When picking a foley mic, I've seen lots of recommendations, both hypers and shotguns, but I'm unclear as to where each would have their place in a foley kit.

If not on a soundstage getting the sounds, rather in an apartment, would one pattern be preferred over the other... or do dialogue rules apply (hyper/super), even when doing small sounds like keyboard tapping, mouse clicking, pencil writing, etc.

I've seen lots of praise for the Neumann KMR81i, as well as a hyper like MKH8050.

And, sorry to get so specific, but I'm going to purchase an AT4050 because I really like the sound, so would buying this make it more reasonable to go for the shotgun for foley when trying to build a kit? I've seen the Neumann TLM 103 recommended for foley, and the 4050 is another LDC...

5 Answers 5


Ultimately the acoustics of the space where you record foley and the distance of the artist from the mic are way more important than the mic pickup pattern. From my experience, most professional foley stages use multiple mics at different distances from the performer. The foley mixer will pick one or blend a couple mics to get the sound they're after. It is not uncommon to see a Neumann KM81 or U87, a Sennheiser mkh416 or 60, Sanken CS3, or even contact mics on a foley stage.

If you're recording say, foley footsteps for scene in a large room where the actor is 15 feet from camera, the mixer will use the studio to their advantage and throw up a mic that is further away from the artist; adding more reflections/air to the recording. Most re-recording mixers love foley recorded this way, because it usually sits nicely with the production track without a ton of reverb wrangling/eq.

If you are recording in an untreated apartment, I'd suggest going with a tighter pickup pattern, since there are likely to be unwanted reflections/room noise/acoustic mess in your recordings. Unless of course, your scene takes place in an apartment. Then you might be better off allowing more of the room into your foley tracks.

  • Great explanation. Thanks. I'd heard a Sanken CS3 was a bit too noisy for SFX/foley work, but it's a mic that I really like. I'll rent it and give it a shot myself.
    – cocteau
    Jan 19, 2011 at 1:43
  • The Sanken wouldn't be my first choice for you. I think the Sennheiser 8050 would be a better choice for recording foley in an apartment.
    – Justin P
    Jan 19, 2011 at 2:38

Keep in mind that hyper's tend to have a more uniform pickup pattern across the spectrum. Shotgun mics (which are basically just hypers that use an interference tube) have resonant frequencies due to the fact that they have that interference tube. A shotgun's directionality increases the higher in the frequency spectrum you go, but in the lower end of the frequency spectrum they can get downright omni-directional.

So, as far as using in an apartment, I'd suggest going for a hyper-cardioid mic. If you have thin walls between you and your neighbours, you'll have an easier time drowning them out from off-axis with the sound you're recording that's on-axis.

  • I've got some sound blankets, but, yeah, they won't stop the outside noises from getting in. My goal is to make little noises around the apartment fairly big, so I guess my main obstacle is going to be the sound coming from other places. Thanks.
    – cocteau
    Jan 19, 2011 at 1:46
  • @Cocteau - sound blankets don't do a heck of a lot for low frequency sounds. They're great for stopping the higher frequencies of sound, but those aren't what's going to travel through the walls of your apartment. ;) Jan 19, 2011 at 12:45

With Foley a common thing to do is to record very close to the source, for this polarity patterns probably won't produce much of a difference. If you want more sound to come in from behind the microphone then go for the hyper, other than that there isn't much of a difference.


It is more down to your stylistic approach. Some foley artists like to deliberately record off-axis, as they believe that this will sound more like it was recorded on set. Others will only use cardioids directly on axis so that the sounds are as clean as possible and the recordings can be added to a library.

I would base your mic choice upon which project you are working on. I can wholeheartedly recommend the AT4050.

  • I'd second that. The AT4050 is an extremely versatile mic and has plenty of applications beyond foley. Good investment if you want a multipurpose mic. Jan 19, 2011 at 12:43

It is also important to consider the space you are recording in. Foley stages are quite different environments, acoustically speaking, from other studio environments. This is to accommodate recording interior and exterior scenes in the same space but having the ability to change the acoustic dimensions of the space using baffles or sound blankets. From what you are saying, you are recording in an apartment which means to say that you are in an uncontrolled environment. I would go with mics that will isolate as much of what you are recording from the environment you are in as well as sound blanketing as much of the space as possible. In normal situations, I use a variety of mics for both perspective as well as type of SFX being created. Large diaphragm mics are essential for heavy, intense sounds like slaps, body falls etc. But for footsteps, normal, small diaphragm mics like the schoeps MK4 are great. Many of the responses you have already received list great mic choices but ideally, location is really the most important factor.

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