Sound Shark Audio Mini Parabolic Dish for Lavalier Microphones

Strolling through WPPI 2015 in Las Vegas this week, I happened upon a fellow named Paul who was demonstrating an unusual little product called the Sound Shark. The Sound Shark is a mini Parabolic Dish that works with a small Lavalier microphone and designed to improve audio capture from a distance as well as reject unwanted sounds from the rear and sides.

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Paul with Sound Shark Audio WPP1 2015

According to their website, the Sound Shark is based on the same technology that television networks have used to pick up the on-field sounds of professional sports for many years. Klover Products (parent company), made the parabolic microphones used at the 2014 Super Bowl and the 2014 World Series. So I guess they have some credit to back up claims of what this new product is supposed to be able to do.

Sound Shark Audio Klover Products
image courtesy of SoundSharkAudio.com

You'll probably notice Parabolic microphones used heavily in sports. There's typically that guy on the side of a Boxing Ring or on the Side Lines of a Football Game. One claim they have is that the Sound Shark can reject sounds and pick up distant sounds better than a shotgun microphone.

While the examples seen through the photos show it mounted to a camera, it can also be paired up directly with an audio recorder or even mounted on a Boom Pole. It certainly seems like an interesting product that could aid capturing better audio for run-gun shooters covering events or sports, and hopefully there will be a point to where I can test it myself. For now there are only a few videos about the Sound Shark over at their website (Click Here).

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find-price-button Sound Shark Audio Mini Parabolic Microphone



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13 thoughts on “Sound Shark Audio Mini Parabolic Dish for Lavalier Microphones

  1. OMG! I almost never read forums or comment sections like the diatribe above, for the exact reason of what 80% of the above comments represent. And that is, people crying about equipment price and either how they will make their own or how a company should sell it for the same price as some inferior product. The biggest reason I avoid these comment sections is because I'm forced to read some "armchair expert" talk on and on about theory of why they know something can't work. so annoying.

    You want to hear a REAL WORLD story? Well, I bought mine a few months ago. I'm videotaping kids in a interview style, in loud cafeteria's and on the little league fields with all sorts of background chatter. The only comment I have to share is IT WORKS! My staff and I were amazed the first time we went out and the conditions were simply awful with over 100 kids in a cafeteria basically yelling. That darn Shark worked even with the kids that were mumbling & I couldn't hear them from the camera 4 feet away! It's a great system and I feel it's worth the money. I just bought a second one because our business is growing with this volume idea we came up with. I hope it continues to grow and I buy 10 more. Do yourself a favor folks. Don't be cheap! Go buy yourself professional equipment if you want to look professional and most of all, don't be a "know it all" saying it can't work, when you haven't even used the product.

  2. HalR

    After seeing the Sound Shark here, I remembered that I had a Sony PBR-400 that I picked up for a few bucks at a thrift store in town a couple of years back. Never used it. I also have an ME2 that I use with my wireless rig. Since there was shoot scheduled for the next day, I decided to compare my usual AT897 with the my parabolic.

    Mind you, I didn't have time to dial anything in and the shotgun got the location of honor (smaller, thinner and less likely to show in frame) but the parabolic was less than 3 feet away and pointed directly at the talent's mouth.

    Impressions? Shotgun was predictable and excellent as usual. Parabolic needed some bottom boost and top end taming (a little thin by comparison), but levels were great. Voice was strong and clear - maybe a little too clear (thinness again). I also noticed more room tone in the parabolic however, as I said, the shotgun got the premium spot. Pretty sure I could get less room tone with the parabolic pointed down rather than straight on.

    To be honest, I'd never considered using the parabolic as a direct substitute for other mics, but after this test, I might if I can control the mounting and response a bit more.

  3. I was amazed at the quality the shark audio. For me, one less step I need to do in post production is more free time for me. The recording is high quality straight into camera, no hiss noise. I also have the Zoom H1. I compared My Sound Shark to my shot gun mic, a lav mic and the quality and simplicity was great. For me it just comes down to quality and simplicity. And just for extra points no need for batteries on the shark audio, you are always ready to work. I got mine for $456 included the lav mic. I do this for a living, what I paid for it, gets paid off with one job. Was is worth what I paid, no brainer "YES"

  4. Can I ask you guys a question? Is it the sample video you are dissapointed with or the reviews, or the videos on the front page? We are working on getting some new sample videos ready to publish but the other videos are not likely to change right away.
    Thanks

  5. Yeah I have to agree with @Tim de la Torre for a company selling a professional audio device not to have nice, clean audio in their videos was disappointing and a little alarming. Honestly, based solely on the 5-6 videos I watched on their site the audio really doesn't sound that great. I would much rather use my G2 / G3 Lavs and a combination of Rode micing systems if not just patch into a sound system.

    Just my take.

  6. Maflin

    400$ dollars for a plastic bowl? Seriously?
    You can just buy those spy toys we used when we were kids and attached the lav to it and you have the exact same thing for under 20$.

  7. Tim de la Torre

    It's hard to tell what this device is actually capable of. The videos I watched on the company's page had absolutely horrible audio. The audio was over modulated in many areas - so that has nothing to do with the sound shark but come on guys, from a company marketing their 'audio' device to pros, to have bad audio recording on your marketing videos doesn't inspire confidence.

    Also, using a lav mic with a dish like this and then comparing it to a condenser shotgun microphone is really a test that can't be compared. I have no idea how much frequency shifting is happening due to the dish and how much is happening because you're using a lav mic. Lav mics are electret condenser mics and because of their small diaphragm, can't be compared to condenser mics...

    All I know is that why I heard was not impressive to me at all for any feature film work. Potentially for documentary work, but most likely only sports and news.

  8. @OldCorpse - Thanks for the comments.

    You are exactly right, you can't escape physics. However, physics aren't quite as black and white as you indicate. All sound bounces but the higher frequencies do bounce off of the dish better than the lower frequencies. The problem is the definition of higher and lower.

    Our frequency curves show a signficant dropoff (>12 dB) as you go from 16 kHz to 4 kHz and a noticable dropoff (~4 dB) as you go from 4 kHz to 2 kHz (with the 4 kHz being much more directional) but almost no dropoff as you go from 2kHz down to 125 Hz (which covers most of the human voice). Our tests were done with a Sennheiser ME2 lavaliere which is a little bright itself.

    Some people do boost the bass after recording with the Sound Shark but most have not found it to be necessary. On the other hand the Sound Shark is great for birders as the bird calls are in the higher frequencies.

    This little video clip demonstrates that the Sound Shark can pick up low frequency sounds better than anyone would expect - including me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R83fzunoOWk

    An audio expert from Full Compass (and SBE member) was with me when we recorded this audio, and listened to it live. He will vouche for the authenticity of this recording.

  9. OldCorpse

    @Paul Terpstra - hey, I'm open minded and willing to take you at your word, and anyhow, as I said in my original post people should experience stuff on their own, rather than listen to opinions however expert the pros may be.

    That said, you can't escape physics. Lower sound frequencies don't bounce, so if the dish works by bouncing sound waves to the mic, there will necessarily be some distortion, as lower frequencies will experience less bounce and you'll be left with somewhat higher frequencies going to the mic - so the tendency will be for the sound coming out of that situation to be "brighter", because the relative mix of frequencies reaching the mic will have more higher frequencies.

    Anyhow, again, of course people should listen and make up their own minds.

  10. I don't want to sound defensive but I would like to present another point of view.

    The audio of the Sound Shark is more comparable to a $500+ Sennheiser than a $100 Rode. We have a side by side comparison to a ME 67 on our website (Gallery page). We also have video clips of wedding vows recorded from 50' feet away. I'm sure the Rode would not be able to do that. The Sound Shark is also more directional than any shotgun microphone.

    As far as the "must be over 18" to sound good" rule. Please listen to the sample videos on our website. I don't think you will find that to be true. Most of the formulas and whitepapers on the subject rely on electromagnetic wave theory instead of sound pressure waves. If the formulas were correct you would not be able to hear any of the frequencies of the human voice. That is simply not the case. The "professionals" are starting to use our "professional" version of this product for the NBA and college basketball. They were recently used at the NBA All-Star game.

    As far as the cost, it takes $1000's of tooling to provide the accuracy needed for the performance that we require. If our volumes increase as we hope they do, we may be able to lower our price in the future but we do have to make some money to offset the investment we have made.

    I understand the skepticism and the reluctance to spend $400 but I think you would be surprised by the performance of the Sound Shark, as Emm was.

  11. OldCorpse

    FWIW, I asked some film sound pros about this. Not encouraging. This is a well-known technology. However, the frequency response is directly dependent on diameter of the dish. This is so small, it will sound tinny. To get acceptable results for speech the minimum diameter must be *over* 18". Btw., did you notice how in that photo the pros using these dishes - all well over 18". Seems like the physics here are an issue for such a tiny dish. Of course, don't rely on what anyone says, do your own tests and decide for yourself, as always... always trust your own perceptions over anyone's opinion, no matter how "expert" they may be. I'd give it a try, but at $400, I'll pass and wait for Emm to give it a whirl instead :)

  12. Chris Knight

    Very cool! When I first researched shotgun mics (mostly for birding, at the time; nowadays mostly for video production) I thought "wonder if there are parabolics like I remember as a kid.

    I'm curious how this, paired with an Aspen mic (thanks for the recommendation; I have two of 'em!) compares with a Rode Videomic Go? (My current on-camera mic solution; which has saved more than one shot!)

    But at $400 for a plastic dish, I think I'll have to pass. 😐 Wish they were more reasonably priced (< $100 seems decent/appropriate, given the Videomic Go cost $100 and this dish will need a mic at $400!)

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