GoPro HERO9 Media Mod; clarity is its name

When GoPro released the Media Mod for the HERO8 last year, many people were of the opinion the sound quality of the mics was worse than the camera’s. I wasn’t one of them, but I did agree the improvements were marginal. Not that long ago, GoPro released the Media Mod for the HERO9 and the new Mod is better in many ways.

The Media Mod for the HERO9 is, of course, bigger than its predecessor but also more sturdy, with more attention to detail. It’s now really expanding the use of your HERO9 into realms that benefit from better sound quality as well as some other functionality.

Starting with the integration into the camera, the HERO9 Media Mod has some nice new tricks up its sleeve. For example, as soon as you start the HERO9 after connecting to the Media Mod, a green bar of blocks right below the movie frame feeds back the sound level at which the Media Mod is ‘listening’. This level feedback is not available on the front screen, probably because it would be too small to be of any use anyway.

A second nice touch is that you can now hook up microphones that need quite a bit of gain from a pre-amp. The Media Mod settings, once an external mic has been plugged in, list the front and back mics as well as the “powered mic”, the “Powered mic+” and a line-in connection. The Powered Mic+ option adds 20dB of gain that did not result in extra noise, at least not with my test mic, the discontinued sE Electronics Laser mic. The Laser was an excellent, small and lightweight aluminium-body microphone that was meant to compete with Røde’s VideoMic Pro 1.

The outside of the Media Mod is a different plastic than the previous one. It’s a bit structured so easier to handle with wet hands or gloves. The ports — micro HDMI, USB-C, mini jack — are protected with a silicon plug. I wouldn’t dare say you can submerge the HERO9 with a Media Mod mounted, but I assume it’s splash proof now, although GoPro publishes no ratings to certify that assumption. The microphone can now be encapsulated with a foam pop-off windshield, although the sound improvements of that extra accessory are — as with all foam windshields, I might add — minimal.

I tested both front and rear mic and pitted them against the HERO9’s built-in mic, the sE Electronics Laser and a Deity S-Mic 2 shotgun microphone connected to an Apogee Digital Element audio interface — a combination that generates high-quality sound and is very close to what you would get from using a professional broadcast quality Sennheiser MK416 together with a Sound Devices MixPre device.

The sound quality of the front microphone is good in my opinion. It has much clarity and if you’re talking into it at a distance of up to some 60cm-100cm, your voice is really intelligible even with background noise.

But sound is always a matter of taste and a decent microphone’s sound can be enhanced considerably using an equaliser. You can listen to the short originally recorded — all I did was levelling the volume to the same loudness standard — soundbites I created here and judge for yourself.

The Media Mod for the HERO9 is available from GoPro online.

  1. Sound-wise, it was much better, but Røde’s already established presence in this niche market made sE Electronics decide to give up producing the entire series of such microphones they had planned to release after two years, and concentrate fully on their high-end mics like the Rupert Neve’s Signature Series high-end RNT and RNR1.