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The RØDE range of VideoMics are already amongst the world's most popular on-camera microphones, with the mono VideoMic Pro in particular receiving countless glowing reviews from publications and professionals alike. The VideoMic range isn't just comprised of directional options though, and features a collection of fantastic stereo microphones that make a great additional to any creative filmmaker's toolbox.
With a record number of entries for the My RØDE Reel competition utilising on-camera RØDE VideoMics, we thought we'd take a look at some of these stereo offerings and how they can increase the sound quality of your film.
Mono versus stereo
Like most other microphones used in film, the classic VideoMic is directional and mono - recording one channel of audio. This type of microphone is great for capturing dialogue and other specific audio elements (like footsteps or other foley) that will be layered up in the final mix to create the film's soundscape. The downside of having a film with an entirely mono soundtrack is that it will lack the 'surround sound' that makes seeing a movie at the cinema so exciting.
Most theatrical films have a soundtrack with five or more channels of audio (some theatres support up to 64), and that may not be entirely realistic for your film and budget, but utilising a stereo microphone like the RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro will certainly get you a lot closer to that immersive experience by providing a sense of space and direction.
How it works
In a RØDE stereo microphone, two mics are positioned in an X/Y pairing, meaning that they are at 90 degrees to each other and cover different areas of sound. The resulting effect is that when a bird chirps from the left in your outdoor location, that bird will be chirping from the left for your audience, providing a binaural audio experience that will make them feel as though they are right there in the action.
One of the best and most common ways to utilise a stereo microphone for narrative filmmaking is usually in conjunction with a directional microphone - often a boomed shotgun microphone or lavalier. With a stereo track as your background noise and the mono tracks over the top, a far more interesting sound mix can be achieved.
While RØDE's range of stereo microphones are great for adding a little something extra to your film, they are also great for a host of other applications. One of the best ways to use a stereo microphone is for recording a band, as it will provide your audience with a much greater sense of how they sound live - with the guitars coming from one side and keyboards from the other just like you'd hear at the gig itself. Similarly, for ambient video work or travel videography, the use of a stereo mic will go a long way towards capturing not only how the place looks, but just as importantly, how it sounds.