GoPro Media Mod Test: Turn your action camera into a YouTuber dream
“With its latest accessories, GoPro goes beyond extreme athletes to celebrate the vlogger.”
Adds HDMI 3.5mm microphone ports
Two normal cold shoes
Easy to use
Still no headphone jack
The audio quality is not always better
The GoPro Hero8 Black is already the best action camera you can buy, but it should never reach its full potential. One of the key features promised when it was introduced was to support Mods, a collection of three official GoPro accessories that connect to the Hero8 and expand its functionality.
Of these, the $ 79 Media Mod is by far the most important. It not only extends the input / output functions of the GoPro and adds a miniature shotgun microphone, but is also the centerpiece to which the Display Mod and the Light Mod are attached. While we had previously tested the Light Mod alone for our Hero8 Black test, we could only use it when we later received a Media Mod attached to the camera.
GoPro’s goal with the Media Mod is to consolidate Hero8’s position as a capable vlogging camera and break the stereotype that GoPros are only used for extreme sports.
Of course, people have been attaching microphones and lights to their GoPros for years, but there has never been a solution as elegant as the Media Mod. It feels like the most thoughtful accessory that GoPro has made and one that many vloggers and YouTubers have should find a home.
Set up and use
The Media Mod is a frame that completely encloses the Hero8. You have to remove the Hero8’s battery compartment first, then the camera is simply slid into the frame and connected to the USB-C port. This single connection powers the Mod’s shotgun microphone, as well as the USB-C, Micro-HDMI, and 3.5mm ports on the back of the Mod.
These exposed connectors mean you won’t get GoPro’s legendary waterproofing, but it should be able to deal with bad weather. It rained during our test and we didn’t find any problems.
The Mod’s built-in microphone consists of two, one in the front and one in the back. You can select which one you want to use in the camera settings.
You can connect an external audio source via the 3.5 mm socket. You can choose the type of input from the menu, including activated microphone, deactivated microphone or line-in, and the option to add 20 decibels of gain. Note that connecting an external microphone overrides the other audio options.
The Media Mod also adds two cold shoes, one on the top and one on the right. Fortunately, these are standard size shoes, which means that they also work with non-GoPro accessories. This makes it easy to attach an external microphone, monitor or light – you don’t have to buy GoPro’s light and display modes if you already have other options.
If you consider the Media Mod just as a means to improve the audio quality with its built-in microphone, you may be disappointed.
Compared to a bare Hero8 Black, the sound quality of the built-in microphone in the Media Mod appears to be more accurate and less subdued. Objectively, it is better and power users will probably prefer it.
However, many people will find the warmer, more processed sound of the Hero8’s built-in microphones desirable. The voices are a bit lower and the background noise is reduced compared to what you can hear with the Media Mod, even if it sounds less natural.
Part of the problem is that the Media Mod microphone is not very long. In comparison to an external Rode VideoMic, the difference in direction is clear. The VideoMic was less sensitive to off-axis noise, while the Media Mod microphone had a sensitivity of almost 360 degrees and was only slightly biased to the front sources.
The option to add an external microphone is part of what makes the Media Mod a worthwhile accessory. However, some GoPro owners would probably prefer a cheaper option that doesn’t include a built-in microphone.
Worth the investment?
The Media Mod lays the foundation for making your Hero8 Black a powerful production tool, but there are a few entry barriers.
First, it only works with the new Hero8 Black. Hero7 and older owners are out of luck.
Second is the cost. While $ 79 is barely exorbitant for the Media Mod, fully equipping your Hero8 with all three mods would add $ 210. That is more than half the cost of the camera.
While some Hero8 owners might be hesitant to drop this kind of money to modify a camera that will no doubt be replaced this year, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman Digital Trends has hinted that future hero cameras will have the latest mods would remain compatible.
This is by no means a guarantee, but GoPro at least recognizes that introducing a redesigned, incompatible camera for the next generation would rub customers in the wrong direction.
The Media Mod was designed for a small subset of GoPro Hero8 owners, but this group of people will find it a welcome addition. It solves many of the problems inherent in an action camera in a way that minimizes handling.
As such, the Media Mod may not offer the leap in audio quality that some customers would expect. For those who already have external microphones and want the simplest solution to connect them to their GoPros, this is an obvious choice.
Is there a better alternative?
No. The Media Mod may not be the all-end all-audio solution for you. However, since it makes connecting an external microphone almost effortless, you still need it.
How long it will take?
It’s hard to say, but we don’t expect the Media Mod to be out of date for at least the next generation or two GoPro cameras. In terms of durability, it feels very good and should withstand wear and tear.
Should you buy it
Yes, if you want to use your Hero8 Black in any situation outside of extreme sports.