Que Audio Mini Shotgun Microphone Review
With the evolution of modern technology making its way more and more into the photography and videography markets, new opportunities open up for the creative community. One of the most significant advances in videography is the explosion of DSLR video capabilities and their proportional increase in use. With release after release of new cameras capable of the highest quality of video, a problem arises. Audio. On board “stock” audio just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the need for quality audio.
To solve this problem DSLR videographers have a handful of choices. They can go down the professional road and use extremely high end and expensive gear for cinema quality audio, or they can go for the convenient alternative; a DSLR microphone. As an occasional videographer for various projects I find myself in need of a quality microphone as an alternative to my camera’s built in microphone.
For the passed month I have had the opportunity to use the Que Audio Mini Shotgun microphone atop my DSLR. First off, this is not the smallest, but one of the most compact DSLR microphones that I have used. It sports a slim profile which was more favorable to me than other DSLR microphones which tend to have a rather large base and overall profile. This is one of the main reasons this microphone caught my eye. While traveling for concerts I need to pack as light as possible for the daylong and nightly performances that I attend. Every bit of weight matters for what I do and Que Mini Shotgun microphone was a great solution to my specific needs.
Upon using the Que Mini Shotgun microphone I was pleasantly surprised; initially by the build quality of the microphone, but then more importantly by the audio quality that it delivers given its exceptional size to audio quality ratio. Now, the Que Mini Shotgun microphone isn’t going to be the “cure-all” for your audio needs and to the dismay of some, it’s not going to pick up amazing quality audio from long distances, that’s not what its meant for. That said, most shotgun microphones, including this one, are not built to capture audio from a distance, rather close encounters from 1 to 4 feet.
Now that we understand what the microphone is meant to do and its limitations in terms of what it, and similar DSLR microphones, are capable of accomplishing, lets go through some of the key features you may want to know before purchasing the Que Audio Mini Shotgun microphone. Constructed completely out of metal, the microphone itself is extremely sturdy and will have no problem withstanding the daily wear I put it through. Most of the accessories that are included are also made of metal and seem like they will hold up just as well. However, I am concerned about the shock-mount that holds the microphone itself. It is made out of plastic and seems flimsy in comparison to the rest of the accessories. It’s not like its going to fall apart when you touch it, but it should be treated with the same care you treat your entire DSLR rig with. I hear a metal shock mount is in the making so if you’re considering this microphone I would keep that in mind as well.
You really get what you pay for with the Que Mini Shotgun microphone. There are a good amount of included “modifiers” to assist you in tailoring the way the microphone sits on your DSLR. In my case, I wanted something that would give me a lot of freedom with a minimal amount of gear. I found that the adjustable swivel ball base was the best selection for me and really helps when I need a specific adjustment for any reason. My configuration is pictured above.
Compared to other microphone systems I really liked the fact that this DSLR kit gives its users options in how they want to set up their microphone. Besides the multiple ways you can use the microphone on camera, there are two options for noise filtering. One is the normal foam filter that slides right over the microphone and sits relatively snug, and the other is a WOMBAT wind filter that goes over the entire microphone setup and has been referred to as “the animal” on top of my camera by people I work with. To be most effective in combating wind, you should use both filters. The windscreen foam filter goes on first and is long enough to be pulled halfway through the shock mount so it will not come loose. Secondly, there is the WOMBAT wind filter that goes over the entire setup, which really cuts down wind noise. Of course you don’t have to use the WOMBAT filter in all situations, but for large wind gusts it will really cut down wind noise when paired with the foam windscreen.
There was one other minor thing that might be a problem for some photographers and other users like me. The connectors on the cable sometimes get in the way because they stick out too far from where they are plugged in. For some situations I wish I had an “L” adapter for either end of the cable because it would make using the mic that much better. I don’t want to accidentally break off the cable from the connector because it sticks out too far. This would easily be solved with an “L” connector and alleviate my concerns. I don’t see this as a flaw as this is my personal preference, but something that should be considered if you’re interested in this microphone.
With all looks and features aside, the Que Audio Mini Shotgun mic is a real performer when it comes to audio quality. It completely blows away the internal mic on my Nikon DSLR and really beefs up any audio I capture. As expected it produces superior audio quality with a larger range in comparison to the nasally buzz and annoying focus sound that accompany the audio with the built in microphone of your DSLR. There was zero clipping even when standing in front of a blaring speaker and audio came in very clear. As this is a shotgun microphone, the audio that I was targeting came in crisp and clear with little unwanted sound from the rear and sides. I regularly take video and audio of a dance team, mostly in noisy situations where a non-shotgun mic would’ve performed poorly. Using the Que shotgun microphone was great as I could follow my subject with my Glidecam from a few feet away and have the audio I targeted stand out in the video without the bulkiness of a larger microphone or low quality of a cheaper solution. The diminished audio on the sides and to the rear of myself created a great spacial perspective of the audio I gathered due to the characteristics of a shotgun microphone. Not only does this put a professional angle on my audio, it does it in an amazingly small package, which was extremely impressive. Additionally, as a concert photographer I need quality and professional sounding audio for short clips and interviews. The Que shotgun microphone can go well beyond that need and shows its superiority when recording a full blow concert from the pit. When you take in account the size, durability, looks, and overall reliability of the Que Mini Shotgun it’s a great solution for a wide range of applications.
Even though I have a few personal preferences that were not options for me on this microphone, I think it performed exceptionally well. Whether it was a promotional video, interview, or concert the Que Audio Mini Shotgun Microphone exceeded my expectations and really showed what a quality microphone can do. When compared to similar audio options, I think this microphone goes above and beyond the competition, really delivering quality audio to its users.
Here are some samples from a recent City and Colour concert I attended. I compare side by side the Que Mini Shotgun mic and my Nikon’s internal mic. Note these samples are taken from stage left, are unedited, and are about 15ft away from the speakers. I feel it picks up a nice balance of the band and crowd. Although not specifically designed for this scenario, these samples show the sheer difference in quality of the microphones and only solidify the Que Mini Shotgun’s superiority.