It’s generally known that if your audio is great, you can get away with sub-par video quality. It’s much better to have solid audio than sacrificing audio for the highest resolution video. And with mobile phone video quality getting better every year with every flagship release, sound quality is still pretty much ignored and on-board audio from a mobile sounds AWFUL. Mobile phone sound since time began has been terrible, and I’m thankful to brands like Saramonic who are making products to improve that. Today we’re taking a look at the Saramonic SmartMic 5 S, a newly released mini shotgun microphone that’s really been built for mobile phone content creators and maybe those who want to add an extra level of quality to their home movies.
In the box, you get the mic itself which measures roughly 5.5-inches including the 3.5mm jack. You also get a nice foam cover to protect your audio from plosives, and a dead cat windshield too. The foam shield has a nice snug fit so you know it’s not going anywhere if thrown around, but the dead cat is a little loose. It has an elasticated band at the base, but I would have liked it to be a little more elasticated, so it hugged the base of the shotgun mic. Everything feels very nicely put together, and the jack is on a rotatable arm so you can aim it in a number of directions too. The QR code on the side I believe links to some kind of serial number.
I first tried the SmartMic5 S with my mobile phone, and immediately run into an issue. Not because of the microphone, but due to Google thinking it be a good idea to use 3.5mm aux dongles on their Pixel 4 series to attach accessories to. This is quite annoying, as of course my 3.5mm to USB Type-C adapter is floppy, so when I plugged in the SmartMic 5, it pointed straight down. And even when I bent the stem towards my mouth area like you would a normal shotgun microphone, the counterweight just made the microphone continue pointing down, so this was a fail. If your mobile phone has a headphone port, then it would be completely fine as the microphone could sit rigid. Thanks, Google, was looking forward to using this with my phone!
The Saramonic SmartMic 5 S worked somewhat better with my Sony A7RII, as my mic input is on the side, though the weight of the microphone stem was too heavy to keep it secure and aimed towards me or a subject I was aiming the lens towards. It just kept drooping down when I plugged it into my camera. So again, not the best for this use either. You’d be better off going for one of Saramonic’s hot shoe microphones instead, so you can physically secure it to your camera.
Sound-wise though, yes, there is a huge difference between using your onboard microphone, on your phone or DSLR, and this piece of kit. It made my voice sound a lot more full sounding, giving it some bass and not sounding tinny or too high-a gain from compensation. Even when using the microphone with a mobile phone, holding it at arm’s length while testing it for vlogging purposes worked quite well, but I could also see something like this being used by journalists or people who carry out interviews at events as you can easily use this with the voice recorder function on your mobile phones too. There was no real audio clipping that was noticeable, and background noise was definitely reduced, as the directional audio on the SmartMic 5 S worked well. I did have to raise the overall volume of the microphone in post when making videos though, as it did record somewhat reserved, but I’d rather that than having super high gain clipping audio.
The overall quality of the Saramonic SmartMic 5 S is great, and something that should be in every mobile content creator’s kit bag if you’re going to be making videos on the go. This is definitely something aimed at the mobile market, that’s for sure.