If you’ve been thinking about setting up a YouTube channel or you spend a lot of time blogging, then you’ll already know how useless those inbuilt microphones can be. Whether you’re filming with a smartphone or you’ve spent a small fortune on a fancy camera with a built-in mic, you can’t fail to appreciate the dramatic improvement in sound quality that comes with investing in a dedicated mic for the job.
All microphones are not the same but, unlike cameras, where the number of megapixels enables you to quickly hone in on the best, with microphones the differences between each model are more subtle.
Røde, an Australian company with a foot already in the audio market, firmly established itself as one of the leaders of shotgun mics back in the early 2000s. An astute development effort led to the launch of its VideoMic range, the perfect piece of tech for anyone looking to add decent audio to video footage from their phone or camera. Given the ever-rising popularity of social media, they were in the right place at the right time.
The company now sells a range of mics broadly covering three markets, from entry-level to pro. If you’re on a tight budget or using a small camera, then the VideoMicro was made for you – small and discreet, it still gives a big boost to your recordings. Then there’s the VideoMic Go, the mid-range option that’s ready to go whenever you are. And if nothing but the best will do, turn to the VideoMic Pro-R.
All three Røde mics are highly directional condenser microphones that use a cardioid polar pattern to screen out distracting peripheral sound. Because of the way a cardioid pattern mic works, it will pick up almost all its sound from the front, and is capable of catching anything within an arc of 131°. While they will pick up limited noise from the rear, they can screen out sounds from the sides altogether.
The first thing to strike you about the Røde VideoMicro is its size. This is a tiny microphone, weighing a mere 42g. It takes its power from the device you plug it into (which means it doesn’t work with a Nikon D7500). If you own a small mirrorless camera, here’s a mic that can sit on top and you wouldn’t even notice it was there. It even comes with its own “deadcat” – the furry cover that helps screen out wind when you’re filming outdoors. It doesn’t do such a great job of screening out peripheral noise as the more expensive models, but at this price, you won’t be disappointed.
Although not specifically designed for mobile phone use, it’s certainly small enough that it could work with a phone, and there’s an additional lead to link them together. However, without a means to fix the mic to your smartphone, you’d have to set it up on a tripod.
Ready to go whenever you are, the Røde VideoMic Go is compact and lightweight (just 73g), and doesn’t even need a battery to operate. Thanks to its super cardioid polar pattern, it does a better job of screening out peripheral noise than the VideoMicro, although its frequency range can’t compare with the VideoPro.
To help eliminate unwanted background sounds as much as possible, Røde has come up with its own integrated Rycote Lyre suspension system. This keeps the microphone in its own chassis, suspended above your camera mount. The result is to shield it from any sounds or vibrations you might cause while using the camera. Oh, and there’s a furry deadcat windshield for those occasions when you’re filming outdoors.
This one makes the perfect YouTube mic. Because it draws its power from your device, you just need to make sure your camera is compatible (the VideoMic Go won’t work with the Nikon D7000, for example). You also need to make sure your camera has enough juice to power both itself and the mic for as long as you intend to film.
As you’d expect from the Røde VideoMic Pro-R, this has the greatest frequency range of all the models, covering frequencies from 40Hz-20kHz (compare that to 100Hz-16kHz for the VideoMic Go and 100Hz-20kHz for the VideoMicro – although whether you’ll really notice a difference during use is down to your ears).
The Pro-R differs from the other two because, instead of drawing its power from your camera, it’s powered using a 9V battery. This means it’s not going to drain your device – a significant consideration if you’re shooting long videos. A fully-charged 9V battery is claimed to give you as much as 70 hours of use. Thanks to all that extra power, the Pro-R offers a pre-amp, which means you can control the level using one of three positions, picking up more detail in quieter situations. There’s also a two-step high pass filter to dampen low-frequency sounds like traffic noise.
Background noise is less of a problem as it uses the super cardioid polar pattern like the Go. It also comes with a Rycote suspension system, similar to the one used in the Go, so is less likely to pick up vibrations from your camera.
At 85g, it’s the heaviest of the three mics (just) and it’s also the largest – not that any of them will be weighing you down much. And just in case you have any doubts about the build quality, the VideoMic Pro-R comes with a 10-year warranty.
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