All GoPros come with built-in microphones. While they do a serviceable job, if audio is important to the video footage you're shooting you'll probably want to use an external mic to get much improved sound quality.
There's a huge variety of external microphones available on the market. Some are better for recording speaking voices, others for music, and others for ambient sounds. So here's a rundown of some popular external mics to use with the GoPro HERO4 Silver and Black (you can't use external mics with the HERO, HERO+LCD or HERO4 Session). The lists below aren't by any means exhaustive, but they're a combination of ones that GoPro officially recommends as well as others that are known to work well.
GoPro Microphone Adapter
But first, you'll need a way to attach your microphone to the GoPro. The current and recent generations of GoPros don't have a dedicated audio input port, so you have to use the mini USB port (the GoPro HERO2 was the last one with a dedicated 3.5mm audio input).
HERO5 Black and HERO5 SessionHERO5 Black or HERO5 Session, these same external microphones will work in most cases. But you'll need a different adapter. GoPro have done away with the mini USB port and now use a USB-C port. You can find the new adapter here.
HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver
With the standard waterproof housing there's no way to access the mini USB port without taking the camera out of the housing. So you'll be wanting to either use the camera naked (that is, without a housing) or, more likely, use one of the alternative housings that allow access to the ports during use.
Using a housing means that you can still make use of the mounting systems that are attached to them. But these housings with cutouts, obviously, aren't waterproof or weatherproof. If you're up for a DIY project, it is possible to modify a waterproof housing to allow access to the mini USB port, but you run the risk of creating a leak that definitely isn't covered by the warranty. And most microphones aren't waterproof.
The most common approach is to go with the official GoPro skeleton housing. They're made of the same kind of plastic as the regular waterproof housing, so they provide a reasonable amount of protection, but they have cutouts to allow access to the ports (so they're obviously not waterproof). They also have cutouts in the back door. There are also third-party ones, like this one that do the same thing but are significantly cheaper.
There is also one new exception: a microphone that's also waterproof. It's the Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements; more on it below.
Another approach is to go with a minimalist frame. They don't provide much in the way of protection, but they do allow you to use the regular GoPro mounting system.
External Mics for the GoPro HERO4 Silver and Black
All of the ones in this section will work on both the Silver and Black. Many of these are shotgun mics, which are often used for video recording because they have a very focused, directional range.
Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements
If you're looking for it, don't forget the "Elements" bit--confusingly, there's are also MKE 2 and MKE 2 Digital models, both of which are quite different mics.
Sennheiser MKE 400
Opteka VM-100 Video Condenser Shotgun Microphone
It doesn't come with the GoPro adapter, so you'll need to get that separately. Available at Amazon.
Polar Pro Promic GoPro Microphone Kit
Lavalier Mics / Lapel Microphones
Lavalier mics are also known as lapel microphones or tie-clip microphones (or lav mics). They're small, designed to be hands-free, and usually come with a clip to attach to clothing. They work best for voice at close range and aren't great for music or ambient sounds. In general, any lavalier mic should work with the GoPro so long as you have the adapter.
Here are some popular, inexpensive, and readily available ones.
Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone
VidPro Lavalier Mic
Available from Amazon.
Vidpro XM-L Wired Lavalier MicrophoneAmazon.
Neewer Mini Lapel Microphone
You can pick them up at Amazon where they're also available in multipacks.
External Mics for the HERO4 Black
All of the mics listed so far will work with both the HERO4 Silver and Black editions. But the Black also supports compatibility with many studio mics.
The GoPro, of course, is primarily a video and photo device, and although its audio capabilities are improving with each generation, it's still not going to give you the quality or control you have with a dedicated sound recorder setup, no matter how good the microphone is that you stick on it. Studio mics are also often quite big and aren't designed for mobility. But perhaps you want to keep things simple in post-production, maybe you already have the mics on hand, or maybe you want to keep the separate pieces to a minimum. So if you want to use a studio mic with your GoPro, here are the ones that GoPro officially supports as being compatible with the HERO4 Black.
XLR to USB AdapterShure has one, as does Senal and Blue Microphones.
Sennheiser MD421 II
You can find them at Amazon.
Available at Amazon.
The GoPro has reasonable sound capabilities built in, but if you really want to increase the sound quality a lot more you'll probably want to move to a dedicated sound recorder like a mobile field recorder. Of course, that makes for a more complicated setup that isn't quite as portable. It also means you'll have to put the audio back with the video in post-production. These separate out the audio and video recording, so they're not specific to GoPros--they'll work with any camera because they work independently of the camera.
The sky's the limit when it comes to mobile field recorders--if you have a spare $43,000 dollars burning a hole in your pocket you can pick up this cinema-quality recorder from Sony--but here are some much more affordable options that provide very good quality.
Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder
TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder
Images and product information from Amazon Product Advertising API were last updated on 2018-08-08 at 19:07.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
How to Maximize a GoPro's battery life
There are several factors that influence how long the GoPro's battery life lasts. Among them include what mode you're recording in (4K uses more power than 1080p30, for instance), the health of the battery, and even the environmental temperature (lithium batteries don't perform well in very cold temperatures). But there are some things you can do to maximize battery life. Not every GoPro has all of these features, but start with these:
- Minimize use of the back screen
- Turn off wireless
- Turn off voice commands
- Turn off GPS
- Turn off Protune
- Use QuickCapture mode
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.