A few weeks back I picked up a RODE MicMe and was immediately impressed with the way this mic (and the fuzzy windscreen) blocked the wind noise and focused on my voice! However, I still had some issues with the mic… well, not really the mic, but more so with the set-up. The problem was my iPhone 8 Plus does not have an audio jack, and the MicMe was designed specifically with an audio jack in mind.
Despite the fact that the iPhone 8 Plus does not have an audio jack, plugging the MicMe up to the phone was not the problem… that was easily remedied with the lightning to audio dongle and a TRRS auxillary extender cable. The problem was in actually attaching the mic to the phone. This mic is designed to plug right into an audio jack on a phone, and then sliding the mounting bracket against the phone to secure it in place. Since the iPhone 8 Plus does not have an audio jack, the best I could come up with was to sandwich the phone between the mic’s output jack and the mounting bracket (as seen in this video HERE.) This worked ok (as seen around the 4:35 mark in my video at the top of this post), but I really wasn’t exactly happy with this…
So, I started digging around some more. I started looking at the RODE VideoMicro, which is the exact same mic as the MicMe, however it has a different connection method, and the housing is a little different. The VideoMicro actually rests in a Rycote Lyre shock mount, which features a cold shoe mount. While searching on Amazon, I also came across a Ulanzi ST-03 smartphone mount, which happens to have a cold shoe attachment on the top! In the end, this required me to buy more pieces (which I didn’t really want to do), but I immediately knew that this was what I was looking for, so I bit the bullet and placed the order.
As I mentioned above, while the VideoMicro and the MicMe is internally the same mic, the hook ups are a little different… the VideoMicro does not have the protruding output jack like the MicMe does. Instead, it hooks up like a traditional mic with an output socket located on the back of the mic. In order to hook this mic up to a smart phone though, I needed a TRRS patch cable. I choose the RODE SC7 patch cable due to its length, and the fact that it is coiled (this allows the longer length of cord to efficiently be kept up and free from tangles).
As soon as my order arrived I quickly unboxed it all and hooked it all up. It went together surprisingly easy! And as I had hoped, I think it’s going to work very well!
After tinkering with this new set up for a few days now, I have decided that, while it isn’t exactly a perfect set-up, I am very happy with it and will be using it on the JMT this summer. So, for now, here is a list of pro’s and con’s that I have with this set-up so far. I’ll start with the con’s:
- Weight. The mic (with the windscreen and the needed cables) weigh 3 oz. The smart phone mount alone weighs 2.8 oz! As well, if I choose to carry a somewhat rigid case to store the mic in when not in use, well that is another 4.1 oz! This is almost 10 oz, all for a mic… Anyway, wind noise has ruined past video’s, so I am gong to give this a try, despite the weight. (Note that all weights of each piece is listed at the end of my video at the top of this post.)
- Fiddle factor. Yes, it all connects and attaches well, however, it is more stuff to put together… no more just sliding my phone from my pocket and hitting a button! Then of course I also have to decide whether I want to keep it all connected and ready to go, stored somewhere safe and easy to get to, or if I want to break it all down and build it all back up each time I want to use it… Fiddle…
- More battery consumption. This is something that I did not mention in the text above, or in the video. Neither the VideoMicro or the MicMe feature a built-in power source… instead, it draws the needed power from the phone. But that means my phone’s battery will be dwindling away even faster throughout the day. (As to how much exactly, I’m not sure at this point.)
- Potential to fail. No, I don’t expect it to, and at this point I have no particular reason to think it will, but failure can always happen… and especially when there are so many pieces involved, like this set-up has. For starters, the Apple dongle can fail (it does seem to be a fragile little thing – I will also carry a backup though), or even the SC7 patch cable (which seems to be built well though). The mic could get wet (which I have heard that even a little water can kill these mics), or damaged (which is why I may carry the 4 oz hard case to help protect it). The plastic cold shoe attachment on the shock mount could get damaged from over tightening the metal cold shoe attachment on the smart phone holder. And I am sure there are other things too… However, if the mic were to fail, I do still have the onboard iPhone mic, so all is not lost!
- Low point of reference… This one is also a little fuzzy, and actually focuses on one component in particular… the tripod. Given how tall, and heavy this entire set-up is (particularly up high), the tripod base needs to be opened up as far as possible to create a stable platform. Because of this, the entire set-up is very low to the ground when just using the tripod. This should allow for some good shot’s of us walking down the trail, but I may have to get creative for some other shots… I hear there are a lot of rocks on the JMT though… so that may not be too much of a problem! lol
Ok… so, I finally found something I am happy with… so how about I stop with all the negativity and go with something a little more positive:
- No more wind noise! Well, at least to some degree… In the few videos I have already shot using this mic set-up, I can already say that it does a great job at blocking the wind. I don’t expect it to block all winds, but I am confident that this mic will easily deal with most winds. And being a “shotgun” style mic, it isn’t just the winds that this mic will dampen, but also the surrounding noises to the sides and behind the mic (such as other’s conversations, flowing water, stoves, etc…) Sure, it isn’t magic, but it is a definite improvement when compared to the onboard iPhone mic!
- Improved audio quality! Yeah, this kind of goes with the ‘no more wind/surrounding noise’ one above, but this mic does more than just block out unwanted noises. These mic’s incorporates a high-quality cardioid condenser microphone capsule, which results in improved audio quality, and being a “shotgun” style mic, it should “reduce distracting peripheral sounds and focusses on the audio in front of the camera” such as my voice. As well, RODE claims that these mics will also create “a more natural sound when recording indoors.”
- Inexpensive. Ok, this one is a bit muddy… It is not my place to tell someone else what is, or is not, expensive, but for me, I felt that for less than $100 for the mic, patch cable and the smart phone mount, this was a good deal! Even though I did list weight as a con, I think for what this set-up provides, and at its price point, the weight isn’t really all that bad. I have come across some more expensive set-ups out there, but this one seems to offer a good quality product, at a more attractive price tag!
- Modular set-up. While short and small, the Ultrapod is actually a pretty handy little tripod. The most obvious use is as a tripod, but it can easily function in other ways too. The ball socket allows for a lot of easy and quick movements, but also locks down pretty solid. As seen in the video at the top of this post, I can also bend the tripod into a selfie style handle (which I anticipate will likely be the most used method while on the trail this summer). As well, due to the “V” shape the tripod handle makes when folded together and the long velcro strap, the tripod actually cradles the handle on my trekking pole very well, while the velcro strap does a great job at securing the set-up to my trekking poles handle. This turns my trekking pole into a long selfie stick! This should allow me to get some fun shots too!
So that’s it. Carrying a set-up like this is a first for me… There is still some details that I will need to work out, and as most things usually go, I imagine those things won’t come until at least mid way through my JMT hike this summer! I am looking forward to using it though, and I hope that the results are a more enjoyable, watchable video! But until that time comes though, thanks for stopping by!
Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. I have no obligation to share these thoughts on any of these items. The statements above are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling and using these items.