Posted on by Tycho Smith

Why Do You Need an External Mic for DSLR Videos - and How to Choose?


Nowadays, nearly all DSLR cameras come with an internal built-in microphone. Some have better qualities than others, but in many situations those in-camera mics and preamplifiers can’t pick up sound very well - especially when the recording takes place in a noisy environment or when the speaker is at a remote distance from the camera.

Whether you are shooting a YouTube vlog or a more serious video production, using an external microphone can help improve the audio quality dramatically. For a video with poor audio quality, no matter how good the imagery is, the audio aspect is what your audience is going to remember.

Below are just a few key benefits that we hear from customers who use an external mic for their DSLR video production:

AUTOMATIC GAIN CONTROL

Many external microphones will give you the ability to control and monitor the ACG, which will help you create a more balanced audio track.

VOCAL & AMBIENT SOUND

Recording audio using an external mic and in-camera mic simultaneously allows you to capture both the enviroment ambient sound and a more crisp and clear vocal.

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

In general, using an external microphone provides its users with greater flexibility in terms of mic placements and freedom of movement without sacrificing high quality sound.

IMPROVED AUDIO QUALITY

Using an external microphone will almost always provide you with dramatically increased audio recording quality and the versitility to record in a wide range of enviroments.

Choosing the Right Microphone

You have a variety of options for external microphones. For beginners, it is best to read through those different types and understand their capabilities when it comes to different types of video.

In general, there are wireless, lavalier, shotgun, handheld, and headset mics.

Wireless Microphones

Wireless Microphones are one of the most popular types of external mics. They free you to record sound in a variety of positions and at a great distance. The wireless system can apply to a number of different mic designs, including wireless lavalier, wireless handheld, wireless shotgun, and more.

Wireless Mics:

#1: Wireless mics come with wireless transmitters. For better sound quality, you will want to keep the transmitter to receiver as close as possible.

#2: Wireless microphones can eat battery power quickly. Remember to carry extras!

Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier Microphones (or lav mics) are the go-to options for interviews, broadcasting, etc. It is best used in situations where the speaker does not need to move a lot.

Lavalier Mics:

#1: Keep the lav mic close to the sound source.

#2: Be careful that the mic is positioned to avoid something inadverntly rubbing against the capsule. Long hair, loose fabric, and even beards can cause unwanted noise on the track.

Shotgun Microphones

Shotgun Microphones need to be mounted on a camera or a boom. It is designed to minimize the impact of ambient noise. We recently wrote another article about everything you need know about the shotgun microphones. Check it out here

On-Camera (Shotgun) Mics:

Handheld Microphones

Handheld Microphones are the most common type of mics. You can find both wired and wireless handheld microphones. The handheld mics are easy to setup and can be moved between multiple people who are talking.

Handheld Mics:

Movo HM-M2 Dynamic Omnidirectional Handheld Microphone
Movo MV-M1 Dynamic XLR Cardioid Handheld Vocal Microphone
Headset Microphones

Headset Mics are the best for vocals because it does not transmit other sounds. It is widely used by fitness instructors and performers.


Budget is another factor to consider when choosing an external mic. Although the general mindset of “the more expensive, the better” is not wrong, there are a number of inexpensive mics that produce high-quality audio.

If you have a relatively limited budget, you have come to the right place for a quality mic, as MOVO Photo is dedicated to developing innovative, inexpensive and high-quality audio solutions. Below are a few of our best-selling mics for DSLR videos.

Quick Pro Tips: Why You Need a DSLR Video Microphone