Review: The X factor: Røde’s Stereo VideoMic X

Audio recording

Sound quality and the Stereo VideoMic X

Røde Stereo Video Mic X from the rear
Controls at the ready: the Stereo VideoMic X from the rear.

Sound quality is as to be expected for a Røde mic: that is to say the sound is good, within the limitations (and advantages) of a polar-pattern, cardioid, stereo condenser mic.

This is a good mic for recording Foley or atmos, or natural sound, and it is more than capable of adding rich audio to a video production. It could be ideal for capturing music, or perhaps drama in a theatre or other controlled environments, into a DSLR.

The SVMX it is not a directional mic, so it is not the best choice for recording dialogue, or recording a sync track on a DSLR for dual-system sound. For the latter scenario, the VideoMic Pro is a better, and far cheaper, choice. For dialogue, especially if you need a directional mic to isolate the sound from background noise, Røde’s NTG-2 or especially, their premium NTG-3 shotgun, would perform better.

This is not to criticise Røde’s design or workmanship, but to point out that the Stereo VideoMic X is a specialist, and premium, product. Using it alongside a VideoMic Pro, and an NTG-2, it did produce the better sound in a studio environment, where directionality, or a lack of it, is not an issue.

In our outdoor dialogue tests, the polar pattern picked up too much background noise to make for an ideal recording. A carefully-positioned NTG-3 produced a cleaner sound.

Sound recordists, who want to capture stereo soundscapes in the field, and possibly musicians wanting to capture a take of their live performances, are going to be delighted by what the Stereo VideoMic X can do, provided they can afford it. This makes the lack of XLR wires in the box all the more odd: anyone who can afford to spend £600 plus on a mic, is likely to be able to afford a half-way decent sound recorder too, and not rely on a 3.5mm jack input into a DSLR.

There is, though, another potential market for the Røde Stereo VideoMic X, and that is among users of higher end, large-sensor camcorders. Cameras including the Canon EOS C100 and C100 mkII have 3.5mm jacks on the camera body, providing a quick connection to the SVMX, as well as the XLR option.

Other camcorders, such as Sony’s upcoming PXW FS-7, have no in-built mic at all. The SVMX could be a good “top mic” option for these cameras, replicating the usefulness of stereo on-camera mics built in to small-sensor camcorders, but with better quality. Certainly, for someone considering £7000 or so on an FS-7, adding an SVMX to the package won’t break the bank.

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