Best external microphone for GoPro Hero4

ETM-008 with a GoPro Hero4 Black – Is the ETM-008 a shotgun mic for your GoPro?

I often get asked about the performance of the ETM-008 with a GoPro Hero4 Black, or some other GoPro. And the question is usually related to using the ETM-008 when vlogging with a GoPro, and whether or not the ETM-008 can be used like a tiny shotgun microphone. So, is the ETM-008 a shotgun mic for your GoPro?

The short answer is: No.

If that’s all you needed to hear, then you can skip the rest of the stuff below and pick up the ETM-001 or ETM-006, instead. But if you want to know why, then watch the video and read on.

The ETM-008 – Design

The ETM-008 is a unidirectional microphone made to reject sounds from behind and from the sides. This is essentially what a shotgun microphone does, but the ETM-008 was designed to perform best when close to the sound source. So the ETM-008 is not exactly a shotgun microphone, but it isn’t totally different, either. Part of the reason is proximity effect.

Proximity Effect’s Effect

Proximity effect is a critical factor when we’re talking about microphone performance. The way I understand proximity effect is the closer the sound source, the louder, clearer and more bass the recorded sound will have. And the ETM-008 was designed to reject sounds, not boost them like the ETM-001, ETM-003 or ETM-006, so you need to be close to it for the mic to work the way it was meant to.

This is why I always tell people that the ETM-008 works best when within 6-8 inches from the sound source.

Why the ETM-008 is not a shotgun microphone

First, a shotgun microphone draws power from either the camera, a battery or some other power source, known as phantom power. When powered correctly, a shotgun microphone is supposed to pick up audio at a distance. If you ask any professional sound recordist, that distance is best when it is 3 feet or less.

The ETM-008, on the other hand, only draws a small amount of power from the GoPro, DSLR, digital voice recorder, or whatever else it is connected to. And combined with the ETM-008’s design, it means the ETM-008 will not record audio as loud as a regular shotgun microphone. Sure, you could boost the volume in editing but noise will be a factor if you recorded from further than a foot or two.

So should you get an ETM-008 or a shotgun mic?

You should get both. And the reason is because microphones are designed for specific purposes.

The ETM-008 is perfect if:

  • You’re going to record in a place that has lots of background noise
  • You need to isolate a single sound source, like your voice
  • You’re ok with the working distance of the ETM-008
  • You want something small and discreet
  • You sometimes need a lapel mic for interviews

A shotgun microphone is perfect if:

  • You’re ok with using a battery, or powering the mic
  • You don’t mind the larger size and accompanying looks from others
  • You need to pick up a single sound source from further away (up to 3 feet is still best)
  • You don’t want to deal with attaching the microphone to your subject
  • You don’t want the microphone visible in your shots

But that’s not all

If you want a louder recording in a small package, and that doesn’t require a battery or phantom power, the have a look at the ETM-001 or ETM-006. Both of these mics work great to give your GoPro videos much louder, clearer audio. And those two microphones are great even if your subject is a few feet away. It would be like getting the features of a shotgun microphone in something smaller than the ETM-008.

The ETM-001 and ETM-006 are omnidirectional so they will pick up ambient sounds, but because of proximity effect, the sound sources closest to the microphones will be the loudest things recored.

I hope that clarifies things for you and helps you make the right decision. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks.

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