How do we define a long-range microphone?

By Paul Terpstra

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Klover Products specializes in capturing long-range audio, but what exactly is a long-range microphone?

The standard definition of long-range microphone is a microphone that can capture audio from greater than 20 feet.  In general, a long-range microphone is a microphone that is specifically designed to pick up sound from a distance, much greater than is possible with a standard microphone. These are typically used during a sporting event or in a surveillance setting. Long-range microphones are highly sensitive in order to capture faint sounds at a distance.  They also use directional pickup patterns to limit the area from which sounds are captured.  High sensitivity without a directional pattern will overload the listener with sounds and it will be impossible to locate the direction that the sounds are coming from.

The four available options for long range microphones include wireless mics, shotgun mics, parabolic mics, microphone arrays, and laser microphones.  For a full discussion of the long-range microphones, refer to our article “What are the top 5 options for capturing long-range audio?”.

While shotgun microphones are considered by many to be long-range microphones, the maximum range of a shotgun mic is typically considered to be no greater than 10 feet.  (Read Harry Olson’s article “Why Mic Distance Range is Important” where he states the maximum range as 10 feet.)  In addition, a shotgun microphone needs to be no more than 2 or 3 feet from a speaker to capture optimum sound.  This is why you often see people holding a boom pole with a shotgun mic at the end just over the head of an actor, or an athlete.  They try to stay out of frame but they must be as close as possible to get the best possible sound.

Many long-range microphones are supplemented by electronics that recognize ambient, background sounds and filter them out, or reduce them in order to emphasize the speaker.  This makes it much easier to understand what a speaker is saying in a noisy environment.  The further away the subject is away from the microphone the more ambient noise it will be exposed to.

To summarize, a long-range microphone is typically considered to be a mic that can capture audio from over 20 feet.  However, any microphone designed to pick up sounds from a greater than normal distance and is highly directional, or focused, can be considered a long-range microphone.

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