Whether you’re making a simple video recording or making vlogs and professional-grade video documentaries, your video would be half as interesting without sounds. Although most cameras (whether DSLR or smartphone cameras) have built in microphones to record sound, great quality sounds are possible when we use an external microphone. It’s no wonder why professional videographers and seasoned vloggers would use a separate handheld mics or mics mounted on their cameras. This is because external mics capture and record sounds with better quality and less interference.
With the news, entertainment and social media industries in regular need of high quality video recording, external mics have also expanded its sales and there are more varieties out in the market. For someone who’s new to using external microphones, choosing the best external mic might be a challenge for you, but there are helpful tips and guides we can provide to somehow make your purchase decisions easier.
External Microphone Categories
External microphones fall into three broad categories: shotgun, Lavalier and handheld. External microphones that belong to each of these categories have their own advantages and specialized functions. You can find which type of external mic fits your video recording activity best.
One of the most widely used types of external mics belongs to this category. The shotgun type mics delivers some of the best sound qualities you can get. As the name implies, it is easy to recognize this type of mic when you see one. Due to its shotgun shape, it is a great device for capturing sound from the direction where you are pointing the camera. There are many trusted and high-quality brands you can choose from, such as Audio-Technica, Rode, Shure Sennheiser and Saramonic. The latter provides consistent efficiency and innovation and great pricing. You can find high quality microphones at Saramonic UK that can go head to head with the usual brands you see every day. The best part about it, is that you can order online and have it on your doorstep if you are ordering from another country. Some of the best recommended shotgun mics are briefly reviewed below.
Saramonic SR-M3 – the SR-M3 on-camera shotgun microphone is ideal for DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras and portable video cameras. Its compact design, affordable price and wide array of features such as a headphone output for sound monitoring, an additional 1/8” microphone input for secondary mic, and a +10dB boost switch to turn down preamp noise and capture cleaner sounding audio.
Audio-Technica AT875R – for beginners in the video and vlogging industry, this compact and short mic is a good fit for compact digital cameras and for those starting with basic equipment. It has good directionality, long distance sound pickup and excellent noise rejection of unwanted sounds coming from the sides and rear of the mic.
Rode VideoMic Go – another great mic for video and vlog enthusiasts, the VideoMic Go is great for eliminating handling noise, has plug-in power to eliminate the need for battery and comes with a windscreen foam to reduce wind noise.
Lavalier or “Lav” mics is another category of external mics that is popular among vloggers. Active vloggers who are on the go and work with noisy environments and in the open urban areas, may find a camera-mounted mic insufficient for capturing quality sound. Focusing the captured sound by attaching the mic onto the person could work well in such scenarios. These mics are hand-sized that can be clipped on to a person’s shirt or other parts of the body. They are great for vlogging and interviews with little or no assistance. You might want to check out some of the recommended Lav mics below.
Audio-Technica ATR3350 – this is a great mic for those starting in the vlogging field or for those having regular interview segments of video. The ATR3350 has a condenser element, omnidirectional polar pattern for great sound pickup from any direction. It comes with a plug that fits a 3.5 mm (1/8”) jack, which makes it versatile and works with any device with a 3.5 mm jack like a tablet or phone. It also has a battery or plug-in power type, making it flexible for active use.
Saramonic LavMicro – this omnidirectional clip-on Lav mic delivers broadcast-quality sound that can be used for handheld cameras, mirrorless cams, DSLRs and mobile devices. It has a 20-ft (6 m) cable for great positioning of your subject in front of the camera. It comes with a fitted foam windscreen for reducing wind noise and a dual power type input: it has a battery input for use with a wide variety of equipment and can also be used with plug-in power.
Rode smartLav+ – this Lavalier mic is a newbie-friendly device when it comes to vlogging and making broad-grade video recordings. It is a plug-in device, which makes it great with most digital cameras, mobile devices, smartphones or tablets. It has an omnidirectional condenser capsule for equal sound pickup from all around the mic. It’s plug-and-play feature makes it portable and requires no additional equipment – great for bringing around and making instant vlogs and exclusive scoops.
Mics belonging to this category stay true to the definition of being an external mic. They capture high-quality sound because they are closer to the speaker than shotgun mics. They are mostly popular in the news and entertainment industry where sound quality is just as important as video quality. Some of the recommended phones are described below.
Saramonic SR-HM7 – the SR-HM7 is a professional XLR handheld vocal microphone that delivers rich, broadcast-quality sound for on-camera interviews, live presentations, podcasting and more. It has a long, portable and sleek design, making it convenient to use and store. It has noise-reduction features and optimized frequency response to clearly capture human voice. It is a plug-and-play device, making it convenient to use without the need for batteries and charging.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone – while technically an external mic, but can also serve as both desktop and handheld mic functions, Blue Yeti is one of the popular choices among vloggers for several reasons. It comes with a “tri-capsule” technology and 4 different pattern settings: cardioid, omnidirectional, stereo and bi-directional. This is best used for those who make vlogs in an enclosed area and remain stationary. It has a high audio resolution response of 16-bit/48 kHz. It gives vloggers good control over their recording, with gain control, mute button and zero-latency headphone output placed conveniently on the mic.
Shure SM48S-LC – If you are starting out with vlogging and you want an affordable but high-quality dynamic handheld mic, this one is recommended for you. It comes with great frequency response for capturing high quality vocals and proximity effect controls. It comes with a simple and portable design for easy handling and storage. It stays true to its cardioid pattern throughout its prescribed frequency range. It also comes with feedback minimization and off-axis sound rejection, making it great for on-the-spot interviews outdoors or indoors.
By now, you may already have an idea on which category the type of external mic you may be needing. You can then narrow your search by finding specifications that fit your particular needs for voice and sound capturing. Always remember that the “best” external mic still depends on you, the user. Our guides are a way of making you more inquisitive and vigilant with your choices to make the best possible buying decision.