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Is the RØDE VideoMic compatible with my camera?

RØDE's range of VideoMics are among the most popular on-camera microphones available today. From the simple and compact VideoMicro, to the professional, studio-grade construction of the Stereo VideoMic X, these devices have changed the way that people shoot and record video all around the world.

It's little surprise, then, that everyone wants to get their hands on one. Here at RØDE Microphones, one of the most common questions we receive from vloggers and videographers is: 'Is this RØDE VideoMic compatible with my camera?'

In this article, we will take a look at the basic requirements that you need to use the full range of RØDE Videomics, and help determine which models are compatible with your camera.

Does your camera have external microphone input? 

This may sound obvious, but a lot of cameras, usually at the low end of the price range, do not have an external microphone input. Unfortunately, this means that no matter what you do, it's impossible to capture audio from your recording microphone directly into your camera.

A lot of cameras, usually at the low end of the price range, do not have an external microphone input.

The best option in this scenario is to record all the audio from your microphone into a third-party recording device. You will need to sync this to your audio and video files later during post-production. 

The correct size external mic input

For cameras that do feature an external microphone input, you'll still need to check what size input is provided. The industry standard, and thus the size used on all RØDE on-camera microphones, is a 3.5mm TRS minijack.

Some camera manufacturers prefer to use a unique size, such as a 2.5mm jack, with the idea of pushing you towards buying only their own brand set of accessories. If this is true of your camera, don't worry; adaptors are widely available from any good electronics store. Be sure to pick one up in order to help make the RØDE VideoMic range compatible with your camera.

'Plug In Power'

Now that we have identified and confirmed that our external microphone input exists and is of the standard 3.5mm, there's one more important factor to consider if intending to use the VideoMicro, or VideoMic GO. This is called 'Plug In Power'.

'Plug In Power, is the name of a low-level voltage, usually three to five volts, which can be supplied directly by the camera via the 3.5mm microphone input. The RØDE on-camera microphones that do not feature an onboard 9V battery, such as VideoMicro and the VideoMic GO, rely  on 'Plug In Power' to operate. Without it, your recording microphone will not work.

Check with your camera manufacturer that 'Plug In Power' is supplied via your camera's mic before deciding whether or not to invest in these particular devices.

The RØDE on-camera microphones that do utilise their own onboard 9V battery, such as the VideoMic Pro, are not affected by 'Plug In Power' at all - they will send an audio signal to any 3.5mm microphone input that you have available.

XLR inputs  

If you're using a larger format camera you may have access to three-pin XLR microphone inputs, which are commonly found in the professional audio industry.

Should you want to plug your RØDE on-camera microphone into one of these XLR inputs, you're in luck, as you can do just this with the RØDE VXLR adaptor.

While this adaptor will do a great job of converting the connection and transferring your audio, it will not send power back the other way, which is, of course, required by the VideoMicro and VideoMic GO. This is because the XLR inputs provide a different kind of power altogether, which is known as 'Phantom Power.'

'Phantom Power'

This is a higher-voltage power, usually set at 48V, and is the industry standard method of providing juice to condenser microphones via the use of XLR connections. 'Phantom Power' will only travel down an XLR cable (and not a 3.5mm minijack cable) so you won't need to consider this when discussing most RØDE on-camera microphones or smaller cameras.

However, there is one RØDE on-camera microphone that can take advantage of this power source, and this is the RØDE Stereo VideoMic X.

As this microphone was designed for both enthusiasts and professionals alike, the Stereo VideoMic X comes equipped with connections for both 3.5mm minijack and XLR use. If you decide to connect the VideoMic X's XLR outputs to XLR inputs on your camera, as well as enable 'Phantom Power', you can fire up the mic via this source and never have to worry about using a battery in the device.

The Stereo VideoMic X comes equipped with connections for both 3.5mm minijack and XLR use.

Just remember that Stereo VideoMic X comes supplied with a 3.5mm minijack cable, but XLR cables are not included. Your local camera or audio store should easily be able to locate appropriate XLR cables to suit your device.

Shoe or accessory mount?

If you intend on mounting your RØDE VideoMic on top of your camera, which is the most common position and certainly the most convenient, you'll need a shoe mount.

Most cameras and camcorders today will feature an industry standard-sized shoe mount directly on top of your camera. The shoe mount is the is the usual point available for external microphones, flashes, and other external accessories. Again, be sure to check the size of the mount on your specific camera.

Just as with microphone input, some camera manufacturers use their own unique size shoe, with the idea of forcing you into sticking with their own brand of accessories. As with microphone inputs, this is easily navigable, as adaptors are available that will convert unique shoe sizes to a universal one. Check with your local camera store if you believe that you'll need such an adaptor. 

If there is no shoe mount provided on your camera, it may be necessary for you to take a look at a range of camera cages (external mounts) to suit your device. Camera cages are an extremely popular solution, as these give you multiple mounting and handling points, which lends you the freedom to position your camera more easily - you can also use more accessories than was previously possible.

Be sure to get in touch with the expert team at RØDE Microphones if you have any queries whatsoever about our range of devices, and possible ways in which to use them.