Taking Aim

A As cameras, lighting and support gear have shrunk in size, weight and cost over the past few years, it seems that audio gear hasn’t followed suit as much. Most shotgun microphones still seem to be between nine and 15 inches in length, and most audio boom poles seem to be between six and 12 feet long, making for an ungainly sized package when traveling or shooting solo.

I recently came across an interesting solution to this challenge. The Que Audio Q Sniper Kit (queaudiousa.com/Portfolio%20Items/q-sniper-kit-2/) consists of a miniature shotgun microphone and a complementary package of miniaturized audio support accessories to capture location sound. Que Audio seems to have studied the habits of solo producers who must shoot projects without the addition of a sound mixer and boom operator and came up with this interesting solution. The kit consists of:

1 QMSG1: Mini-Shotgun Microphone with windscreen and carry case
1 QMB1: Mini-Boom Pole
1 QB1: Base for Mini-Boom Pole (can be used as a base on the boom pole, counterweight or standalone desktop base
1 QSM1: Shock Mount for Mini-Shotgun Microphone
1 QM1: Run-And-Gun Cold-Shoe Adapter
1 QM2: High-Quality Cold-Shoe Adapter with adjustable gimbal
1 QSM4: Rubber Shock Absorber (fits between the QSM1 and the QMB1/QB1/QM2 for extra insulation against handling noise and resonance)
1 QWJ1: The original Wombat Fluffy Wind Muff for Mini-Shotgun Microphone
1 QCBL2: 2-meter Q Compact Thread (male) to Q Compact Thread (male) black
1 DAAD: TRL TRS 3.5mm Adapter Black
1 QAD2: TRS 3.5mm (female) to XLR (male) Adapter Black
1 QBA2: AG4 1.5-volt Batteries (pair)

Que Audio is onto something here. For years, I’ve wished that someone would successfully miniaturize the long, heavy and bulky shotgun microphone, mic mounts and boom pole, and the Sniper Kit seems to do so pretty successfully. Another feature I like is that through a series of proprietary cables and adapters, the Que Audio shotgun, which is smaller than a mechanical pencil, can be adapted easily to the 3.5mm unbalanced audio inputs of DSLRs, as well as the balanced XLR audio inputs of most professional cameras and recorders. Versatility is a powerful thing.

The microphone is battery-powered by two AG4 1.5-volt batteries, but if you have a pro piece of audio gear that supplies phantom power, the shotgun can be powered from phantom power as well. The sound quality on the demo unit I had a chance to try out was very clear and natural—perhaps not Sanken, Sennheiser or Schoeps level of clear and natural, but definitely professional-sounding enough for dialogue. Frankly, this mic is going to have better sound than most low-end video cameras and all DSLRs that I’ve ever tested. For the very reasonable cost of $399, the Que Audio Q Sniper Kit is an intriguing solution to a problem that has existed ever since the popularity of DSLRs and smaller, high-quality video cameras. I plan on adding one to my travel DSLR kit; you may want to check it out.

16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: None of the manufacturers of the hardware mentioned in this article compensated me to write this article, nor did they send me a review unit to try out the software. I demoed the Que Audio Q Sniper Kit at a local dealer. No material connection exists between the manufacturers mentioned in the article and myself.

Send audio technical questions to [email protected] or mail them to Audio Assist, HDVideoPro, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025.