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Review: - Azden SGM-1X Shotgun Microphone

March, 2010


Azden SGM-1X Shotgun Microphone - $250.00

Review by Steve Douglas

If there is one thing most videographers quickly learn, it is that the quality of the audio tracks is absolutely essential to the success of their projects. Poor sounding dialogue or narration just doesn't pass muster with audiences who will sometimes tolerate less than the high standard video but will not be so altruistic when it comes to audio that reeks of the fuzziness and weird echo that results from using $12.00 microphones from dad's old portable cassette player.

Azden's SGM-1X shotgun microphone was designed for the advanced shooter with low budget pockets. With a frequency response of 80-18,000 and a Signal to Noise ration of 65db, this Super Cardioid patterned microphone leads you to believe that you will achieve the sound quality you were hoping for. The SGM-1X has a balanced XLR output and is designed to work with any microphone input of 1K ohm or less. This includes balanced XLR or unbalanced 1/4" and 3.5mm microphone inputs. Never the less, one cannot really go by specs alone and testing it was done with both XLR to XLR as well as XLR to mini-jack.

The Azden SGM-1X shotgun microphone arrives as pictured but in a nice faux leather pouch.

 The SGM-1X is quality looking black 12" shotgun, which comes with its own shock mount to isolate the microphone from the camera. . No cables are included which you will need to purchase separately. While I have several 25ft XLR cables, trying to find one that was 8-10" was a nightmare. Even my local Guitar Center's smallest was 3 feet long and I do hate cables hanging all over the place. It is powered by a single AAA battery, which due to its low current drain should last roughly 1000 hours according to Azden's spec info. The shotgun is turned on or off by a tiny two position switch located on the microphone. The switch blends in so much with the camcorder that many times I started to record only to realize that I had forgotten to turn it on. It's a small thing but I do wish the switch were more obvious or even white so as to contrast with the deep black of the shotgun itself. The on/off lettering is in white however, so maybe it is just I being forgetful.

Azden does offer an optional XLR plug-in transmitter and receiver should you wish to go wireless. These I did not have and was not able to test.

The Shock Mount holder did a fine job deflecting deliberate bumps to the tripod upon which the camcorder was mounted. The plastic holder slid into the cams hot shoe and was easily tightened down by the thumbwheel. As with anything, it is important to avoid over tightening.

Adding to the SGM-1X's capabilities is its low-cut switch located right above the on/off switch. The straight white line indicates that a flat response is set while the Low Cut switch has a mark that appears like a long division symbol. The Low Cut filter switch has been designed to reduce unwanted low frequency noise such from background generators or your air conditioner from entering the audio.

While I found the foam windscreen did very little good in blocking out wind noise, most shooters would want to use a decent quality wind muff in the majority of shooting situations anyway.

Now to the most important part of the review; just how does the audio sound? I found the audio produced from the SGM-1X to having both a warm and rich sound and very qualified for either dialogue or narration. Its low end frequency response of 80Hz prevents some of the very deep base from instrumentation or vocal singing but I question how many singers really get down that low anyhow. As there is with many microphones I could detect no harshness in the audio when brought into postproduction. There was little off axis sound as would be expected of any high quality microphone in the SGM-1X's caliber.

My bottom line is that for any videographer looking for a massive improvement over their built in camcorder microphones or simply wanting to take a step up in the quality of the external microphone they may already be using, the Azden SGM-1X is a great choice whether using it on the cams hot shoe, a separate pole cam or mic stand, this is one excellent microphone for the relatively inexpensive outlay.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 7 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve was a feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica, Lembeh Straits, Indonesia, and Wakatobi. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.

copyright © Steve Douglas 2010

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