Godox has been building up their microphone collection for a little while now with various different mics including a dual wireless mini lav kit, and now they’ve added a new phantom-powered XLR shotgun microphone to the lineup. It’s the Godox VDS-M3 and looks like your typical super-cardioid shotgun microphone, with a longer interference tube than the Godox VDX-M1, except that this one comes with a built-in battery.
Described by Godox as a “production class shotgun microphone”, they say it’s ideally suited to indie filmmaking, commercial production, broadcast and all the usual places you’d expect to use a shotgun microphone. Except, this one’s a little different as you don’t have to use a phantom-powered recorder. It also features a built-in battery for recording straight into devices like cameras and even smartphones (with the right cables).
On the microphone’s body are three buttons. One acts as both the power switch and a -10dB pad, one is the 75Hz high-pass/low-cut filter which helps to reduce low-end rumbles like traffic, air conditioner hum, etc., and the third is a high-frequency boost, which will compensate for some of the frequency loss when using the microphone inside a blimp or deadcat.
It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20Khz with a 200° output impedance and a 75dB signal to noise ratio. It’s a fairly thick shotgun mic, with a 22mm diameter. It’s not an unusual diameter, but it is on the outer edges of the typical 19-22mm range. It’s also 278mm long, making it just a tad longer than the Deity S-Mic 2, although it’s slightly lighter, coming in at 183g (vs the S-Mic 2’s 198g). It’s still not the 76g of something like the Rode NTG5, though, so it will be noticeable at the end of a long day if you’ve got this thing on a long boom pole.
Another unusual but not unique feature of this microphone is that it contains a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. We’ve seen this before in the Rode NTG4+. We’ve also seen the same technique used with AA batteries in microphones like the Rode NTG2, Sennheiser K6/ME66 and Godox’s own VDX-M1. It’s a 2,000mAh battery that Godox claims will last up to 220 hours and the microphone will intelligently switch to it whenever it finds itself plugged into something that doesn’t offer phantom power.
If you’re running phantom power from a USB audio interface, field recorder, mixer, etc. then it’s business as usual, but what the battery allows you to do is to plug the microphone into recorders and devices like cameras that don’t offer phantom power. Instead, the microphone draws power from its internal battery, instead. A very handy feature if you want to step up your audio game while recording straight into your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
A word of caution, though, while powering the microphone off internal batteries will allow the microphone to produce a strong enough signal that your camera’s pre-amps can hear it, it’s still generally not going to be as great quality as if you’d supplied the microphone with proper 48v phantom power and recorded it into something like a Zoom H8 or Tascam DR100.
The battery, as one would expect these days, charges up through a Type-C socket on the side of the microphone. So, it’s not going to charge up by itself whenever it detects a signal with 48v phantom power. You’ll still need to do it manually yourself with that Type-C USB cable. But, it’s a little disappointing to me that we’re seeing yet another microphone with a Type-C socket on it that can’t be used as a digital audio device directly with a computer or mobile device.
Sure, not as common a need on a shotgun mic like this, and the intended purpose for the battery is run and gun stuff where you might be low on battery power with your recorder and want to take some of that load off by using the internal battery instead of sucking the recorder’s juice to power the microphone. But USB digital audio connectivity would certainly be useful to podcasters, vloggers, streamers, YouTubers, etc. that regularly want to record such mics while sitting at their desks. Straight into the computer digitally would make life much easier.
Disappointing, but not a deal-breaker. After all, it’s still a feature that the vast majority of other microphones don’t have at all. So it’s better than nothing. And as a regular super-cardioid condenser microphone, it looks about as good on paper as one would expect.
There’s no word yet on exactly when the Godox VDS-M3 will become available but I expect it’ll be fairly soon – although, this will obviously vary in different regions around the world. When it does become available in the USA, though, it’ll come with a $299 price tag, which isn’t that bad at all as shotgun microphones go, given the standard that many of them have reached today. Inside the box, you’ll get the microphone itself, with a foam windshield (which is more of a pop shield, you’ll still want to buy a fluffy one if you’re going outdoors), a bracket clip to attach it to a stand or boom and a Type-C cable to charge the internal battery.
I’d be very interested to hear how it sounds compared to similarly priced shotgun mics from the competitors. With a recommended retail price of $299, it’s certainly well within the budgets of many and it’s a price area crowded by much longer established competition – The Rode NTG4+ is also $299, the Deity S-Mic 2 sits slightly higher at $329 (or $369 for the location kit with the Rycote pistol grip and deadcat), and Sennheiser has the MKE 600 for around $350 (with a shock mount and dead cat). So, the Godox VDS-M3 is going to have to be very good to make any headway in this sector of the market.