I really have excited by the DJI Mic announcement a couple of weeks ago, concluding that, at least on paper, it’s the perfect companion for vloggers and media creators on the go. As is often the case, once we look past the hype, things are a bit more complicated than that. Overall, it may very well be a good and elegant solution for the right audience, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The magazine box is extraordinarily well built. The lid closes with a satisfying thud, and the two transmitters, the receiver, and the USB-C and lighting adapters for the receiver are securely installed in the charger case. The battery life is outstanding and the range of the microphones never gave me any problems in testing, so all of that was reassuring.
I noticed the size when I first took the DJI Mic out of its packaging. On closer inspection, it makes sense that two mics, a receiver, and a bunch of clips and adapters would be bigger and heavier than a set of headphones, and all the gear fits comfortably in a pocket, but when you slip it into your jeans , there is no risk of not realizing they are there. The kit weighs 260 grams (9.2 oz). While DJI describes their size as a pack of cigarettes, those are some heavy and oddly shaped cigarettes.
I can’t complain too much about the form factor of the device; if he did what he promised, he would be worthy of a permanent spot in my video bag any day. This is where the situation gets a bit tricky.
The main problem is with the lavalier clip microphones themselves. They look fantastic and are ridiculously easy to set up and use, but ultimately the only thing that really matters is how good the sound quality is, and that’s where things get a bit trickier.
When you speak directly into the mic at point-blank range, the audio is excellent, so if you use the mics as small handheld mics, you’re in for a treat. However, that’s not really how they’re designed: you need to attach them to a shirt, either with the built-in clip or the included magnets. The clips are sturdy and the magnets work very well, but I was never able to position them in such a way that they would pick up my voice well. It’s like he’s always talking past the microphones instead of into them.
Microphone transmitters are small, yes, but not small enough to comfortably place exactly where you need them. Each mic transmitter has a 3.5mm jack where you can plug in a proper lightweight lavalier mic that’s easier to position, but at that point I’m left scratching my head if the setup still makes sense – the whole-nature. of what you need in a DJI Mic box is part of its charm, and having to add additional external microphones feels a bit like the DJI product team had an extraordinary idea, but couldn’t fully execute on their vision. .
I’m struggling to really figure out how to review the DJI Mic, if I’m really being honest. At $329, there are no real competitors worth talking about. If you like to shoot from a distance greater than a few feet, these little mics will beat your camera mic by a pretty hefty margin. Incredible ease of use and near-foolproof operation mean you don’t need to look at the operating manual, either: plug in the receiver, hand a microphone to your interviewee, and you’re ready to go.
The question is whether it is high-end enough. Yes, it’s better than nothing, and a Sennheiser Wireless Hand Basin set with the receiver will set you back double, if not triple, what you pay for the DJI Mic.
What it really comes down to is how professional your aspirations are. If you want premium audio to accompany your video recordings, you can buy a pair of wired lavalier microphones and a really long extension cable for $50 or less. Then you can place them exactly where you need them, and you don’t have to worry about running out of range or running out of batteries. Less convenient, sure, but higher quality. If you love the convenience of wireless and want higher quality, there are better options available.
Let’s compare and contrast
If you want to dive deep into the geeks, I compared a few different mics on the exact same soundscape (my office with the door to the outside open to let in some road noise). First up is the DJI Mic clipped to my shirt. As you can hear, it’s a bit tinny, picks up a fair amount of road noise, and I don’t like the sound overall. The second clip is the same microphone, but I hold it about three inches from my mouth and speak directly to it. The quality is noticeably better, and to be honest, this was what I was expecting when I started reviewing DJI Mics. The third clip is what it sounds like when I speak directly into the built-in microphones of my Google Pixel 6 Pro. It sounds horrible; the audio is clipped, it picks up a ton of background noise and I think it sounds very tinny and off-putting.
The fourth clip is recorded with the Røde VideoMic Me – it’s my go-to microphone when interviewing and taking audio notes in crowded places. It’s not perfect, but it makes it really easy to understand the interviewee. I’d say the quality is comparable to the DJI Mic when I speak directly into the mic, but the VideoMic is even less complicated and costs about $70. Obviously the VideoMic has more of a directional boom mic feel to it, so it’s a very different piece of equipment than the lavalier-style microphone from the DJI Mic. The last sample is an Audio-Technica AT2005 USB microphone connected to my computer. This mic is around $60, but it is by far the best sounding mic of the lot. Of course, it’s a very different type of microphone again, a cardioid dynamic microphone, which can’t be used as a small, subtle, hidden microphone the way DJI Mic can, but if you’re optimizing for quality and can handle with your interviewee holding a microphone in hand, might be the best way to get high-quality sound.
Ultimately, I struggle to figure out who the DJI Mic is really for; he is good but not great. He is affordable but not cheap. He wants to get into your heart and your camera bag, but I resist his charms. It’s like it’s trying to be the super convenient all-rounder, but in the process, I’m discovering that it’s the master of none, and for every shooting situation where the DJI Mic is a good fit, there are better, less convenient, cheaper, or better options. much better and more expensive options available.
If you need convenience, speed, and ease of setup above all else, you can make a case for this setup. If you’re spending someone else’s money, you can argue that you saved $700 by not buying a Sennheiser cordless sink set. If you’re traveling as light as possible and that’s more important than audio quality, the DJI Mic could hit the spot. For any other use case, it’s a pretty confusing product; I’d be surprised if it finds a large following.
Having said all that, DJI also released an action camera that was essentially a derivative of its drone technology, and it turned out to be a fantastic success and found a cult following. The company has a lot of money and this is its first shot; I wouldn’t be surprised if version 2 fixes the teething problems and you may very well find yourself with a winner on your hands.