Saturday, March 11, 2017

External Camera Microphones: Improve your Video with Quality Audio

External Camera Microphone
 One big problem for amateur video creators is audio. It’s easy to spend money on cameras and lighting, but many people disregard audio. External camera microphones are a great way to improve audio quality. They can attach to a DSLR camera or camcorder, or a portable audio recorder.

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 Microphones


One low budget option is the TAKSTAR 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.

Rode Video Mic GO

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.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

DeepCool RGB350 Lighting System Review

One great way to improve the looks of any gaming PC is with an LED lighting system. These systems allow for a variety of different colors and brightness settings and are usually controlled by the motherboard or a separate wireless control. Though many LED lighting systems can be expensive, the DeepCool RGB350 is a great entry level option.

If you have a computer with a window, we would highly recommend the DeepCool RGB350 LED lighting system so you can show off your components and improve the look.

Installing the DeepCool RGB350

There are two different mounting systems for the DeepCool RGB350 LED system. The mounting can be adhesive or magnetic. In our case, we mounted the lights upside down on the top of the case. Eventually, the adhesive wore down and the lights fell. They were not able to be put back on after, whereas a magnetic system would be able to be re-mounted. Due to this limitation, we recommend magnetic mounting if possible with your case. However, the adhesive mounting would still work well if mounted to the side or bottom of the case.

Another consideration that needs to be made during installation is the placement of the light sensor. If you’re using a lighting system, we’re assuming your case has a window (what would be the point otherwise?). It’s best to put the sensor in clear view of the window so the controller will work.

Connectivity and Requirements

For the DeepCool RGB350 to work properly, you’ll need a spare molex connector from the power supply. This is standard with most custom built PCs, but can be problematic if your power supply is from a prebuilt PC since they typically only have the required connectors. Additionally, you’ll need space within the case to fit the control box. Ideally, this would be positioned out of view, but it can always be placed in the bottom of the case if there’s no room.


The controller for this system works well, but it isn’t anything too fancy. There’s controls to turn the lights on and off. There’s also controls for color, brightness, and pattern. The DeepCool RGB350 LEDs can cycle through a few different colors using the pattern buttons on the side. We don’t use this much, since it can be very distracting while on the computer. Also, there’s no way to customize the color patterns, so you’re limited to the build in patterns that come with it.

The battery in the controller has a reasonable lifespan. We’ve been using it for over a year and haven’t had to replace it yet. One problem we’ve found with the controller is the battery compartment can break easily. At one point, the controller was dropped and this caused one of the clips near the battery to snap, but it didn’t stop the controller from working.


For the first six months, we had absolutely no problems with the system besides the poor adhesive. After that point, some of the LEDs started to fail. This would cause some of them to appear red or purple, even if the lighting system had been set to white. If wish we could say this wasn’t a common problem, but it eventually happened to BOTH light strips that came in the kit.

Overall, the DeepCool RGB350 is a good entry level LED lighting system for PCs. Though the system has some problems with durability and installation, it is still one of the best cheap options to improve the look of any gaming PC. Would we buy it again? Yes, but instead we would choose the magnetic option instead of adhesive.