Updated for 2020!
A GoPro external mic is pretty much required if you want anyone to watch your autocross or track videos. Now that you have that fancy GoPro or other brand action camera don’t cheap out on the sound. Not only does an external microphone make any sort of Motorsports video sound ten times better but it also frees you up to place your camera anywhere on the vehicle without worrying about airflow. Using a good microphone to record the exhaust note free of wind noise can transform the whole video experience!
I’ve tried multiple different GoPro compatible mics and still always go back to the same setup. I’m still using this mic with my GoPro Hero 7! In fact, I’ve recommended this mic to hundreds of friends and fellow track junkies who have been really happy with the results. And so that I don’t have to look up the links and info each time I’ve decided to create this post to put all the necessary info in one spot!
Why you need an external mic: a 30 second video worth a thousand words
What you need to eliminate wind noise and record great exhaust sounds
Minimum required gear
For older GoPro cameras (pre GoPro Hero 5) and most other action cameras you just need 4 items:
Microphone – Olympus ME-51S Stereo Microphone – This microphone has awesome range. The high range of this mic means that it won’t blow out if you put it near the back of the car to improve the sound of the recorded exhaust. However, it must be 100% protected against any air movement with a wind sock (aka dead cat). See below for a recommend solution.
Tip: Amazon periodically changes the default seller for this mic. Sometimes they select a seller located in Japan. If that happens check the other sellers on Amazon and you can almost always find one for the same price that ships from the US. I recently replaced a lost version of this mic doing that I got the mic for the same price but delivered in two days.
Mic cord – 3.5mm Male to Female Extension Cable – This link should bring up the 10ft cable option. This works well for me to keep the mic at my rear bumper and allowed me to place the camera anywhere inside the car or outside up to about the front windshield. However, if you want to mount the mic in the rear of the car and camera way up front, such as on a splitter, you will need a longer cord.
USB to Mic adapter – For GoPro Hero 3 & 4 use: Movo GMA100 3.5mm Female Microphone Adapter Cable – There are cheaper adapters out there but they have very mixed reviews so you take your chances.
For GoPro Hero 5, 6, 7
For a GoPro Hero 5-7, instead of the generic USB to Mic adapter you will need the following special adapter. GoPro Hereo 5 3.5mm Mic Adapter This is the only adapter that works. There is no other brand or generic solution.
Tip: The GoPro brand mic adapter is the only choice for all GoPro’s starting with the Hero 5 and above. And GoPro frequently has shortages. If you are even thinking about an external mic and see it in stock on Amazon or another seller then buy it! I’ve had to wait 6 months to get a replacement before.
GoPro Hero 8
I don’t currently recommend using a GoPro 8 on the outside of the car. The media pod has not been released so there is no way to add an external mic adapter. I haven’t tried the GoPro mic adapter for the 5-7 because the usb in the same compartment as the battery and can’t be accessed without risk of the battery coming out.
GoPro 5, 6, 7 housing – I also like this housing which holds and protects the mic adapter.
- ULANZI V2 Housing Case Vlogging Frame with Microphone Cold Shoe Mount Compatible for GoPro Hero 7 6 5
GoPro 3, 4, 5 housings – The GoPro case included with the camera may need to be modified or you might want one of the below cases. I’ve tried the following two cases and prefer the extra protection of the housing over the frame.
- Cheap “frame case” option with no camera lens protection – Skeleton Frame
- More expensive full coverage option that still protects the GoPro – Skeleton Housing
I do not recommend the following microphones!
Below are some of the microphones I’ve tried. I’m only listed one of the commone lavlier style microphones that I saw recommended but I’ve tried a bunch of styles. I’ve never found a lavlier microphone that can handle loud exhaust. Maybe, they might work mounted in the trunk for stock non v8 exhaust systems.
- Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone with Rycote Lyre Shock Mount
- Rode VideoMic Me Compact TRRS Cardioid Mini-Shotgun Microphone for Smartphones
- Don’t use any lavalier microphones
- Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone
External Mic Mounting Locations
I’ve run this setup on a variety of cars and found the best results to have it mounted on or around the license plate area at the rear. On my 1968 Camaro I run it inside the rear bumper right above the license plate. Anywhere in the middle of the back of the car will be out of the wind enough that the WS1 wind muff will take care of it. Just make sure the wind muff is closed well as any sort of wind into the muff will be picked up by the mic.