External camera microphones provide a huge improvement over the noisy built-in microphones. The built-in microphones are not directional, and pick up a lot of extra noise. This is big problem when the sound source is more than a few feet away.
After all, the best way you can communicate is with your words, not with the video. External camera microphones allow you to increase clarity, while minimizing noise.
These microphones are typically directional, meaning they pick up audio from a specific point. They also exclude audio from different directions, leading to a focused sound.
Though lavalier microphones work in some situations, they have limitations. In some cases, it’s not practical to place a lavalier microphone on each person. Additionally, this can require expensive wireless systems. External camera microphones allow easy recording of multiple people.
When working with a camera microphone, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s always best to record with the camera in manual mode. Otherwise it will increase the gain during low volume, causing more noise.
It’s important to eliminate background noise and use the microphone as close as possible to the sound source. Even expensive microphones will sound terrible in a noisy environment.
In this article, we’ll be covering two budget external camera microphones to improve your audio. We’ll focus specifically on camera-mountable microphones, since we’ve already covered lavalier microphones. The TAKSTAR SGC-598 is great for budget applications, while the Rode Video Mic GO provides superior audio quality.
Budget External Camera MicrophonesTAKSTAR SGC-598. It plugs in using a stereo cable, so it will record on both channels. It’s a shotgun microphone that must be placed close to the source for proper recording.
The TAKSTAR microphone shell is plastic, and there’s a plastic mount for the camera. Though many people just mount it to the camera, it can attach to a boom stand. Position the microphone just out of frame, as close as possible to the source. If used on a boom, connect it to the camera with an extension cable, or to a portable recorder. A good budget recorder is the Zoom H1.
The TAKSTAR microphone uses a AA battery. This allows a high signal level, leading to less noise.
The microphone has a power switch. Always turn on the power before recording. Otherwise it won’t record sound. Luckily, there’s a green LED when on, and red for low battery.
To reduce noise, keep the microphone at a high level and reduce the camera volume. You also don’t want to be boosting the audio signal during editing. This will increase the noise. Even when setup properly, the microphone still produces a hissing sound.
The TAKSTAR SGC-598 has a few features to adjust the sound. There’s a high pass filter that removes low frequencies. There’s also a -10 dB cut. This reduces the output, and prevents clipping.
The microphone also includes a windscreen. This is placed over the microphone, and can reduce wind noise. We recommend using the windscreen at all times, especially outdoors.
As far as frequency response, the TAKSTAR SGC-598 has a good balance. You’ll need to consider the proximity effect, otherwise the recording can be boomy. We did find that the mid/low frequencies can be a little overpowering compared to the highs.
The Rode Video Mic GO is a good option for higher quality audio. This microphone produces less noise than the TAKSTAR, but it’s cheaper than the Rode VideoMic Pro. This microphone has a focused sound due to its supercardioid polar pattern. But, like all shotgun microphones, place the microphone near the audio source to prevent capturing noise.
This microphone can easily mount to the top of almost any camera. The built in shockmount prevents the microphone from picking up vibrations. This prevents noise when the moving the camera or pressing buttons to change settings.
One good feature of the Rode Video Mic GO is that it doesn’t require power. You won’t have to worry about batteries dying while filming. Additionally, no battery means the microphone will work without turning on a switch. Unpowered microphones will prevent the camera from capturing any sound.
Though the audio from this microphone is better than the TAKSTAR, there are less features. The Rode Video Mic GO does not have a level adjustment switch. Instead, it relies on settings within the camera. There’s also no high pass filter on the microphone. This isn’t much of a problem, since it’s easy to add a high pass filter during editing.
Overall, both the TAKSTAR SGC-598 and the Rode Video Mic GO are great external camera microphones. They provide improved audio quality compared to those of the camera. The TAKSTAR microphone is great for budget applications, while the Rode microphone provides even better quality audio.