Whenever someone asks ‘what is the best microphone’ the response is usually ‘it depends on what you are recording’. Rode’s new VideoMic Go II, as the name suggests, wouldn’t be suitable for podcasting. Would that be?
Quite clearly, the VideoMic Go II was designed to sit on a camera. It’s just a fact, but with both USB and 3.5mm outputs and compatibility with Rode Connect, the company’s USB-enabled podcasting app, it turns out that this lightweight $ 99 mic could be more versatile. than it seems at first glance.
If you are when looking for a mic for your dslr, know that the VideoMic Go II has a cold shoe mount, the aforementioned 3.5mm output (which can also be used for monitoring) and comes with with a Rycote shock mount and windshield in the box. There’s no secondary / security / stereo recording here or gain control on the mic, but that’s to be expected for something in this price range.
From a performance standpoint, the sound is surprisingly rich for a mic of this size without sounding too “dead”. There’s no noticeable difference between the audio you get from the USB port versus the 3.5mm port bar, a small variation in gain. Comparing it to Rode’s VideoMic Me and VideoMic NTG, the VideoMic Go II might just be my favorite of the bunch. It’s natural, concentrated with just the right amount of ambiance / feeling of space.
Where the VideoMic Go II gets more interesting is how it works in other use case. When plugged into a computer and placed on a desk, the VideoMic Go II sounds as robust as much more expensive dynamic microphones. So much so that it upset me for a moment.
Perhaps the best illustration of this is when I tested it against the $ 400 Shure SM7B and Rode’s $ 99 NT Mini USB NT. Since both Rodes in this test are condenser microphones and cost about the same price, you would think these two would be the closest, but it turns out the VideoMic Go II sounded many closer to SM7B. That’s not to say it’s as good as the SM7B (there’s a bit more depth in the Shure and a bit more dynamic range maybe) but given the price disparity it certainly was. unforeseen.
This similarity is further compounded when you consider that the different type of capsule – Rode’s capacitor versus Shure’s dynamics – on its own would generally make them sound very different. You can hear all three microphones in the example below. It starts with the Shure, then the VideoMic Go II and finally the NT Mini. The transition between the first two is subtle, but the last is obvious. Oh, and the VideoMic Go II was about two inches farther from my mouth than the SM7B.
Of course, this is only a test, in a scenario in a specific room. But for a quick comparison of what a $ 400 mic can do immediately versus a $ 99 mic, this is a good place to start. Despite the lack of controls on the device, there are options configurable through Rode Central. Once connected to the application (mobile or desktop), you will be able to change the gain level, apply a high pass filter / high frequency boost and adjust the monitoring volume. It’s less convenient than the physical controls on the mic, but still allows you to control how it sounds or responds to different inputs. (If you’re wondering, the audio above starts with the SM7B and goes to the VideoMic Go II with “two condenser microphones”).
Since Rode has added compatibility for Connect and the USB option makes it compatible with phones and tablets, the VideoMic Go II could very well be a good all-rounder for the price. A mic that has video chops but can also double as a podcast mic (and, therefore, an all-purpose computer mic), there seems to be a lot of value in it.
Of course, if you really need something that records a safety channel, has physical variable gain controls, or XLR connectivity is a must, this isn’t the one for you. But for most general designer uses? In the end, it might not entirely “depend on what you are recording”.
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