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Basic Audio Techniques for Video: Selecting the Right Handheld Microphone

In this installment of our blog series on Basic Audio Techniques for Video we’ll explain how to select the proper handheld mic for filming. If you missed the previous installment explaining how to choose shotgun microphones you can read it here.

Handheld Microphones

For some video productions, handheld microphones are more appropriate than using shotgun mics. Read on as we explain which handheld mics are best for your video production.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic mics are far less sensitive and have much less reach than shotgun mics. This makes them ideal for getting clean sound for interviews, on-site reporting, and voice-overs.Selecting the Right Handheld Microphone

One downside to using dynamic microphones is the fact that they need to be positioned close to the face, approximately 6 to 8 inches away. This means the microphone will be visible in the shot in most cases.

For reporting, announcing, hosting, instructing and interviewing it is perfectly acceptable to have a microphone visible. The audience will not mind seeing the microphone, it’s accepted as reality.

Dynamic mics are excellent at holding back and often eliminating background noise. They also excel at avoiding feedback when used through a P.A. system. Audio comes through crisp and clear, with minimal background noise.

Dynamic microphones act as a natural compressor and hold back the dynamic range of what you are recording, so sudden bursts of sound will not distort nearly as much as they would if you were using condenser mics. When filming it’s best to use a dynamic mic that was intended for a normal speaking voice rather than one intended for musical performances.

Dynamic Microphones

Handheld mics intended for video production, like the BP4001 cardioid, are slightly more sensitive than the “golf ball head” variety of stage microphones. Therefore, they can be comfortably held several inches from the speaker’s lips

Cardioid vs. Omnidirectional

Dynamic microphones can be cardioid pattern or omnidirectional. Cardioid means that the mic is somewhat directional and is most sensitive at the front and gets less sensitive as we work our way around it.


The BP4001 is a cardioid microphone that performs best with just one person speaking into the mic, because it is easy to keep the microphone aimed towards the mouth.

Directional mics can also be used to capture a single sound source, such as sound effects or music. However, keep in mind that these microphones will reject sounds that are off-axis, so positioning is key.

Cardioid Microphone

Omnidirectional microphones, like the AT8004L, pick up sound equally well from all directions. These microphones have no specified front or bottom and are good for recording background sounds that surround you, rather than those coming from one direction.

Using an omnidirectional mic is best when more than one person will be speaking, such as in a man-on-the-street interview.

These expert tips will help you make the right selection during your next video shoot!