RØDE's range of VideoMics are among the most popular on-camera microphones available today. From the simple and compact VideoMicro to the professional, studio-grade construction of the Stereo VideoMic X, these devices have changed the way that people shoot and record video all around the world.
It's little surprise, then, that everyone wants to get their hands on one. Here at RØDE Microphones, one of the most common questions we receive from vloggers and videographers is: 'Is this RØDE VideoMic compatible with my camera?'
In this article, we will take a look at the basic requirements that you need to use the full range of RØDE VideoMics, and help determine which models are compatible with your camera.
(Note: This article has been updated in October 2017, due to the release of the VXLR+ adaptor, which will be explained in further detail below).
Can I plug a VideoMic into any camera?
This may sound obvious, but a lot of cameras, usually at the low end of the price range, do not have an external microphone input. Unfortunately, this means that no matter what you do, it's impossible to capture audio from your microphone directly into your camera.
The best option in this scenario is to record all the audio from your microphone into a third-party recording device, even a smartphone will suffice! The smartlav+, iXY or iXLR are perfect for this exact scenario. You will need to sync this audio to your video files later during post-production.
The Mic Input seems too small?
For cameras that do feature an external microphone input, you'll still need to check what size input is provided. The industry standard, and thus the size used on all RØDE on-camera microphones, is a 3.5mm TRS minijack.
Some camera manufacturers prefer to use a unique size, such as a 2.5mm jack, with the idea of pushing you towards buying only their own brand set of accessories. If this is true of your camera, don't worry; adaptors are widely available from any good electronics or camera store. Be sure to pick one up in order to help make the RØDE VideoMic range compatible with your camera.
What is 'Plug-InPower'? Do I need it?
Now that we have identified and confirmed that our camera has an external mic input, there's one more important factor to consider if intending to use the VideoMicro, or VideoMic GO. This is called 'Plug In Power'.
'Plug In Power', is the name of a low-level voltage, usually three to five volts, which can be supplied directly by the camera via the 3.5mm microphone input. The RØDE on-camera microphones that do not feature an onboard battery, such as VideoMicro and the VideoMic GO, rely on 'Plug In Power' to operate. Without it, your microphone will not work.
Check with your camera manufacturer that 'Plug In Power' is supplied via your camera's mic input before deciding whether or not to invest in these particular microphones.
The RØDE on-camera microphones that do utilise their own onboard battery, such as the VideoMic, VideoMic Pro and Stereo VideoMicPro are not reliant on 'Plug In Power' at all - they will send an audio signal to any 3.5mm microphone input that you have available.
My camera has XLR inputs, can I use them?
Yes and no. RØDE currently have two different XLR adaptors available for the VideoMic range, the VXLR and VXLR+. Whether or not your mic will work into an XLR input will depend on which adaptor you have.
XLR microphone inputs are commonly found in the professional audio industry, and are typically able to supply a power charge known as 48V "Phantom Power". For a long time, with only the standard VXLRadaptor available, this 48V power was NOT transferred or converted to the smaller 'Plug in Power' that your VideoMicro and VideoMic GO need to operate.
But now with the release of the VXLR+, we are happy to announce this 48V 'Phantom Power' is now converted down to the smaller charge your microphone needs. This means any microphone that runs on 'Plug in Power', like the VideoMicro, VideoMic GO, (or even the Lavalier and HS2 Headsetmicrophones) can now be plugged into XLR connections via the VXLR+, and run off 48V Phantom Power.
Of course, any VideoMic that uses it's own battery, like the VideoMicPro, or VideoMicPro+ doesn't need this power anyway, so the standard VXLR adaptor will be fine to use if you wish to plug these microphones into your professional XLR inputs.
Shoe or accessory mount?
If you intend on mounting your RØDE VideoMic on top of your camera, which is the most common position and certainly the most convenient, you'll, of course, need a shoe mount.
Most cameras and camcorders today will feature an industry standard-sized shoe mount directly on top of your camera. The shoe mount is the is the usual point available for external microphones, flashes, and other external accessories. Again, be sure to check the size of the mount on your specific camera.
Just as with microphone input, some camera manufacturers use their own unique size shoe, with the idea of forcing you into sticking with their own brand of accessories. As with microphone inputs, adaptors are available that will convert unique shoe sizes to a universal one. Check with your local camera store if you believe that you'll need such an adaptor.
If there is no shoe mount provided on your camera, it may be necessary for you to take a look at a range of camera cages (external mounts) to suit your device. Camera cages are an extremely popular solution, as these give you multiple mounting and handling points, which lends you the freedom to position your camera more easily - you can also use more accessories than was previously possible.
So... which one do I choose?
You've ticked all the boxes and you're ready to choose an on-camera VideoMic. Now you just need to decide which one, but there's so many to choose from!
This is where personal preference, budget and also your intended recording scenario will come into play. If you're vlogging, perhaps you want a mic that's highly directional, and only picks up sound from directly in front of you, like the VideoMicPro? But if you are recording live sport or outdoor ambience, perhaps you want to capture realistic stereo sound, and the Stereo VideoMic X would be your best choice there. Don't ever want to worry about batteries? Perhaps the VideoMicro is the way to go!
Luckily there's a RØDE VideoMic to suit every budget and production size, so be sure to get in touch with the expert team at RØDE Microphones if you have any queries whatsoever about our range of microphones and possible ways in which to use them.