You need better audio. All movies are mixed to be heard on a movie theatre’s powerful surround system, and yet most are happy to vlog and film their adventures without anything even resembling decent audio. Worse, the flagship GoPro cameras in recent years can’t be used with an external mic. Cue the GoPro Media Mod, an accessory aimed at vloggers, filmmakers and anyone else after an audio boost. However, there’s more to Media Mod that meets the ears.
Compatibility: Hero11 Black, Hero10 Black, Hero9 Black
(NB there is a different Media Mod available for the Hero8 Black)
Mic: built-in directional
Cold-shoe mounts: 2
Ports: USB-C, mini HDMI out, 3.5mm external mic
The main reason to buy the Media Mod is for better audio, but there are two ways of achieving this. Firstly, there’s a built-in directional mic (also called a shotgun mic) on an upper corner of Media Mod that’s designed to help with clarity and volume in locations with lots of ambient noise.
Secondly, there’s a 3.5mm mic port under a flap beside the shotgun mic for adding either a wired or wireless external microphone. That feature has been left off GoPro models since Hero8 Black. It’s also got an HDMI output, which is handy if you want to playback your adventures on a TV or a display such as GoPro’s Display Mod, a front-facing 2-inch screen. However, that’s not going to interest owners of the Hero9 Black onwards, which all have an integral front-facing screen built-in.
Besides the HDMI slot is a USB-C slot. Media Mod also comes with a couple of cold shoe mounts – one on the side and one on the top – for attaching accessories, such as the GoPro Light Mod.
Build and handling
Essentially a wraparound casing for the Hero11 Black, Hero10 Black and Hero9 Black, Media Mod covers the GoPro’s USB-C slot. So Media Mod has an inward-facing USB-C passthrough that fits directly into the USB-C slot on a GoPro. Ditto Media Mod’s standby/mode change button on the side and the shutter button on the top, which sit directly atop the same controls on the GoPro itself. It’s tough and well-made, fitting around a GoPro easily and snapping into place. Although Media Mod itself is waterproof, it actually takes that feature away from the GoPro it’s attached to because getting the thing onto a GoPro necessitates removing its battery/USB-C slot cover. After all, it’s the inward-facing USB-C that connects-up Media Mod’s added inputs and its shotgun mic to a GoPro.
Media Mod’s mics impress. During our test we first recorded some audio using a Hero10 Black as a control. Then we attached Media Mod to test its built-in shotgun mic. The Hero10’s built-in mic performed rather well with voice, though fell short in busy places with lots of ambient noise. It was also really ineffective at blocking out wind. Media Mod’s shotgun mic fixed both of those issues, being able to work reasonably well in windy conditions and also to produce noticeably clearer audio from the subject of the video even in a busy, loud place.
However, although the audio is improved and definitely less muffled, the timbre of voice is also slightly less bassy. It also makes little difference unless you’re standing very close to a GoPro. The conclusion is clear – Media Mod is great for vlogging or narration, and in windy scenarios, but not worth investing in for much else.
Although Media Mod is primarily an audio-enhancing accessory, the two cold shoe mounts lead it serious versatility so should be regarded as almost as important. They’re here to attach accessories such as LED lights (specifically the GoPro Light Mod), front-facing LCD screens (such as GoPro’s Display Mod) and other mics.
The dreamy HyperSmooth image stabilization is one reason why it’s worth paying extra for an action camera, but that’s not true of GoPro’s built-in mic. So it’s great to have the Media Mod as an option.
We were impressed by the quality of its built-in directional mic, and we can see many buyers being happy merely with the improvement that gives their GoPro if used in noisy and windy areas. However, it’s not the vast improvement we had hoped for, with the quality of voice it produces noticeably clear, but lacking a little depth.
Arguably more useful for filmmakers is the option to use an external mic, whether wired or wireless. The only real downside of Media Mod is that it interferes with GoPro's waterproof design. Media Mod is pricey and overkill for most, but it’s of excellent quality.
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