2012-07-04

Rode Stereo Video Mic Pro - evaluating the most ugly microphone ever

When I started doing video with a DSLR (actually with EVIL cameras), I quickly found the in-camera sound to be unacceptable and got myself a Sennheiser MKE400. I wanted to have a tiny shotgun that would get me the sound of whatever was in front of the camera and ignore everything else. It seemed a reasonable choice at that time. However it turned out that very often I find myself in one of two situations:
  • Having the time to prepare the right kind of equipment to record one special kind of event using as much and as specialized gear as I find necessary and practical.
  • Recording ambiance and B-roll with whatever I have in my pocket at that time.
For the first occation I have my trusted Zoom H4n and a small collection of micropones. A large diaphragm and a headset for voice overs and commentary, a pair of shotguns for stages and booming, dynamic handmics for interviews.
It would seem natural to use the H4n with it's great internal microphones to collect B-roll. It it nearly perfectly suited for this job. Just place it in a corner or on a camera with a wide angle lens and keep rolling.
Why would I choose not to?
Because it is inpractical and with time you tend to avoid inpractical things.
  • It is large and heavy.
  • When used before, it's batterys are often quite down already.
  • You need to sync the sound to the camera later. (Syncing is trivial but identifying what sound belongs to what picture takes time and organisational effort.)
So here I am, evaluating the Rode Stereo Video Mic Pro.
The purpose being to have it on camera for wide shots to capture ambience right in the camera. This need not be B-Roll. It can very well be a sound performance or a groups of people standing close together. Anything that does not require a directional pattern.
So what did I find?
  • It is lightweight and small enough to just keep it on the camera. It doesn't even affect the center of gravity even of a small mirrorless camera like the GH1 and GH2.
  • Contrary to the H4n it is practically unaffected by wind. The 2 microphones are mounted inside a round blimp below a foam cover. I did not even feel the need to unpack the deadcat I got for it.
  • It picks up lower frequencies much better then the H4n. I'm not sure yet that this is a good thing or if they are overrepresented.
  • The low-cut is useless. Even the lowest frequency rumbling of a bus you're sitting it are reduced at all.
  • I still have to test the +20dB gain on the GH2 and GH1 cameras.
  • The hotshoe has an incompatible threading. It's 1/2" microphone threading and not 1/4" as for camera equipment. This would be fine for booming except that an purely omnidirectional on-camera microphone with a 3.5mm stereo-jack is not reasonable for booming at all.
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