1

5 Best Microphones for Recording Nature in 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

Do you want to record high-quality nature sounds but cannot decide what microphone to use?

Choosing the best microphone for nature recording isn’t easy, given that most microphones are developed for the studio, music recording, and film applications.

And, even while there is quite an overwhelming number of microphone brands in the market, not all are best suited for recording environmental sounds.

Blindly going for primo mics is the worst.

There is a high chance that what you get won’t be the best for your individual situation.

Ultimately, for most nature recordings, some background on the microphone is necessary before committing actual money.

Below we have covered 5 of what we have tested to be the best microphones for nature recording.

Depending on your specific application, these microphones are sure to produce immersive nature soundscapes.  

You’ll also capture different species’ vocalizations - chirping and fluttering of different birds, rain songs of the migrating yellow warblers, screaming of red-tailed hawks, and wildlife mating calls - with extraordinary realism.

By the way, here is a detailed and comprehensive guide on everything microphones

Our Winner After Careful Research

Best Microphones for Recording Nature - Comparison Table

Product

Specs

Our Rating

Price

Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder

Sennheiser MKE600 Camcorder Shotgun Microphone

Sony ECM-680S M/S Stereo Shotgun Microphone

Rode NT4 X/Y Stereo Condenser Microphone

5 Best Microphones for Recording Nature

1. Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder

You are an ornithologist.

You’re just getting started on a new avian research project to record and learn new birdsong and calls.

Your field recording kit must include recording equipment and a microphone setup.

The Zoom H4N PRO offers these two essential recording gears in a single handy device.

By combining a recorder and a microphone into a small unit that’ll fit in your hand, the H4N is ideal if you are looking to travel light.

There is a threaded hole on the backside that eliminates the need for a tripod or stand adapter.

Should you need to set up a camera rig, you can acquire a hot shoe adapter (separately) to mount your H4N Pro directly to the DSLR.

This is a multipurpose digital recorder that is outfitted with onboard XY mic capsules obviating the need to use the low-quality built-in camera mic or carrying an external microphone set.

Its adjustable 90°/120° stereo microphone provides clear audio capture in both tight stereo image and wider stereo array.

For a sub-$200 recorder, the Zoom H4N Pro packs a remarkable range of features that meet the varied demands of nature recordists.

It is widely praised for producing high-quality audio capture of ambient and environmental sounds as well as recording earsplitting thunder at over 140 dB.

Did you know also that Zoom’s H-Series units are the audio recorders of choice for most National Audubon Society members?

Pros

  • Combines a recorder and microphone into a travel-friendly device
  • Rubberized, ergonomic build for handheld use
  • AA Batteries (Alkaline/NiMH) go up to 10 hours
  • AC Adapter Powering option for unlimited recording time
  • Built-in speaker for quick playback
  • Recording directly to an SD or SDHC card
  • Steinberg's Cubase LE music production & WaveLab LE audio editing software licenses

Cons

  • Larger capacity cards slow boot uptime

Get better sound quality with less hassle by using the Sennheiser MKE600.

Thanks to its super-cardioid/lobar polar pattern audio pick up, you get marked focus on-axis and effective rejection of side and rear sounds.

This makes it an excellent choice for recordists who want to record wilder beasts from distance, and still be able to highlight a specific species’ vocalization.

The Sennheiser MKE600 is a popular mic set among professional field audio engineers, video producers, and documentary filmmakers.

As a shotgun microphone praised for its remarkable focused directional and immaculate sound quality reproduction.

A low noise-circuity and natural roll-off at 40 Hz makes it a widely recorder for dialog recording and interviews.

Documentary filmmakers especially love its clear intelligibility for an enhanced speech clarity when recording voice-overs.

Being a lightweight unit, this microphone will not weigh down your rig when you are out on a week-long stakeout to capture the expressive "coo" vocalizations of the evasive pig-tailed macaque.

Its metal housing makes it reliably tough to endure rugged conditions.

Pros

Cons

The Sony ECM-680S is an MS (Mid-side) stereo shotgun that is switchable to a unidirectional (cardioid) mic for excellent directional sound pickup.

It is equipped with an internal MS decoder that allows easy switching between stereo or mono depending on needs/situation.

Because of this distinguishing audio capturing switchable operation, the EMC-680S is considered to be a versatile mic that can be used in dialog capture and recording of ambiance for films as well as other professional audio applications.

Even while it is most suitable for broadcast studio applications, the Sony ECM-680S also has a broad range of field applications.

It is especially ideal for recording environmental sounds to monitor biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

Another handy feature of the ECM-680S is that it includes an xlr-5pin and an optional k-1504 output cable for flexible connectivity.

This makes it ready for use in any recording environment, mostly with 5-pin XLR input equipped camcorders or camcorders with twin 3-pin XLR inputs.

Its length at 9” is ideal for camera mounting.

It’s a perfect solution for recording dialog indoors without getting in the way of the shot.

While this is not a Schoeps microphone, it’s far from being cheap!

It’s an excellent stereo microphone that’s highly recommended for sound engineers, musicians, and nature recordings who frequently toggle between stereo placement and focused sound capture.

Pros

Cons

Dig further into any of the above microphones for recording nature and you will be surprised that they can actually be used in a range of studio and field applications.

That’s not to say that these microphones are not uniquely suited for recording environmental sounds or locking a specific animal vocalization.

Most nature recordings would tell you that the best microphone for recording nature is one that can capture a perfect recording with extraordinary realism.