In this episode I’ll explain how to use the GoPro 3.5mm Microphone to USB-C adapter with your GoPro HERO 5, 6 and 7 (Black versions).
It’s a rugged piece of technology I find incredibly helpful when I make videos on my bike. This little gadget has been getting terrible reviews – probably because there’s little to no documentation available on how to use it, or what settings it unlocks. In this video I’ll show you all.
Audio is one of the most aspects of the videos I record with my GoPro. I wanted to get this because I record videos when I’m riding my bike and tell stories while I do. You can check them out on my other YouTube channel, and on the Super Survivor Podcast.
Before buying this adapter, I recorded a separate audio feed on my iPhone, which was additional faff I could do without. When I received a spontaneous 30% discount for accessories on the GoPro website, I bought this adapter – and was pleasantly surprised. I too had read the many bad reviews this gadget got, and I thought I’d give you my two cents on the matter.
What people dislike about the adapter
In essence, what people are commonly bemoaning is the fact that this thing is so big and bulky, and that it’s so expensive (about $50, which is a tad hefty indeed). I do agree with both of these complaints, but let me tell you that the size isn’t actually a game changer – at least not in the way that I’m using it.
From what I understand, this external box is so big because the GoPro HERO 5 and above no longer have an A/D converter built in, a component that converts the analogue audio from a microphone to digital data so it can be recorded. The HERO 4 and before had this integrated, so a simple 3.5mm to USB adapter could record audio.
One of the drawbacks of using the built-in system though was that the GoPro HERO 4 could not be powered externally while a microphone was plugged in. So with this adapter, I guess the company made the decision to not only separate the components out, but also add a functionality to use an external mic AND let the GoPro be charged/powered at the same time. That’s fantastic news for longer recording sessions that would exceed one full internal battery charge.
What I like about the adapter
While many dislike this approach, I actually welcome it. For interviews with separate mics this is great news. Due to the fact that the GoPro is a very power hungry puppy, longer recording sessions do need frequent battery changes – or the ability to be powered externally. This adaptor makes that happen.
The adapter is built very rugged and sturdy, it has a rubberised design with no gaps or openings. If it wasn’t for the actual sockets, it almost feels waterproof.
It has one USB-C output that attaches to the GoPro HERO 5/6/7 either way around, so the gadget will point flat up or down with its angled connector (see my video for details). That way, I find a cable does not interfere with the lens, which is important.
How to use this thing
There is no manual that comes in the box. This means some explanations are in order as to how this thing actually works. Here’s what I’ve found out after a few weeks of use and several tests.
As soon as you attach it, a new menu becomes available in the GoPro, namely under Preferences – Audio Input. You get there by swiping down from the top of the screen, select Preferences, then scroll all the way down until you reach the I/O section. Select Audio Input (which usually reads N/A) and find 5 new settings that tell the GoPro how to use the attached microphone.
Note that this menu does not unlock with inferior non-GoPro adapters, as suggested in some of the reviews.
The settings let you choose to connect the following microphones:
Standard Mic (regular 3.5mm non-powered mic)
Standard Mic+ (same as above, but boosts audio by 20dB)
Powered Mic (for active mics in need of Plug-In Power)
Powered Mic+ (same as before, but boosts audio by 20dB)
Line In (for audio equipment that does not need microphone pre-amplification)
The GoPro will remember your last setting, so it’s enough to simply attach the adapter again and your last choice to be active immediately. That’s a nice touch too. My ZAFFIRO Lapel Mic works great with the Standard mic setting.
You need a regular TRS input, NOT a TRRS input
One super important thing that I’ve not read about anywhere else: you MUST use a 3.5mm TRS input for this thing to work. TRRS connectors WILL NOT WORK. It would have been nice to know about this, I nearly returned mine after testing several mics and didn’t make the connection.
So a TRS connector is one for regular stereo headphones (as in one Tip, one Ring and one… I don’t know ground or whatever S stands for). Whereas a TRRS connector is the one found on most smartphone headsets, one Tip, two Rings and one bit at the bottom. If you have a TRRS connector you’d like to use with this GoPro adapter, you need to use a converter for the sound to be picked up. This is especially important when connecting audio equipment.
From what I can tell, the audio quality sounds great with this thing – apart from the fact that by design, audio appears to be recorded 4 frames late by the GoPro (I’ve worked in television for over 20 years… I can’t help but notice such things). I wish GoPro would add an audio shift feature to the firmware of their cameras, or – dare I suggest it – care about audio sync more than increasing frame rates every year.
If you care about the audio you record with your GoPro and want to use external equipment to do so, this adapter is a must – unless you’re happy to record a separate feed. Speaking of which, if you do need a separate audio file in addition to what’s embedded in the video file, in the GoPro’s ProTune settings you can enable RAW audio. This will record an uncompressed WAV file alongside your video file.
I haven’t regretted the purchase, I don’t mind about the size – all I care about is that it works. I recommend this product for audio enthusiasts.
Buy the GoPro Adapter
Here are some links to get hold of this gadget on Amazon. I get a small commission if you buy via these links (if Amazon feels like it… which is not very often):
There is an iOS and Android App available to transfer files directly from a GoPro camera to a mobile device. Those apps transcode files and compress them for easier viewing, and to save storage space.
While that approach gets footage onto my iPhone, I still need to transfer the files to my Mac for editing. Plus, there’s an additional compression step involved which can’t be good for picture quality. Besides, it takes forever to do its job.
A much more useful approach would be to hook directly into the GoPro and transfer files that way. This leaves the SD card place and doesn’t disturb the (sometimes hard to reach or difficult to recreate) position of the camera.