In this Rode VideoMic vs VideoMic Pro vs Pro Plus comparison, we compare specifications, pros, and cons of these 3 shotgun mics.
I was in high school when I bought my very first external microphone, the Rode VideoMic. And even though I had no idea what I was doing, recording audio, it was my first step towards capturing professional sound and getting paid for my videos. I’ll always thank Rode for that… though the microphone actually did me very little actual good (more on that later). And so in the spirit of writing my past self a letter full of information I wish I had back then, I present another JuicedLink comparison.
If you’re an enthusiast video shooter or aspiring vlogger, these camera-mounted shotgun mics aren’t quite gold standard gear, but they are a terrific place to start your journey. So, with no apologies for penny-pinching or puns, let’s hit the Rode.
Rode VideoMic Pro
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Rode VideoMic Pro
Rode VideoMic Pro+
|Equivalent noise level|
3.5 mm (fixed)
|3.5 mm (fixed)|
3.5 mm (detachable)
1 x 9V battery
|1 x 9V battery|
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 2 x AA batteries, micro USB external power
1 year with 10 year extension for registration
|1 year with 10 year extension for registration|
1 year with 10 year
|High pass filter|
flat, 80 Hz
|flat, 80 Hz|
flat, 75 Hz, 150 Hz
-20 dB, -10 dB, 0
|-10 dB, 0, +20 dB|
-10 dB, 0, +20 dB
176 g / 6 oz
|85 g / 3 oz|
122 g / 4 oz
|Additional data||visit Rode website||visit Rode website||visit Rode website|
Pros & Cons
The biggest problem with camera-mounted microphones is the fact that they are camera-mounted microphones. Allow me to explain.
Attaching a shotgun microphone to the top of a camera goes against the very nature of shotgun microphones, best positioned as close as possible to the audio source.
So unless you plan on shoving your camera in the face of the person speaking, you shouldn’t be surprised when the audio from your shotgun mic isn’t as clear and clean as a boom pole mounted shotgun mic when hung just outside the camera frame.
Now, let’s be real, there are plenty of reasons to shove a camera in someone’s face. I’m looking at you vloggers.
Of course, you can totally use any of these mics on a boom pole with a little bit of ingenuity and gaffer tape. Just heed my words of warning: if you’re going to be filming interviews or dialogue scenes at any CDC recommended social distance, get clever about getting the shotgun mic close.
For more tips and tricks on shotgun mics, check out our own how to use shotgun mics article.
The bad kind of noise
There was a time in the nascent days of my videography career that I perceived the absence of a microphone in my recording setup. “I see that other videographers have microphones, so I must too”, was probably the thinking.
And so willy nilly, I purchased the original Rode VideoMic.
Perhaps I just hadn’t yet found the marvelous fountain of online gear resources that is JuicedLink today… or I was just too lazy to do my homework. I was in high school, so it’s probably the latter.
All I knew was that the VideoMic was cheap and the hiss from my camera’s built-in mic was driving me crazy.
What I failed to understand was that my Canon Rebel T3i’s preamps were bad, very bad, and that without boosting an already weak mic signal I was only intensifying the problem.
Imagine my frustration to discover that my newly purchased VideoMic not only failed to deliver the promise of clear audio, but that it, in fact, made the hissing worse.
Canon cameras, especially older models, are notorious for weak preamps. And while some cameras like the Panasonic GH series make big improvements on its preamps, you’ll always have to contend with the fact that cameras just aren’t built to deliver fantastic audio.
Couple weak preamps with weak microphone signals, which is pretty standard for shotgun microphones, and you’re left with a very quiet audio track.
But the more you turn up the gain, the louder the noise. So you’re basically forced to choose between a video with a max volume that is too quiet or a video just loud enough but still hissing obnoxiously.
This is where that +20 dB switch on the VideoMic Pro and Pro+ comes in and saves the day. By boosting the signal before the camera preamps you have a lot more play to achieve reasonable volume levels. It’s probably why the VideoMic Pro became so popular with DSLR shooters.
Unfortunately, the original VideoMic doesn’t have the +20 dB switch, resulting in audio that’s just as bad, if not worse, than the camera’s internal microphones. It just doesn’t have the power, captain.
Unless you’re sure your camera has good preamps, I would save yourself the heartache and money and ignore the VideoMic for this reason alone.
As you can hear in this comparison video from DSLR Video Shooter, that little switch makes a big difference.
Skip to 8:40 to hear the VideoMic Pro’s +20 dB setting.
Making a good thing better
Great so we’re sorted on the major difference between the VideoMic and VideoMic Pro, but what’s up with that little plus?
The VideoMic Pro+ is like the next iPhone model, a welcome update to an already popular product and, depending on the year, worth the added expense. Here’s a quick overview of what’s changed.
- More power supply options
- The ability to use an external power bank with the microUSB port is nice.
- Detachable 3.5 mm cable
- Now you can replace a broken or fraying cable or just use a longer cable on a boom pole setup.
- Auto power on/off
- The mic turns on when you turn on the camera and off when you turn the camera off, eliminating the dread of realizing you accidentally ran down the battery.
- High frequency boost
- If some of the higher frequencies are being blocked by the windscreen or deadcat, you can add in a little high end.
- Safety track
- The safety track records a second track on the right channel at -10 dB quieter while simultaneously recording the original level on the left channel.
- This is great if there is an unexpected spike of sound like laughing, shouting, singing, or very loud crying(?)
If you can afford it, the thoughtful upgrades of the Rode VideoMic Pro+ are meaningful enough to wait a little longer and save up the difference from the VideoMic Pro. Rode has taken an already extremely popular product and made it even better.
But if you’re able to score the original VideoMic Pro at a deal, I think you’ll find it a welcome addition to your video shooting.
That said, I’d leave the VideoMic to the suckers, like me, who leap for a cheap fix and end up with a bigger headache.
Just remember that if you’re spending $1000 to $3000 dollars on a camera, you should consider putting some commensurate effort into a good microphone. As many have said and will say again, audio is as important, if not more important, than video. Good visuals paired with good audio is synergy, indeed more than the sum of its parts.
For more friendly-neighborhood-high-school-counselor advice, keep it bookmarked to JuicedLink.