Load Up! New Shotguns Hit the Mark

The NAB Show is seeing significant movement in a technology sector that has been rather staid for years. Multiple manufacturers — including Sennheiser, Sanken, and Shure — introduced shotgun microphones, giving the category a virtual makeover.

Shure is exhibiting four new shotgun microphones. The VP89 — available in three interchangeable lengths: long, medium, and short (VP89/L, VP89/M, and VP89/S, respectively) — and the VP82 short shotgun join the venerable SM89. The VP89/L is intended for use during sporting events or field recording, since it targets sources of high volume over long distances. The VP89/M, offering a wider target aperture for higher ambience, is suited for ambience. The VP89/S is intended for camera mounting and features a wide pickup angle. The smaller VP82 provides a high degree of off-axis rejection and an integrated preamplifier design.

Category leader Sennheiser debuted two models: the MKH 8060 short shotgun, for camera mounting and boom-pole applications, and the MKH 8070 long shotgun. Both are part of the MKH series, which uses the radio-frequency principle to resist the effects of cold and moisture. Both new microphones can transform into AES42 digital microphones with the addition of the MZD 8000 digital module. Both were tested before release on broadcast sports events, including the NBA and the Super Bowl.

And Sanken will introduce an updated version of the CS-1, called the CS-1e.

That’s a lot of shotguns at one shot. Why? Chris Lyons, manager of technical and educational communications at Shure, attributes it to the surge in applications for shotgun microphones, from major-league games to hometown users.

Shure’s new VP-82 is aimed at the entry-level market. “That’s in addition to an explosion of video content online,” he says, “as well as reality shows and more user-generated content, and it’s driven by more surround and more channels for sports projects.”

Jim Pace at Plus 24, which markets Sanken in the U.S., says it’s all about the growing number of users that want higher-quality audio to match the HD pictures they’re getting from a wider array of cameras for a greater range of applications. But he’s also aware that the purchasing inertia common to the cautious broadcast industry has held back wider adoption of more brands and models.

“No one’s talking about knocking the 416 off the top of the heap,” he says, referring to Sennheiser’s long-running MKH 416 short shotgun microphone. “But there are alternatives out there for those who are looking for alternatives.”

Sennheiser Channel Manager Robb Blumenreder agrees with all of the foregoing and says his company’s new shotgun offerings are in response to users’ wanting more-focused audio and audio whose quality matches the HD video that has become pervasive at all levels. He clearly relishes his brand’s position on sports remote trucks but acknowledges that a new round of competition is in progress: “It’s going to be an exciting time for the next few years.”