The Best Cheap Microphone

The Rode Videomic Go II certainly isn't the best-sounding microphone at $99, but there is no doubt it's the most versatile. 

The Rode MideoMic Go II is a jack of all trades. You can mount it on your camera, you can boom it above your subject, you can connect it to the Rode Wireless Go system and use it wirelessly, you can connect it via the USB port to a computer and use it for audio recording or video calls, you can connect to a smartphone and use it while recording video or for audio recordings. You can also connect up to four of these mics to a computer and using the free Rode Connect software, you can record a podcast or interview. For many people, this is the only microphone they will ever need as it can do the job of four or five other mics, but with its low price tag, it is missing a few features found in more luxurious mics. 

Let's first compare the Videomic Go II to its big brother, the Videomic NTG. The NTG costs $250, it has a built-in internal battery, physical buttons, a volume knob, and the ability to change the output settings for the 3.5mm headphone output. My VideoMic NTG is currently in storage while my house is being renovated, but I've listened to a few side-by-side comparisons, and the VideoMic NTG is slightly more directional and has a slightly warmer, fuller sound, but both mics can sound surprisingly similar. 

The VideoMic Go II is cheaper because it doesn't have an internal battery and therefore doesn't have any of the physical buttons that allow you to change the output over the 3.5mm headphone jack. If you're using it with a camera, you don't get any options, you simply plug it in, set the audio gain on your camera, and start recording. Some users might miss the extra options and volume out of the powered VideoMic NTG, but others will appreciate the simplicity of the VideoMic Go II. There is nothing to mess up, and you don't have to remember to charge it. 

You'll get more control over this microphone when you plug it into a computer or smartphone via its USB-C port and use the Rode Central App. Here, you'll be able to turn on a Pad for recording loud subjects, set the input level precisely, set a high pass filter, turn on a high-frequency boost to get a cleaner sound when you're using a windscreen, and set the direct monitor, which allows you to plug headphones into the microphone so that you can hear yourself without any delay. 

If you're looking for a microphone to do a very specific job, for example, to use digitally with a computer, this isn't the mic for you. Other $100 mics will be better choices for specialized cases. But, if you're looking for a cheap mic that can do it all, the Rode Videomic Go II is in a league by itself. 

Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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1 Comment

That mic seems to have an unnaturally sharp mid-high bass rolloff.