RODE Videomic review after 4 years of usage

Today I’m providing you with a review of the RODE Videomic.

Check it out on Amazon here or click on the image below.

So you bought yourself a camera.

You go out to shoot some test footage and it looks wonderful. But then you have to record someone speaking or some fancy ambient sounds and realise that the audio from your internal microphone is really bad. What do you do? You start looking for an external microphone.

There is a vast amount of different microphones on the market. You can get lavaliers, XLR dynamic mics, cardioids, but in my opinion the most versatile choice for everyday videography is a shotgun microphone.

I remember being quite hesitant when I had to choose my first shotgun mic a few years ago. I couldn’t decide between the RODE Videomic and the Videomic Pro.

The two differences between them are that the latter is smaller and provides a stronger, less hissy signal thanks to its built-in preamp.

I eventually made up my mind and bought the RODE Videomic with Rycote Lyre shock mount. Therefore, that’s what I’ll review today πŸ˜€

Specification of the Videomic:

Recording pattern

The RODE Videomic is an on-camera shotgun microphone. Essentially it is a condenser microphone with a super-cardioid recording pattern, which makes it record more from its front than from the sides and the back – that’s why we call it a shotgun microphone

How it’s powered

The microphone runs on a 9V battery, which lasts for a very long time.

RODE Videomic with a VARTA rechargeable 9V battery
The battery hides under a plastic cover.

It informs you if the battery is dying with a red LED. Still, I’ve survived some shoots with the red LED on all the time, so the microphone notices you quite a bit in advance.

To save money I reccomend buying a rechargeable 9V battery. I use this one and it has never failed me πŸ™‚

To charge it you’ll need a charger of this kind:

How to connect it to a camera

RODE Videomic plugged into the Canon T3i
The RODE Videomic connects straight into the jack input of your camera, which is usually on one of its sides.

The microphone is connected to your camera of choice with a 3.5 mm jack. Because of that you won’t need any external audio recorder that supports XLR connection. Gone are the times of carrying around tons of gear πŸ˜€

However, if you are planning to use the RODE Videomic on a boom pole, you need a 3,5 mm jack extension cable like this one I found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y1gGJZ

The other way to achieve portability is to use an external audio recorder. You will however need to sync the audio in post. If you ever encounter any trouble syncing audio in post, I strongly reccomend Red Giant’s Pluraleyes. It is a plugin which has saved me hours of mindless work.

Mounting the RODE Videomic to cameras, tripods and boom poles

The RODE Videomic has a cold shu mount at its bottom. Therefore it can easily be mounted on top of all DSLR and mirrorless cameras, which can be equipped with a flash.

Cold shu on the bottom of the RODE Videomic
The cold shu mount of the RODE Videomic with a threaded 3/8 inch hole.

Additionaly, It has a hole with a3/8 inch thread, which you can use to attach it to microphone stands and boom poles. Unfortunately it isn’t compatible with standard tripods and monopods, which are equipped with a 1/4 inch screw.

If you’re curious how to attach the RODE Videomic to a tripod or a monopod, read about it here:
https://wemakevids.com/how-to-screw-a-shotgun-microphone-onto-a-tripod/

The Rycote Lyre shock mount

I wanted an external mic to separate my microphone from the sounds of the focus ring and tapping my fingers on the camera body. And that’s indeed what I got.

RODE Videomic on top of Canon 600d T3i
RODE Videomic with a Rycote Lyre shock mount on a Canon T3i

The Rycote Lyre suspension system isolates the RODE Videomic from all vibrations transfered from the camera body, tripod and all surroundings. As a result the audio contains little to no unexpectet bumps or crackles.

Additionaly, it is constructed from one piece of hard-wearing thermoplastic, which means that the construction is much more durable than traditional rubber band based microphone shock mounts. I’ve been extensively using mine for the past 4 years and it still holds up just fine.

High-pass / Low-cut filter of the RODE Videomic

It has a broad recording frequency range of 40Hz – 20kHz, which covers most of the hearable audio spectrum. Trust me, it’s all you need.

The RODE Videomic has a handy feature for certain situations when there’s a constant low hum in the background. In such cases it is often very hard to position yourself in such a way that the person you’re interviewing can be heard.

RODE Videomic high-pass filter
The switch at the back in its top position activates a low-cut filter.

On the back of the microphone there is a switch, which activates the built-in high pass filter. It limits the bottom-end of the frequency range to 80 Hz. This feature has saved some of my interviews πŸ™‚

No built-in pre amp

One of the greatest cons of the RODE Videomic is the lack of built-in pre amp. Because of that that you’ll get a significant amount of hiss in your audio if you set the pre amp gain in your DSLR too high. To solve this problem you may lower the gain of the internal pre amp in your DSLR and increase it in post.

Ideally, use an external recorder like the Zoom H1. And don’t worry about having to sync the audio in post, because you may as well output the audio from the recorder to you camera (The recorder then behaves like a pre amp)

RODE Videomic reduce hiss
Translation: “Audio recording – Manual; Recording level – |–\/-I—-I—-I—-|; Wind filter – off”

Attenuator in the Videomic

RODE even predicted that some people buy these things to record a running jet engine standing right next to it!

They provided two switches in the battery compartment, which reduce the audio level to -10 or -20 dB. This feature came in handy when I was recording drums in a small basement and loud gigs.

Recording a big band in a church with Canon 600d and RODE Videomic
Me recording a big-band with the RODE Videomic to get good reference audio.

Upsides

  • Convenient, all-round microphone
  • High pass filter, which blocks out low, humming noises
  • Great and robust shock mount. Very hard to break.
  • Good audio quality (All in all, it’s a condenser mic)
  • Great value for money
  • Runs for a very long time on a single battery

Downsides

  • It is quite long compared to the RODE Videomic PRO
  • No built in pre amp. Since the ones in most DSLRs are rather hissy, the audio at higher levels may be hissy.
  • It is a bit of a pain in the neck to attach it to tripods and monopods

So do I reccomend it?

Yes, I do. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do – records good quality audio of what’s in front of the camera.

I’ve been using it for solid 4 years now and the battery ran out once. It happened, because I was too lazy to charge it. I went to 2 shoots with the red warning light on and the mic didn’t make it through the second shoot.

It is a great value for money product, which will vastly improve the audio in your videos. And if anything breaks, since all things break, there is a 10 year warranty on it.

First photo is by Oziel GΓ³mez on Unsplash

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