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REVIEW: Rode VideoMic Directional Video Microphone

June 30, 2011

With more and more DSLR’s featuring some pretty powerful HD video capabilities, the need to supplement what is nearly always an abysmal on-camera microphone is becoming more common.  I shoot with my Nikon D7000 in stunning Full HD (1920×1080 resolution) quite often, whether just video of my kids or something more deliberate.  But the audio, even in controlled environments sounds as if I’ve shot this somewhere in a NY subway tunnel.

I decided to try and find a decent mic (meaning, keep a relatively wide tonal range while eliminating some background noise) for a not-so super-pro (read: Sennheiser) price.

The Rode (pronounced ‘Rudd’) VideoMic Directional Video Microphone had been popping up in my searches.  It had received good reviews on Amazon and while its list was around $250, it was (and still is, as of this writing) on sale for $150.00.

FULL REVIEW AND SAMPLE VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP

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In college, a decade and a half ago (ugh), I took a number of video sound classes and learned the importance of knowing what you’re getting into with regard to the pick up pattern of a Microphone.  The Rode VideoMic has what’s known as a Cardioid pattern (because of its resemblance to a heart shape).

Basically… it mostly picks up what is directly in front of the mic (in whatever direction it’s pointing.  But it also will get some ambient noise around and behind the shooter.  This is good for a natural sounds.  Let’s face it, when you’re standing on the street, there are noises beyond the visual frame and they should be present (and controlled) in order to give a realistic feel to the shot.  In the video below, I intentionally had a TV at a normal volume, about 15 feet off frame.  You’ll notice it is still present, but is reduced considerably by the direction of the mic.

The tone of the microphone is good.  Not great, but certainly a thousand times better than the on-camera mic.  In my tests, I noticed it got a little “twangy” at points, occasionally giving the speaker a bit more of a nasally sound than what was really present.

The Mic comes with two settings, a flat setting which is to be used for most situations, and a high-pass setting which can be used to reduce ambient noise even further, although it will flatten the overall sound.

The hardware was, if anything, where the mic showed its price.  For me, the batter cover (9V, by the way) didn’t fit exactly right and I needed to remove it and put it back on a couple times before it fit snugly.

Also, it’s shock-mount system, while great in theory, did bounce around a fair amount.  What will this mean to you?  Probably not much unless you’re racing through the woods chasing a grizzly bear.  For normal use, it will be just fine.

The mic mount directly into the shoe of the camera, with a 3.5mm jack to plug into the Mic port.  Easy, easy!]]

I also got the Rode Dead Cat which is a wind shield to use is necessary exterior conditions.  I haven’t tested it yet… but I have used the package to freak out my kids who are convinced that the cellophane container does, in fact, contain a dead cat.  (In the video, I quote this item at $20 or $25… I was wrong.  I check my receipt and it was, in fact, $39.  So, I apologize.)

VIDEO:

Well… beyond that, the proof is in the sound.  The video below I shot in my living room late last night. I had no energy to fix the lighting situation, so yes… it’s dark and moody… but hey, it’s about the sound.  The video starts off with the Mic plugged in.  About half way through, I remove it and it reverts to the on-camera mic.  The difference is very noticeable.

Rode VideoMic Directional Video Microphone (Amazon.com)

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One comment

  1. The Rode microphone is best to me. Thank you for your shearing.



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