I'm looking for a nice microphone to record sound of cars and motorcycles on track (from outside).

Budget: 500$.

  1. Any suggestion about a model?
  2. Besides the model, Which kind of specs should i look for (directional, condenser, etc...)?

Note: i've got a quite good knowledge about video, but i'm a total beginner about audio.

3 Answers 3


Recording car audio can be very tough. You have a few factors to think about. For one when it comes to race cars and performance bikes you are talking about high SPLs. Road spec (at least in the US) is somewhere around 108 Db I think. Although some race classes have adopted sound regulations many have not so you could be looking at levels well above that. Secondly you will have to contend with the wind generated at whatever speed you may be going at. Thus a good wind screen is key. I generally use a shotgun mic for all video stuff I do and have had great success with it paired with a nice windscreen it can work wonders. Personally I use an Audio Technica (dont remember the exact model) but its a pretty standard shotgun mic.

Your second overall option is to just put the audio in post production. You may find that the optimal place to mount a mic for this will interfere with you shot. Keeping this in mind you can always go out later that day, drive the same course or road and use that audio track.

If you want some good car audio reference footage watch the 1971 release of Le Mans, or Magnus Walkers new documentary Urban Outlaw both have GREAT car audio that is much more true to what an engine sounds like than the audio tacks in the fast and the furious and movies like that.


My Apologies the video was not loading but I see what you are trying to do now. If you are stationary on the side of the track you have 2 options.

One (as described above) mount a decent shotgun mic on top of the camera with nice wind screen. If you are shooting F1 cars really dial back on the gain as those cars are LOUD. If you are shooting regular road cars keep the gain low but you will not need it that low. Keep in mind the car will be significantly louder when it is moving away from you (tail pipe towards you) then when it is coming at you (tail pipe away from you).

I think this is the one I have, does a good job, http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT835b?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=recording&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=CJ3_xMHt8b0CFSdn7Aod0mkAHA

Second is to get a nice pair of stereo mics and mount them over the camera. It will avoid the mics moving which can be nice if you have a rough tripod or your isolation mounts on the camera are not so good. Then in post production the stereo track will give you a nice pan effect so that as the car moves across the screen it will appear to move from the left to right or right to left speaker. A nice matched pair of condensers may work well here but a set of shotgun mics will do the trick as well.

You can go for something like this (I have never used this one but I trust AT to make a good mic) http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2022?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=recording&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=CK6L1c_t8b0CFUYV7AodAGwAnA

Or 2 small pencil condensers http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M5MP?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=recording&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=CPKjmuft8b0CFZJj7Aod8HYA0A

I really like these in the studio but Im not sure how they would work out in the field.

  • Thanks but there was a little misunderstanding! I will never be On the car or bike. I will be always shooting besides the track and filming the cars passing. I will be doing exactly what you are seeing in the video i posted! Apr 19, 2014 at 18:38
  • see my edit above
    – Dave
    Apr 21, 2014 at 15:09

Id go for a typical boom mic. Sennheiser MK 416, Rode NTG2 etc. What you could do is go for a Recorder wit ha XY inbuilt mic (e.g. tascam dr100) to additionally get a stereo atmosphere. Then if you layer them, you get a sense of the car moving from left to right etc.

  • Either you move along with the mic, or you have a static stereo setup. Following the car with a stereo mic creates a very weird stereo image. And I found that layering a mono follow mic with a static stereo one often creates phasing issues, which tend to get worse when the mono mic is further apart from the stereo one.
    – EMV
    Apr 24, 2014 at 8:18

low-sensitivity DPAs? especially if you're recording proper loud engines, not nerfed F1s

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