Many Mics, One Location

Some common questions that seem to come across my computer for the Q&A show are about audio. What is the best mic to use? What is the cheapest mic? What is the best cheapest mic? Why don't you record into camera instead of external recorder? All these queries demanded their own video.

I thought the best way to answer a lot of these questions was to do some kind of sound demo. I pulled all the mics I had at my disposal (Radio Shack lav mic, Rode VideoMic Pro, and Sennheiser ME-66 shotgun mic) and ran them through various scenarios that would demonstrate how each of them sound in different positions (on-camera vs. on the end of a boom pole) and when going into your camera or external recorder. All situations would be in the exact same environment: my living room.

The above video is the result and I think it verifies a lot of things we already know. On camera mics suck. External recorders made to record quality audio (not just dictation) sound better than cheap preamps included in most video cameras. The most expensive mic should sound the best, but there are good, inexpensive mics that can sound better in the right situation.

This video just lays it all out there for your ears to judge. Of course, I only have three mics and two audio recorders to test here. There are a zillion of these devices out there of varying degrees of quality and mine are mostly low-end. There are some universal truths to be gleaned and I hope that this video can help if you've had some basic audio concerns about what sounds good and what can
sound better.

Radio Shack #33-3013 Clip-on Mic
Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Mic
Sennhesier ME-66 Shotgun Mic
Sign Video XLR-PRO adapter box
Zoom H1 Handy Recorder


Vin Weathermon said…
The sennheiser mic with the video recorder does sound better; once you stream the other snips together it is obvious. Thanks for running this down :-)
Scott Eggleston said…
It does hold true that you get what you pay for in this case.
Gary Klingemann said…
Sennheiser is definitely the best quality however, I already own the RVP and a Canon 70D so I assume the next best frugal system is the RVP + H1N. If so, and the RVP is going directly into the H1N, what is the RVP's role and are you still using the camera's onboard mic for the scratch track? Do you have a product recommendation for that extender cable? Thanks for the tips.
Scott Eggleston said…
The RVP doesn't get a ton of use since the only camera of mine that can really use it is my camcorder (which I don't use for movies--the main reason for a scratch track). This leaves my mic input-less Sony NEX 5n to use its onboard mics for the scratch audio.

The 1/8" mic extender cable is just a generic one from Radio Shack.
Nìall Beag said…
Have you considered switching to the Zoom H4N? It's noticeably larger than the H1 (and twice the price -- well over the $100 threshold for your roundup) but it does have the advantage of having XLR inputs, and it supplies phantom power to boot... this would mean you wouldn't need either a battery or a separate XLR adaptor for your shotgun mic.