Gearslutz (
-   All Things Technical (
-   -   Mic for camera - music (

bdemenil 2nd September 2019 01:51 PM

Mic for camera - music
I've been using Rode's camera mics for years. The stereo videomic X has great sound quality. I'd have no issues using it in a studio recording. But it's bulky for a hand held camera. The stereo videomic pro has a nice form factor, but the audio quality isn't great. (Good for the price, though). What can gearslutz community suggest? Stereo is good, but I'd also take a very good mono. Looking for a setup that can plug in a 3.5mm camera input. High gain. Acoustic music is primary use.

On a larger cam with phantom I use a schoeps CMC MK 4 - which sounds great.

Looking to know what's the best of the best of what's out there. Small and light enough to mount on a handheld cam.

studer58 2nd September 2019 04:25 PM

What sort of camera are you using it with....a handicam-cam type video camera, or a DSLR, or something else ?

I believe the concensus around this forum is that there's little point getting a mic (stereo or mono) of any significant performance status for use with 3.5mm input sockets....because the mic preamp specs (noise, headroom and general fidelity ) within these cameras are generally of a very low level.

It's usually only when you work with cameras having xlr mic inputs (and 48 volt phantom power) that you expect something approaching a decent mic input.

The usual recommendation is to feed the camera with a 3.5mm output (only for sync purposes) from an attached dedicated audio recorder ( which mates snugly against the camera body via an included mounting plate).

Such a recorder is not expensive, and will typically give far better audio recording capability than any of the onboard mic sections of your DSLR or lower budget handi-cam type video-cams.

The Tascam DR70D is a good example of the sort of audio recorder which will give the necessary high level of audio quality, sufficient to warrant the use of good quality external mics. The Tascam also has an onboard spaced pair of Omni mics, which are likely better than those attached to most non-pro cameras. It also has 4 discrete mic inputs, which allows you to engage in more complex miking than is possible with the simple stereo Rode type mics you've mentioned.

Good audio is worth spending some money on, as it's often the Achilles Heel of video making, the low-priority, low budget afterthought of the camera maker's design brief !

Tascam's DR-60D is a cheaper option, while the DR701D give you timecode generation for even tighter syncing potential with there's plenty of opportunity to find a price point and features list that suits your requirements

Jim Williams 2nd September 2019 05:14 PM

Quality mics into a DR-70 is a class above any external mount mic options.

bdemenil 2nd September 2019 05:18 PM

I know that an external recorder is the ideal. But that's not my question. I'd like the best possible setup to feed into a 3.5mm input.

I have gotten decent sound on a 3.5mm input with Rode mics. I'm using blackmagic micro and pocket 4k cams.

studer58 3rd September 2019 02:31 AM


Originally Posted by bdemenil (Post 14180150)
I know that an external recorder is the ideal. But that's not my question. I'd like the best possible setup to feed into a 3.5mm input.

I have gotten decent sound on a 3.5mm input with Rode mics. I'm using blackmagic micro and pocket 4k cams.

That's interesting...maybe there's a whole new vista of cameras with (finally !) good onboard sound recording ?

Is this model the one you're using by any chance ?:

The above video would suggest otherwise (ie that the onboard audio is sufficiently good) because they advocate the slimline Centrance Mixerface R4 as both a 3.5mm feed to the BlackMagic (for syncing purposes only) and as a discrete SD card recorder...similar to the Tascam mentioned above.

You'd typically import this SD card audio into your video editing software, and sync it to the 'rough cue audio' of the 3.5mm sync source...and then immediately discard the rough cue material....

The reason for most in-camera audio being so poor is that the mic can only be supplied with low voltage Plug-In Power, and because the camera input metering is typically well as the inbuilt limiting to prevent overloads which typically compromises the available dynamics.

I'm pleased to hear that you're receiving 'decent sound' via the 3.5mm input and Rode on-cam mics, but the reviews I've seen to date suggest that all 3.5mm-source sound is pretty compromised, right out of the starting gate ?

There's simply a huge un-bridgeable crevasse between your "larger cam with phantom I use a schoeps CMC MK 4 - which sounds great" ....and all of the 3.5mm input sound quality alternatives, which no standalone on-board microphone can remedy.

I'm hoping I'm wrong about all this...and that someone can chime in here with lived experience of a stellar on-camera mic that negates all of these caveats

DirkP 3rd September 2019 12:37 PM

yes, the audio from an external recorder is far better. but: there is a huge difference using a cheap mic directly into the camera and using quality gear directly to the camera. i use a mixpre recording to the internal card and feeding the mic input of my sony alpha cam. the camera audio is quite good. reason: i set the record level on the cam to the lowest possible level and set the level on the mixpre. makes a huge difference (less noisy, less limiting from the cam).
sometimes i‘m too lazy to sync and just keep the cam-audio. so a decent mic not needing much gain might improve the audio quality a lot while keeping the setup simple.

bradh 3rd September 2019 03:45 PM

The Blackmagic Pocket 4k has mini-XLR inputs, which opens up a lot more options for good sound than the 3.5mm input. The Micro Cinema Camera only has the 3.5 mm so options are more limited there. For my Micro, I do the same thing DirkP suggests above: I use a MixPre recorder with good mics and do line-in to the Micro's 3.5 mm. The sound quality's quite good -- you can hear a sample in the first and last clips here: That's using the camera-recorded audio, which was good enough that I didn't even have to bother syncing the file from the MixPre. The more distant ocean sounds in later clips were recorded using the Micro's built-in crappy mics; the choral singing in the church was recorded with good mics on the MixPre and fed into the camera.

Jim Williams 3rd September 2019 04:36 PM

Camera mic inputs feed the crappo mic input circuits. They are noisy and have AGC circuits that compress the snot out of it. If you like that sort of squashed and noisy sound you are more tolerant than I.

DirkP 3rd September 2019 10:20 PM

Not all cameras are equal. The Sony A7 for example doesn't have AGC. The Sony Alpha series allows manual gain setting, but it has a limiter that you can't disable. But if you feed a not too hot signal and set the level low there are not the kind of artefacts and "pumping" AGC circuits often produce.
You can't set levels by yourself if you're using the inbuild mic, but as soon as you connect an external mic you can switch the auto-gain off. I owned a 6300 and now a 6400, don't know the older 6000.
For Canon DSLRs there is a unit that disables the AGC.

Kind of weired on the Sony Alphas: if you are in automatic mode (cause you know audio far better than video) it doesn't allow to set the audio-level by yourself: you did already admit that you're too stupid by choosing the A-mode, we do this for you, you don't know nothing anyway.....

Just for the fun of it: this is a few seconds of a friend of mine playing acustic guitar. Used a cheap chinese shoeps ORTF copy into the mix-pre into the mic-in of the camera. I just wanted to test the mic. Noise is from my Fender barstool. Exported the audio using quicktime: