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Selecting an External Camcorder Mic: Omni vs. Unidirectional

Jeremy Perez

I’m looking to invest $100-200 in an external mic for my camcorder (Canon VIXIA HF M30). I’ve had my eye on a couple options

Canon SM-V1 5.1 Channel Surround Microphone

Azden High-performance (SMX-10) Stereo Condenser Microphone

(+ wind sock appropriate for either)

The first is omnidirectional and the second unidirectional. Does anyone have experience using either general type of mic when chasing and if they’ve discovered pros/cons for either?

My thought is that omni/surround would provide nice environmental audio with good results for thunder, rain, hail, birds, etc. The downside I guess is that if you’re shooting out the window of your vehicle, you’re giving equal weight to all the distracting sounds happening inside the car.

Unidirectional would help reduce in-car distraction noises when pointed out the window and hey, a hundred bucks less. But then maybe it doesn’t capture environmental noises as immersively.

Best case would be to get both and swap as needed, but I’m trying to ease into the audio aspect of things. (I’ve searched the forum and found some limited external mic discussion, but it didn’t seem to get at these particular issues.)

Thanks in advance for any feedback! *

* heh

[edit: Looks like the linked surround mic does have ability to switch from surround to stereo-zoom mode, but if others have found omni to be completely useless for chasing, it might not even be worth considering.]
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I'm using a Sennheiser MKE-600 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B0YPAYQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage) on one of my cameras, and that thing is a beast. The camera records in xavc and it has something like 5 audio tracks on it from that mic. Point it out the window at a tin barn getting annihilated with hail and the audio is great! It also keeps all the dumb stuff I say and my stupid heavy breathing somewhat off the video which I enjoy.
@Ben Holcomb Thanks for the reference on that mic, Ben! The more I look around, it seems like most chasers are running with shotgun mics. The MKE-600 definitely has glowing reviews at Amazon...(except for the one guy who was frustrated that the mic was too good since it picked up the heartbeat sounds from an interviewee. Sheesh.)
Can confirm, the MKE-600 is awesome. I shoot a lot of sports video using that mic and it's amazing! You'll want to get a sturdier mount than what comes stock with it, and keep in mind you'll need an XLR to 1/8" adapter for your camera along with a AA battery for the mic. Unfortunately it's not the best when it comes to omni-directional pickup because it has a super-cardioid pattern. You would definitely want another/secondary mic (or a cheap handheld LPCM recorder) if atmosphere is important to you.
I'd avoid the omni. It's effectively what comes stock on many camcorders/DSLRs and you'll get plenty of environmental noise coming through a directional mic still. Just a lot less of your own noises.

If ambience/directivity is important to you get a directional X-Y stereo mic pair.