A stereo video mic is an external microphone used in video production that records audio through dual channels. Mounted on a camcorder or boom pole, or held with a pistol grip, this microphone provides higher-quality recording than a built-in camera mic. It can attach directly onto a camera's hotshoe connecting mount, or via data cable or adapter and three-pin connector. Contrasted with single-channel mono shotgun mics, stereo mics record in a widespread area pattern divided between channels. This allows a greater sense of physical space through the multichannel placement of audio cues, as in recording room ambiance or high-quality studio vocals.
Contrasted to a directional shotgun mic, the stereo video mic picks up more ambient sounds to the side and rear of the mic. This gives sounds a physical sense of direction and movement, and allows listeners to feel as if they are in the same room producing the sound for a more natural ambient experience. A more complex technology and recording process, stereo mics are used in broadcasting and music. In contrast, mono mics home in on targeted speakers and eliminate room noise in order to make dialogue crisper and cleaner.
Although much larger than a built-in camcorder microphone, a stereo video mic may not be as heavy as it looks. Wind noise is further reduced by a windscreen, which makes this an essential piece of equipment for any serious videomaker. Some mics offer noise cancellation for sudden audible spikes, and indicators for battery level. High-pass filters reduce low-end frequencies to minimize noise from traffic or camera mechanisms.
Used in documentaries and shooting live events, the stereo video mic provides even simple productions more professional quality. For picking up voices, the mic works best in a short radius, due to its wide pick-up angle. This makes shooting events like social gatherings or sports games more immersive. For longer-distance targets, however, the mic performs less accurately, hollowing out the sound with audible artifacts from the immediate area. The addition of this technology with mixing software or hardware makes it possible to create audio that far outperforms typical camcorder mics.
A built-in condenser mic enhances sound quality by channeling sound through a capacitor, providing sensitive, subtle conversion of acoustics to electronic signals. This usually requires an on-board household battery, without which the mic will not function. Integrated shock-mounts provide further noise reduction from movement. The stereo video mic is an essential component for providing quality audio for productions, and a quantum leap from the indistinct audio produced by tiny camera mics. Headphones add another vital measure over audio control when using an external mic.