What Is A Parabolic Microphone 

Modern technology has made considerable feats, pushed countless boundaries, and completely redefined possibilities in its attempts to capture audio in its truest and purest form. One such remarkable piece of technology that has garnered acclaim and attention is the parabolic microphone. 

In order to properly take advantage of this microphone, let’s dive into what it actually is, how it works, and where it’s used best. 

Definition and the Basic Principle of Parabolic Microphones 

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Parabolic microphones are specially designed audio capture devices that feature a parabolic reflector and a microphone. The reflector collects and directs sound waves to its center, where the mic is situated. If you want to imagine what a parabolic mic looks like, visualize a small antenna and then imagine a small mic fixed in the middle of it. You can even make your own parabolic microphone by taking any “parabolic” dish and fixing a small Hollyland microphone, like the Lark M2, in its center. 

lark m2 box

Hollyland Lark M2

2-Person Wireless Mini Button Microphone.

Learn More

Instead of ribbon or dynamic moving-coil capsules, these devices usually use small-diaphragm or miniature condensers, like Lavalier microphones, because of their increased sensitivity, smaller size, and lower noise level. 

Although they’re not high-fidelity microphones, they’re incredibly sensitive to sounds directed by the axis of the dish, making them ideal for capturing audio from a distance. This ingenious design makes them particularly useful for wildlife observation, filmmaking, surveillance, and sports broadcasting.

Components of a Parabolic Microphone 

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A parabolic microphone features four components:

  1. Parabolic Reflector

The most important component of a parabolic microphone is the reflector. This is typically a lightweight, curved dish that reflects sound waves towards its focal point. The curve must strictly be parabolic, so it can properly direct sound waves to a single point. If the dish is too flat, too inconsistent, or too concave, the sound waves will scatter away from the microphone, resulting in a lack of clarity, distortion, and lower sound level. 

It’s important to note that the size of the dish also affects the mic’s performance. Larger reflectors are able to collect and direct more sound waves while offering a stronger barrier against ambient sound, leading to a stronger signal, longer ranges, and reduced wind or background noise. 

The dish’s material makes a huge difference as well. Ideally, a reflector should be thick and rigid, but lightweight. Acrylic, metal, and plastic dishes are incredibly reflective and rarely allow sound waves to escape, making them the more suitable options. However, dishes with holes, such as colanders don’t make good reflectors, even if they have a parabolic shape. 

  1. Microphone Element

Positioned at the parabola’s focal point, a microphone converts the acoustic pressure from the directed sound waves into an electric signal. In order to clearly capture the focused audio, the mic should be level and not angled towards the closed end of the reflector. You can mount a Hollyland microphone or any other mic at the dish’s focal point to capture clear audio from great distances. 

  1. Mounting Hardware

The key to capturing the best audio with a parabolic microphone is to place the mic exactly at the reflector’s focal point. In order to hold the mic at this ideal position, you’ll need to use mounting hardware. 

You can either mount your mic on a C-stand’s arm for easier movement and adjustment, or you can determine the exact location of the focal point, and use a support arm as a permanent mount for your microphone.

  1. Recording and Monitoring Equipment 

While this equipment isn’t part of the microphone itself, it’s still essential for capturing the best audio. You won’t know whether you’re getting distorted audio or a clear, strong signal unless you use headphones to monitor the source of the sound and make adjustments as needed. 

Depending on your distance from the target, even the slightest twist of the parabolic reflector can make you lose the signal. For this reason, an attentive and active operator is essential for a strong, clear recording. 

How It Works 

At their core, parabolic microphones feature a parabolic dish and a mic mounted at the focal point. The dish collects and directs sound waves toward the microphone, enhancing directionality and sensitivity. This unique design allows the microphone to capture sounds from a large distance with incredible accuracy. 

In order to understand how parabolic microphones work, it’s important to know the physics behind them. Sound waves traveling through the air are collected by the reflective surface of the dish. This surface then refocuses the waves towards the mic, redirecting and concentrating them to develop a stronger signal.

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The dish’s “parabolic” shape also plays an essential role, as the curvature determines the position of the focal point where the sound waves converge. The microphone is then mounted exactly at this point, leading to optimum sound capture. 

Furthermore, parabolic mics are one of the only audio devices that can capture sounds at great distances. They amplify low sound pressure levels from long distances and reduce ambient sounds, allowing them to capture audio with much better clarity and gain than conventional microphones. 


Parabolic microphones are incredibly versatile. Thanks to their unique capabilities, they’re used in a wide range of fields and industries and deliver impressive results. Some common examples include:

Sports Broadcasting 

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Sports broadcasting is extremely fast-paced, and every shout, cheer, and kick of the ball matters. Parabolic mics allow sports journalists to capture player communication, crowd reactions, and the exciting sounds of every game, making viewers feel as if they’re right on the field.  

From the subtle conversations between teammates to the roar of a packed stadium, parabolic microphones create a hypnotic experience and place audiences right in the middle of the action. 

Wildlife Observation

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Parabolic microphones have completely transformed the way enthusiasts and researchers study and observe wildlife. Whether it’s the mournful howls of wolves or the mating calls of an elusive bird, these audio devices enable us to explore and experience the wilderness in a way previously thought to be impossible. 

Researchers can use parabolic mics to capture sounds without disturbing the habitats of animals, offering us a glimpse into the lives of the magnificent creatures we live with. 


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Parabolic microphones are incredibly useful for law enforcement and surveillance purposes as well. They allow officers to safely hear conversations from a distance or capture sounds that may be otherwise inaccessible, making them an invaluable tool for investigations and intelligence gathering.


The television and film industry uses parabolic microphones to capture authentic audio on set. From recording atmospheric sounds in difficult locations to capturing dialogue from a great distance, these devices help create the immersive audio we experience in TV shows and movies. 

Advantages of Parabolic Microphones

Specialized jobs need specialized tools, and if you want to capture sound from greater distances, then a parabolic microphone is the answer. You can even make your own parabolic mic by using a curved dish and a Hollyland microphone

These audio devices have several advantages, such as:

Directional Audio Capture 

Parabolic microphones ensure focused audio capture from a single direction. Since the peripheral sounds outside of the dish aren’t amplified and are blocked by the reflector itself, there’s a stronger signal and reduced background noise, resulting in the mic yielding clear audio from longer ranges. 

Long-Distance Sound Capture

One of the biggest advantages of parabolic microphones is their ability to pick up sound in remote places. Whether it’s the calming symphony of raindrops, the satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot, or the mesmerizing melodies of animals in their habitat, these audio devices allow us to discover hidden soundscapes and experience the world in a profound way. 

Portable and Versatile

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Thanks to advances in technology, the latest parabolic microphones are portable, lightweight, and versatile enough to be used in several different settings. Features like vertical and horizontal handles, a neck strap, and a rear handle crossbar all enable an easy and convenient handheld operation. 


However, like any product, parabolic microphones have a few limitations as well:

Susceptible to Wind Noise

Larger dishes with wider surface areas might catch wind, resulting in noise interference. Along with dramatically increasing the ambient noise level, rain and strong winds also disrupt the microphone itself, creating additional noise. 

Physical Size

Unfortunately, parabolic microphones are often bulky and large, and even compact models limit mobility, making them less portable and harder to handle than conventional microphones. Although a larger parabolic dish is necessary for more effective amplification, the size can be a significant challenge when transporting the device to more remote locations. 

High Frequencies Roll-Off

Some parabolic microphones might not be able to capture extremely high frequencies as efficiently as they do mid-range frequencies. This is because a parabolic reflector with a larger diameter has a narrower beam width for any given accuracy, which means that it must be more accurately aimed at the audio source for an optimal high-frequency response.

Maintenance and Care

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Safeguarding your microphone’s performance is essential for sharp, clear audio. For this reason, proper maintenance and care are paramount to ensuring your microphone continues to capture the best sound, time after time. Some maintenance tips include:

Clean Regularly

Regular cleaning of both the microphone and the parabolic dish helps ensure optimal performance. Make sure you keep the microphone clean and dry. Use a soft, dry cloth, like a microfiber cloth, to regularly wipe down the mic and keep the amount of dust and debris at a minimum. 

You can also use antibacterial wipes to keep the dish as clean as possible. Lastly, it’s advisable to use specialized microphone cleaners to safely and properly sanitize your gear. 

Use a Storage Case 

Properly storing your microphone in a case can help protect it against dust and damage. When your microphone isn’t in use, place it in a case or cover to protect it from moisture, temperature changes, dust, humidity, and other damaging environmental factors. 

Most mics, including Hollyland microphones, come in a case or include a plastic bag, so make sure you hold onto them for storage purposes. Even if you’re using a foam-lined case, make sure you place the microphone in a bag to prevent it from accumulating foam particles.


What is the range of a parabolic microphone?

Since the microphone itself is mounted at the focal point of the reflector, it can capture sound waves as they bounce off the dish. This increases the parabolic mic’s sensitivity, allowing it to capture sound waves from almost 50 meters away. However, the range of the device depends on the model, as some mics like the Hollyland Lark M2 can even capture conversations from 300 meters (1000 ft) away.  

lark m2 box

Hollyland Lark M2

2-Person Wireless Mini Button Microphone.

Learn More

Can parabolic microphones be used indoors?

While you can use a parabolic microphone indoors, it won’t be as effective as it is in the open air. Since the device is incredibly directional, it might exclude the noises inside a room and might just end up picking up audio that’s coming through the wall the mic is pointed at. 

Are parabolic microphones legal for personal use?

It’s illegal to use a parabolic microphone to record the conversations of someone in their own private space, as they have the right to their privacy. It’s not illegal to use the microphone for personal use, but it becomes illegal as soon as you share any recorded private conversations with someone else.

How does weather affect the use of a parabolic microphone?

Heavy rain and strong winds disrupt the microphone and significantly increase the ambient noise level. Bad weather also affects the consistency and stability of the audio recording, leading to noise interference.

What is the difference between a parabolic microphone and a shotgun microphone? 

A shotgun microphone is a compact and lightweight alternative to a bulky parabolic reflector. Unlike parabolas, these audio devices don’t amplify target sounds and thus, have a shorter range than parabolic microphones. 

Can I build a DIY parabolic microphone?

If you don’t want to purchase a professional parabolic microphone, you can build a DIY one. You’ll only need a parabolic dish, a good microphone, and a few other simple materials and tools. However, keep in mind that a DIY parabolic microphone won’t deliver the same performance as a professionally designed model. 

How do I choose the right parabolic microphone for my needs?

The right parabolic microphone depends on several different factors, such as the cost, portability, range, and size of the microphone. Keep in mind that if you need a mic for surveillance, nature sound recording, or sporting events, then it’s better to opt for a model with a suitable Signal Noise Ratio. 

Can parabolic microphones pick up conversations through walls?

Parabolic microphones can pick up sounds through walls and from a great distance. However, it won’t be able to pick up conversations through soundproof walls. 

What are the ethical considerations when using a parabolic microphone?

The ethical considerations of using a parabolic microphone depend on the intent of the person using the mic. It can be considered ethical if a person is attempting to help prove that someone committed a crime, but it’s unethical if they’re recording a private conversation for nefarious purposes. 

How to minimize wind noise when using a parabolic microphone?

In order to minimize wind noise, angle the mic away from the source of the noise, like a door, a computer fan, or a window. You can also use a windscreen or a pop filter to reduce wind noise, and a stand or a shock mount to reduce handling noise.  


John Doe

John Doe

I am John, a tech enthusiast with a knack for breaking down complex camera, audio, and video technology. My expertise extends to social media and electronic gadgets, and I thrive on making the latest tech trends understandable and exciting for everyone. Sharing my knowledge through engaging content, I aim to connect with fellow tech lovers and novices alike, bringing the fascinating world of technology to life.

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