February 6, 2011

Choosing a High-Quality Shotgun Mic: the Rode NTG-3

I own an Audio-Technica AT-897 shotgun microphone, and I'm not particularly pleased with it. The shoddy sound quality of the dialogue on The West Side is one example of a microphone that was asked to perform is some non-ideal conditions, and did not deliver. Ever since I bought the AT897, I've found myself wishing that I had just gone with the industry standard (at a similar price point), the Sennheiser K6/ME66 combo. But you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have. That said, I've been eyeballing shotgun microphones that would be a significant step up from the AT897 for a good while, and the Rode NTG-3 has long been the top contender. Now Jim Feeley at ProVideo Coalition has written up a full review of the NTG-3, and here's what he has to say about it:

The NTG-3 is a well-designed and well-built audio instrument. The smooth response, generous pick-up pattern, and outstanding interference rejection make the mic a pleasure to work with. While some may find the $699 price beyond what they want to spend, the NTG-3 is more than worth it. Even at a higher price, it would be a very good value that should serve its owners well for many years. And what digital camera can you say that about?

Jim also says that the NTG-3 rejects interference from mobile phones (specifically, the ubiquitous iPhone), which is certainly a "must" for documentary work. He also opines that the nearest competitor is the Sennheiser MKH-416. If you're in the market for a shotgun microphone and want to get something that's a step up from the $300 price range (but that doesn't cost four figures), check out Jim's review below.

Here's a video look at the mic from B&H Photo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evkIdCzQC3Q

If I get my hands on one in the near feature, I'll certainly post my own thoughts. Any of you guys shoot with a NTG-3?

Link: Review: Rode NTG-3 short shotgun microphone and Blimp windshield

Your Comment

18 Comments

I've only read good things about the NTG-3, never used it though. From what I gather it is very very similar in characteristics to the venerable 416.

The AT897 was the second mic I owned after the K6/ME66 was too hot for my revision one PMD660. I thought the AT897 was "ok" if a little dull sounding. The ME66 however, is a very hot mic and to my ears now sounds too harsh.

I've since gone all M-S since getting the bug from using an AT BP4029, then a Neumann RSM-191 and next up (after some unavoidable "rationalisation") the Senn 418S. I really like the "side air" and spacial positioning offered by recording M-S, even if it isn't practical in every situation - which is fine because collapse it to mono and you'll never know it was ever a stereo recording.

But, yeah, the NTG-3 is probably a good choice for no fuss dialogue recording.

February 6, 2011

1
Reply

Yea, I have one. it's very useful and powerful equipment. i use this with 5d mark II during the interviews, weddings, low-budget films and i didn't have any problem with NTG-3. I recommend it

February 6, 2011

0
Reply

I have one, and I like the sound quality. I have only used it for one project so far, but that'll change soon. I am using it in a Rycote Windshield Kit.

February 6, 2011

0
Reply

What about it's lesser counterparts like the NTG-2 or 1?

February 7, 2011

-1
Reply
Gabe

NTG-3 is great microphone way better sounding at k6me66 which i had. I listened to both together one after another and really liked the NTG3. I actually bought two of them and would say they are the best thing io have bought for film making, just love the well balanced sound and they have a good reach. Also the noise floor is very good.

February 7, 2011

1
Reply
Michael

Good enough for a (low-budget) feature film, you guys think?

February 7, 2011

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

In the side projects that I have shot this year both had an NTG-3 as the mic in question for all the outside dialog, it was probably the cleanest sounding stuff I've heard for no budget cinema. I would totally recomend it. Though all the footage was pumped thru a mix-pre field mixer before it went into the recorder, which definately helped keeping a clean mix as well and is well worth the money. I hope this was helpful

February 8, 2011

0
Reply

Picked up the NTG-3 on Ebay - Brand new for $500 back in December... used the Best Offer button - sellers name is maximumvelocitysales

Sound quality is excellent!

February 7, 2011

1
Reply
Cinepixtor Media

I've been shooting docs with my 5D2 kit for a year now, having tried most short shotgun mics. None was pleasing, except for the Schoeps CMBI coupled with their MK41 module. The pickup pattern and incredible detail have yet to fail me. I highly recommend this setup if you are interested in sound quality that matches your video quality.

February 10, 2011

0
Reply
Snorre wik

Used the NTG-3 for a choir concert shoot inside a large church, the results were "excellent". The NTG-3 mic was connected to an Azden FMX-42 Field Mixer. The mixer was connected directly into my Canon 5DMII mic input jack.

February 10, 2011

1
Reply
Danny

Just keep in mind this mic has to be phantom powered. So it might not pair well with the ubiquitous H4n due to significantly increased battery drain. It's an excellent mic, however.

February 10, 2011

0
Reply
Shane

Koo, the NTG3 is good enough for professional features (exterior use), not just no-budget. This is because it's a (somewhat controversial?) clone of the Sennheiser 416P, one of the most prominent and popular mics of the 90's. The 416 was superceded by the MKH60 about a decade ago, but Sennheiser were apparently forced to continue production of the 416 because it had established itself so firmly as THE standard drama/documentary mic.

Most professional feature recordists would probably not choose to use a 416 now, because there are better mics available (MKH60, CS3e, CMIT5, Super CMIT etc.), and the 416 was never ideal for interiors. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with late twentieth century feature film sound, so film-makers on a budget shouldn't turn their noses up at a mic of this quality.

The 416 is more expensive than the NTG3, because Sennheiser is the market leader and because they originated the concept and design. Rode, on the other hand, have made a good quality copy at a reduced price and I think you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference blind. Whether you go for one or the other is down to ethics and the size of your wallet!

Either way, where you put a microphone and what you do with it are for more important than which microphone you use - the 'sound quality' of a specific microphone is the *least* of your problems, even with a vast Hollywood budget behind you.

Incidentally, the K6/ME66 is at least as 'professional' as a 5DMk2 or 7D, given that ME66's are used widely throughout the TV industry and, unlike vDSLR's, were designed for professional video production. I'm not sure this budget v. pro distinction is a useful one. Now a Zoom H4, on the other hand: no professional would use one of those, would they?!

February 11, 2011

0
Reply
Friday

Thanks very much, Friday. I agree that the ME66 is fine, but if I'm going to be moving up from an AT897 I wanted to go another level up, and it seems the NTG-3 is a good choice. Didn't know it was a 416 clone -- thanks again!

February 11, 2011

0
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

audio samples.

.http://vimeo.com/19241429, Rode NTG3. Used Rode Blimp outside, listen at 0:18,

website at www.moviethefence.com, interviews done with NTG3, listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUEaE7_gMIM&feature=player_embedded

another trailer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q03nHeO5DPo, interiors and exteriors

February 11, 2011

1
Reply
Frank

We own the NTG-2 and are very happy with it! But we're sound newbies, and have no experience with high-end audio equipment. Can anyone detail what the differences are between the NTG-2 and NTG-3?

February 11, 2011

0
Reply
Michael

The NTG-2 is noisier than the NTG-3 - in quiet, interior situations, you will be able to hear more 'hiss' if you listen carefully. It will also sound more sibilant (harsher on 's' sounds), though this is less of a problem if the mic is in a wind gag (which muffles it slightly). The NTG-3 is LESS directional at the sides, but MORE directional at the rear of the mic, which isn't a pro or a con - just depends how you use it. The NTG-3 also uses about twice as much power, so will drain your batteries faster, and, unlike the NTG-2, it can't be used with AA batteries.

One of the most important distinctions is that the NTG-3 and 416 are immune to damp and humidity. The NTG-2 is much more likely to fail or start splatting in a wet environment (bathrooms, jungles, swimming pools, Florida, Mumbai, in a wet Rycote etc.).

February 12, 2011

0
Reply
Saturday

Wow , I am surprise about what I just learn here,( mainly the not rejecting reflections ) Thanks so much for this information, David

March 11, 2013

0
Reply

Can the Rode NTG-3 be used for live concert hall performances of orchestras, chamber music etc. ?

March 10, 2014

2
Reply
Cruzo