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MicW iShotgun

Supercardioid Mini Microphone Kit For iOS By Hugh Robjohns
Published March 2013

The MicW iShotgun wearing its windshield, which protects it from moderate wind noise and the cold weather.The MicW iShotgun wearing its windshield, which protects it from moderate wind noise and the cold weather.

The Chinese microphone manufacturers MicW offer an ever-expanding range of high-quality studio and measurement microphones, as well as an intriguing line-up of cost-effective electret microphones designed for use with iOS devices and other portable recorders and cameras. I reviewed the i825 omni lavalier mic in the November 2012 issue of Sound On Sound, and the newest member of the i-Series is the iShotgun, a miniature interference-tube or 'rifle' mic.

The iShotgun is marketed as a supercardioid but, inevitably, that's a fairly optimistic description. In reality, it has a roughly cardioid response at 1kHz, with a progressive reduction in directivity in the lower octaves. At higher frequencies, it has a usefully narrowed response, which helps to minimise the intrusion of ambient noise, but with the typical polar lobing associated with all interference-tube designs. This lobing can often be seen in high-resolution HF polar response plots, looking a bit like a squashed octopus, and it can result in a slightly phasey quality for off-axis sound sources that move around the sides of the mic, as the attenuation of different frequencies varies with the relative angle. So, for best results, don't wave the mic around, and try to avoid situations with moving off-axis sources (like conducting an interview at the side of a road with passing traffic!).

With a slim black body roughly 8.5mm in diameter, 120mm long and weighing only 20 grams, the iShotgun is a very compact microphone. A 3.5mm, four-pole standard headset plug protrudes from the base, allowing it to be plugged directly into smart-phones. Laptops, tablets and DSLR cameras with standard three-pole 3.5mm input sockets are accommodated via a supplied extension/adaptor cable (see below). In both cases, the mic's signal appears on both channels. Plug-in power is required to drive the internal impedance converter, of course, but that is commonly available and the iShotgun has been tested with iOS devices including the latest iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It also works with most laptops and tablets, as well as many DSLRs, including Canon's 5D and 7D, Sony's Alpha 6 and 7 Series, and Nikon's D7000.

Supplied in a compact plastic carry-case, the iShotgun comes with a surprising array of accessories. A long foam windscreen protects the mic from moderate wind noise, and a hot-shoe mount with integrated shock suspension allows mounting on DSLR cameras. It can also be mounted on small tripods, if necessary thanks to a threaded socket on the base. Two extension cables — a three-metre straight extension with four-pole headset plug/socket, and a half-metre coiled extension cable with standard three-pole 3.5mm plug — are also included, as are two headphone/mic splitter blocks (one in-line and one T-shaped). For situations where two mics are needed (for interviewer and interviewee, or for stereo productions), a Y-adaptor is also included that feeds each mic to its own recorder channel. Finally, there is a neat 220-900mm telescopic mini-boom pole that can be screwed into the hot-shoe suspension!

I used the mic with both a Canon DSLR and an iPod Touch, achieving very usable results in both cases. The sound quality is good, with a healthy sensitivity and negligible noise, and although it sounds a little on the lean side, this tonality minimises handling noise and helps with voice clarity. The laws of physics still apply to this mic, of course, so the closer it is placed to the source, the better the sound quality will be! But the interference tube does provide a useful degree of improved directivity at upper-mid and high frequencies, and the iShotgun is a useful addition to the MicW range.