EM-320E Shotgun Microphone

Tony Carretti shares a find on a very inexpensive EM-320E shotgun condenser microphone for less than $20 dollars and claims he's getting better results than from his other Rode VideoMic on longer cable runs with XLR. [Thanks Tony]. Getting your microphone as close to the subject is key. In most cases any microphone is better than the built in microphone of the camera. It's also self powered so maybe it provides a bit of clean gain over the noisy internal amp of the DSLR.

[Update] Tony also shares another test along with the Zoom H4n as reference.

The EM-320E, comes with a Black windscreen, 20' XLR to 1/4" mic cable, and a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter. If you don't have any microphone, Tony seems to think it's worth the bang for the buck, and you can find them on eBay (click here).

EM-320E Shotgun Microphone Condenser eBay
find-price-button EM-320E Shotgun Microphone

 53 Comments





53 thoughts on “EM-320E Shotgun Microphone

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  2. Steve B.

    >the cheap mic featured here DOES improve audio

    I think this is the core of the debate. Everything else, pardon the pun, is just noise.

    Some people will never move away from onboard audio. I think this mic should be considered as a "gateway drug" into more sophisticated audio. All you audio guys that are saying not to buy it I think should consider pulling a 180 on your advice. Encourage everyone that doesn't have another mic to buy this one. Some people will never buy another microphone, but I'm pretty sure a lot of people will continue to buy better and better audio gear simply because they started to buy it in the first place.

  3. Dollar Bob

    > it is not a real shotgun mic, it has horrible frequency response

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but polar pattern is the characteristic that distinguishes a shotgun microphone from other types of microphone. Frequency response is another issue entirely, meaning a shotgun microphone may have "horrible frequency response" and still be a genuine shotgun microphone.

    I haven't seen the EM-320E's specs, but listening to the audio characteristics of Tony's second video seems to indicate the EM-320E's pick-up pattern is more directional than the stereo microphones on the H4N. With similar proximity, the EM-320 is more effective than the H4N at isolating a Tony's voice and reducing ambient noise. This tends to suggest that the difference is directional sensitivity (i.e. polar pattern).

  4. MN

    "trying to convince others to forgo a step-up from on-camera mic and just dive head first to a $100-190 external mic! It’s a $20 mic!"

    Yes, that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

    I know that the OP made his video to show that a cheap mic can improve the DSLR's on cam mic. (a comb with wax paper over it is a better option)

    My contention is that people shouldn't skimp on audio because it diminishes the entire quality of their motion picture work.

    If you disagree, that's fine, but this thread is a great way to debate it because the cheap mic featured here DOES improve audio, but it is not a real shotgun mic, it has horrible frequency response, and buying a used 57 or 635 mic for $40 or $50 bucks is such a huge increase in quality it's incredible.

    To me the debate is this: Do you spend $20 to buy a cheap piece gear for audio --something essential to making motion pictures-- or do you invest in a real solution?

    I'm contending that inferior audio is not worth being a cheapskate.

  5. Tony

    Quit trolling! It really is a disservice to the objective and foundation of this wonderful website to have a few people trying to convince others to forgo a step-up from on-camera mic and just dive head first to a $100-190 external mic! It's a $20 mic! Over on the deal sites such as slickdeals.net, if you post "Buy a $200 Zojiroshi rice cooker and dont buy this crap $20 Hamilton Beach rice cooker! Just keep boiling your rice on the stove until you can buy the Zojiroshi!" Well, that is called threadcrapping. I see lots of threadcrapping here. Thanks to Tony C., Emm, and others for knowing what this mic is good for and who it is marketed to. I thought I was coming here to read 48 informative comments concerning this mic. sheesh!

  6. Steven

    Since we're on the subject of mics, I thought I'd share this:

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Shure-SM48-LC-Vocal-Microphone-100307424-i1126423.gc?esid=Shure+SM48-LC+Vocal+Microphone++&CJAID=10449560&CJPID=1225267

    This is not as good as the classic SM58, but it's darn close.
    A good starter stick mic for shooters that do a lot of OliviaTech NAB style interviews. I'm sure you could slap a senheiser wireless transmitter on it and be happy or go old school and use an xlr cable into the H4n.

  7. MN

    "The bass player also had a Zoom H1 elsewhere on stage. Both zooms got a bit too much drums in the mix. I could see how using this $20 mic with H1 pointed at the piano and away from the drums might have given me a better balance."

    So too would have the Zoom recorders if they were placed and aimed better. Proper mic placement is the key. It's always the key.

    Which is why you CAN get useable audio from a cheap mic like what is featured in the video, but it's so limited. If you think you can shoot across an empty stage with it and have it give you a useable pickup pattern and actually work like a shotgun mic, it just doesn't.

    Accomplished audio engineering is a rabbit hole of art and science. Those that do it well, have great ears and can discriminate in an artistic way that is amazing. It's really an enlightening thing to see someone that's good at it mic a live event and make it sound incredible.

    We all can't be that advanced, but skilled audio engineering combined with decent gear can literally save your project from mediocrity.

    It's so important.

    Anywho, as you can tell, it matters to me. Ultimately, if you think what you hear is good enough out of this mic, then go for it.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Gleb Volkov - I think any reasonable person would never buy 9 of the same cheap item, especially if it continues to break. It's an exaggerated example of the theory of redundancy. (Please don't take it literally). We all have our different opinions, and it's great to share ALL of our experiences and advice.

  9. ...and to step away from all the controversy for a moment....

    @ Eugene - If you can find a used Oktava MK012 that is legit rather than a counterfeit, you can save a bunch of money on a well respected industry standard hyper (probably around $200-300). They aren't being manufactured anymore, so they are just a bit hard to come by. Alternatively, there are a bunch of affordable cardioid pattern small diaphragm condensers that can be used for indoor dialog or interviews. They are more affordable because they are used for drum overheads in recording studios. At the risk of going back into "price vs quality", the laws of economics dictate that a product in higher distribution will have lower cost. Film and video gear isn't manufactured in anywhere near the same quantity as music recording gear (for audio) and still photography gear (for film). There is also a large advanced amateur/enthusiast user base in these fields, so it is a great way to lower the cost of filmmaking. Obviously DSLR shooters know this, but it is important with audio too. Rode is a great example. They primarily cater to musicians with home recording studios that are constantly trying to raise their own bar.

    That's my two cents.

  10. Gleb Volkov

    @Emm -
    You could buy 9 of these, but you wouldn't. Chances are you'd buy one. I don't see why promote a strategy of buying 9 bad products instead of a decent one. And that's an important point in my opinion. I wish I understood this earlier in my product-purchasing career: I was never really convinced by the saying "Buy good - buy once. Buy cheap - buy many times", until I purchased and used enough gear over the years to see that where I was cutting costs, especially to this level - I was eventually losing, unless I bought a decent product once. I paid 35$ for the cheap mic, shot a little with it, and ended up buying the AT. If I had purchased the AT from the start, I would have great sound during ALL of my shoots, and it would cost me 35$ less.
    There are exceptions - products that are dirt cheap and end up doing great job. Your site is a great inspiration for such products. I was voicing my opinion that this mic isn't one of them.
    I was (and still am) very cost-aware so trust me - I'm not coming from some "money is not an issue" POV.

    I also think that the audience on this site, especially people who care to read the debate in the comments - are people who are seriously interested in excelling in what they do or will do in this sphere, even if they only started just now, and I would think that acquiring the proper working methods is an essential part of their future success. As you don't see many pros buying 9 dirt-cheap pieces of equipment - there must be something right in the WAY that they're managing their purchases, so even if you don't have the money for pro equipment right now - you know what you NEED to do.

    @Toni Carretti - it's a great thing that you shared this, and that we can have this discussion now, no matter what anyone concludes to himself. It sounds like you're taking my advice against this mic personally, and I really wish you wouldn't. I'm glad you have your opinion and I have mine and we can share it with others and maybe that would help someone out there one way or another.

  11. Rob S.

    I'm with the school that says cheap sound equipment always sounds like cheap sound equipment. But I like hearing about new cheap options, which is what this blog is about, so this was worthwhile. Thanks for the review. But a shotgun mic doesn't allow you to get better sound from across the room. Not much anyways. You still have to have the mic in closer to get that isolation.

  12. Dollar Bob

    >So sorry this turned out to be such a controversy. Just wanted to share an experience.

    Never apologize for being interesting.

  13. Rob

    Recently I was shooting a live jazz performance with one 5D MKII and a monopod, grabbing various camera angles from all over the jazz club. I left a cheap Zoom H1 on stage next to the piano hoping to get usable sound. The bass player also had a Zoom H1 elsewhere on stage. Both zooms got a bit too much drums in the mix. I could see how using this $20 mic with H1 pointed at the piano and away from the drums might have given me a better balance. I would not have been comfortable leaving an expensive Sennheiser mic and TASCAM recorder unattended on stage for this project, so a $20 shotgun mic might have been ideal. Sort of how a GoPro HD camera might be more appropriate than a Canon DSLR when rigged onto a motorcycle or mountain bike...

  14. MN

    "it sounds like you’re advising people not to start at all."

    Nope, just advising people that sound is very important --and to consider going the low (very low) road when it comes to this aspect of the equation is a bit of a false lead, IMHO.

    Good audio should be at the forefront of the motion picture making process, not an afterthought. Anyone that's even remotely interested in making decent videos should invest in a serious effort to learn what makes good sound.

    If you have a DSLR that shoots video, you've spent at minimum of, what, around $500 bucks? For most people that's a decent chunk of cash... and then you're not going to support that investment with a supplemental investment of audio?

    Bad idea.

    To me, it seems like a waste of time to begin with something that's horrible quality, regardless if it's better than just the DSLR mic. A used 635A, a used sm57, or a used H1 seems like such a better investment.

    If anyone here can figure out a way to break a 635, I'd be amazed. You could drive nails with that thing into oak and record great vocals with it afterwards.

    Because I used this particular cheap mic that the video is about, I know that it has some serious quality shortcomings.

    The priority of good audio should be so strong that something like this cheap-o mic isn't even considered.

    This is true even for hobbyists. Trust me, no one enjoys listening to thin awful audio --even if it's just pretty pictures of your cat that you post to YouTube. Actually, especially if you're just doing cat videos.

    Just my opinion. If you're going to do video, by default you need to do audio. Don't skimp on it is all I'm saying.

  15. Tony Carretti

    Wow Emm,

    So sorry this turned out to be such a controversy. Just wanted to share an experience.

    FYI, for all those that are so adamantly bashing this mic... DON'T BUY IT! STAY AWAY FROM IT! IT BURNS US!!!

    For everyone else, it's a cheap mic that sounds pretty good for what it does. I've used it three times so far, no problems, it hasn't exploded in my hands... honest!

    When (and i said when, not if...)I make it big, I'm gonna buy the most ubberest microphone on the planet, and I will use it to knight all the naysayers! Thus I decree....

    Wow, I guess my fifteen minutes are over now, back to obscurity.

    Ciao!

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Gleb Volkov - I would agree if this were about a more expensive microphone, but I hardly think $20 dollars is a waste of anyone's time or money. This isn't a great microphone, but you can literally buy (9) NINE - yes NINE - of these and still be under the $190 for a single AT875R (if you're worried about it breaking when you depend on it).

    I think for most people who shoot how you put 'Matters', they are already well aware of what level of quality they should be providing to their clients. This is an article about a cheap $20 dollar microphone for people who are just starting out, and are in the hobby of shooting video. Those who eventually want to take this field as a profession will not only upgrade their cameras, but they will eventually upgrade their lights, microphones, tripods, etc. I still don't see how people can still argue with a $20 dollar microphone..

  17. Gleb Volkov

    I can summarize my point otherwise: it's only better than on-board mics of DSLR or Zoom if you don't shoot anything that matters. Reliability is something you don't want to skip when you're shooting ANYTHING that matters, and I'm not at all coming from a point of sound purist. I'm not one. Point is - it will break in your hand when you depend on it, and will ruin your shoot. And this will probably cost you more than you saved in time and money.
    I ended up buying the cheapest semi-pro grade shotgun mic I could find - the AT-875R, about 190$ I think, - and was extremely happy EVERY shoot ever since. Great sound, robust build.

  18. Rob

    I find this discussion regarding "cost vs quality" really interesting. Both sides seem valid. A similar discussion on Reduser has Cinematographers discussing use of the Canon DSLRs (cheap), vs Red, Arriflex and Panavision (expensive) cameras, and Shane Hurbut's blog has discussions on cinema glass (expensive) vs still photography lenses (cheap) for video use...Finding the best compromise for our budget is a key aspect of film making and cheesycam is a great resource! A compelling video idea shot on an iPhone can be more powerful than a crappy idea shot on a Red Epic. Content is king. When "home" recording studios were all the rage in the 1990's many of the best audio recording studios in New York City went out of business...China now has about 5,000 movie theaters but expect to have more than 20,000 theaters within five years!

  19. Dollar Bob

    Many of us are not routinely doing high art, so price-to-performance, return-on-investment, and good-enough are important considerations. Will a corporate client notice a difference between thin audio and robust audio? Outside of extremes, mostly no.

    Know your clients and the quality level they expect. If you want to be super proud of your work, step up to a more sophisticated clientele, or win the accolades of your peers, go for the quality gear when you can afford it.

  20. Emm

    Post author

    @MN - I agree with you 100% on having all the right equipment, it makes a HUGE difference, but I think you can only take this $20 dollar microphone thing so far. $20 dollars may not bring the greatest sound quality, but there is still much to gain from working with an external microphone (like pointing it in the right direction) and $20 dollars is cheaper than taking a one hour audio class or even renting a microphone for a day.

    We all have to start somewhere, but from your suggestions, it sounds like you're advising people not to start at all. Equipment can't replace experience, and I feel the only way to really learn is to 'just do' regardless of your equipment limitations.

  21. MN

    I really don't get why people don't value audio. Maybe because I started my career in radio I appreciate it more, I don't know. But bad audio destroys a production much more than bad video.

    While it's true you don't need an expensive mic for passable audio, some things just shouldn't be compromised too much.

    Sure, building a mic out of a paper bag and a potato and then placing the thing properly will give you better audio than the built in mics of a DSLR that's 20 feet away from the source. A filmmaker needs good equipment along with the skillful knowledge how to properly use that gear in order to be successful.

    So, again, this particular thing is a piece of junk. (On the other hand, you could use a MKH 8070, point it in the wrong direction and capture a whole lot of nothing, which I had an audio guy do once.)

    When it comes to audio, if you truly want to skimp on the audio side of things, then more power to ya, I guess.

    If half of the film making equation only demands 2% of your equipment budget and you're buying mounting rigs and follow focus stuff before you invest in a real audio solution, then, I'm sorry, but I think your attitude is kind of hopeless. Even if you're a hobbyist, still no excuse.

    I know that this is a site based on budget solutions, but this one is kind of ridiculous in my opinion. If you're truly strapped for cash, just boom in a Zoom H1 just above frame for an interview. It renders a decent frequency spectrum for human voice and if it's 10" away from the source it'll work in a passable capacity.

    The H1 portable recorder is less than $100 and a much better investment than a cheap mic.

    Of course, none of this applies if you're making silent films. Those 12 people in the world are exempt.

  22. Tony Carretti

    OK,

    For the hell of it, I did a really quick test this morning comparing the EM320e to the onboard H4n mics.

    https://vimeo.com/42979279

    Bear in mind that the room acoustics (they suck) probably have a lot to do with it, but I think it still held up well in comparison. Again, the main reason I got these mics were for the distance from the camera that I would be able to use them.

    Hope this helps clear things up. Never meant to "stir the pot", only wanted to share my experience. I appreciate when others take the time to review a piece of gear and just thought it would be nice to "give back" to the community.

    Tony

  23. Wesley

    @David yes it's probably better then the on board mic, since now you have the opportunity to get rid of all the "hands-on" noises that the on-board mic will pickup.

    But this mic starts at 100hz, that's pretty high and means almost no recorder of lower tones.
    If you take a look at the frequency sheet of the piano: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/graphics/notesinvert.GIF

    Then you'll notice that everything below B2 isn't picked up by this mic and that means a loss of almost 33% of the piano keystrokes ? 🙂

  24. DavidN4

    @ Eugene

    I found that a chea (but decent)p mic placed close worked the best for interviews. Get a couple of Audio Techinica powered lav mics (about $25 each), and a recorder like a Zoom or Tascam.
    I personally have these ( http://www.adorama.com/AUATR3350.html), and they are cheap but work well. They do have a seriously long cord though.

  25. DavidN4

    I have a similar mic, the HT-81. I tested it the other day against the Tascam DR-40. I placed the Tascam about 5 ft away from a piano (at a piano recital). I had the camera about 30 ft away, with the HT-81 on top, directly feeding to the camera. I just did it as a backup, incase the Tascam failed during the performances. I compared them later, and found that the HT-81 was reasonably close in quality, enough so that I actually used it for part of the video extracts that I used.
    The microphone is not "crap". It is not a professional Hollywood quality microphone, but decent enough for a lot of personal video.

  26. Eugene

    I'm looking for Hypercardioid Condenser Microphone, so i can use it Indore for manly for interviews. I know that Audio-Technica AT4053b is very popular, however I find it a bit pricey, $600 at B&H. Can some one suggest an alternative?

  27. Jacob Rosen

    I think a lot of the naysayers are missing the point. I agree with Tony, it's a better alternative to the onboard mics of HDSLRs and gets the job done for a measly $20.

    Of course a more expensive mic will outperform this cheapo one (as it rightly should, otherwise something has horribly gone wrong).

    If you're looking for quality sound and something that will last then more than likely you're going to have to pay for it, simple at that. This mic might not be the greatest thing ever, but for $20 can you really expect a miracle?

    Nice find Tony and I enjoyed your review.

  28. Eric

    The price of this mic is definitely good... but the audio in the video is NOT good at all. Really thin without the sort of robust tonal response that you'd expect from a shotgun at such close range. I think if you put a $100 - $200 shotgun mic in the same spot and compared, it would be night and day.

    If anyone here has decided to go for it and buy one, it would be awesome if you could check back in here and let us know what you think... maybe compare to the internal mics in an H4N or some similiar "prosumer" mid-range audio device. I really have a feeling this mic is going to under-perform noticeably.

  29. ...and to second MN, mic placement, boom technique and location selection are going to often play a bigger role than how much you spent on your mic. If you only have $30, then buy a $30 mic and use it properly. Or better yet, if you don't need use it on a very regular basis, rent a good one.

  30. @ Matthew - They publish specifications for these things that if you take the time to learn to read will tell you "this is crap", or "this is legit". I know it takes time to look up all of the technical terms and read up on the different measurements, but when you have done it you will know not just how to avoid crap products, but to find the best tool for the job for the least money.

  31. Tony Carretti

    @Glen Volkov, @MN

    Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with similar mics, but if you don't think that these are an improvement over using built in HDSLR mics I don't know what to say.

    At least you can get the mic much closer to the talent/action and hands down get better audio than not using an external mic. Not everyone wants to plunk down a few hundred dollars for a mic when they are just starting out.

    It's an inexpensive way to improve your finished product as well as affording you a good learning tool for future reference when you decide that you're willing to invest more in your hobby/business.

    I'll let you know if they break or crap out, but I pay $20 at Costco for toilet paper so hopefully these will last longer than that....

    Kirk out...

  32. Steve

    I found the sound in your test video to be quite "thin" and lacking any kind of presence. If it was closer to you than 20 inches then I'd suspect it would sound better but unless you are on a very limited budget I'm not impressed...thanks for doing the test however, it was indeed helpful!

  33. Matthew

    Great, another crappy cheap product that I wasted money on. I lose more money trying these cheap products than just saving for something legit.

  34. MN

    I had this mic years ago when I was younger, dumber, poorer, didn't understand the physics of sound waves, didn't understand the difference in mic build quality, and was just a generally confused moron.

    I'm still a moron, but a wiser one. The mic is total crap.

    But look, any mic that's near the source in a decent small room is going to sound better than a mic dozens of feet away from that source. This ain't rocket science.

  35. Gleb Volkov

    I've had this exact mic rebranded, and the build quality is horrible. Internal wiring is extremely flimsy and I had once to gaffer-tape wires in the middle of the shooting. Second time it happened I just threw it away. Wouldn't pay 20 bucks for it and risk my sound. Also, very noisy by itself, and the cable is total rubbish. I'm not expecting anything for the price, I'm just saying - don't go there.

  36. stanperry

    My thoughts are that you can buy 2 and improve the sound of the h4n which is great but the downfall is you can hear the clicking of buttons and my second problem is motoring while recording ... this may be a cheap alternative to get 2 sound sources via stereo recording and can split the audio in post (record in stereo in h4n ) ...

    the shootgun mic would get better audio with less ambient noise that the h4n uasaly picks up ...

    this would be a improvement for me in a more organized situation ... but in a more run in gun solo shooting situation the h4n would work better because of the more compact nature and lack of cords ....

  37. Interesting. This looks almost exactly like my audio technica atr6550 but with XLR output and 30 bucks less. What a deal!

    Does anyone know what sized windscreen/deadcat fits this, and where to buy it? Eg. would the rode windscreen

  38. Emm

    Post author

    @Adam Sofa - For direct in camera, I would grab a JuicedLink with AGC disable, or use a Zoom H4n or even Zoom H1 recorder separately.

  39. Ryan G

    This looks like the HTDZ HT-81 shotgun microphone that you've mentioned on here before. It comes from China and usually runs less than $25. I picked one up a few months back and have actually gotten great results running it into my Juicedlink DS214 then to my D7000. You definitely can't beat the price!

  40. terry_mickie

    I can second that. I have the same microphone re-branded. The sound quality is excellent and the battery life is INCREDIBLE! You can choose between a tight or wide sound pattern. I paid around $30 bucks for it and it was a steal at that price. If you don't have a mic, or need another. Grab this lil baby right here. You can't go wrong!

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