Zoom H5 with SGH-6 shotgun capsule

Zoom H5 Shotgun Shootout: SGH-6 vs. Rode NTG-2 vs. NTG-3

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:

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.

Audio-Technica 4053 and Rode NTG-3
The Audio-Technica 4053B and the Rode NTG-3

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.

Purchase links:

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

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Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

18 thoughts on “Zoom H5 Shotgun Shootout: SGH-6 vs. Rode NTG-2 vs. NTG-3”

  1. Hello I had a question I just purchase the zoom H5 I’m a beginner I also have a gopro hero3 could I link the H5 to the gopro

  2. Hi Jay. GoPro cameras don’t have external audio inputs, so no, you can’t link them when you shoot. You need to record your audio separately with the H5, then sync the audio and video in post.

  3. Exactly in the boat you described, I happened upon video and audio trying to document mission trips. The Zoom H5 seemed a logical buy and i am very happy with it. My interest in audio beside accompanying the mission trip video is nature recordings…..I enjoyed your videos, its nice to see the passion for creativity in others. Wondering which boom to go with…

  4. Hi Steve. Glad you liked my videos.

    For booms, the best low-budget option for the Zoom H5 is the Audio-Technica AT875R. Great sound, small, lightweight. To do better than that, you really need to go up to the Rode NTG3. That one has a better build quality, but you’re really paying for its superior sound quality.

  5. Hi Sam! Your reviews encompassing the H5 and this shotgun shootout have been very helpful in my decision-making process. Thanks for taking the time! I’d really like to swing all-out and snag a used NTG-3, but you know, budget. Glad to hear the SGH-6 isn’t a complete waste of time, however. Going to use the H5 and SGH-6 to speed up my workflow in sound design for games.

  6. Hi Sam, nice review, thank you! I have the H5. I use it with its XYH-5 mic to document live Jazz performaces (video clips). I am planing to take amatorial nature video and nature sound recordinds in conjuction to photos. Do you think the Røde NTG8 icould be a better choice than NTG3 for nature sound recording taken into account the portability in addition to the sound quality?

  7. Sam, thank you for this review.
    Can you recommend a setting for interviews?
    I have my H5 set on WAV48kHz/24bit. I shoot on a Canon 5d Mark II.
    A guy I work with suggested this setting.
    What do you think?
    Thanks so much.

  8. The guy you work with gave you good advice. This is the setting I use when recording audio for video productions. It sounds great, and it gets along nicely with video production software. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe that 24bit/48kHz files started out as standards for video production, and that the audio world slowly adopted it in order to be more compliant with video.

  9. Hi Sam, great post!

    I wonder if you have an opinion on the following (DSLR video field production):

    Zoom H5 + capsule cable extender + zoom shotgun capsule? would this be a good idea for using it on a boom or would you rather advice to go the Rode ntg2 xlr cable way?

    Thanks for your time and thoughts,


  10. Hi Leo,

    I’m glad you liked my post. There are several limitations with the Zoom ECM-3 extension cable. Number one, it’s permanently stuck at being only 9 feet and 8 inches in length (2.95 meters). Unless you have two of them, but it’s a $90 USD cable. Are you really going to buy two of them? I don’t even know if it’s possible to link two of them together. Problem number two: it costs $90. The third problem is the biggest one: how are you supposed to use a shockmount with the ECM-3 and one of the shotgun modules, like the Zoom SGH-6? I honestly don’t know if there is a shockmount available for this. And if one does exist, how much it costs is a mystery. Using a shotgun mic on a boompole without a shockmout would be a nightmare.

    I think the Zoom ECM-3 extension cable is likely useful for certain situations, but not for use on a boompole — at least, compared to using a mic like the NTG2.

    Thanks for commenting,

  11. Thanks for your attention and reply Sam,

    It makes all sense and helped me to have a wider opinion on this topic… I was mainly curious to have an opinion from a person with your experience.

    It is strange that there is no much content to check about that extension cable so I was not really sure what the uses are, it also makes me wonder if zoom will release shock mount accessories as they started now with the F1.

    Thanks again for your work and dedication Sam!

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