How do I Choose the Best Camcorder Microphone?

Nychole Price

Most camcorders come with built-in microphones, but many people aren't satisfied with their sound quality. Fortunately, there are many different types of external camcorder microphones to choose from. In order to buy the best camcorder microphone, you must consider what it will be used for most often, what kind of input your camcorder has, whether you want wired or wireless and how much you are willing to invest for a quality camera.

Camcorder microphones may be held by hand or fit onto clothing.
Camcorder microphones may be held by hand or fit onto clothing.

The use for the camcorder microphone is the biggest factor in deciding which one to purchase. The shotgun camcorder microphone is recommended for use when video taping large crowds of people, or when the sound is coming from multiple directions. Lapel microphones are best when interviewing people, as they don't pick up background sound located a distance from the subject. Handheld microphones are used most often during news-style videos, or when people are speaking behind the scenes.

For professional quality sound, you may want to consider using a shotgun microphone with your video camera.
For professional quality sound, you may want to consider using a shotgun microphone with your video camera.

Various brands of camcorders have different types of stereo jacks. This will determine the make and model of the camcorder microphone you purchase. Higher end camcorders may have an XLR jack in which to connect the external mic. If a particular make and model of external microphone you desire doesn't fit your jack, you may be able to purchase an adapter. This will allow you to fit most external mics to your camcorder.

Another important decision to make is if you want your camcorder microphone wired or wireless. Almost all external microphones are available in both versions. The benefits to having a wireless microphone are that you don't have to deal with cords getting tangled, and you can record audio a great distance from the camera. They downside to wireless though, is you have to take into consideration, issues such as making sure the microphone is fully charged before use, interference of your signal from other electronic devices and the distance the subject can move before being out of range.

When choosing the best camcorder microphone to meet your needs, you must also consider the cost. External microphones vary greatly in cost, with wireless mics being the most expensive. Other factors that determine cost are the brand names, range, frequency and extra accessories. Choose a camera that just fits your needs and don't buy cameras with accessories that you, most likely, will not use. Just because a camera is a popular name brand, it doesn't mean that it will best meet your individual needs.

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Discussion Comments


@MrMoody - I used a wireless camcorder microphone for a personal life story video of my grandfather and it worked great. You do have to watch out for interference from other things like cordless phones however.


@Mammmood - I generally use lapel microphones for interviews so I wouldn’t recommend shotgun microphones for that purpose. These are better suited for reality show type situations where you have to follow the subject around.

One thing to point out about the shotgun microphones, however, is that they produce “mono” sound. That is, the resulting sound will come out of only the left or right speaker of your stereo. I found this out the hard way, and had to fix it in post production. You can swap both channels in editing software.

If you want stereo sound, I’d recommend that you go with a stereo camcorder microphone. These are camera mounted; they’re not shotgun, but they deliver rich stereo sound.


I wouldn't recommend a shotgun microphone for shooting large events or sounds coming in multiple directions. A shotgun microphone is sometimes used for interview situations where you want to zero in on the sound in front of you, or in productions where you want to pick up the sound of the actors.

If you use a shotgun, you must also consider whether it will be camera mounted or boom pole mounted. Camera mounting is the most convenient. It just plugs into the camcorder microphone input. However, it can sometimes pick up the camcorder noise. The cable connection for a camera mounted microphone is not long enough to remove it from the microphone for more than a couple of feet.

Boom pole mounting lets you separate the microphone from the camcorder using a long cable, and you usually use this on a camcorder with microphone input types that can handle it, such as the XLR jack.

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