Cheap External Mics

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    • #85609

      Having just purchased a Canon R600 consumer level camcorder, which is both cheap and small, I thought I'd get an external mic as well (directional, not lapel). In fact, the main reason I bought the devoted camcorder instead of continuing to rely on the video function of my travel zoom pocket camera was that it could take an external mic.  My goal was to improve sound quality particularly by eliminating hiss at events such as my son's piano recital.

      This said, I didn't want to either spend a lot of money on the mic (the camcorder itself was only $250) or increase the size of the recording setup by much (the camera is tiny) so I bought a Senal SMS-45 (for about $50). I was not expecting professional quality sound but was hoping at least for less hiss. Through some early testing, this was a bust. If anything more hiss (or higher pitched hiss) from the external mic than from the internal one and perhaps only a slight improvement in clarity, if any.

      Are cheap small external mics just not worth the trouble? Did I choose the wrong one? Are there in-camera settings (perhaps boosting level)  I should try that could improve the situation? Thanks in advance.

    • #212320

      There are several sources of hiss. The microphone, the pre-amp circuitry on the camera, there may be hiss in the room which you don't hear but the camera is sensitive to, and the may be a impedance mismatch. The only way you are going to know what causes the most hiss is by trying different mics and recorders. 

      Perhaps your video editing software has the ability to reduce hiss afterwards.

      Just a little clarification on your terminology, lapel is a type of mic that may have either directional or omni directional pick up pattern. The shotgun style mic you bought often uses a directional pick up pattern. Videomaker magazine hosts many articles that can help you with terminology and your ability to explain what you need at your local, or on line, camera store.

    • #212322

      Those mics are not dreadful – but they are not shotguns in anything other than shape – they contain two small cardioid mics and record in x/y format and are just not much good for quieter sources at a distance. In front of an orchestra, or big band – fine. The hiss you get is simply because the output to the recording device is low, requiring extra gain – and without spending lots of money, gain means hiss. 


      On camera mics are frequently used and rarely do much more than record the ambient sound around the camera. Stereo mics on cameras are also a bit strange because the sound field changes as the camera is moved, which is not how most commercial stereo recordings are made. Let's say you are recording an old fashioned big band with saxes on your left and brass on the right, with drums and bass near the middle – if you zoom in on the sax player sitting furthest left, the person on the furthest right will be out of the cardioid pattern's sensitive spot and will be low in the mix. Just sounds odd.


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