Rode VideoMic Camera-Mounted Microphone
Microphone Review Testing...1... 2...3
The VideoMic from Rode is a unique solution for intermediate and advanced shooters looking to add more audio control and power over their existing on-camera mic. It's surprising that there aren't more mics like this one, offering an all-in-one shock mount/mic design.
The VideoMic is not like any other accessory shoe item, in that it comes with its own innovative shock mount. The construction of the shock mount is relatively small, keeping the overall size of the VideoMic down to a minimum. However, if you have camera controls next to the accessory shoe on your camera, be aware that it may block access to them.
For this microphone review we will start from the basics. The mount and much of the mic is made of plastic, with the exception of a small piece of metal that reinforces the bottom of the shock mount and a couple of screws. It's definitely sturdy enough to take on the woes of video production and lightweight enough to not overwhelm small handheld camcorders. While the size has the minor drawback of possibly obstructing some controls, its lightweight properties make it easy to shoot with just about any camcorder. The front of the mic comes with a foam windscreen. The windscreen did help reduce noise from breezes and low wind speeds, however, if you plan to use this microphone outdoors in moderately windy conditions, consider getting a windsock that can reduce noise at higher wind speeds.
The on/off switch and battery housing are easily accessible on the back of the mic. The switch has three positions -- off, on and high-pass filter. Off and on positions are self-explanatory. The high pass filter cuts out lower frequencies and helps accentuate voices. An LED next to the switch lights up when you turn the mic on and blinks when the battery needs replacing. The battery housing holds a single 9V battery. Swapping out an old battery is incredibly simple and only took us a couple of seconds during this microphone review. You won't need to worry about swapping out batteries too often, as the expected battery life for this mic is about 100 hours.
A Lock and Load Microphone Review
The VideoMic attaches to your camcorder via the accessory shoe. The oversized accessory shoe fastener makes easy work of tightening down the mic. If you are a shooter with large hands, you'll find this feature welcoming; as it tends to be difficult to get a good grip on the typical, smaller fastener.
The mic has 2 threaded holes to attach it to a tripod or boom pole, but we needed to remove the shoe fastener using a Philips screwdriver to access them during our microphone review. The holes are a 3/8" by 16 and a 1/4" x 20 threaded inserts. Having this added functionality could come in handy. If you are a videographer who needs both a boom mountable mic and an upgrade from your pre-existing on-camera mic, then having this mic could kill two birds with one stone (so long as you don't need to use them both at the same time). Of course, if you might consider attaching this mic to a boom pole, bear in mind what adapters or audio cords you might need to get the signal down the pole.
After you attach the mic to the camera's accessory shoe, connecting to an 1/8" mic input is all that's necessary to put the mic to use. The 8" long coiled audio cord can stretch to about 2 feet, which should give most shooters enough reach to the mic input. There are multiple cord clips along the shock mount that allow you to fasten the cord in different positions depending on where you position the mic input on the camera.
The Sound of Sound
The shock mount helps reduce operator noise, protecting the mic from the shocks and jolts of camera operation, although it doesn't completely eliminate it. The reduction in noise, as compared to what you'd hear from the on-camera mic, is quite significant. Overall, we were pleased with the shock mount's performance.
The ability to capture sound at distances with the Rode VideoMic is also very pleasing. It could easily pick up voices at moderate volumes from over 20 feet away. The mic still captures sound quite nicely beyond twenty feet, but in situations with other competing noises like heavy traffic, the sound you don't want starts drowning out sounds you do want. Realistically, the audio is definitely best when the mic is pointed at the source you want to capture. There's a notable difference in sound from objects directly in front of the mic compared to those off to the sides. The Rode VideoMic is fairly balanced directionally, as well, which allows you to hear sounds coming from different directions.
The quality of the audio itself is the best attribute of the mic. It sounds rich and full. One of the nice results of focusing better on your audio sources is that you seem to get frequencies that are more dynamic from them. This mic is not skimpy on audio quality. Even with the high-pass filter activated, the audio still sounds nice, unlike some filters that can give a tinny sound effect.
While there are many shotgun mics that could out-reach this mic, the Rode VideoMic is one of the easiest ways to upgrade from an on-camera mic to a professional sounding solution without costing you an arm and a leg. The sound properties are splendid and the design is multi-functional, making this mic one of a kind. If you're looking for a convenient solution with professional sound; this mic could end up being one of your favorites.
Connector: 1/8" Stereo
Physical Type: Shotgun
Pickup Element: Condenser
Pickup Pattern: Super-Cardiod
Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
Battery Required: 9V
Phantom Power: no
- High Pass Filter
- Great Performance
- Might obstruct some controls
- Wind Screen works only for light wind
- Unbalanced 1/8" Stereo Mic pin
Easy to use, great sounding and an affordable microphone that takes care of the audio needs of novices and pros alike.
Mark Montgomery is Videomaker's editorial assistant and has worked on nationally televised productions.
P.O. Box 3279
Torrance, CA 90510-3279