Parabolic microphones are often used in security applications to capture audio from great distances. We are often asked if it is possible for a parabolic microphone to pick up sound through a wall or window. Yes, it is possible.
However, the effectiveness will depend on a variety of factors, including the thickness and composition of the wall or window, the distance between the microphone and the sound source, and the background noise level. (If you aren’t familiar with parabolic microphones, check our article “How Parabolic Microphones Work”)
In general, parabolic microphones are highly directional and are able to focus sound waves onto a sensitive microphone element, which makes them well-suited for capturing sound from a distance. However, their effectiveness will be reduced if there are obstacles, such as a crowd, a group of trees, or a wall, between the microphone and the sound source. In these cases, the sound waves will be absorbed or reflected to some extent by the obstacle, which can reduce the clarity and volume of the sound that is picked up by the microphone.
Parabolic microphones are not typically pointed at walls or closed windows as the effectiveness is greatly reduced. They can, however, be used next to an opening, with a screen or fabric covering, with good results.
If you are trying to capture sound through a wall or window using a parabolic microphone, it may be helpful to experiment with different microphone positions, such as directly against the wall, in order to find the best setup for your specific situation.
If you are looking for more ways to capture audio from long distances, check out this article “What are the top 5 options for capturing long-range audio?”.