They may be labelling it “a new standard in immersive audio” (what??) but let’s not get carried away with marketing blurb – Rode’s new on-camera microphone is essentially a stereo mic albeit one with some very interesting features which should definitely make it worth a look.
For a start, the Stereo VideoMic X (henceforth the SVMX) houses a matched pair of condenser capsules in a Rycote Lyre suspension to isolate them from bumps and handling noise. So far, so normal. What’s more intriguing is the integrated “Death Star” mini-Blimp style windjammer, possibly the tiniest such version of a Blimp we’ve seen. Wrapped around that, should you need it, is the traditional furry windshield for extra noise reduction.
The body of the mic is aluminium, weighing just 300 grams so it shouldn’t be a burden on even lightweight camcorders and DSLRs. Here’s a novelty though – the output is either on an unbalanced 3.5mm stereo cable or balanced on mini-XLR, both of which carry the signal simultaneously. Thus one mic can be used across a variety of devices without the need for awkward adapter boxes.
There’s a three-setting high pass filter (0 Hz, 75 Hz and 150 Hz), the usual Videomic gain cut and boost (-10dB, 0 dB and +20 dB) as found on the mono Videomic Pro and, unusually, a high frequency boost option to combat any loss through the windjammer.
These settings are controlled by a tiny digital settings panel which retains your preferences even while powered off. Speaking of which, power for the capsules comes either from an internal 9V battery or external 48V phantom power over the XLR.
Rode says the mic “offers the highest level of performance of any stereo microphone” from their range so it should be interesting to test.
For many purposes such as general newsgathering, ambient sound is often captured in mono partly since it’s very much a background element and partly since on a two-channel camcorder, interviews go on the other channel.
But if you want to capture a more realistic stereo ambience – hence the reference to “immersive audio” we presume – without the bother of lugging round separate stereo mics on a long pole, the new SVMX could well be worth a look. That’s if your bank balance can stand it – the mic’s going to cost around $799 USD. That’s not a typo; Rode say it’s up there with their top pro mics like the NTG-3 and suchlike.