All GoPros come with built-in microphones. They do a serviceable job for casual use, but the sound quality of the on-board mics frankly isn’t great. And one of the casualties of the newer design of a built-in waterproof casing is that the on-board sound quality isn’t as good.
So if audio is important to the video footage you’re shooting, you’ll get much better results by using an external microphone.
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 recent GoPros.
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.
Which GoPros Accept External Microphones
Not every GoPro is compatible with external microphones. Here’s a quick roundup of the models that do accept external mics. And some models that are compatible with external mics have more compatibility than others; more on that below.
So before we get into the microphones themselves, here’s a rundown of the GoPros that are compatible with external microphones:
- HERO7 Black
- HERO6 Black
- HERO5 Black
- HERO5 Session
- HERO4 Black / Silver
- HERO3+ Black
- HERO3 Black
And just to be clear about it, these GoPros will not accept external microphones:
- HERO7 Silver / White
- HERO (2018) / (2014)
- HERO4 Session
- HERO Session
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).
HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO5 Sessionhere.
HERO4 Black / 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.
Lavalier Mics / Lapel Microphones for GoPro Cameras
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 appropriate adapter.
Here are some popular, inexpensive, and readily available ones.
Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone
A small, stereo lavalier mic, it’s a simple and inexpensive way to improve voice recordings.
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.
Shotgun and Condensor External Mics for GoPros
Many of these are shotgun mics, which are often used for video recording because they have a very focused, directional range.
There are other a number of other mics in Rode’s VideoMic series–they’ll also work well with GoPro cameras. But note that some Rode mics will require a TRRS to TRS adapter to work properly. You can find details on that here.
Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements
It’s only compatible with the HERO4 cameras and own’t work with the other models.
You can find it at Amazon.
If you’re looking for it, don’t forget the “Elements” bit in the model name–confusingly, there’s are also MKE 2 and MKE 2 Digital models, both of which are quite different mics.
Sennheiser MKE 400
There’s also a higher-end (and larger) model, the MKE 440, that also works well with GoPros.
Opteka VM-100 Video Condenser Shotgun Microphone
It doesn’t come with the GoPro adapter, so you’ll need to get that separately. Find them at Amazon.
Shure VP83 LensHopper
You can find them at Amazon.
Polar Pro Promic GoPro Microphone Kit
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
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