Hands-On Review of the New Shure VP82 and VP89 Shotgun Mics

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It’s common to see equipment made by Shure being used on professional television and film shoots. Even though this company’s presence in the “audio for video” market never faded, recent announcements have given a new energy to Shure’s line of ENG and EFP gear. Nothing illustrates this better than the new VP82 and VP89 end-address shotgun condenser microphones. Their impressive performance and construction is going to disrupt the ranks of what many consider to be the good, better and best options for short and long shotgun microphones.

(As you read, please note that all of these microphones require external phantom power to operate—there is no battery slot in the module).

For more information on the difference between short and long shotgun microphones, be sure to check out the B&H InDepth article, Shotgun Microphones.

VP82

Many people need a good all-around short shotgun microphone that can be mounted on a video camera and can also be used on a boompole. They need a mic that captures excellent-quality sound, that’s as compact and lightweight as possible, and most importantly, is affordable. After testing out the new Shure VP82, I feel confident in saying that this mic is the new best option for these users.  

Length-wise, the VP82 is slightly shorter and lighter than similar products, allowing the microphone to be less obtrusive when mounted on a camera; if mounted on a boompole, it’s less fatiguing during a long shoot. It has a non-reflective matte black finish and comes with a pouch and a somewhat beefy foam windscreen. I liked that the windscreen was easy to slide on, but it didn’t slide off easily.

When using a shotgun, you’re often recording either dialog or ambience. I found that the VP82 delivers the crispness that you want in a human voice without sounding at all brittle. At the same time, the background ambient noise was far less overbearing in the recording than the way it sounded live. I recorded in a room that had a noisy HVAC duct droning away in the ceiling. The dialog that I recorded was clear, and the background bed of air-conditioning noise was suppressed and pleasantly non-distracting.

What you won’t find on the VP82 is a Low Cut filter switch. Fear not: there’s good reason for this. In dialog and ambient recording for video, you’re typically better off filtering out low-frequency sounds (like the low rumble of footsteps and air vents). What’s interesting about the VP82 is that it captures low sounds starting at 150 Hz. Other shotguns capture bass sounds down to 20 Hz, and require a low cut filter to remove the bass that was needlessly captured. When you don’t have a Low Cut switch, there are fewer components in the circuitry, and you have a cleaner-sounding mic.

Another thing you won’t find in the box with a VP82 is a basic microphone clip. Most microphones come with a plastic microphone clip, which enables you to attach them to a mic stand. However, all shotguns are so sensitive to vibration noise that, even in tame environments, those hard-mounted clips are completely useless. Using a shock mount is mandatory, and there is a range of shock mounts available from Rycote that fit the VP82 perfectly, such as the InVision Video Show Adapter and the INV-7 InVision Indoor Mic Suspension.

Frequency Response Signal to Noise Ratio Operating Temperature Power Weight Dimensions
150Hz to 20kHz 79dB  -18° C (0° F) to 57° C (135° F) 11 – 52V DC Phantom Power Required 2.7 oz (76g) 7.68” (19.5cm) x 0.875” (22mm)

VP89

The VP89 is a modular microphone system that comes in three lengths. When you buy the VP89L, for example, it comes with the RPM89/PRE XLR preamplifier module, which screws onto the included RPM89L microphone cartridge. You can purchase the short, medium and long cartridges separately and attach them to the preamp, thus extending the usefulness of the system.

When I was testing the VP82, I also had the new VP89L set up beside it, and I listened to it just as closely. These two mics had a different overall sound, but if you were shooting a video and cutting together a scene in which both of these mics were used, the audio of the scene would cut together nicely. However, a better approach would be to use the shorter VP89S for the closer-miked shots, and the longer VP89L for the more distantly miked shots.

Unlike the VP82, the VP89 microphones all include a recessed low-cut filter switch for additional control over the low end frequency reproduction of the microphone.

One thing that really sets this microphone system apart (besides its excellent sound, build quality and attractive pricing) is the optional A89U “double-barrel” adapter.

The A89U attaches to the microphone cartridge, and is fixed between it and the RPM89/PRE module. The “U” shape of the A89U cuts the overall length of a VP89 shotgun down by as much as 6" (15 cm). It’s a really compelling new option for setting up installations and “plant mics.” The A89U simply enables you to squeeze a long shotgun into tighter spaces. 

I tested the VP89L in the same noisy office room that I tested the VP82 in, although I would have preferred to be on the sidelines of an NFL game or in a Central American rain forest listening to the sweet songs of tropical birds (long shotgun microphones are the tools of choice for capturing sounds that are a great distance away). My setting wasn’t ideal, but I know a good-sounding shotgun when I hear one, and the VP89L clearly sounded like a winner.

One of the drawbacks of using longer shotgun microphones is that they tend to sound thinner and less natural. However, this isn’t true of all shotgun mics. Higher quality long shotguns retain much of the detail and depth of a sound, while giving you a longer and narrower pick-up pattern. You can count the VP89L in this class of microphones. I set the mic up at the far end of a long conference table and stood a healthy 15 feet away from the mic. I repeated the token words, “Testing one two three,” and my voice in the recording sounded far closer than I really was. The overall detail of my voice wasn’t lost or stripped away.

I moved on and off axis when I was testing the mics, to hear how they performed when I was directly in front of them, and when I was off to the side. As expected, the VP89L had a more focused pick-up pattern. When I wasn’t directly in front of it, my voice would fall off significantly. This kind of side rejection is really beneficial in the noisy environments in which long shotguns are commonly used. You want to capture more of the quarterback shouting “Hike!” and less of the cheerleaders shouting “Woo!” The VP82 had a wider, less focused pickup pattern, and required me to be physically closer to the mic to be picked up fully.

There are lots of great Rycote wind protection accessories for the VP89 mics, like the A89W soft windjammer. This is a fluffy sock that fits over the included foam windscreen, and it’s available in small, medium and long. Another option for high wind is the A89W-SFT Softie Windshield. This is an open-cell foam windshield with a fluffy exterior that fits over the microphone without using the foam windscreen that comes with the mic. It’s available in medium and long.

Shure VP-89 Shotgun Mic with RPM89 XLR Preamplifier

  Frequency Response Signal to Noise Ratio Operating Temperature Power Weight Dimensions

Shure VP89S Modular Shotgun Microphone

140Hz to 20kHz 79dB  -18° C (0° F) to 57° C (135° F) 11 – 52V DC Phantom Power Required 117g (4.1 oz) 9.43” (23.9cm) x 0.815” (21mm)

Shure VP89M Modular Shotgun Microphone

100Hz to 20kHz 79dB  -18° C (0° F) to 57° C (135° F) 11 – 52V DC Phantom Power Required 138g (4.9 oz) 13.43” (34.1cm) x 0.815” (21mm)

Shure VP89L Modular Shotgun Microphone

60Hz to 20kHz 79dB -18° C (0° F) to 57° C (135° F) 11 – 52V DC Phantom Power Required 174g (6.1 oz) 19.23” (48.8cm) x 0.815” (21mm)

Please note: these microphones come with an XLR spacer gasket installed in their outputs. This is a crinkled looking rubber band that’s designed to fill the gap in the connector of the mic. In some parts of the world, standard XLR cables don’t fit snugly into a microphone’s connector jack. This spacer gasket is included to remedy that issue. This isn’t a problem in the United States (and many other parts of the world), but the installed spacer gasket creates confusion. The spacer gasket must be removed in order to attach a standard XLR cable. Removing it is as simple as popping it out with the tip of a ballpoint pen.

All in all, these were two well-designed and executed shotgun microphones. It’s always exciting to see new products introduced to the tiny world of location audio production, especially when they’re made with exceptional quality and offer new solutions to old challenges.

We really appreciate that you took the time to read this B&H InDepth hands-on review. If you have any questions at all about these shotgun microphones, we encourage you to submit them in the Comments section below.

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How does the shure compare to the sennheiser EW 100 microphone 

Thank You

Dave

Hi Dave -

A clip-on lavalier or a handheld mic are often preferable to a camera mounted shotgun.  It really depends on the shooting situation and the resources available.  These are not  products that lend themselves to a direct comparison.  It is best to choose the right tool for the job.  Please contact us via e-mail for a more detailed discussion:

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com