Whenever someone asks “what is the best mic” the answer is usually “well, it depends on what you are recording”. Rode’s new VideoMic Go II, as the name suggests, would not be suitable for podcasting. Would be?
Quite clearly, the VideoMic Go II is designed to sit on top of a camera. That’s just a fact, but with both USB and 3.5mm outputs and compatibility with Rode Connect – the company’s USB-compatible podcasting app – this lightweight $99 mic might be more versatile than it first appears.
If you they are looking for a mic for your DSLR, know that the VideoMic Go II has a cold shoe mount, the aforementioned 3.5mm output (which can also be used for monitoring) and comes with a Rycote shock mount and a bumper. breezes in the box. There’s no secondary/backup/stereo recording here or gain control on the mic, but that’s normal for something in this price range.
In terms of performance, the sound is surprisingly rich for a mic of this size without sounding too “dead”. There’s no noticeable difference between the audio you get from the USB port compared to the bar from the 3.5mm port, a slight variation in gain. When comparing it to Rode’s VideoMic Me and VideoMic NTG, the VideoMic Go II may well be my favorite of the bunch. It’s natural, focused with just the right amount of ambiance/feel of space.
Where the VideoMic Go II gets most interesting is how it performs in From others use cases. When connected to a computer and placed on a table, the VideoMic Go II sounds just as robust as much more expensive dynamic microphones. So much so that it threw me for a moment.
Perhaps the best illustration of this is when I tested it against the $400 Shure SM7B and Rode’s own $99 NT USB Mini. Given that both Rhodes in this review are condenser mics and cost roughly the same, you might think these two would be the closest match, but it turns out the VideoMic Go II sounded A lot of closer to the SM7B. That’s not to say it’s as good as the SM7B (there’s a little more depth to the Shure and perhaps a more dynamic touch), but given the price disparity, it definitely wasn’t expected.
This similarity is further compounded when you consider that the different type of capsule – Rode’s condenser versus Shure’s dynamics – alone would normally give them a very different sound. You can hear all three mics in the sample below. It starts with Shure, then VideoMic Go II, then NT Mini. The transition between the first two is subtle, but the last one is obvious. Oh, and the VideoMic Go II was about two inches further from my mouth than the SM7B.
Of course, this is just a test, in a setting in a specific room. But for a quick comparison of what a $400 mic can do right away compared to a $99 one, it’s a good starting point. Despite the lack of on-device controls, there are some configurable options via Rode Central. When connected to the app (mobile or desktop) you will have the option to adjust the gain level, apply a high pass/high frequency boost filter and adjust the monitoring volume. It’s less convenient than the physical controls on the mic, but it still allows some control over how it sounds or responds to different inputs. (If you’re wondering, the audio above starts with the SM7B and switches to the VideoMic Go II on “two condenser mics”).
Given that Rode has added compatibility for Connect, and the USB option makes it compatible with phones and tablets, suddenly the VideoMic Go II could very well be a good all-rounder for the price. A mic that has video capabilities but can also double as a podcast mic (and thus an all-purpose computer mic), there seems to be a lot of bang for the buck.
Of course, if you really need something that registers a safe channel, has physical variable-gain controls, or if XLR connectivity is a must, this is not the option. But for most general creator uses? Finally, it may not “depend entirely on what you are recording”.
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