On-camera microphones – there’s a lot to choose from. Whether you’re looking to buy from a well-known brand such as Rode, Joby, Sennheiser or Shure or save a bit of money and go for a more budget-friendly choice, there’s a lot of choices out there.
For this comparison, we’re going to be taking a look at two microphones, one from Joby and another from Rode and put them up against one another to see which one is right for you. I have reviewed these microphones in-depth individually in the past, so if you’re looking for more specific details on each microphone feel free to go and watch those videos as well.
In this comparison, I’m going to be looking at a handful of different aspects such as the design, microphone features, accessories and, of course, sound quality. The Rode VideoMicro is priced at £50, whilst the Joby Wavo is priced at £70.
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Both of these microphones are shotgun-style microphones and, without their windshields, are actually quite similar in size. The VideoMicro, in comparison to the Wavo’s plastic build, features a metal microphone body which gives it a more durable construction that will likely be more durable, but this does make the microphone feel a little heavier and also front-heavy. The Wavo’s plastic build feels incredibly lightweight and shouldn’t be very noticeable when mounted on a camera.
Both microphones feature a Rycote shock mount to help reduce the impact of camera movement on your audio recording by suspending. The VideoMicro features a Lyre system to suspend the microphone, this can wobble around a little as the microphone is front heavy, especially if you have the windshield in place. The Wavo features a Duo Lyre system which features, as you may suspect, two Lyre elements to suspend the microphone, this system does a good job at ensuring the microphone is balanced, however, the Wavo is permanently attached to the Duo Lyre as part of the product design, whilst the VideoMicro can be slotted in and out – giving you greater flexibility with how you may wish to use the microphone.
There are a couple of other differences that I noticed between the design of the microphones, the VideoMicro features a metal grille that covers the microphone capsule, adding some protection, whilst the Wavo has an opening at the end of the capsule tube, which could leave it more exposed unless you use the foam windshield.
Both microphones feature their audio output on the back of the microphone to connect to your audio recorder or camera using a 3.5mm output and both microphones feature tripod threads on the bottom – albeit different ones. The VideoMicro features a 3/8 thread that can be mounted directly onto a tripod, whilst the Wavo features a 1/4 thread that can be mounted onto a tripod head.
Design preference is subjective, but I think both of these microphones have advantages in each of their designs – the VideoMicro’s metal build is likely to be more durable if you travel a lot with this microphone, but the Wavo’s lightweight plastic build makes it easier to carry around on your camera as it does not feel heavy to use.
Whilst the design of these two microphones may be fairly similar, there are some technical differences between the two that have a role to play in the sound quality of the microphones and how they work. Both the VideoMicro and Wavo feature similar sensitivities of -33dB and -38dB respectively, but there are some more apparent differences when it comes to their frequency response ranges and polar patterns – which both have their advantages for certain scenarios.
The polar pattern of a microphone is how it picks up the audio around it, the VideoMicro features a cardioid polar pattern and focuses on picking up sound from in front of it whilst the Wavo features a super-cardioid polar pattern. Super cardioid is similar to standard cardioid but has a slightly narrower pickup on the front but adds in some sensitivity to behind the microphone – so the super-cardioid polar pattern of the Wavo could be beneficial if you plan to narrate behind the camera but could make it prone to picking up unintentional noise from you operating the camera.
There are also differences between the frequency ranges that the microphones can pick up. The VideoMicro has a frequency range of 100Hz to 20KHz, whilst the Wavo has a slightly wider range of 35Hz to 20KHz. This shouldn’t make too much of a real-world difference as the human voice tends to be in the low hundreds of hertz, but if you’re looking to record environmental audio or instruments, the lower range of the Wavo may be advantageous.
I’ve recorded some audio samples from both microphones in indoor and outdoor environments, as well as a baseline recording using the built-in microphone to my Canon 90D to compare against. Please watch the video review to see the microphone tests.
In the outdoor test, the included foam windshield of the Joby Wavo struggles to hold back wind noise in comparison to the fluffier windshield included with the Rode VideoMicro, so the Wavo recording has a noticeable low-end wind noise. A fluffy windshield is available for the Wavo, but it is an added cost. Both microphones can pick up my voice clearly and to a good quality but do also pick up a bit of environmental background noise. On the indoors tests I noticed how, despite the microphone level setting in-camera being the same across all the tests, the VideoMicro was able to produce a louder result in comparison to the Wavo.
If you’d like longer examples of how these microphones sound, you can check out my in-depth reviews on both the Rode VideoMicro and Joby Wavo.
As far as accessories go, both Rode and Joby make a range of accessories for the microphones, but I want to focus on what is included in the box when you buy the microphone in the first place.
With the Rode VideoMicro, you’ll get the microphone itself, shock mount and a 3.5mm TRS cable to connect the microphone to your camera as well as a fluffy windshield. If you wish to use the microphone with a smartphone, you’ll need to purchase a separate TRRS cable. The Joby Wavo includes the microphone itself, which is affixed to the chock mount out of the box as well as a foam windshield and both 3.5mm TRS and TRRS cables for camera and smartphone connectivity.
I think each of these has advantages, Rode ships a superior windshield with their microphone, whilst Joby includes both cables to let you use the microphone with a wider range of devices. Of course, you can buy accessories for your use-case, but I think it’s also important to highlight what is possible out of the box.
The Rode VideoMicro and Joby Wavo are both good choices for an entry-level on-camera microphone. The best microphone for you will be dependent on your use case and plans, but I hope this comparison between the two has been useful for weighing the benefits and drawbacks of both.