Let’s face it – the built-in microphone for your DSLR camera Microphones or smartphone is likely *light years* away from matching the quality of the video. On-camera microphones are prone to handling noise (sounds passed through the microphone from touching or moving the camera), clipping from jumps in volume, and just general ‘thin-ness’ compared to using a dedicated mic and recording device.
Good DSLR cameras microphones can counter any kind of background noise and disturbance as a whole can provide you with the best filming experience. So make sure you make the right choice.
When photographers get started, moving the flash ‘off the camera’ and using a separate, dedicated light source is one of the first pro steps they can take.
Why Do You Need an External Microphone for Your DSLR or Smartphone?
On-camera microphones are usually quite limited in terms of size, which brings a huge trade-off in audio quality. An external microphone, however, can provide a huge improvement to your sound with very little effort.
Built-in microphones often have less ‘headroom’ than external mic options. Headroom is the ability to handle peaks, or jumps, in the sound that is higher than the average recorded audio.
Think of it as a safety area against distortion. Distortion is one of our enemies when capturing audio, it is usually heard as clipping, when a signal is overdriven, degrading the sound to the point where it is unintelligible. It is extremely hard to fix once recorded and can lead to disengaged viewers.
Because of the limited space that built-in microphones have, the element is often extremely small and most importantly of a lesser grade. They can exhibit a lot of background noise and poor tonality therefore the quality of the audio is often poor. With an external microphone, you can capture the entire spectrum of sound, low to high frequencies, along with the softest to the loudest volumes.
DSLR camera mics are notorious for giving you a harsh ‘clipping’ noise when the sound gets too loud. Since there isn’t a lot of headroom to work with, the ‘too loud’ ceiling gets lower and lower with even reasonable volumes. Smartphones generally can handle louder sounds (they are built to withstand you yelling into them from inches away!) but also often fall short when comparing the audio quality to the great video you can get.
Key Takeaway: Using an external microphone allows you to pick up a wider range of sound, allowing you to fill in all of the gaps that built-in microphones leave. This gives you a better and smoother audio file to pair with your videos.
How to Choose A Microphone for Your Recording Device
The best way to get ‘off-camera’ when recording video is to make use of wireless microphones. This not only improves the quality of the sound, but it also frees your camera from having to be a certain distance from the subject and allows you to get creative with your angles, lenses, and light.
This can be even more important with a smartphone, as having a wired microphone connected can be very awkward and make the phone difficult to place to get a great shot (especially when you want to record yourself for YouTube). Regardless of the wired/wireless nature of your mic, you’ve got 4 basic choices to pick from when deciding on an ‘off-camera’ mic.
Best Microphone for DSLR Cameras
With DSLR cameras, you are generally limited to a 3.5mm mini cable size. This is the same cable size that most consumer headphones use. If you purchase a microphone or any other kind of supporting equipment, then double-check that the cable size matches the size required for your camera.
As this jack can be a little sensitive, you’ll want to secure the cable or make sure your microphone is mounted in a way that the cable never gets brushed or touched.
The Samson Concert 88 Camera Combo is a versatile wireless system with a receiver designed to mount directly to a camera. The camera accessory shoe mounting ensures that the 3.5mm mini cable stays ‘out of the way’, and you’ve got a choice of using a handheld or lavalier mic.
Best Microphone for Smartphone Cameras
Smartphones have generally ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack, so when using a microphone you’ll have to use one that is specifically compatible with your smartphone or use an audio interface. Many microphones can connect directly to iOS devices like an iPhone, or to USB ports like an Android device has. Some even come with cables to connect to both!
With a smartphone, you have the option of a direct digital connection to your device. This is great because it reduces the chance for noise and interference, but then you’ve got to put in a bit of work to make sure the mic is compatible with your device.
You’ll have to make sure that the microphone connects to the same kind of ‘port’ that your smartphone offers. As mentioned earlier, many modern smartphones do not use a headphone jack. So in most cases, we will be looking at the charging port on the phone.
The Go Mic Mobile is a great wireless solution that comes with the cables you need to connect it to iOS and Android devices or even directly to a computer or field recorder. This system is available with lavalier or handheld microphone transmitters, and the receiver mounts directly to the back of your mobile device.
It also includes a 3.5mm output and can be mounted to a DSLR camera via an included shoe mount, so if you want something that pulls ‘double duty’, then it’s a great choice!
Don’t Settle for Static
Whichever mic you choose, it’s likely going to be a huge step up from the built-in microphone on your camera. Remember, good content has clear and intelligible sound. Viewers usually jump ship from a video very quickly if they can’t hear or understand what’s going on in the video. An external microphone is the single easiest way to improve the overall quality of your videos without spending a lot of cash.