5 Best External Microphones for Action Camera in 2024

When you’re out capturing your wildest adventures with an action camera, crisp and clear audio is essential to bring your videos to life. Yet, built-in microphones often fall short in delivering high-quality sound, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of action-packed environments. That’s where external microphones come into play. They can significantly upgrade your audio, making every shout of joy and rush of the wind part of a captivating story. In this listicle, we will review the best external microphones designed to give your action camera footage the powerful, clear, and immersive sound it deserves.

When selecting the best external microphone for an action camera, consider the following criteria:

  1. Compatibility: Ensure the microphone can connect to your action camera, whether it requires a 3.5mm jack, USB, or a wireless connection.
  2. Durability: Look for rugged construction that can withstand the elements, especially if you’ll be using it in rough outdoor environments.
  3. Sound Quality: High-fidelity audio capture is crucial. Look for features like noise cancellation and the ability to handle high sound pressure levels without distortion.
  4. Form Factor: The microphone should be compact and lightweight to complement the portability of an action camera.
  5. Mounting Options: It should come with versatile mounting accessories to easily attach it to your gear or camera.
  6. Battery Life: If the microphone is battery-powered, long battery life is essential to avoid frequent charges during extended recording sessions.
  7. Water Resistance: Depending on your activities, having a water-resistant microphone may be necessary for consistent performance in all conditions.
  8. Price: The microphone should offer good value for money, balancing cost with features and performance.

These criteria are designed to help you evaluate and choose the best external microphone for your action camera, ensuring an enhancement to your audio recording capabilities.

Here’s a simplified comparison table for your list of microphones:

FeaturesRode VideoMicroShure MOTIV MV88Sennheiser MKE 400Tascam TM-2XBoya BY-MM1
Price Range (approx.)$60$150$200$100$40
CompatibilityMost cameras with 3.5mmiOS devices with LightningCameras with 3.5mm or cold shoeCameras with 3.5mmCameras with 3.5mm
Microphone TypeCondenserCondenserCondenserCondenserCondenser
Polar PatternCardioidAdjustable (cardioid, bidirectional, etc.)SupercardioidX-Y StereoCardioid
Power SourcePlug-in power (camera)Powered by iOS deviceAAA batteryPlug-in power (camera)Plug-in power (camera)
Notable FeaturesCompact design, No battery requiredDigital signal processing, 5 presetsRugged metal housing, Low cut filterHigh-performance mic capsules, Switchable input levelCompact and lightweight, Universal compatibility

Notes: Price range can vary based on retailers, current discounts, and regional availability. Check the latest prices from a trusted seller.

Use this table as a starting point for comparing these products. It’s best to consider the specific needs of your action camera and your recording situations when making your choice. Remember to check for the latest models or versions, as manufacturers often update their products.

Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone

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The Rode VideoMicro is an exceedingly popular external microphone that is perfect for action camera enthusiasts looking to significantly enhance their audio quality without breaking the bank or getting bogged down by complex setups. It’s noticeable immediately just how small and lightweight it is, which is fantastic when you’re on the move and don’t want any extra burden. The microphone doesn’t require a battery, which is a huge plus — one less thing to worry about charging before an adventure. Its plug-and-play design ensures it’s user-friendly, something that can’t be understated for action camera users who are often out in the field and looking for simplicity.

Upon testing the Rode VideoMicro, I found that it indeed lives up to its reputation. Despite its unassuming size, it captures sound with great clarity, particularly in front of the camera. This is a treat for vloggers or anyone looking to record speech while in action. The included windscreen is a bonus, noticeably reducing noise on breezy days.

Specs:

  • Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient
  • Active Electronics: JFET impedance converter
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 100Hz – 20kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 140dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
  • Sensitivity: -33.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (22.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Output Connector: 3.5mm TRS

Pros:

  • Very compact and lightweight, perfect for action cams
  • No battery required which eliminates power concerns
  • Solid build quality that feels durable
  • Excellent value for money
  • Deadcat windshield significantly reduces unwanted environmental noise

Cons:

  • Some may find the audio capture too directional if wishing to record ambient sounds
  • Does not come with a digital signal processor to clean or enhance sound, what you hear is what you get
  • Rigid shock mount can be slightly fiddly to adjust

Price:
Given its quality and features, the Rode VideoMicro is priced fairly reasonably, typically around $60. This price point makes it an accessible option for enthusiasts looking to improve their audio quality without committing to a professional-grade microphone price tag.

In my opinion, the Rode VideoMicro strikes a fantastic balance between quality, convenience, and affordability. It’s easy to see why it’s such a favorite in the community. While it may not have the advanced features of some higher-level microphones, for the world of action cameras where ease of use and portability reign supreme, it’s a category winner and a substantial step up from built-in microphones on most cameras.

Shure MOTIV MV88 Portable iOS Microphone

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The Shure MOTIV MV88 plugs right into any iOS device with a Lightning connector and is a game-changer for action camera enthusiasts looking to capture high-quality audio on the go. Its compact design belies a thoroughly powerful and versatile microphone that has impressed me considerably. From its robust build quality to its impressive audio capture capabilities, the MV88 feels like more than just an accessory; it’s a professional tool that significantly upgrades your audio recording game.

You can pivot and rotate the mic to get the best direction for your sound source, which is fantastic when you’re in the thick of the action and need to quickly adjust. The companion app, ShurePlus MOTIV, is a standout feature, providing real-time adjustments for gain, EQ, stereo width, and more, effectively turning your iPhone into a mini-soundboard.

Specs

  • Compatibility: iOS devices with Lightning connector
  • Transducer Type: Cardioid (Unidirectional) condenser
  • Polar Patterns: Adjustable width stereo, mono bidirectional, mono cardioid, mid-side
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Weight: 40.5 g (1.43 oz)

Pros:

  • Exceptional audio quality with a broad range of frequency response.
  • The build is solid and durable, able to withstand the rigors of outdoor use.
  • The adjustable mic capsule is brilliant for action scenes, as it allows for on-the-fly directional changes.
  • The ShurePlus MOTIV app provides pro-level control over the recording, making the MV88 incredibly versatile.
  • The ability to change polar patterns is a godsend in different recording environments.

Cons:

  • It’s limited to iOS devices, leaving out users of other platforms.
  • The price might be a barrier for those on a tight budget.
  • It can drain your device’s battery more quickly due to its direct digital connection.

Price

As for price, the Shure MOTIV MV88 usually falls within the premium tier for mobile mics, often hovering around $150. This price is justified by its professional-grade audio and build quality, but it’s worth weighing up whether the features align with your specific needs and budget.

In my opinion, the Shure MOTIV MV88 is a stellar choice for content creators who are serious about their audio quality and are already invested in the Apple ecosystem. Whether you’re capturing the roar of a waterfall or the chatter of a bustling street, the MV88 gives you that studio-like quality. The cons are there, but they pale in comparison to the flexibility and quality this microphone provides.

Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone

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The Sennheiser MKE 400 is a compact shotgun microphone aimed at users looking to significantly upgrade their action camera’s audio quality. It’s an immediately noticeable improvement over built-in microphones, especially in outdoor environments where wind and ambient noise can wreak havoc on your audio. The MKE 400’s standout feature is its focus on the sound that’s directly in front of the microphone, which helps to isolate subjects and reduce unwanted background noise.

The microphone feels robust, which is exactly what you want when pairing it with an action camera – after all, action cameras are meant to handle rough conditions, and so should their accessories. Its compact design means it won’t significantly increase the footprint of your camera setup, a crucial aspect when you’re on the move.

Specs

The MKE 400 is rather short on intricate features, but that’s by design – keeping it user-friendly and straightforward. It has an integral shock mount to reduce handling noise, and a windscreen to mitigate the intrusions of breezy conditions. Powered by a single AAA battery, the microphone boasts an impressive battery life of around 300 hours, meaning less worry about charging and more focus on capturing great content.

Pros:

  • Compact and durable, ideal for action-packed environments
  • Long battery life limits the need for frequent replacements or charges
  • Focused audio pickup pattern is great for isolating the sound from the subject
  • Integral shock mount and windscreen add value by reducing the need for additional accessories

Cons:

  • Lack of advanced features might not satisfy audio purists or professionals
  • It’s not the cheapest option, which might discourage budget-conscious users

Price

The Sennheiser MKE 400 sits in the mid-to-high price range for microphones compatible with action cameras. Its price tag reflects the quality and reputation of the Sennheiser brand. However, it’s important to buffer this with the understanding that investing in good audio will uplift the production value of your content more than most other accessory upgrades.

In my opinion, the Sennheiser MKE 400 strikes a nearly perfect balance between quality, functionality, and portability for an action camera microphone. You’re not getting an extensive suite of features, but for an on-the-go content creator who prioritizes agility and reliability, it hits the sweet spot. The added durability and long battery life mean that you can venture out without the anxiety of equipment failure, and that’s worth the price for adventurers looking to document their exploits with clear sound.

Tascam TM-2X Stereo X-Y Microphone

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Tascam’s TM-2X is a high-quality stereo microphone designed for use with action cameras. Its X-Y microphone configuration captures immersive stereo sound that significantly enhances the audio quality of your videos. Straight away, what captures my attention with the TM-2X is the effort Tascam has put into making a microphone that pairs so perfectly with the portable and rugged nature of action cameras. The build quality is superb, offering a robust design that can withstand the demands of outdoor usage, yet remaining lightweight enough to be mounted on most cameras without any hassle.

Using the TM-2X, I noticed a considerable improvement in the detail and clarity of the sounds compared to built-in camera microphones. Tascam has clearly focussed on delivering a natural and dynamic soundscape which really brings your action videos to life. Whether you’re recording the subtle sounds of nature during a hike or the intense roar of a motorcycle engine, the TM-2X captures it all with crisp precision.

One standout feature for me is the noise isolation arm that’s included. When mounted, it effectively reduces the mechanical noise that can come from operating a camera, ensuring that your recordings are free from unwanted disruptions. Tascam has also thoughtfully included a low-frequency cutoff filter which is excellent for minimizing rumbles and wind noise during outdoor recordings.

Specs:

  • Microphone: Stereo X-Y condenser mic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-20kHz
  • Sensitivity: -42dBV/Pa (7.9mV/Pa)
  • Output Connector: 3.5mm stereo mini plug
  • Accessories: Noise isolation arm, Windscreen

Pros:

  • Excellent stereo image due to X-Y mic design
  • Durable construction paired with lightweight portability
  • Noise isolation reduces mechanical interference well
  • Low cut filter helps in reducing wind and rumble noise
  • Easy to use and attach to camera
  • Windscreen included for outdoor use

Cons:

  • Lacks wireless capabilities which some users might expect for action cameras
  • The audio quality, while great, might still be considered a step below professional-grade mics which are typically larger and more expensive
  • Requires a camera with a microphone input, which isn’t universal across all action cameras

Price:

In terms of price, the Tascam TM-2X strikes a balance between affordability and quality. While it won’t compete with ultra-budget options, it offers notable improvements in sound fidelity that justify the extra cost. Given its specialized design for action cameras, the price point reflects good value for enthusiasts looking to upgrade their audio without breaking the bank.

In conclusion, the Tascam TM-2X is a compact and impressive microphone for action shooting that significantly steps up the audio quality without being too technical or difficult to use for non-professionals. If you’re aiming for natural, high-fidelity audio to match your high-energy visuals, this microphone should be on your shortlist.

Boya BY-MM1 Universal Cardioid Microphone

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The Boya BY-MM1 is a compact and versatile external microphone that’s ideal for anyone looking to upgrade their action camera’s audio without breaking the bank or getting bogged down with complex setups. Unlike some bulkier models, the BY-MM1’s sleek and diminutive design ensures it stays out of the way, whether you’re navigating through a bustling street or scaling a rock face. The microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern which means it focuses on capturing sound from in front of the camera while reducing noise from the sides. This directional capability allows for clearer spoken audio when vlogging and less ambient noise interference during high-motion activities.

From my experience with the BY-MM1, I was quite impressed with how such a small microphone could bring about such a notable improvement in sound quality. It’s definitely a go-to for action camera enthusiasts who may not be audio experts but recognize the undeniable value of clear sound in their recordings.

Specs

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 35-18KHz ±3dB
  • Sensitivity: -42dB ± 1dB / 0dB=1V/Pa, 1kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 76dB
  • Connector: 3.5mm TRS and TRRS connector
  • Power: No battery required

Pros

  • The plug-and-play design is incredibly user-friendly; there’s no need for batteries or additional power sources, which is a huge relief when you’re on the go.
  • Its size makes it very portable and unobtrusive, a crucial feature for action camera users who prioritize mobility.
  • It comes with both TRS and TRRS cables, meaning it can work with a wide range of devices, not just cameras, but also smartphones and computers.

Cons

  • While the audio quality is a big step up from built-in microphones, audio professionals or enthusiasts might find its capabilities a bit limited when compared to more high-end, pricier microphones.
  • The included shock mount, though functional, feels a bit delicate and might not hold up to extreme use cases.

Price

The Boya BY-MM1 is quite affordable, generally priced around $30-$40. The price point makes it an accessible option for creators who are just dipping their toes into the world of external microphones and want something reliable without making a significant financial commitment.

In conclusion, the Boya BY-MM1 is an excellent entry-level microphone that offers a solid performance-to-cost ratio. It won’t rival the sonic capabilities of professional-grade mics, but it wasn’t crafted for that audience. It’s perfect for the action camera user who wants to easily, and inexpensively, enhance their video’s audio without any fuss.

Conclusion:

In choosing the ideal external microphone for your action camera, consider sound quality, durability, and compatibility with your device. Whether you’re capturing high-speed sports or immersive nature footage, the right microphone can significantly enhance your audio experience. Investing in a quality microphone can elevate your videos from good to professional, providing your audience with crystal-clear sound that perfectly complements your visual content.

FAQs:

Q: Does an external microphone work with all action cameras?
A: Not all external microphones are compatible with every action camera. It’s essential to check the compatibility of the microphone with your specific model before purchasing.

Q: How does an external microphone improve video quality?
A: An external microphone often provides superior sound quality compared to a built-in camera mic. It can capture more natural and clearer audio, reduce noise, and offer directional recording options that enhance the overall quality of the video.

Q: Do I need a special adapter to connect an external microphone to an action camera?
A: Some action cameras require a specific adapter to connect an external microphone, especially if the camera does not have a built-in microphone port. Check your camera’s specifications to determine if an adapter is necessary.

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John Doe

John Doe

I am John, a tech enthusiast with a knack for breaking down complex camera, audio, and video technology. My expertise extends to social media and electronic gadgets, and I thrive on making the latest tech trends understandable and exciting for everyone. Sharing my knowledge through engaging content, I aim to connect with fellow tech lovers and novices alike, bringing the fascinating world of technology to life.

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