Hammer and Anvil Shotgun Microphone Review

Does this $80 microphone sound like a million bucks?

Hammer & Anvil

Video enthusiasts looking to kick their up their audio game have a plethora of affordable options, but the list of high-quality microphones for camcorder and DSLR cameras under a hundred bucks is a short one. Fortunately, Hammer & Anvil have released the MK-SLR300 Camera Mounted Shotgun Microphone. Clocking in at just under $80, the SLR300 delivers on the cost front, but how does it work?

We took one for a spin to find out just how well they work.

To go over the basics, the Hammer & Anvil MK-SLR300 is a super-cardioid microphone using a studio quality noise eliminating pickup pattern to deliver clean, directed audio. The design was created to minimize side and rear ambient sound. The idea is to capture clean audio to all of our DSLRs, camcorders and just about anything else that has a shoe mount and a 3.5 mm stereo mini-pin jack or XLR 3 pin jack.

Our testing took us to a handful of video shoots, from events where we captured stage speakers to standard interview scenarios. The MK-SLR300 performed exceptionally well in every environment we placed it, though certain applications worked better than others. As with any microphone, the natural acoustics of the scenario played a huge part. Large events with a lot of distance (and ambient noise) between microphone and speaker yielded the worst results, where quiet rooms and a single speaker brought incredible results.

That said, some fiddling with the gain settings made a world of difference. The mic features three gain settings (-10dB, 0dB, +10dB), so even if we couldn’t eliminate ambient noise we could always clearly hear the subject we wanted to hear. There was never a situation that a quick pass through Izotope's RX5 couldn't fix.

One feature that made a huge difference on every shoot was the option to use the 1/4” x 20 thread on the bottom of the microphone to allow us to mount the microphone to it’s own tripod, or a boom arm. The shoe option is perfect for most scenarios, but it’s always nice to get the mic a bit closer to the subject being captured and including that thread made a huge difference.

Also helpful was the integrated floating shock mount. Not always present for on-camera shotgun microphones, the shock mount kept strange audio anomalies down to a minimum, even when tripods were bumped.

On the mic itself, the MK-SLR300 is simple and straightforward to use. In addition to the 3-way gain switch, the mic also features a bass roll-off switch to cut low-frequency noise. Finally, there is a cover to house a single 9-volt battery. According to H & A literature, that battery can deliver approximately 100 hours of use thanks to an advanced design and efficient, energy-sipping components.

We can attest that around half a dozen all-day shoots never had us thinking about swapping batteries. The MK-SLR300 worked brilliantly over all of the shoots. We should point out, as well, that when we shot using a consumer camcorder (a Canon Vixia HF G20) we were able to monitor our audio in camera with headphones, but using an older DSLR (a Canon 5D Mark II) we opted to use the Hammer & Anvil MK-SLR200 Two-Channel Audio Mixer Adapter.

It features a single 1/8” input, as well as two XLR inputs for use with professional microphones such as the one we were testing. Both options yielded great results, and it was a dream to be able to monitor our audio as we captured it using the Canon 5D Mark II.

On days when we were shooting outside we tested the included foam windscreen and the “dead kitten” cover, both designed to deflect “pop” and wind from being captured. Both accessories worked well and helped keep audio clean on blustery days.

Overall, we would be happy bringing the Hammer & Anvil MK-SLR300 to any video shoots, from home videos to professional engagements.

The audio quality was fantastic, and the feature set only helps the mic deliver. Gain control, bass roll-off and accessories to control capture quality combine to make this a microphone to add to our video toolkit.

Highly recommended.

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