The third and final video in my exhaustive, three-part analysis of the Zoom H5 portable recorder is a shootout of shotgun microphones. I compared the sound of the separately available SGH-6 shotgun capsule against the Rode NTG-2 and NTG-3 shotgun microphones. To keep things interesting, I also included the Audio-Technica AT4053b hypercardioid microphone and the XYH-5 stereo microphone capsule (which is included when you purchase a Zoom H5).
I also took the H5 and the SGH-6 shotgun capsule outdoors and recorded a take using the “hairy” windscreen (which is included when you purchase an SGH-6). I strongly suggest wearing headphones when listening to this test:
When I conducted this test, I did my best to adjust the level controls on the Zoom H5 to ensure that each microphone had similar settings.
I later adjusted the levels of each microphone in post production ever so slightly, just to make sure that one microphone didn’t sound louder or quieter than another. This mostly consisted of boosting the recordings of the external microphones by 4dB. Aside from this, there was no post-production processing.
So, what did I think of the performance of each mic? Basically, there wasn’t any surprises. The SGH-6 shotgun microphone sounded pretty nice. In my opinion, it slightly edged out the Rode NTG-2, as far as sound quality is concerned. The Rode NTG-2 is one of the most popular shotgun microphones out there, mostly because of the value and performance it offers. However, it is an entry-level priced mic. When you listen closely to the Rode NTG-2, you will hear its noise floor. It’s just a nosier sounding mic, and I found the SGH-6 to be a slightly less noisy mic.
Not surprisingly, the results of this shootout align pretty closely with the price ranges of the microphones involved:
- $130.00 – Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Capsule (Requires a $270 Zoom H5 to work)
- $260.00 – Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone
- $690.00 – Rode NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone
- $600.00 – Audio-Technica AT4053 Hypercardioid Microphone
- $270.00 – XYH-5 Stereo Microphone Capsule (included with the Zoom H5)
If you listen closely on headphones when watching the shootout, you will hear how the SGH-6 and the Rode NTG-2 both have an audible noise floor. The noise sounds different on each mic, and the noise of the SGH-6 sounds slightly less noticeable to my ears. When you get to the Rode NTG-3, you will hear the noise disappear almost completely. If you’ve ever wondered why someone would spend nearly $700 on a microphone when another option costs $260 — this is the reason. When you get to the AT4053b, a $600 mic, the noise floor again is nearly nonexistent. It isn’t until you get to the XYH-5, the included stereo microphone capsule, that the noise returns.
I intentionally ordered the SGH-6 and the Rode NTG-2 microphones to follow one another in the shootout. I figured there are likely people out there who are researching what shotgun microphone to buy, and they may be researching what portable digital recorder to buy as well. If they’re looking into the Zoom H5, there’s a good chance that they’re trying to decide if they should invest in a Rode NTG-2, or maybe save a few bucks and get the arguably better sounding SGH-6 to accompany the Zoom H5.
I’m a bit conflicted as to what to advise people who may be in this boat. On one hand, if you buy a Zoom H5 and the SGH-6, you have a pretty cool recording system that offers some unique solutions, especially in regards to capturing sound for video production (I explain all of this in my post entitled Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production). But the trouble is that the SGH-6 isn’t a complete microphone on its own. It’s dependent on the H5 in order to operate. The Rode NTG-2 is a complete microphone. It doesn’t even require phantom power to operate.
Like most things in life, deciding between these two options is a tradeoff. The SGH-6 offers some cool solutions when used with the Zoom H5, and it comes with a “hairy” windscreen (which is a pretty important accessory, and something you are going to need to buy separately if you get the Rode NTG-2). Plus, the SGH-6 is half the price of the Rode NTG-2. However, if you get the Rode NTG-2, you will have a microphone that you can use with lots of different equipment — you won’t be tied to only using it with the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6.
For example, if you ever get a portable wireless microphone system (like the incredibly popular Sennheiser G3), you can put a AA battery in the NTG-2 and connect it to the wireless transmitter of your kit. Now you can do some really useful things with your gear. You can position your NTG-2 really far away from your camera and wirelessly transmit its signal. You can have a sound person operate a boompole and wirelessly transmit the sound to your camera. It’s nice to have options like that.
I hope you found this shootout and information helpful. If you have any questions, I encourage you to submit a comment below.
Zoom H5 - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Zoom H4n - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Tascam DR-40 - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Rode NTG-3 - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Rode NTG-2 - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Audio-Technica 4053B - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.fr
Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Capsule - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr