GoPro has built a reputation as one of the best affordable action camera makers on the market. The GoPro cameras have the ability to take HD videos and have allowed the average individual the ability to capture incredible videos that in the past required expensive camera equipment.
In this post, Gopro-hero-5-audio-improvement-fix, I will show you what the problem is and how to improve the sound when using the provided case. This mode reduces the fishbowl sound but it does seem to pick up addition wind and surrounding noises especially outdoors. If you are serious about sound adding an external microphone is really the only answer.
Picture quality with GoPro cameras has always been impressive but the sound quality has always been a major bone of contention with many GoPro friends and foes. Past GoPro models had poor microphones and the sound quality was poor at best. Add to that a waterproof housing and the sound basically becomes unusable. The new GoPro Hero 5 Black was released last year and offered a number of improvements like a touch screen a fully waterproof housing and improved microphones.
The new GoPro has three microphones and it electronically decides which microphone is best to use depending on your location to the camera. The GoPro Hero 5 has two microphone settings “wind mode” that helps reduce wind noise when taping outdoors and “stereo mode” for better sound quality when the wind is not an issue.
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Muffled sound when using on the GoPro Karma Grip
The sound on the new GoPro Hero 5 and the GoPro Hero 6 has been improved but still comes up disappointing. Compared to past models, the sound quality on the GoPro Hero 5 and 6 is better but still not that great.
A major issue is the sound quality further diminishes when you put it in the provided mounting case or other stabilizing mounting accessories like the GoPro Karma Grip that completely block the microphones and give you that old familiar underwater GoPro sound.
GoPro Karma Grip covers all the microphones
Another sound issue happens when you remove the side door. The sound becomes incredibly muffled and is pretty much unusable. To connect the GoPro Hero 5 to a GoPro Karma Grip, you must remove the door.
The housing on the Karma Grip then completely covers the microphones and makes the sound even more unusable. Some say by switching from wind to stereo mode improves the sound, but my research has proven otherwise.
If you want to have usable audio especially when using the GoPro Karma Grip, an external Mic is required. But you can't plug an external mic in!
A software update is apparently in the works to enable the USB-C port at bottom of the handle to be able to accept a microphone. But there has been no update as of writing this post. Comment below if you have any info.
Removing the side door and the sound becomes incredibly muffled
FeiyuTech G5 3-Axis Stabilizer
FeiyuTech G5 3-Axis Stabilizer
A better option is the FeiyuTech G5 3-Axis Stabilizer that has a different mounting system. As you can see does not block the side access door and the three microphones. This allows the three onboard mics to operate better and also provides access to the side door USB connecting ports to plug in an external mic for improved sound quality.
GoPro Mic Adapter
GoPro Mic Adapter
Don't forget if you are going to add an external mic you will need a GoPro Mic Adapter to plug in an external microphone. See Amazon for pricing. Enable the USB-C port at bottom of the handle to be able to accept a microphone.
Top view GoPro Hero Black
The main issue is a bad design as you can see from the photos below the top mic when in the protective housing covers up the mic.
Now you see the mic below the on button
Now you don't. The mic is under plastic housing.
Side view GoPro Hero 5
Now you see the side mic
Now you don't. The mic is under the center of the two holes
Opposite side view GoPro Hero 5
Now you see the mic
Now you see still the mic
This following modification will not void your warranty and it is not that difficult to do. It should improve the sound quality somewhat, but if you need excellent sound, an external microphone is a must.
We will only be messing around with the protective case provided and doing nothing to the GoPro Hero 5 itself.
If you screw it up this mode, the worst-case scenario is you will have to spend $10 on a new an aftermarket replacement housing. Or purchase a replacement made by GoPro for $30.
GoPro The Frame
iTrunk Replacement Housing
This modification is pretty simple
What we will be doing is drilling out larger holes above the hidden microphones to better expose the microphones. This should reduce that fishbowl sound and make for better sound.
What you will need
Dremel tool or drill with a small drill bit will work.
- First, take the camera out of the case before drilling anything!
- Carefully drill out the side hole and make the hole go to the left.
- For the top mic mode. Come in at the side and slowly grind out a notch.
The housing is made of plastic so go slow
You can always make the hole bigger if you need to.
The side hole was much more to the left of the holes then I had originally thought. I do find there is more wind noise after I exposed this mic.
Top Microphone is now exposed
Not pretty but side microphone is now exposed
You can see the top mic and side mic are now fully exposed. The side hole had to be made more extensive then I had anticipated. The microphone was not under the two original holes and was much more to the left then I had expected.
While doing the video for this post, I needed to buy a second housing so that I could shot the video. I purchased from Amazon the iTrunk housing that I thought was the same as the original housing from GoPro. It was not.
It has a very rubbery feel that I like with solid construction. You also don't have to remove the side cover to plug in a USB port because there is room for the door to be opened with the housing on the GoPro.
The sound quality with the iTrunk housing is terrible. It is worse than with the original GoPro housing that comes with the GoPro 5 and 6. It covers the microphones even more and you get a more fishbowl sound. It is a great second inexpensive housing to use if you are not that concerned with sound.
I also purchased will I was making the video a new external microphone. The Rode VideoMicro that I found is the real answer to improving the GoPro Hero 5's sound. The only problem with adding an external mic to the GoPro Hero 5 is that you need a GoPro mic adapter and you have to buy the GoPro Mic adapter made by GoPro for an external mic for it to work.
I have read other people trying different adaptors and they do-not-work. If anyone has had luck with another brand of an adaptor, please comment. The iTrunk housing does not have a connector on top to mount the microphone, so I used duct tape to make the video.
I have since ordered the Puluz protective housing made from aluminum that has a mount on the top for accessories like a microphone. It does come in at 4.2 oz, but I think it will give good protection.
I do think this mode does improve the overall sound quality of the GoPro and reduces some of the signature fishbowl sound. It is no miracle maker. This mode reduces the fishbowl sound but it does seem to pick up additional wind and surrounding noises especially outdoors.
If you are serious about sound adding an external microphone is really the only answer.
GoPro Hero 6 and GoPro Hero 5
The new GoPro Hero 6 has recently been released and it does have a few improvements compared to the GoPro Hero 5. The GoPro Hero 5 Black has been reduced in price and makes it a great value.
The picture arguable is not as good and the new GoPro 6 has better stabilization but for the reduced price the GoPro Black Hero 5 is still a great camera and value. Check Amazon for the latest pricing on the GoPro Hero 6 or GoPro Hero 5.