Today, we shall be shortlisting the best audio options for YouTube video creation on a budget.
Budding YouTubers often ask –
‘What is the secret to creating great YouTube videos?’
The answer is this – a great audio mic.
The sound recorded makes up for more than half the overall quality of the video that you post on YouTube or for that matter anywhere else.
You probably could sit through a video that’s jerky and or poorly shot or poorly color graded or edited. But you could hardly ever sit through a video which has horrible sound quality. And that’s what most digital cameras record with their internal mics.
Let’s face it. SLRs or mirrorless cameras were never meant to record videos and audio. It was always added as an afterthought. But these days video quality has improved in leaps and bounds. Only the sound recording bit, unfortunately, hasn’t changed that much.
Today’s digital cameras have the potential to shoot more than just the odd recording of a vacation or a day out with friends or your kids playing at the backyard. You can actually shoot professional quality video provided of course you can use an external recording setup to record clean sound to go with the video recorded by your camera.
We did a search for the most popular mics that you could use with an external recorder and here is what we have come up with.
These are, according to us, the best audio options for YouTube video making on a budget.
In case you are going to use an external sound recorder. However, please note, that some of these mics come with a TRRS (Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve) pin. These are ideal for smartphones and tablets. But you can always use a TRRS to TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) adapter and use them with an external sound recorder.
For those who don’t want to read through the entire list and details, here is our top pick for the best audio options for YouTube video:
Use it with the Rode SC3 TRSS to TRS adapter if you are using an external sound recorder like the Tascam DR-05 (see our Tascam DR-05 Review).
However, if you are using a smartphone or a tablet as your sound recorder (with a matching app), the mic will work without any issues.
Here is the full list:
- Polsen OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone
- Audio Technica Consumer ATR3350iS Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones
- Polsen PL-5 Mini Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone with 3.5mm Connector
- Sony ECM-CS10 Stereo Lavalier Microphone
- Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Condenser Microphone for Smartphones
This is a self-powered electret condenser omnidirectional microphone. It comes with a 3.5mm TRS Dual-Mono connector. Thus, it sends the audio to both right and left channels. This is a lavalier mic and the dimensions are very small – just 21mm. Thus, it is the perfect size for discreetly clipping on to the talent/speaker’s clothing and keeping it out of view when recording.
This mic is compatible with any external sound recorder that has a 3.5mm input. Being omnidirectional this is likely to pick up ambient sound too while recording. But at the same time, there will not be a noticeable drop in signal if the talent turns his / her face while speaking.
The cable length is 20’ or 6m which is more than enough if you are going to use an external recorder which is taped or fastened on to the talent or placed inside one of the pockets of his / her clothes. For vlogging purposes, the mic plugs into the 3.5mm jack input of a DSLR and gives you enough working distance to record yourself via a proper mic.
The in-line power switch allows you to switch off the mic when not in use so as not to waste power. The mic runs on a single LR44 battery cell. Make sure to switch off the power button when you are not recording otherwise power will drain out. It is actually easy to remember that the power is on because in switched-on-mode it is red. Comes packed with a ¼” adapter, LR44 battery, a windscreen and a clip.
- Self-Powered Electret Condenser Mic | Omnidirectional Polar Pattern | 3.5mm TRS Dual Mono Connector
- Sends Audio to Left & Right Channels | Accurate Voice Reproduction | Lightweight, Discrete Design
- 20' Cable | In-Line Power Switch | For Most Devices with 3.5mm Mic Input
- Includes Tie Clip, Windscreen, & Battery
- In The Box: 3.5mm to 1/4" Adapter, Tie Clip, Foam Windscreen, LR44 Battery, Limited 1-Year Manufacture Warranty
The Audio Technica ATR3350iS is an omnidirectional condenser lavalier microphone ideal for recording with a smartphone but also works with DSLRs and external recorders. The mic has a TRRS plug that means you will need a TRRS to TRS adapter with the mic to make it work with certain external sound recorders.
The mic has a 1/8” dual mono output. However, an adapter has been provided that lets you plug it on to smartphones and other devices and produce an excellent quality recording. The package comes with a tie clip, a foam windscreen, and a battery.
This is an omnidirectional mic and therefore is likely to pick up some ambient sounds as well as what the talent is speaking. The small size ensures that the device stays out of the sight when recording is being done. This is a self-powered condenser microphone. Powering the mic is an LR44 battery cell. You may want to invest in a pack of these because you don’t want to be in a situation where the battery has drained out and you have a full day of recording in front of you.
- Engineered for intelligible, accurate voice reproduction. Omni pickup pattern offers full coverage
- Ideal for video use, and is a great choice for aerobics/dance/sports instructors
- Low-profile design assures minimum visibility. Dual-mono 1/8" output plug connects to a video camera, DSLR, or handheld audio...
- Smartphone adapter provides instant compatibility with newer smartphones (Android, iPhone, etc.)
The Polsen PL-5 is yet another omnidirectional lavalier microphone system. It comes with a 1/8” (3.5mm) connector and a plug-in type tie clip. The mic is actually a replacement for the Polsen ULW-16 wireless system.
A 1/8” (3.5mm) input ensures that the mic is capable of being used with a wireless transmitter for a cable-free recording setup. Any wireless or other recording systems that has a 1/8” input and input with power is compatible with this mic.
The mic head itself is a small 0.14” construction that hides quite discretely and stays away from sight when the talent is being recorded. The package also includes a windscreen for cutting down of ambient noise when recording is on.
Speaking of recording quality, omnidirectional mics have their specific application. The recording quality does not deteriorate drastically even when the talent has his / her head turned around. This is not the case with a with a cardioid mic.
- Omnidirectional Polar Pattern | Mini 0.14" Head for Discreet Placement
- Ideal for Video Applications | Use With Wireless Sys With 1/8" Input
- Use With Recorders With Plug-In Power | Includes Tie Clip
- Includes Windscreen
- What's In The Box: Tie Clip, Windscreen, Limited 1-Year Warranty
The Sony ECM-CS10 is a stereo lavalier microphone, and the design is suitable for use with both DSLRs and external sound recorders. The clip on the mic is strong enough to be attached to any piece of clothing that the talent might be wearing. The cable is very tough. It comes with nylon encasing and should survive the odd tug and jerk. The only negative point is the clip. It is quite big compared to some of the other clip-on lav mics we have discussed here.
The ECM-CS10 needs external power to work. Plugging the mic on to an external recorder pulls power to work. The mic is extremely receptive regarding its ability to pick up even off-axis sounds. There are two omnidirectional elements in the mic that helps to achieve this. Being a lavalier mic and the fact that it will be working from a very close distance from your mouth, you should ensure that the auto gain control is switched off. Set your gain levels manually so that the sound quality recorded is right and the signal to noise ratio is optimum.
This lavalier mic from Rode is popular among smartphone and iPhone users. But this mic is compatible with a 3.5mm TRRS to TRS adapter which makes it usable with most DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras as well as external sound recorders that have a 3.5mm mic input.
That said, you will need a TRRS to TRS adapter to make sure that the mic works with certain recorders that only accept a TRS mic input. You can easily get a TRRS to TRS adapter on Amazon. Rode makes one – the SC3 TRRS to TRS adapter.
Or you can buy the bundle that is the Rode smartLav+ and the Rode SC3 together.
Either way, this is one of the best audio options for YouTube video production whether you are using a smartphone as your audio recorder or a proper external sound recorder like the Tascam DR-05.
The mic comes with a clip-on contraption for easy attachment to the talent’s clothing. The cable is Kevlar reinforced and is capable of surviving more than the odd jerks and tugs. The cable has been tested with weights up to 10 kilos.
Wind noise is dampened well with a pop-shield. It is not the best in the business. Nevertheless, it does a fairly decent job of cutting down on wind noise.
The whole package comes with a small pouch for easy storage when not in use and transport when it becomes a part of your camera bag.
Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your “master guide” here at PhotoWorkout.
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