Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best DSLR Microphone

best_dslr_microphoneWe’ll start by saying that the majority of the DSLR video cams have good sound quality, although it really comes down to the specific model you have. It’s much better than mics embedded on smartphones or tablets, and nobody will ever notice it if you just make videos for online sharing.

Nevertheless, if you need you upgrade your videos’ sound quality, you have several optional choices for your DSLR camera. The type of add-on microphone you get depends on your individual needs, however, the shotgun-type mics, which are placed on top of the camera, are still the most popular.

Taking into consideration factors like your budget and your usage, here are reviews for best DSLR cam microphones.

Top 4 DSLR Microphones

 Sennheiser MKE 400Rode Stereo VideoMicAudio-Technica ATR-3350Sennheiser EW 100
sennheiser_mke_400_reviewRode Stereo VideoMic Pro On Camera Stereo Microphone ReviewAudio-Technica ATR3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone ReviewSennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-G omni-directional clip-on microphone kit system Review
Type: Shotgun Stereo MicLavalierLavalier
Wind Screen: Add-onYesYesAdd-on
Shock Mount: YesYes--
Pop filter: ----
Stand: Fits all camers with a standard hot shoe mount and an external microphone inputFits all camers with a standard hot shoe mount and an external microphone input--
Ideal For: High-end DSLR, Full frame camerasHigh-end DSLR, Full frame camerasNewscaster-style miniature micNewscaster-style wireless mic
Suits environment: Sensitivity for long and short distances.Music, ambient audio, sporting eventsaerobics,dance,sports instructorsMost
Add-on: Wind-MuffIntegrated windshield-Windscreen Mic

The Top Microphones for DSLR Video Cameras

Below follows our researched selection of DLSR video camera microphones. As previously mentioned, half of the list is populated by shotgun microphones, since they are the most popular choice of videographers. Other options are included in the list as well. Give us your feedback in the comment section about our selection, or share your own favorite!

#1 – Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone

sennheiser_mke_400_review

An awesome mic for the size (and price). It’s ultra portable with great quality sound

Sennheiser’s MKE 400 Shotgun mic has been designed with video enthusiasts in mind. With dimensions smaller than models used by professionals. It’s ideal for attaching to a camcorder or DSLR chassis. High end shotgun mics are typically much larger and too awkward to use with a traditional camcorder.

Pros:

Great sound quality for a mic in the $200 price bracket, performing like a shotgun mic is meant to, ignoring sounds and noise from the sides and behind, instead focusing the sounds in front of it. This is the major reason why a shotgun will always be superior to on board omnidirectional units when ambient sounds are a problem.

Conclusion:

The Sennhseiser MKE 400 works well and sounds good for its intended purpose. It is a shotgun mic, not an omnidirectional mic. Just remember the units form factor is very small. You shouldn’t buy the MKE 400 mic if don’t need to have a miniature shotgun mic.

Like all shotguns it will sound better if its closer to its subject like on a boom pole.

#2 – Azden SMX-10

Azden SMX-10 Review

Pros:

  • Dual unidirectional microphone picks up on almost every sound imaginable with crystal clarity
  • High quality stereo audio is captured on the fly
  • The entire unit is powered up by a single AAA battery
  • Smart adapter system allows you to use this microphone with any DSLR on the market today

Cons:

  • This isn’t exactly the most technically advanced DSLR mic on the market
  • There are some questions regarding the durability of the mic
  • The name brand isn’t as well-known as some other options

If you’ve been hunting for a top quality unidirectional mic that effortlessly attaches to your current DSLR setup (with the option to attach it to any DSLR you might upgrade to in the future), then look no further!

One of the most impressive (and relatively compact) unidirectional mics we’ve ever seen, this is going to provide you with the audio capturing ability to transform your DSLR into a world class camcorder – without any headache or hassle!

The price is a little steep for a brand that isn’t all that well known outside of the professional world, but the value is definitely here.

#3 – Rode Stereo VideoMic

Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro On Camera Stereo Microphone Review

One of the top mics available for recording within 8 feet

Pros:

  • The entire mic unit is powered by a single 9V battery
  • This mic picks up stereo sound with a professional studio ready amplifier on board
  • Smart mounting system prevents unwanted noise and chatter from “leaking” into your captures

Cons:

  • You’re going to have to splurge quite a bit to get your hands on this mic
  • If you aren’t a professional videographer you may not get the fullest use out of this setup
  • Though built to last, this isn’t a mic that you can afford to beat up all that much

Designed and developed from the ground up to give mobile video crews the ability to record high def video AND audio with nothing more than a DSLR, you’re going to fall in love with the power and performance that this mic packs in a relatively tiny footprint.

The fact that it can be adapted to fit most every DLSR on the market is a huge plus, though you may have to tinker at least a little bit to make sure that everything works a smoothly as possible on some cameras.

Combine all of that with the fact that it is self-powered with a single 9V battery that can be replaced on the fly without any trouble, and you’re looking at really special setup here.

#4 – Audio-Technica ATR-3350

Audio-Technica ATR3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone Review

If you’re looking for a bargain lav mic – you’d be hard pressed to find a better unit than a ATR-3350

Pros:

  • This “newscaster style” directional mic for DSLR setups is a game changer with its compact footprint and performance
  • Incredible sensitivity has to power to scoop up stereo sound from quite some ways away without any reduction in quality
  • Super lightweight, this mic can be mounted almost anywhere imaginable for the utmost utility

Cons:

  • Not all sounds or situations can take advantage of the newscaster style DSLR mic
  • The open circuit sensitivity of this mic could be improved a bit
  • There are questions about the low price tag being associated with durability

If you’re not looking for a full on unidirectional mic that can pick up sounds a mile away (or so it seems) with nothing more than your DSLR, but instead want to be able to capture more intimate sounds with a newscaster style mic, this is right up your alley.

The omni pickup range gives you a unique ability to capture sound with crystal clear clarity, in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to with a more traditional “built in” mic on DSLRs.

Combine that with the super low price tag and you have a real winner here!

#5 – Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A

Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-G omni-directional clip-on microphone kit system Review

Certainly isn’t cheap, but the EW-100 is one of the best lav mics on the market

Pros

  • This just might be the most impressive DSLR mounted microphone setup we’ve ever seen
  • Manufactured by one of the biggest names in the audio capturing industry
  • Multiple frequencies and wireless setup allows you complete control over sound quality

Cons

  • This just might be the most expensive DSLR mounted microphone setup we’ve ever seen
  • There’s a bit of a steep learner curve involved for sure
  • You’ll have to extra take time to setup and take down the mics that you connect to the system

If you’re looking to shoot high quality HD video AN high quality HD audio on your DSLR, you NEED this setup from Sennheiser.

Manufacturers of some of the best audio equipment in the world, you’d have to be at least a little bit crazy to go with any other mic setup – especially if you’re trying to produce commercial grade stuff along the way.

Sure, you’ll have to spend some serious money for professional grade equipment like this – but the investment is definitely worth it when you see (or, more accurately, hear) the results!

How to Choose the Best DSLR Microphone for Video Cameras

Why equip your cam with an external mic

If you are on the lookout for an external mic, chances are you already know what its main benefit is: better sound quality. It all changed when DSLR cams started recording video and after they became affordable and accessible to a wider user base, everyone can get a decent camera for $300 and shoot 1080p video with professional quality.

Sound, however, is a different story. These built-in microphones are acceptable, but my no means professional.

Generally speaking, DSLR video cams have decent sound quality, but there are occasions that this is just not enough. There are no professional preamps built-in, and at often the preset configuration cannot be customized. We are aware of occasions where people recorded sound with theirs smartphones, because the built-in DSLR mic couldn’t handle the distance in these environments.

This is occurs more often than not. For example, our own marketer opted for iPhone-recorded sound over the DSLR built-in mic, for a 10-feet distance recording for a YouTube video. There is no one-setting-suits-all solution, but ultimately, getting an external mic can only get good results. Here is a great guide by B&H Photo to DSLR sound.

Choosing a microphone for your DSLR

Budget: These microphones fairly affordable, however, they vary through a pretty wide range, beginning from $50 and reaching all the way to $300 or above. How much do you want to pay?
Microphone types

Lavalier: Also known as “lav mics”, these are great for interviews, instruction videos, broadcasting and product video reviews. It’s the little clip you see people wearing next their mouth when talking on camera. They are more suitable for places with limited ambient sound and controlled conditions. Room sound is limited, because the mic is next to the sound source. Their biggest advantage is their discretion; they are largely unnoticeable (the preferred equipment in talk shows). There are both wireless and wired options available, with the price rising along with convenience. If you are particularly interested in this category, check our article about the best lav mics available.

Shotgun: These are the number one choice for DSLR camera add-on microphones, and there is a good explanation for it: they do a pretty good job for any application. Almost half of our top ten is populated by shotgun mics. Shotguns can either be placed atop your camera or used with a boom stick.

Headsets: From our point of view, these are extremely popular among videographers visiting exhibitions or similar loud environments. Headsets shine in situations where you need to interview people in loud places, because they block background sounds and only isolate the speaker’s voice. This is the only recommended use for this type of microphone.

Handheld: There are those who would rather use a traditional microphone, on certain occasions. Handheld microphones are journalists’ favorites because they are heavy-duty and don’t require powering up. They don’t usually have a wide range, but this is more of an advantage since those who do interviews or other relevant work have no use for extra-sensitive audio equipment; they just need to capture what’s in front of them, without ambient noise. If you pick a mic from this category, you will need a couple of extra accessories, which we will describe later on.

If you need accessories like a wind screen, tripod or pop filter – just check our comparison table to see what’s included with each unit. Some products are packaged along with some accessories whereas others contain only the microphone, forcing you to buy for extra accessories in order to complete your gear, so try to remember that.