5 Camcorder Microphones Compared

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by David Ruether, May 5, 2009.

  1. I just uploaded a video to YouTube comparing five microphones on a
    Canon HV20. The microphones were the Rode Stereo VideoMic, Canon
    ZM-100, Sony 908C, Sony ZM-157 (x2), and Sennheiser MKE-300. It's
    at (click on the "HD"
    button if you care, but the visuals are "throwaway"...;-). There are some
    comments included about sensitivity to wind and camcorder handling noises.
    I think the conclusion for me is that the most trouble free mic under different
    conditions is the Rode, but I slightly prefer the sound of the Canon ZM-100
    and the Sony 908C microphones (I was surprised by how nearly alike these
    five microphones sounded, though...).
    David Ruether, May 5, 2009
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  2. David Ruether

    Wilko Finke Guest

    David Ruether schrieb:
    Well I think that Rode Micro sounds best IMHO. And I like that something
    else guy! ;)) On that Canon ZM-100 is a little humm at the end... caused
    by a mobile? But that Sony 908C sounds also nice!

    Thanks for your work man.


    Wilko Finke, May 6, 2009
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  3. Actually, it is throughout, but changes with level, being louder with louder
    sound and softer with quieter - but I can hear it only on my computer
    speakers (PSB Alphas) and not my wider-range main TV system, oddly...;-).
    I think it is likely resulting from using an aged 6v. battery with it (I will replace
    it soon and try the mic again). I assume you read my lengthy notes with the
    video at
    Yes - it has long been a favorite, 'cept for its tendency to pick up mechanically
    transferred noise and wind noise. It, and the Canon, sound "right" to me under
    a variety of conditions, with a variety of source material. The Rode has a
    "crisper", less "sweet" sound, with some annoying tendency to brightness
    or even sibilance with some voices - but I appreciate its freedom from
    mechanical and wind noise pickup. Without the hum, the Canon overall
    would likely be my favorite (and it is much lighter and smaller than the Rode
    even with its battery box stuck with Velcro to the side of the mic).
    I thank me, too, since I wanted to see how these five mics compared,
    partly to see if I wanted to keep the Rode (I guess I will...;-).
    David Ruether, May 6, 2009
  4. David Ruether

    Tony Guest

    The something else guy was great. He looked like he was dragged into your mic test and would rather
    not be on camera. He should be on Letterman as, well, the something else guy. He is so funny, in
    such a dry way. Tell him he made my night.

    Tony, May 7, 2009
  5. David Ruether

    panteltje Guest

    The Rode has by far the best stereo picture.
    That makes it easier to associate the sound to the people in the
    panteltje, May 7, 2009
  6. The Rode has by far the best stereo picture.
    That makes it easier to associate the sound to the people in the

    --Yes, but I would attribute some of that to its relative brightness...
    --I like the mic, but I prefer mics that sound a bit more natural and
    --which do not annoy with some exaggerations that do not "sit well"
    --with some source sounds. Also keep in mind in terms of imaging
    --that two of the mics were short shotguns, which are mono.
    David Ruether, May 8, 2009
  7. "David Ruether" wrote ...
    Since each mic was recorded serially, (vs. concurrently) there
    were different conditions in what the sound landscape sounded
    like between microphones.

    To my ear, they were similar enough that I could live with any
    of them for casual ambient recording, and it would depend on
    price and availability.
    Richard Crowley, May 8, 2009
  8. Yes, I agree (and I stated this in the "verbiage" that was with the
    video, and here above - and some were mono mics, and some stereo
    mics), but there were subtle tonal differences that also held in other
    listening situations, as with having a TV on inside with a fan going (with
    the "something person" also in each, etc.). The Rode does edge slightly
    more toward "the nasty for me" character than the others, though (I
    hate anything that approaches edgy/shrill/overly-bright sound, and prefer
    "sweet/full/spacious" if I must make a choice), but they are all similar
    enough to use (but there are times when the Rode does sound less
    preferable to the others with specific material, unfortunately - but for
    general ambience recordings I need a mic with good resistance to wind
    and mechanical noise pickup, and it is the best of the bunch in that
    way). The video test was definitely "quick and dirty", but I think it does
    show the subtle tonal "character" differences between these mics.
    David Ruether, May 9, 2009
  9. David Ruether

    Scubajam Guest

    I need a mic with good resistance to wind

    Here's a video that shows wind noise reduction and an interesting bit
    on covering switches and the XLR connector at the back of the mic.


    Many of you probably know this already, but it was news to me. The
    straw seems a good way to test wind reduction. I'd be very
    interesting in inexpensive fuzzies and good ways to reduce wind noise
    and whether an animal fur, or fabric works better and how to rig.

    As for the mics, I couldn't tell much difference, and really wouldn't
    be much interested in recording a group of people distant from the mic
    where most where facing away from the mic. I thought the "talent"
    giving the mic tests really wasn't cooperative like saying a paragraph
    with explosives and ss sounds with enough words to make a good test.
    I would be interested in a similar test of mics with better,
    duplicated, conditions, even understanding this was for field, not
    studio, conditions. I understand recording outside and eliminating
    wind noise, and sometimes a group such as family or friends
    disregarding the camera or the mic, but if something important is said
    I'd have it repeated under better sound conditions, even if just
    closer to and facing the mic. If it's an impromptu funny something,
    it would be more about the content than the mic, at least to me. Of
    course, any reasonable mic is better than camcorder mic.

    Jim McGauhey
    Washington State
    Scubajam, May 10, 2009
  10. This was news to me, and a very good demo. Thanks.
    As the video indicates, there is a clear hierarchy for the efficacy of
    various solutions for suppressing wind noise - but with one of my
    mics (the Canon ZM-100), it took only a wrap of open cell
    air-conditioner filter foam clipped around the mic to make that mic
    about equal to the Rode with its furry on ($24 for mics it will fit,
    like the Canon ZM-100 and Sony 908C). The Sennheiser took
    a Rycote ($55?) over its foam screen for it to do well. My old Sony
    VX2000's on camera mic was excellent for nearly everything but
    distant sources, with only a cheap Radio Shack foam wind screen
    It was a VERY casual test...;-) I merely sat down near a bunch
    of people and recorded some while changing mics. There are
    some videos on YouTube shot close in in interiors with the Rode SVM
    that sound "insufferable", "bright", and "hard", which none of the other
    mics I used ever did - which is why I ran the check (to decide whether
    or not to return the Rode...).
    Ideally, there should be a mix of conditions for testing, since the
    recording environment can make a BIG difference in the outcome,
    as can the distance between the source and mic. The best way is
    to compare mics in an environment most like the one you will most
    commonly use, recording material that is nearest to the type you
    most often record, and recording at the distance you are most likely
    to use. For me, it is exterior ambient sound, often distant - but even
    when I shot weddings, my most often used mic was the one built
    into the VX2000. With a little "help" during editing (and use of a
    wireless lav. on the groom during the ceremony), I could capture
    surprisingly well the rehearsal, pre-ceremony talking, ceremony
    ambience and vows, post-ceremony talking, and the reception
    and dinner, all with very simple gear. (I'm NOT a studio
    recordest...! ;-)
    Not necessarily - but in the case of the Canon HV20, that is true.
    Oh, I forgot to say: a good trick for getting good sound without
    "repeats" or other techniques that may interfer with an event is to
    use a wide angle on the video camera (it allows you to get closer).
    For more distant things, a short shotgun is good (I like the Sennheiser
    for that, but it is mono - but that can be modified a bit by using a
    technique, described at -
    http://www.donferrario.com/ruether/mono-to-stereo.htm ).
    David Ruether, May 11, 2009
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