Audio Hardware Review

The Mic All YouTubers Need? Rode VideoMic Pro Review by Chris Skyes

In this article, we are going to talk about the Rode VideoMic Pro, what it’s good for, what it isn’t good for, and who should buy it.

If you’re considering vlogging, or online video creation, your choice of microphone is key. Over the next few minutes, we’re going to explore why you might want to make the Rode VideoMic Pro your main content creation mic.

Directional Microphone

The Rode VideoMic Pro is rather directional, and it records in mono. What that means in practical terms is that it tends to focus on sound sources in front of the microphone, whilst actively trying to block out sound coming from the sides and back.

This makes it great for vlogging, recording interviews, and recording voice in general. Due to it being mono, you can’t record concerts or music with it though.

I mean, you can, but the resulting audio would be in mono, rather than stereo.

If you want a microphone which you can pop on top of your camera, and can record in stereo, I would recommend having a look at the Rode VideoMic Stereo, or read some of my other articles, where I cover devices intended for recording stereo sources, such as the Zoom H6, or Sony PCM-D100.

Battery Life

Unlike its smaller brother, the Rode VideoMicro, the VideoMic Pro requires a 9V alkaline battery. According to Rode, this can provide you with 70 hours of battery life, though please bear in mind that your mileage may vary.

There is actually a sticker on the inside of the battery compartment that shows you which way to put the battery in.

So you know, batteries are not included with the device, so you’ll want to buy at least two, as they do have a tendency to run out at the worst possible time.

Quick tip: For links to all the products I’ll be talking about, have a look at the end of the article
— Chris SKYES

Integrated Windscreen and Shockmount

This microphone has an integrated foam windscreen, and a Rycote Lyre shockmount. This means that wind and handling noise will be less of an issue, but these implementations will not completely solve the problem.

You still need to handle the microphone and camera with care, to avoid handling noise, and strong winds will easily defeat the windscreen. In fact, I would strongly suggest investing in a proper, more furry windshield, such as the Rycote Mini Windjammer.

Size

The Rode VideoMic Pro is compact, as it only weighs 85 grams, and it is just 150 mm long. That being said, it feels kind of fragile as a result, so I’ve personally invested in a hard case for it. I’d say this is a wise investment, due to the cable.

I’ll get into this during the cons section of the article.

Sound Quality

This mic has a frequency response of 40 Hz-20 kHz. It also features a switchable high-pass filter at 80 Hz to cut 'mud' and rumble, whilst leaving speech unaffected.

That being said, do bear in mind that the high-pass filter will not be able to perform magic. Yes, it can reduce some of the handling noise that may be present, but the shock mount on the microphone should eliminate most, if not all of it.

Additionally, the high-pass filter will not remove wind noise completely. Sure, it will remove some of the lower frequencies, which will help with the sound when your microphone is being blasted by wind, but the best thing you can do is protect the microphone in the first place by buying a proper windshield for it, like the Rycote Mini Windjammer I suggested earlier.

When a high-pass filter should be engaged is a rather debated topic in the sound community, as there are trade-offs, but ideally you only want to turn it on when needed,

Here is a sample of what the Rode VideoMic Pro sounds like, plugged in directly into a Canon 77D.

I'm about to show you six samples. They are made up of the three modes on the back of the microphone, -10dB, 0dB, and +20dB, in both Auto and Manual level mode in the camera.

All samples were recorded at arms length, to show you what would happen if you used them in a vlogging/interview scenario. What you are about to hear is not necessarily how each mode is intended to be used, but what would happen if you use it in both Auto, or Manual, in a vlog/interview type situation.

The audio is not ideal by any means on a couple of the samples, but it will show you both how to, and how not to use those functions.

As a quick word of warning, in order to not affect the results of the test, I have not altered the volume at which the recordings will play. The first few samples will be much louder than the later ones, as they were recorded in Auto mode, so please lower your volume before listening to them.

Edit: It seems that basically all websites convert audio to .mp3 for playback, so that’s what you’ll be able to hear in the files down below. If you’d like, you can download the .wav files from my Google Drive here.

Now that I’ve covered all the pros, let’s talk about some of the aspects of this mic that I’m not a huge fan of.

Cable

The cable that comes with the microphone is about 6 inches long, which is perfectly fine for most DSLR cameras. It’s not too long, but not too short.

The issue that I have with it is that, as opposed to the Rode VideoMicro, the cable is attached to the microphone.

With the Micro version of this device, the cable is standalone. You can plug it into the mic, and then the DSLR, and you’re read to go. With the Pro version, if the cable breaks, you can’t just buy a new one and replace the broken one.

That being said, Rode does offer warranty on their products.



Manual Turn On

Even though Rode fixed this issue with the introduction of the VideoMic Pro+, it’s important to bear in mind that the Pro version needs to be turned on and off manually.

You might think it is unlikely that you’ll forget to turn on the microphone, or turn it off before you put it back in your bag, but it’s more common than you think. As a sound engineer, I’ve been paid quite a bit of money by filmmakers who forgot to turn the mic on during an interview, so they were forced to have the built-in mic audio cleaned up and improved as much as possible.

When you’re making videos for yourself, this wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but if you’re shooting video for clients, and you think there’s any chance that you’ll forget to turn the mic on, you might be better off spending more on the Rode VideoMic Pro Plus.

Conclusion

So, should you buy it?

If you want to vlog, record interviews with one person at a time, or overall improve the audio quality on your YouTube videos, I would definitely recommend the Rode VideoMic Pro, or the VideoMic Pro+.

If you want to be able to record audio for multiple people at a time, I’d recommend investing instead into a Zoom H5, Zoom H6, or something like a Tascam DR-60D mkII.

These have been my thoughts on the Rode VideoMic Pro. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you.

Disclaimer: This article, like many other articles on this blog, contains Amazon affiliate links. That means that I get a small commission from Amazon on qualifying purchases, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Product Links

Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.

Should You Buy The Zoom H5, or the H6? by Chris Skyes

Chances are you’ve owned your trusty Zoom H4n for a few years now, and you’re looking to upgrade. Upon doing a bit of research, you find out that Zoom has two shiny recorders, the Zoom H5, and the Zoom H6.

The question is, which one is best for you?

In this article, we are going to explore the differences between the two recorders, and what purpose the different features might lend themselves to. Also, if you’d like to read a more comprehensive review of the Zoom H6 by itself, I’ve written an article about it here, or watch the video below.

Quick tip: For links to all the products I’ll be talking about, have a look at the end of the article
— Chris SKYES


Before we begin, I am going to point out that the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6 are two very similar recorders, but they are built for different purposes. As we go through the article, I am going to lay down the actual differences, and explain what situation each option would be better suited for.

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Inputs

The Zoom H5 only has two XLR inputs, as opposed to the four built-in XLR inputs on the Zoom H6.

If you plan on doing journalism, or recording one on one interviews, which would only require a maximum of two external microphones, the two XLR inputs on the Zoom H5 will suffice.

On the other hand, the four built-in XLR inputs on the Zoom H6 gives you the ability to plug in four microphones, thus making it perfect for podcasts, recording demos, band recording, etc.

Battery Life

Even though both recorders have exceptional battery life, the Zoom H5’s is shorter than that of the Zoom H6, according to Zoom.

This was presumably measured without any external microphones connected to the devices. Bare in mind that connecting two microphones to the H5, or four to the H6, will lower the battery life, especially if you are using phantom power.

There are many different variables which would potentially affect the battery life of the device, but the takeaway is that they both can record for hours at a time, and It's always worth carrying some extra batteries with you, just in case.

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Size & Build

The Zoom H5 is a bit smaller and lighter than the Zoom H6. This is important to consider if you plan on adding it on top of a DSLR, which might already have a battery pack strapped to it.

The actual dimensions for the Zoom H5 are 7.77 x 2.63 x 1.66 inches, and it weighs 9.52 oz (269 grams). The Zoom H6 comes in at 14.46 oz (410 grams), and measures 8.39 x 3.1 x 1.88 inches.

Even though both are sturdy and rugged, it’s worth to point out that the Zoom H6 is rather larger and heavier, and this should be taken into consideration.



Display

When it comes to the displays, the H5 has a backlit LCD, whilst the H6 has a much nicer 2" full-colour LCD.

Also, whilst the Zoom H6 screen is angled slightly down (see image below), the H5 is not. This is neither a good thing, nor is it a bad thing, as it just depends on what you're using the device for.

If you'll be looking down at the recorder, the Zoom H5 screen is better for that. If, on the other hand, the recorder will be closer to eye level, like if it it's mounted on a DSLR camera, the H6 screen will allow you to monitor levels without having to move your camera too much in order to look at the screen.

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Phantom Power

Whilst both recorders offer phantom power, which is needed by some microphones, the Zoom H6 offers phantom power for all its 4 x XLR inputs. The two extra XLR inputs which can be mounted on top with a modular component can not receive phantom power on either the H5 or the H6.

Sound Quality

In regards to sound quality, they're about the same. No major differences between the two, though they both sound much better than the older Zoom H4n, especially in regards to self noise.

When it comes to pre-amps, neither of them are as good as the Sony PCM-D100, though the Sony device does not have XLR inputs, and in either case, the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6 have better pre-amps than the Zoom H4n.

Simply put, when recording quieter sounds, there is less hiss produced as a byproduct when you pump up the gain, compared to the older H4n.

Wind Protection

If you have to record outdoors, which might be the case if you're a journalist, field recordist, sound effects recordist, if you're recording a live band, or more, the foam windshield that comes with either recorder will prove itself to be rather unhelpful.

It's great when recording indoors, but any real gust of wind will make the recording unusable. Luckily, Rycote sells a three-in-one solution for each recorder.

A grip, by which you can hold the recorder, a shock mount which basically eliminates handling noise, and a good quality windshield, which will protect the microphone from wind, though very strong winds might still affect the microphone.

You can purchase the Zoom H5 version of the Rycote product on Amazon, or the Zoom H6 version of the product on this Amazon page.

Levels

The Zoom H5 has a metal bar which makes it difficult to accidentally change the input levels. Whilst the H6 does have some measures in place in order to prevent that, the H5 method feels a lot more reliable, as it is a large metal bar, physically preventing you from doing it.

If you know you're likely to accidentally hit, or run your hand over the recorder and change the levels, this might be something to take into consideration.

Which?

Which one should you get? Ultimately, both recorders are very similar, but built for different purposes. They're both quite rugged and well built, have good sound quality, modular microphones, and multiple XLR inputs.

If all you need is to connect a maximum of two microphones to it, like in a one on one interview setting, the Zoom H5 will suffice.

That being said, if you think you might one day need to plug in a few extra microphones, it's worth spending a little bit of extra money and getting the Zoom H6.

The price difference isn't massive, around £60 usually, or $80, and by getting the Zoom H6, you're future-proofing yourself.

Thank you very much for reading my review of the Zoom H5 vs Zoom H6. If you’d like to be notified whenever I post a new article, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter down below.

Product Links

Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.


Read This Before You Buy the Zoom H6 by Chris Skyes

Thinking about purchasing the Zoom H6, but you want to know if it suits your needs before you do so? Here are my thoughts on it after using it for a while.

By the way, if you’d like to see a comparison between the Zoom H6 and the Zoom H5, I’ve written an article on it here.

Late last year I purchased the Zoom H6. Even though I specifically bought it to record sound effects, after I began using it, I started to slowly realise what a versatile piece of hardware it really is, and how you can use it for anything from podcasting and voice over work, to dialogue and live music recording.

Grab some tea and biscuits, and play some smooth jazz, because we're about to dive deep into the pros and cons of the Zoom H6.

Quick tip: For links to all products mentioned in this article, have a look at the bottom of the page
— Chris SKYES

It's versatile

Upon close inspection, you might notice that the Zoom H6 has 4 XLR/TRS inputs, which can actually be expanded to 6 if you purchase the separate attachable head.

This can come in handy if you, for example, want to record a podcast in the studio. You plug in a microphone in each XLR input, and not only can you monitor the level of each individual track, but you can also record a safety track at -12 dB, in case one of the guests gets a bit too excited.

Need to record some location audio? Plug in a boom and a few radio mics into the inputs, and you're ready to go!

Want to record a demo with your band? Plug in the instruments and the microphones, and you can record on the go, wherever you might be.

It's modular

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One of the things that I really love about the Zoom H6 is the fact that it's modular. The recorder itself comes with an X/Y capsule and MS capsule, but there are a few other capsules that you can purchase and use when needed.

Here is a list of the capsules which I could find, together with more information, and relevant Amazon affiliate links.

 

  • The Combo Input Capsule: This is the capsule mentioned before, which offers you an extra 2 XLR/TLR inputs.

  • MS capsule: This one comes with the Zoom H6 by default, but the really cool thing about it is that it also works on the Zoom H5, and the Zoom Q8.

  • X/Y capsule: This capsule also comes by default with the Zoom H6. This means that if the capsules stop working, you don't have to throw out the entire unit. You just need to purchase a replacement capsule, and you can keep on recording.

  • X/Y shock mounted capsule: Whilst this does not come by default with the Zoom H6, it is still compatible with it, as well as with the Zoom H5, and the Zoom Q8.

  • Stereo shotgun microphone capsule: Includes a super-directional microphone for picking up sound in the centre, as well as a bidirectional side mic for picking up sounds from the left and right. It is also compatible with the Zoom H5.

  • Shotgun microphone capsule: Highly directional, it allows you to record focused sound effects without having to carry a separate microphone and grip with the recorder. Whilst there are obviously better, and more expensive, shotgun microphones out there, this is a winning combo if you prefer to have a more compact set-up.

Build quality

The device itself feels really sturdy. The rubberised plastic casing also helps diminish handling noise if hand held, though I would wholeheartedly recommend getting this Rycote kit which contains a windshield, shock mount, and grip.

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I've used it and it really helped to eliminate most of the handling noise. When I went on my last recording trip, I could only hear handling noise if I basically shook the whole thing really hard.



Tilted screen

The screen is obviously tilted, which is great when placed on a DSLR for location recording, or when monitoring whilst recording a podcast. There are situations in which the tilted screen doesn't help, but they are in the minority.

If I could make a suggestion, I would say that I would have loved it to have a swivel screen, so it could be tilted as needed.

Great for loud ambiences

Whilst on my last recording trip, I recorded some gorgeous ambiences, such as windy or rainy ambiences, or city ambiences. The Zoom H6 was actually used to record my Dormant Village audio library.

Super portable

The device itself is super portable, and it comes in a very sturdy case. I wish more portable recorders, such as the Sony PCM-D100 came in such a case.

Affordable

Whilst the prices vary depending on where you are, the Zoom H6 remains a very affordable portable recording device.

Unbelievable battery life

Whilst on a recording trip to Transylvania earlier this year, and whilst recording all the time, I only really had to replace the batteries maybe four or five times. Zoom says it can record for up to 20 hours, and depending on the conditions, I'd definitely say that's true.

I left it to record rain ambiences overnight and 8-9 hours later it was still going strong. When I checked the battery status, it wasn't even half-way depleted.

Jin from ODDVISIONARY has mentioned that you can use an external USB battery to power the recorder as well. This could come in handy if you run out of batteries, as most people are likely to be carrying a USB battery pack with them anyway.

Ease of use

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I found the design and menus to be really intuitive and easy to use, and changing capsules is also painless and quick to do. When under time constraints, this is a massive plus.

It records high quality audio

The Zoom H6 can record audio up to 24bit/96kHz, which is great if you record ambiences or sound effects. If you're recording a podcast, or dialogue, there's no real need to go above 24bit/48kHz.

Now that I've talked about all the pros, I want to talk about the cons.

Tilted Screen

I would have loved to see a flip screen on the Zoom H6, like you see on some DSLR cameras. Whilst the tilted screen is a pro in most situations, there are instances where being able to move it around a bit would come in handy.

Noise

Whilst some Zoom recorder pre-amps tend to not be seen in a positive light online, I want to make it clear that the Zoom H6 is miles above in terms of quality and noise.

Conclusion

If you want to record super quiet nature ambiences, the Zoom H6 would not be my first choice. For literally anything else, it's an amazing, affordable, and portable choice!

These have been my thoughts on the Zoom H6, after using it for months. If you click on any of the links above, it will take you to Amazon, where you will be able to view the price of the item in question, along with more specs.

If you’d like to see a comparison between the Zoom H6, and the Zoom H5, I’ve written an article on it here.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.

Thank you very much for reading, and I'll see you next week! 

Disclaimer: The product links above are Amazon Affiliate links, and I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Product Links

Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.