Azden SGM-1X is a cheap full size shotgun that can be mounted on both camera and pole. It measures 12.3 inches long and offers a very decent sound rejection. Its main advantage is the price: those who need high directionality but low on budget simply won’t find anything better. Indeed, this model costs half the price, quarter or even a tenth of the price of a professional shotgun with a similar directional pattern. Although I won’t praise it as a go to substitute, in relation to price it is simply fantastic!
Sound & quality
For a shotgun mic, directionality plays the most crucial role. A shotgun mic can produce a less accurate, noisier and distorted sound comparing to a studio grade device, but that amount of environmental noise that shotgun helps to reduce far outweighs those technical disadvantages. Directionality mainly depends on the lobe and capsule design rather than quality that of the integral components and Azden SGM-1X has really nailed that part, successfully mastering this challenge.
If we were to make comparisons, then in terms of directionality it is not inferior to the more expensive models of the same length. It terms of precision Azden SGM-1X of course loses to more advanced Rode and Audio Technica shotguns. The most obvious point would be the frequency diagram, which is fairly shaky. Indeed, should we analyze the recorded signal some frequencies would appear louder or fainter than they are in reality. However, on a larger scope the mids and highs appear balanced.
The frequency response is certainly of importance to singer and musicians that often chase for the highest precision possible, and yet for a shotgun mic the frequency response is of a much lesser value, especially if you intend using it for any common purposes such as speech and interview recordings. Although it is true that a quality frequency response usually highly correlates with the overall quality of the device, it can be a misleading factor, especially if wrongly interpreted.
What is far more important is that this mic offers a great amount of detail and clarity. This is the reason why it does so well for capturing speech. We have come across to plenty of budget mics that sound muffled or nasal, but Azden SGM-1X is really nothing like that! It is fairly sensitive and captures anything that gets into range. On the other hand, its max SPL is only 110 dB, which will make it a poor choice for louder environments such as noisy parties, etc. In such events it will be likely adding a bit of unwanted distortion.
The main disadvantage is that it has relatively high self-noise, so quiet passages that may occur especially indoors will be introducing a bit of unwanted hiss. However, if you still don’t feel like spending for professional mics, this can also be worked around in your DAW software. Needless to say it will still sound dozen times better than most integrated mics and those plentiful ‘on-camera mics’ that promise professional sound for $50.
Considering that you are looking for an all-purpose budget shotgun rather than a professional grade device, you end up with a nice offer and a working tool in your recording arsenal. The advantages of this mic actually outweigh the disadvantages, which may even go unnoticed during typical usage. An excellent directionality paired with good amount of detail warrant for an acceptable sound quality that is unmatched for the price.
- Decent - 5/105/10
I have used one of these mics since 2011 (bought used at a flea market no less). Durability, which you state as “poor” in your “Cons” is something I disagree with. I needed to clean the on/off switch contacts last year as they would introduce static sometimes, but working the switch on and off would clear it up. Cleaning the switch of oxidation fixed this issue.
At a local meeting of the Cleveland Indie Club we compared 6 budget shotgun mics that members, including myself, brought in. The most expensive mic in this group at the time (about 2013) was $380 when new. We recorded a person reading the same passage through every mic and played the recordings back through an entertainment system for all to hear. The mic that was voted best was my Azden SGM-1X. The factor that made it the preferred mic was that it had more bass response than the closest competitor, which gave a more full and rich/accurate sound.
I am now awaiting for their SGM-3500L mic to arrive at my home as my upgrade. It has many specs the same as the Sennheiser MKH-416, which is the film industry standard. nI do not expect the exact same performance, but I do expect it to be negligibly different after post.
I have been very happy with my SGM-1X. The only reason I am replacing it is because I am at a point in my career where I am upgrading all my video production equipment, now that i have 16 years experience and am working in a higher level of film and video production.