Microphones for web video

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In this video post I’m going to let you hear the difference between three kinds of camera microphones that are suitable for web video such as YouTube and online course videos.

These mics are for dSLR, mirrorless cameras and handy cams, and they’ll also work with GoPros and any other camera that has a mini 3.5mm audio input jack.

I’ve been using various mics for about 5 years now. I still use them all, and they each have their uses.

Here’s a listing of each microphone, with their pros and cons.

ATR-35s microphone

Audio Technica ATR 3350

Let’s start with the least expensive mic that I recommend. It’s the ATR 3350 lavalier mic. A lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel mic, clips to your clothing. For best results, you need to put it near your mouth. This particular mic has a 20 foot cord, so you can move around quite a bit while recording. (I’m linking to a similar mic, as the 3350 has been replaced by the new ATR 35S.)

Pro and cons of this mic

  • Pros – Inexpensive. Stereo.
  • Cons – The long cord can get in the way. Not practical for outdoor use.
  • Price range $20-$30
  • Sound quality – not bad for the price.

Rode VideoMic Pro

Rode Video Mic Pro

This Rode mic has a shotgun design and it’s built to sit on top of your camera in the hot shoe. A hot shoe is the place that your camera flash also attaches to.

You can also use this mic on a light stand to keep it closer to you the person talking. You’ll pick up less “noise” if the mic is closer. This mic should be in the 3 to 5 feet distance.

Sometimes a shotgun microphone will record the sounds of your lens as it moves and focuses, and also of you touching the camera body. If you use a mic “off” the camera, you avoid that problem.

Pros and cons of this mic

  • Pros – Easy to use. Great for run-and-gun type of shooting, interviews at trade shows, etc. The mic I tested has a shock mount built in, so you don’t have to worry about camera noises.
  • Cons – As mentioned, you need to watch for camera noises from shotgun mics. Make sure you get one with the built-in shock mount or buy an additional bracket to keep it off the camera. The distance from the mic to your camera needs to be 3-5 feet for best results.
  • Price range $200-$250
  • Sound quality – In a room this kind of mic can sound echo-y. To help with that you can record in a room with carpet, or drapes, and by using cloth backdrop or other sound absorbing materials.

Sony WCS999

Sony WCS999 Wireless

This Sony lav was the first mic I purchased for YouTube and teaching videos and I used it with my old handy-cam. Good sound quality, and nice to have the wireless feature so you can move around easier and not worry about tripping over the cord. This microphone has really come down in price since I purchased it.

Pros and cons of this mic

  • Pros – Easy to move around when using this mic. The distance to the camera is not important as the mic stays where you are.
  • Cons – You can pick up static and crackling noises from your clothing. Also, because it’s wireless you can get interference from other signals in your proximity. And it’s a mono mic, so you’ll need to be able to edit down to dual mono in your editing process. (That is a mistake I made when starting out, as I didn’t realize this mic was mono. So if you hear some of my early videos on headphones you’ll only get sound on one side.)
  • Price range $150-$200
  • Sound quality – Very good if no static or interference is present. You need to keep the batteries fresh.

Watch the video and listen to the sound quality of each mic.

Final tips

As always I recommend visiting your local photo and video retailer to test out the microphones yourself.

Take your camera and a memory card to the shop with you and film your salesperson speaking to you on camera. If your camera has a headphone jack, take some noise cancelling headphones and listen in while you’re filming and hear the playback as well. You should be able to make your final decision based on that test.