Mic Camera & Audio Test – Zi8, Zoom H2, Lavalier & ATR-55, ATR-6550,

mono to stereo plug adapter

People ask me about the mics I use in recording my Ez videos. I have a few, but certainly nothing that’s very expensive.  A professional musician or filmmaker could spend more for one mic than I have for all my camera and audio equipment put together.

Lately I’ve been using my Kodak Zi8 to make video.  The Kodak makes good video and it has an external mic input jack.  Many people use this camera with great results and it was wildly successful primarily because of the mic jack.  The Zi8 has joined in the flip in the no-longer-manufactured department so look for other products to find something similar today.

This piece will not focus on the camera but mic that plugs into it.  The more relevant equipment piece shown here is the audio recorder device, the Zoom H2.  A flip HD video camera with a Zoom recorder is also an excellent combo and will get the same results I’m getting in this test. [ Note, the flip cameras have no external mic jack.]

Now, let’s go outside for a little test.

I own only 3 mics, not including the Zoom H2, which has 4 mics built in. It is amazing as a stand-alone device but becomes even more amazing and versatile when used  with a decent external mic.

Generally, if I’m recording myself or just one person. I will use the lavalier mic.  If I am recording 2 or more speaking people I use the shotgun.  These shotgun mics are usually held by a boom or a stand but as you can see they work great as hand-held mics too.

The Audio-Technica ATR line offers great results at budget prices. They are especially perfect for pocket video cameras. The mini plug fits the Zoom H2, the Kodak Zi8, and most other pocket toys.

I used to use an Audio-Technica lavalier mic, but recently switched to the one here in the video. This is a simple mono lavalier model from Giant Squid Audio Labs. It’s the bomb!

One thing to note here is the mono/stereo plug. My shotgun mic, and many others, are mono with a single black strip on the male plug [see photo]. In order to get audio into 2 channel programs you need to add a mono/stereo adapter. The Stereo plugs have 2 rings on the plug so you can tell what you have. These adapters are widely available at Radio Shack or similar stores. They generally run about $3 to $5. While you’re there I recommend an extension cable of 10 ft or more. Get the highest quality and not the cheapest.

mono to stereo plug adapter

Turn 1 channel into 2 with this adapter

All of the mics I use were purchased new for about fifty dollars or less.  The Zoom H2 is about a hundred. Look for links in the sidebar to shop for current prices.

I use these mics with my camera and with my Zoom.  For ease of editing the straight-into-the-camera method is best.  This is Ez but can be very limiting.

Let’s say you want to record a speaker talking at the front of a room for an hour or more.  The camera [especially the Zi8] could easily run out of battery power. If the mic is wired then the speaker is too restricted. A wireless mic could be good but you just blew the budget!

I use the lav mic and put it into the Zoom H2. I then put the Zoom into the speaker’s pocket and let it go. The device runs on AA batteries and will run for 2-3 hours. The result is very high quality and professional sound.

Turn the audio into an mp3 and the speaker can have a super piece of content. Shoot small pieces of video for short promo pieces. If the entire presentation is needed in video you could place two cameras in the room then edit the 3 pieces together and find great results.

External mics offer your biggest increase in video quality. The real secret is that 70% of good video is the audio. Make your video sound great before you worry about a camera upgrade.

I am ignoring the issue of how to get the audio from the external recorder into the video .I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio for the editing but will have to leave this for another day.

Please and your comments and ask any question below.

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