Rode Wireless Go vs GoPro MediaMod

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I’ve actually had the Rode Wireless Go for quite a while, but I always default to just using the built-in MediaMod microphone because…well because I’m lazy. I finally got motivated to actually compare them, and the results are eye opening, if not exactly surprising.

Spoiler: the more expensive Rode mic sounds WAY better.

All footage was shot, obviously, on the GoPro Hero 8 Black.

The MediaMod is GoPro’s microphone offering and connectivity multiplier all in one. It consists of a directional microphone that can be set in software to record audio primarily from the front, from the rear, or from both (“Stereo”). It also serves as a way to connect things to the GoPro, featuring two cold shoe mounts, a 3.5mm mic jack, and a HDMI port, along with a USB-C charging/data port. It sits on the camera in much the same way that the cages did for the older models, just this one slides in from the side as opposed to fitting over the front. It’s mics are better and decidedly more directional than the built-in Hero 8 mics, but as my video pretty clearly demonstrates, it’s not really the BEST quality mic. It ends up sounding a little bit tinny and hollow, with very little bass. I always thought my voice sounded weird in video, but everyone thinks their voice sounds weird in video the first time they hear it. Turns out, it was mostly the microphone I was using.

The Rode Wireless Go is a lavalier microphone consisting of a receiver that sits on or near the camera and plugs into it, and a transmitter that you clip onto your body, preferably somewhere reasonably close to your word hole.

The transmitter for the wireless go has a built-in microphone, which is what I’m using here, or alternatively you can attach a wired mic to the transmitter and use that. That option seems nice if you’re shooting something more cinematic and you don’t want the microphone visible. For my tech and car videos, I don’t honestly care, so I’m just using the transmitter as my mic.

The Wireless Go comes with a clip-on deadcat style windscreen, a couple of charging cables, and a pouch to put everything in. The pocket clip on both the receiver and the transmitter just happens to be the exact right side to slide into a cold shoe mount, so that works out pretty well, especially for the receiver. I leave it mounted on the cold shoe on whatever camera I’m shooting with.

Battery life is advertised at 7 hours for both TX and RX, and I have no reason to not believe them. I’ve used them for an hour or so at a time and they still have like 80-90% battery, so Rode’s estimate seems pretty spot-on. They charge via USB Type C so you almost certainly already have a charger for them. I will update this with charging time when I manage to kill one of them completely.

I tested these mics in a variety of situations that are overall representative of basically all the situations I find myself making videos in. I did indoor quiet, indoor with an insane 3 year old making noise, in an enclosed car idling, in an enclosed car driving down the street, and then a bunch of different videos in a convertible with the top down. In literally every one, the Rode sounded measurably better having a much broader range and, at least to my ears, a lot better clarity. Even in situations in which I thought the directional MediaMod mic was going to have an advantage, namely top-down in the Miata, the Rode still sounded better and clearer.

The Rode isn’t without a handful of drawbacks though. First off, the price. The Rode mic is roughly 3 times more expensive than the MediaMod, so it’s not exactly surprising it’s a better mic. Also, while the MediaMod is powered by the camera it’s attached to, the Rode requires you to charge and monitor the battery level of not one, but two extra things. Both the receiver and the transmitter have batteries that have to be charged.

There’s also the fact that the Rode mics will actually require you to buy the MediaMod to use them on a GoPro anyway. This isn’t the fault of Rode at all, rather the fault of GoPro for not including an audio jack on the Hero8. You could, I guess, just buy their audio adapter, but this is only like $20 cheaper than the MediaMod and it would still leave you with no place to mount anything, a dongle hanging off your camera, and require you to leave off the battery door at all times with no cover. That’s not much of a solution to me.

On the plus side, the Rode mic sounds fantastic, the wireless lavalier style gives you tons of freedom when you’re shooting. You can set the camera down and go do something and still come through loud and clear with no change in volume. You can spin the camera around to show your surroundings while narrating with crystal clarity, and you can use the Rode setup on any camera that accepts external mic input. If you have multiple cameras, definitely get the Rode. It’s now my go-to microphone with my Sony ZV-1, and you’ll be able to keep it long after you’ve upgraded to next year’s GoPro or whatever, so it’s not like it’s a single camera accessory like the MediaMod. As a matter of fact, I just ordered a couple of cold shoes to mount to my SmallRig cage for the ZV-1, should make for a cleaner way of putting the transmitter on the camera with the microphone facing toward the front. That’s like the platonic ideal for a mic for me. Sits on the camera for quick videos, slides right out to clip to your shirt if you want to narrate something. You can see my current janky setup for the ZV-1 in the picture. I have it mounted to the bluetooth grip sideways to make room for the transmitter on the lower cold shoe, but hey, it works.

If you’re looking to upgrade your audio on your vlog, you could definitely do a lot worse than the Rode Wireless Go.