I was always told that If you buy cheap, you buy twice. But is that true? And do you really have to reach for those dizzy high price tags to get the best quality? Well, that question is kind of what we’ve built this whole channel around and today we’re going super meta with it. So strap in and get comfy as I get my audio-geek on and compare 5 different DSLR microphones from different brands and price points, to see once and for all which is the best bang for your audio buck.
All the microphones we’re looking at share some key similarities and for the sake of relative fairness, will all be recorded in the manner they were designed, via a cameras 3.5mm mic-pre amp. Their specs are at least on paper all roughly the same too. These 5 mics are all Cardiod Condensers, that are cold shoe mounted to a camera via a suspension mounting. Also for the sake of fairness, I won’t be applying any form of post production on the audio captured, despite the fact that that will genuinely hurt me… I can’t stand untreated dialogue!! So anyway, without further ado, lets get stuck in.
1. Ultimax/Ploture DSLR Mic
First up we have the Ultimax or Ploture DSLR Mic. I’m not even sure where this came from, I can’t remember buying it, so my bets is on Pete bargain hunting again. Having looked around myself you can find these on Amazon for around $20, sometimes even less. So by far this is the cheapest of the bunch.
When testing this and writing these notes I was trying to come up with some good points for it, but in truth, it’s just all round nasty. The build quality is awful, the Noise level is horrendous and it produces a really unpleasant EQ or tone. I could probably rescue this in post – but that defeats the point of the test AND defies who this mic would be made for.
The only redeeming feature in truth is the fact it has a switchable polar pattern, going from a hyper-carioid or 90degree pickup to a standard cardioid or 120degree pickup pattern. But in testing I’ve actually found this switch to be in-effective. In short I’m pretty sure it doesn’t do anything!!
2. HAFOKO Mini-Gun DSLR Mic
The Hafoko Mini-Gun DSLR Mic. This wins the contest for the most awesome name on a microphone ever. But beyond the schwarzenegger-esque naming convention there’s very little else to like here. Pete would argue that the $20 price tag gives it a place, but in truth the difference between this and something that cost just $10 more is night and day.
The all plastic design really lets it down, even the shock mount is of a poor quality. In fact this shock mount is just a good analogy for the whole set-up with the MiniGun. This does nothing to actually offer any real shock protection. To be fair you know you’re in for trouble when the manufacturer can’t discern the difference between Omni-Directional & Uni-Directional, as Hafoko claim this is microphone both, and to add more comedy to that, it’s neither.
Now, I know I’m an audio snob so I’m bound to be harsh on these cheaper offerings. But I just know you can do better with budget microphones and this is just all round disappointing.
3. AndyCine AC-M1
Coming it at a cool $30, the AndyCine AC-M1 is the first microphone here that I would seriously consider as an option. Of course it has it’s short comings and pro-mic this definitely is not, but for me this makes a lot of sense as an entry level microphone.
For sure this is the first mic in this list that actually gives a noticeable worth while improvement over the built-in mic on your cameras. That is not to say that it’s great or perfect but it’s definitely the first one that justifies it’s expense and in a controlled indoor environment actually offers some real bang for your buck.
It is lacking on the build quality front, I’m not sure about it’s durability over the long term. Also I would be weary of how susceptible to interference it would be. But for $30, it gets my attention!
4. K&F Concept CM-500 (or CM600)
The CM-500(or CM600) from K&F sits firmly in the same camp as the AndyCine M1, coming in around the same $30 price point. And like the AndyCine it offers a noticeable improvement in terms of quality and tone from your in-built mics.
This is leaps and bounds ahead of the cheapest options in the list but that’s not to say that it’s problem free. It’s not got the best build quality, but I suppose that is to be expected at this price point, also there’s no suspension mounting so you are likely to pickup some noticeable handling noise with this mic.
The CM-500 does house one really interesting and crucial feature, a +10db gain booster. This is combined with a High Pass Filter, which makes it perfect for recording voice – which lets face it is really what these microphones are for. It’s a shame the filter isn’t independent from the gain switch, but then again this mic is just $30.
5. Rode VideoMic Go
Last but by no means least, is the most expensive offering we have – smack bang on the $50 mark, the Rode VideoMic Go. I say $50, but in truth it can often be found far cheaper, if you’re willing to stalk them on Amazon, we picked ours up for just 30!
It pains me to say it, but the obvious truth shines through when you get to using this mic, the most expensive and well known branded version is the best. It is just true, the build quality is superb, a fantastic shock mount, and solid audio quality. If 50 pounds or dollars is your budget just get this mic! But, and like Pete, this is a big but… I wouldn’t say that it’s worlds apart quality wise from the AndyCine or the K&F mics. It is better for sure, but not twice as good, so you shouldn’t be disappointed if all you can afford are those lesser offerings.
Really that brings me right back around to the start, in a nice neat perfect circle. The most expensive offering here is the best and will likely last you far longer in terms of raw build quality. So yes if you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice, but what cheap is, is totally relative.
In terms of outright bang for your buck, look to the K&F CM-500 or AndyCine AC-M1, for their price point these mics truly surprised me. And if they’re out of reach still, well just hold on and save a little longer because anything less than these just isn’t worth your time or money, I promise you, you will be disappointed and just end up buying twice!
🛒 Ultimax/Ploture: https://geni.us/YqttZVM
🛒 Hafoko DSLR Mic: https://geni.us/8ExsCh
🛒 AndyCine AC-M1: https://geni.us/A63ux
🛒 K&F Concept Mic: https://geni.us/vBOWy3x
🛒 Rode Video Mic Go: https://geni.us/f3IT1
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