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Covering the GoPro HERO and other small Point-Of-View video cameras.

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Old February 12th, 2012, 03:37 PM   #1
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Location: williamsport, pa
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GoPro Hero 2 mic test results

I have the Hero 2 for thirty days to test. I need to determine if the Hero can be depended upon to be my one and only camera for a (6 week) backpacking documentary. Sound is very important to such projects. But so is going very light and having a minimum of gear and associated hassles. I need to be able to shoot spontaneously with a minimum of set-up.

I tested the following mics in a quiet setting, as that's most likely the sort of sounds I'd be recording in the wild:
Sony ECM-DS 30P (plug-in power)
Olympus ME-51S (plug-in power)
Sony AW3 bluetooth wireless (powered)
Sony ECM-55B (powered lavalier)
Sennheiser MKE 300 (powered shotgun, mono)
Hero 2 in-camera mic

Using an HDMI cable I then played the sound back in my Samsung 50" plasma tv with its stereo speakers.

The results weren't very encouraging. Starting with the Hero's in-camera mic, I noticed a "kazoo effect." It's as if the engineers added a high frequency ring to all closely recorded dialogue so as to compensate for the muffled sound of the mic being located underneath the housing. It's like adding an artificial "presence."

All plug-in powered mics produced a "ticking" sound of about 1 cycle per second.

All mics, powered and unpowered, produced a "noise background" consisting of at least 3 frequencies I can discern--a high-frequency "hiss," a mid-range "idling" sound (idling as in a small motor idling) and a lower-frequency "puttering" sound (again, using the motor analogy). That's the best way I can describe them. Needless to say, this noise background is annoying if not a downright deal-breaker.

If I had to choose a "winner" of the 6 mics, I suppose it would be the Sennheiser. But clearly, there's no mic, no matter how expensive, that can overcome such a baseline noise emanating from the camera's circuitry. When I asked the GoPro customer service about mic recommendations, they told me their "media team" used the Sennheiser MKE 400 and also Countrymen lavalier mics. Both are pretty expensive powered mics, which is odd because they also assured me the Hero 2 supports plug-in powered mics (providing 3 volts).

I had hoped to find a small, low-profile, plug and run kind of mic that would allow me to wear the camera and mic on my wrist so it would be ready at all times. I still have the Boss BA CS10 on order (an $80 mic) but given the above results, I can't expect the Boss to produce a miracle.

I have to conclude that if I want to get truly good sound, I'm going to have to take on the additional hassle of a separate recorder like the Zoom H1 and abandon external mics altogether. Anybody have any thoughts about this? How does that work when you're talking dozens of shots each day for 40 consecutive days? How does one keep track of the audio files and video files? And isn't this going to be an editing nightmare in post? I'm disappointed there's no such thing as a decent HD POV wearable camera that gives good picture AND good sound.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 06:39 PM   #2
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Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Re: GoPro Hero 2 mic test results

It's an easy sync on the timeline if you have a reference spike like from a sharply rapped tap on the Gopro case with a writing pen, the H1 will pick it up also. I do this with up to 20 clips a day, no issue. Just mute the GoPro audio track when you render.

Just remember the H1 is very sensitive to manual handling, recording even the lightest touch on the external case.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 08:30 PM   #3
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Re: GoPro Hero 2 mic test results

Has anyone devised a silicone skin for the H1 that makes it less sensitive to touch?

Or a way to attach it to the GoPro so they're mated together?
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Old February 13th, 2012, 08:49 PM   #4
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Re: GoPro Hero 2 mic test results

They would have been better off not even putting a mic jack on the GoPro Hero 2. I've had the same problem with a Audio Technica Pro24-CM. I know it's not a expensive mic but the sound when plugged in can barely be heard on playback. The onboard mic works better then this which isn't saying much. I guess we have to wait for the GoPro 3 to fix the sound without having to buy a separate sound recording device.
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