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Best Outdoor Microphones For Broadcasting

From reporting the big game to getting street interviews, these are the best outdoor microphones for broadcasting.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in Production

Last updated 19.01.2024

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Why You Need an Outdoor Microphone

Even if it seems quiet, the outside is full of noise. Birds chirping, cars speeding along roads or just the wind blowing - all of these can play havoc with audio quality. For example, when listening to an outdoor interview, these sounds make focusing on the words tricky. And some microphones will pick up more of these sounds than others.

Close up of the silver, cylindrical Zoom XYH-6 Microphones attached to the Zoom H8 interface.
An important characteristic of outdoor mics is how they can be positioned.

For that reason, we need to use the right microphones to control these noises in our audio. Every outside broadcast is different and there's a different outdoors microphone for each situation. We'll look at common situations for outside broadcasts, and the best mic for each.

The Best Outdoor Microphones For Broadcasting

1. Best Outdoor Microphone for Live Events: Shure SM58

Live events can be unpredictable and getting good audio quality can be challenging. Thankfully, the SHURE SM78 is the unsung hero of broadcasting from any live event. It’s a dynamic microphone that’s reliable, robust and surprisingly lightweight. Its cardioid polar pattern is good for picking up a speaker's voice and it’s not too sensitive to pick up every little background noise.

The Shure SM58 microphone against a white background.
Presidents, Popes and Pop Stars have all used the SHURE SM58.

The mic has an in-built shock mount and windshield, allowing the voices to have the clarity they need. Importantly, the SM78 gives voices a warmth we associate with an entertainment setting, thanks to its tailored frequency response.

This is a microphone that’s designed to handle real-world situations, away from the controlled environment of a radio studio booth.

2. Best Outdoor Microphone For News Reporting: DJI Mic 2

Reporting on location? When a story breaks and you need to be on the scene a Lavelier (lav) microphone is a great solution. Being clipped on to your clothing ensures the mic is an optimal distance from your voice., while freeing up your hands.

A close up of the lav mic: DJI Mic 2 in it's charging case against a white background.
Not to scale. The DJI Mic 2 is a top choice of Lav mics thanks to its noise-cancellation.

Lav mics do reduce background noise a little, but many of them don't go far enough and the background noise can be distracting. The DJI Mic 2 goes a step further than many Lav mics, because it has in-built noise cancellation. We find this is the best for minimising background noise but not totally eradicating it. For the background noise to be completely deadened would sound odd. So the DJI Mic 2 ensures speech is crystal clear and there's an appropriate amount of the atmosphere coming through.

3. Best Outdoor Microphone For Radio Street Interview: Audio Technica AT897

Need to get the public's opinion for your radio show? A street interview is a great way to get some hot takes. This is where Shotgun mics come in. Aptly named because of their long & cylindrical design, shotgun mics can pick up clear audio from a highly directional distance.

An Audio Technica AT897 Shotgun Mic against a white background.
Add a 'Dead Fluffy Cat' Windshield on to your Audica Technica to reduce wind noise.

What does this mean for radio interviews? Well the shotgun mic can be kept away from your interviewees face, yet positioned to pick up their voice clearly. On top of that, it rejects off-axis noises, so won't pick up the sounds from other directions. Shotgun mics are typically expensive. But for a radio interview on the street the Audio Technica AT897 is all you need.

The Audio Technica AT897 is a condenser mic. The condenser sensitivity combined with the Audio Technica's pick up pattern, makes it perfect for outdoor radio interviews because:

  • It captures nuances in speech.
  • It handles low signals (i.e. quiet voices) well.
  • It doesn't pick up much background noise, making the speech clear and easy to understand.

Unlike more expensive shotgun mics, the Audio Technica AT897 Mic can even be run on an AA battery if you don't have phantom power.

4. Best Outdoor Microphone for Sportscasters: Coles 4104

The list of requirements for an outdoor mic for a Sportscaster is long. It needs to be hard-working but also keep the majority of their face in view for TV.

Introducing the Coles 4101 Lip-Ribbon mic. This is a mic that has been specially designed for sportscasters & sports commentators. The Coles 4101 Lip-Ribbon mic is fairly unique as it can cope with widely varying loudness. Be that the quiet whispers of a snooker match or shouting when calling a baseball game.

A still from the TV show, Ted Lasso, showing two commentators speak into Lip-Ribbon Mics.
TV Show Ted Lasso, used Lip-Ribbon mics to make their commentary scenes realistic.

Lip-Ribbon mics have a lip-bar to press against the face. This ensures the mic is always at the correct distance for your voice. The mic counteracts any distorted frequencies and cancels out external noises like wind.

The Coles 4101 mic can physically withstand bad weather conditions, including winds up to 32 km (20 miles) per hour or 64 km (40 miles) per hour if using a wind shield. While the ribbon within it is sensitive, the mic has various filters to ensure it's not damaged by loud noises or wind.

5. Best Outdoor Microphone for Field Recordings: Zoom XYH-6 microphones (& Zoom H8)

We’ve talked exclusively so far about how to minimize sounds from outside with your mic. But if you need field recordings - for a radio drama or to add atmosphere to your podcast - then you’ll need a certain mic that can pick everything up.

Now the Zoom H8 is a little bit of a cheat code, because it's an interface and microphone in one. And what makes it good for the field recordings is partly from the interface's capabilities. But let's start by saying the XYH-6 microphones that come with the Zoom H8 can be rotated away from each other to pick up sound from opposite directions.

The Zoom H8 interface lay on it's side with the XYH-6 microphones attached.
The in-built EQing makes the ZOOM H8 a versatile way to capture field recordings.

How the interface is useful for field recordings is its specifically got an in-built app for them. Toggle on the app, and you have control of all sorts of EQ settings. This means you can record the full range of heard frequencies, or twiddle with your settings to focus on particular sounds.

Better yet, given you can record directly on to the Zoom h8 and then listen back, you can check you’re getting a suitable recording. In Phil's review, he puts it to the test on a busy street..

To Wrap Up

There are our picks of the best outdoor microphones for broadcasting. But their are plenty of other great mics that do the job! Do you have any recommendations for broadcasting outdoors? Join in the discussion on your preferred social media platform.

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