Shotgun vs Lavalier vs Boom: Which Microphone is Best

Shotgun, lavalier, and boom mics all have different applications, and the best one to use is the option that matches your needs for audio capture and recording. All of these can deliver excellent sound quality in the right application. 

This post will compare and contrast shotgun, lavalier, and boom mics to help you understand their differences. I’ll tell you what each mic is best suited for and why or why not you might want to use them. 

Let’s get rolling. 

Key Takeaways

  • The best microphone to use is the one that best matches your recording situation, which can vary from application to application. 
  • Shotgun microphones are very directional and can help block out sound from sources surrounding the audio source. 
  • Lavalier mics are typically attached to a person’s clothing and can be used for interviews or live performances. 
  • A boom mic is technically any microphone on the end of a long pole. 

Shotgun vs Lavalier vs Boom 

Before diving into the differences between shotgun, lavalier, and boom mics, it’s important to mention that the best mic is the one that works best for any specific recording application. Just because a mic is designed a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. 

Shotgun MicLavalier MicBoom Mic
A term used to describe any kind of directional microphoneA mic that clips on clothing or something similar with a small profileAny microphone that is attached to the end of a long pole or stand
Used in many applications and can block out surrounding noisesGood for live interviews and other applications where a small profile is neededUsed in all sorts of situations from recording music to film to podcasts
Shotgun mic can be on a boomLavalier mic not typically used on boomAny type of mic can be used with a boom
Typically has a better sound quality than lavalierNot as good of sound quality for music recording applications Has no effect on sound quality of the mic it’s used with, other than placement

Understanding these initial differences between all of the microphones can help you get a better idea of how they are used and when you might want to use one. Again, there is no best option here, but rather more of a best for a certain situation. 

Let’s start by looking at a boom mic because, technically, that isn’t a microphone at all. A boom mic is actually any type of microphone attached to a long pole. This pole is known as a boom, and most mic stands come with a boom of some sort. 

You’ve probably heard the term boom mic often, and that’s because these are used in many different situations. But the term doesn’t describe the actual microphone that’s on the end of the boom; it just references that there is a boom. 

A shotgun mic is another type of general term for a particular kind of microphone called a directional mic. These mics do an excellent job of picking up sound from the audio source they are pointed at while blocking out sound from other surrounding sources. 

Shotgun mics have many applications but are often used when you want to isolate an audio source when you aren’t in a completely quiet environment. These applications can be in the recording studio, on the film set, or in many other situations. 

Shotgun mics typically have a better sound quality than lavalier mics. This is simply because the mics are designed for audio recording rather than having a small profile. You can use a shotgun mic on a boom, and this is done often. 

A lavalier mic is a microphone that attaches to someone or something. These are small profile microphones that can pick up someone talking. They are often used for live interviews or other situations on camera or with an audience. 

Lavalier mics are convenient and easy to use. If you watch a talk show and see the mic clipped on the interviewee, that’s a lavalier mic. These mics produce decent sound quality but typically aren’t used in the recording studio for music. 

Lavalier mics also aren’t really used on boom stands. Technically you could use one with a boom, but there really isn’t any reason to do so. If you are using a boom, you’d use a different kind of microphone.  

Lavalier vs Shotgun Mic for Interviews

Both lavalier and shotgun mics can be used for interviews with good results. The best option here again is decided by the recording application and situation. 

Lavalier mics are better for live interviews where you want a small profile microphone that won’t block the sight line of a camera. They can also be used for live performances when the singer or speaker wants to move around. 

Shotgun mics can also be used for interviews and will ultimately deliver better sound quality. But when you are just recording a speaking voice, sound quality isn’t the most essential factor sometimes. 

Shotgun mics are often used for podcast interviews and radio interviews. Since these formats aren’t live or on camera, using a standing mic can give the engineer more control over the recording in the long run. 

Lavalier mics can also be used for podcasts or radio interviews, but they are most frequently used for live interview settings. This could be a talk show, public speaking engagement, or any other live situation. 


Here are a few short answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to which type of microphone is best. 

Is a lavalier mic better than a shotgun mic for interviews? 

Lavalier mics are used more often for interviews than shotgun mics. A lavalier mic can be a better one for live interviews because they have a low profile. For podcasts, either a lavalier or shotgun mic can work well. You can host your podcasts on a platform like RedCircle.

Should I use a lav mic or a shotgun mic? 

The choice of which mic to use depends on your recording situation. You’ll typically get better overall sound quality with a shotgun mic. But you can use a lav mic on the move, and it also has benefits for not sticking out on camera. 

What’s the difference between a lavalier mic compared to a boom mic? 

A lavalier mic is a small microphone that attaches to your clothing or somewhere directly on a person’s body. A boom mic is any microphone that is attached to the end of a long pole. Lavalier mics and boom mics have different applications. 

Is a boom mic the same as a shotgun? 

A boom mic and a shotgun mic are not technically the same thing. A shotgun mic is a term used to describe a directional microphone with a recording capsule that helps block out surrounding sound. A boom mic is any type of mic attached to a long pole.

Final Thoughts

Shotgun and lavalier microphones are good options to use in many different situations. The best choice is the one that meets the needs and parameters of the recording application you have at hand. There is no single best choice for every situation. 

A boom mic refers to any microphone connected to an extended pole, also known as a boom. This isn’t a type of microphone at all, even though the term boom mic is used frequently. 

In what various situations do you use a shotgun, lavalier, or boom mic? Let me know in the comments below.

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