a consequence of this. It is also possible that voices are slightly distorted and the sound is distorted.

An additional windscreen can also improve the sound quality.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Keagan Henman)

The best-quality directional microphones, on the other hand, which have already been compared in the ranking, hardly differ from each other in terms of sound quality. They pick up sound very clearly and reproduce it optimally. Therefore, it is not necessary to compare sound quality in a high price segment.

Connection type

A directional microphone can have different connection types. The most common type is the jack plug, but USB microphones are also becoming more common. For professional sound engineering, XLR plugs, RCA plugs and Speakon plugs are also available. For jack plugs, a distinction can be made between 6.3 mm and 3.5 mm. 3.5 mm is the popular plug for headphones with cable and is also used with most microphones.

The jack output is ideal for universal use of the microphone. This means you can connect your directional microphone to your camera, mobile phone or computer without any problems. It is automatically recognised by most products and can be used without a tedious setup. If the microphone is mainly to be used on the PC, a directional microphone with a USB connection is recommended.

This is used for podcasts, for example, but can also be used as in a recording studio. In addition, such a microphone is recommended for gaming and e-sports. When it comes to professional connections, the XLR connector is widely used. This is an industry standard and is therefore supported by all professional equipment. Adapters can be used to vary between most connections. For example, an XLR connector can be configured to a jack connector using an adapter.

However, it is advisable to choose the most appropriate connector to avoid compromising the sound experience and potential configuration problems. Adapters are relatively cheap to purchase, but would incur further costs depending on their use. Another way to connect your microphone to your device is via wireless or Bluetooth.

It is therefore not bound to a cable connection and allows a freer use of the microphone. However, the sound quality may suffer with a wireless connection, some devices do not support such wireless connections and the microphone is powered only by batteries or rechargeable batteries.

Transmission range

The frequency range provides information about the frequency range in which the microphone can reproduce the incoming sound well. In most cases, the frequency range is from 40 Hz to 20,000 Hz. The frequency indicates the number of vibrations of a sound wave in one second. The range audible to a human being is 20-20000 Hz.

The higher the frequency of a sound, the higher the sound. Most directional microphones can easily pick up to 20000 Hertz, but microphones tend to differ in the minimum frequency range. Some directional microphones can cover almost the entire audible range of humans, while other microphones only record from 100 or even 150 Hertz.

Low frequencies are rarely found in practice, so it is not of great importance whether they are recorded in detail. Nevertheless, compared to the competition, some microphones can pick up extremely low tones.

Field of application

The area of application of a directional microphone should show you the optimal place of use for your microphone. Since directional microphones do not differ greatly from one another and are usually very universally applicable, a strict classification is not necessary.

Cardioid microphones are best suited for live concerts.
(Image source: pixabay.com / StockSnap)

Based on the examples, it can be roughly said that lobe microphones are best for film recordings or interviews in a noisy environment. Cardioid microphones are perfect for stage performances and singing. Eight-way microphones are only appropriate for special situations and are therefore not very common.

Need for an additional power supply

The power supply for a directional microphone can depend greatly on the model. Some microphones use only the power of the connected device. For many microphones, however, this current is not enough and they need an additional power supply.

This is usually achieved by batteries or sometimes rechargeable batteries. If the microphone of your choice requires batteries, this is not a sign of poor quality. The microphone only needs more power than the connected device can provide. Furthermore, you should be aware of whether batteries are included in the delivery or whether you have to buy them externally.

Facts worth knowing about directional microphones

How do I connect a directional microphone to a computer?

If your directional microphone has a jack plug or even if it is a USB microphone in the best case, your microphone can be connected without any problems. Most of the time you don't need to set up the microphone and you can start right away.

It is important to note, however, that if your computer has 2 jack plugs, one is for headphones and the other is suitable for your microphone. If you have other types of plugs, you will need an adapter, which can be purchased in sound shops or online.

Can I hear through walls or windows with the directional microphone?

Standard directional microphones are not designed to pick up sound through materials. However, it is possible depending on the situation.

Listening to other people's conversations is not permitted.

Special listening devices, usually with parabolic mirrors or eavesdropping stethoscopes with needle microphones are suitable for such purposes and are often used by detectives.

In which cases is eavesdropping with directional microphones prohibited?

Private eavesdropping on persons is prohibited under Section 201 II No. 1 of the Criminal Code. Only state investigative bodies may record conversations without the permission of the intercepted person under special circumstances.

For example, in the case of suspicion of a serious criminal offence, wiretapping can be used to convict the suspect. Measures against wiretapping can be bug finders, which locate the wiretapping devices, or jamming devices, which make it more difficult for the wiretapping device to record.

Image source: Chetanachan/ 123rf.com

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