The Stereo VideoMic Pro from Australian company Røde is specifically designed to provide quality sound options for camcorders and DSLR cameras. Compact and weighing only 115 gm it quickly fitted into the cold shoe mount on my Sony HXRNX 30P videocamera which I reviewed recently.
Inside the circular foam windshield is a pair of half inch cardioid condenser capsules in an XY configuration specifically designed to capture a wide area of ambient sound. The integrated shock mount isolates the microphone from camera noise with an ingenious cable suspension system similar to the system I use with my Røde Podcaster. The folks at Røde have thoughtfully included four spare cables. The audio cable connects to the 3.5 mm socket on the camera and is specifically designed to further reduce noise.
On the rear of the microphone conveniently facing me are two switches. The on/off switch includes a 75 Hz high pass filter specifically designed to remove low-level noise generated by air conditioners or passing traffic. The second switch offers -10 DB attenuation which reduces the sensitivity of the microphone in very loud environments. There is a neutral setting and a +20 DB boost which the makers claim provides a better signal in DSLR cameras.
The unit is powered by a 9V battery (not supplied) with an estimated 100-hour service life. The cold shoe mount has a 3/8 inch thread mount to allow fixing to a microphone stand.
So let’s plug in the headphones, turn on the camera and have a listen. With the audio cable disconnected I’m getting sound through the externally mounted stereo mic on the camera. A bit noisy but plenty of detail. When I connect the audio cable of the Stereo VideoMic Pro and turn the unit on the difference is palpable. I’m in a more active, vibrant audio space. As I wander round the house the high pass filter doesn’t make a great deal of difference, but there is no air conditioning running and traffic on our road is quiet. Bird noises from our garden outside are faithfully captured in a broad stereo environment.
The neutral setting was the best in the relatively quiet environment in which I was recording, but I can understand that the -10 DB setting would be very useful in a musical concert or at a sporting event. The +20 DB boost was way too loud for this camera but I can’t say how it would be on a DSLR which I don’t have at the moment.
Summing up, this is a beautifully designed easy to use piece of Australian audio engineering which faithfully captures ambient atmospheres. It would be especially useful in natural settings and at musical and sporting venues. I will find it extremely valuable in recording assemblies at the school where I work and in capturing B-roll ambience for my documentaries.
RRP around $300 but shop around.