Sony camcorder with external mic input jack?

Anyone else getting nowhere looking for a Sony video camera you can plug a mic into??

UPDATE!! If you need a low-cost HD camera with a mic input, look no further than the Drift HD. I bought one and can report that the mic input function works perfectly well with my wireless Sennheiser lavalier tie-pin mics. Excellent! Great for wide-angle group shots and amazing for sports and outside activities. I also use mine for filming my glider flights (using the option heavy-duty suction mount). 

[Original post]

I’ve spent over an hour doing Google searches trying to find a Sony camera (actually ANY camera) that has an external microphone input.

Why?  Because as any online media producer knows, most video cameras will give you acceptable image results, but none will give you the audio quality you require.  That’s not because the onboard mics are bad, it’s simply because you need to mic from up close to get acceptable quality.

So. You go to the web and search for what you need.  And you use every combination of words you can think of: video camera, camcorder, mic input, external mic and so on.

Do you think that any of the sellers or manufacturers out there leap out to satisfy that need?  Nope.  Nothing but thousands of tangential, inconsequential references – mostly from people as frustrated as me, looking for the same thing.

So I called Sony UK customer service.

“I’ve got a need that your website isn’t satisfying” I began to the bored front-line Customer Services girl. “I’d like to speak to someone in marketing about it.  It’s a missed opportunity because I know there are quite a few people looking for the same thing”

“I’m sorry” she said “We don’t pacifically (sic) have a marketing department”.

“Oh you do” I told her.  “Yes but they don’t have a customer facing role” she answered back.  At this point I lost the motivation to teach this corporate giant the basics of a customer-focused (as opposed to ‘product-obsessed’) marketing strategy.

Nevertheless, at least she tried to do her best to meet my need.  After 10 minutes on hold listening to horrible music, she returned to say “We do have one – it’s the DCRVX2100E”

Ah yes. This one.

Isn’t it idiotic that I KNOW there are other, cheaper cameras in their product range that have mic inputs.  I JUST CAN’T FIND WHICH ONES and nor can they when asked.

Save yourself 1hr searching online and call Sony UK Customer Services on 08705 111 999.  Be warned, you won’t find out what you need to know – just what they’re geared up to tell you.

Sony, if you want to talk to me about how to make your marketing more customer focussed, I’m available on a consultancy day rate.


  1. Omar says:

    hey thanks for the small article
    i’m looking for exactly the same: a camcorder (a cheap one) with external mic input
    thanks – appreciated by at least one person!

  2. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Omar – go look at Canon or Panasonics becaue they DO have cameras with external mic jacks.

    I think this is a silly brand move by Sony. Why encourage someone who always saw himself as a Sony customer go to the competition? Doh.

  3. Duncan says:

    I agree, I’ve been a long time user of a Sony Mini DV, wanted a replacement, spent two hours in 3 camcorder shops, so far nothing to be had unless you spend over £1k.


  4. Steve says:

    Join the club! As a Media Studies teacher, it’s becoming harder and harder to pick up cheaper mini DV camcorders with external mic inputs. I used to have several Sony cameras that were perfect; they’re now broken and Sony has removed inputs from most of its new models. The Panasonic GS-230 was perfect, what happened? Yes, Panasonic replaced it with the GS-330 and removed the external mic input. Some cheaper Canon models do have mic inputs but these tend to be TOO cheap, less than £200 when I want to spend £250 – £300. It is very frustrating!

  5. Alina Lee says:

    Well ..its refreshing to see that I’m not the only one looking for a ‘mic input’ at mid range prices – up to AU$1000. I started with Sony, but they dont have anything!
    My criteria is: High def, Memory Stick Duo Slot, quick start, good video capture, light.. BUT WITH a MIC INPUT jack please! Yes ..the ‘marketing of handycams’ is even missing this, so google cant find anything either! Good luck to the market when they figure it out!
    If any one knows a handycam they can recommend that fits the bill I’d really appreciate their comments Thank you

  6. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Alina – good luck with your search!

  7. connie van leijenhorst says:

    I have a sony DVD 306E and it has a external mic input. My problem is finding a decent not to expensive mic. Any suggestions???

  8. Matthew says:

    Hi, I’m looking for a cheap camcorder with an external mic imput too! i went into currys digital and they told me i would be looking at £1500 which is rubbish. as for the question about getting a cheap mic, most supermarkets have them. I also use the mics from singstar on ps2. they have good quality sound.

  9. massimo says:

    HI, 4 days for searching a mini dv with mic input…
    Canon md 205, mic input but no headphone….

  10. Tracy says:

    Hi, I’ve been researching this very same question, looking for a consumer grade camcorder with a mic input so I can get decent sound on my instructional videos. I did find this little wizard (“digital camcorder finder”) on cnet which allows you to bring choose to see results for models which have mic inputs:
    Several Canons around $300 among others came up when I searched today. Good Luck, Tracy

  11. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Omar – go look at Canon or Panasonics becaue they DO have cameras with external mic jacks.

    I think this is a silly brand move by Sony. Why encourage someone who always saw himself as a Sony customer go to the competition? Doh.

  12. Andy says:

    Hi Omar – you’re not alone in your frustration! I’ve spent a couple of hours today simply looking for a decent camcorder with an external microphone jack, and can’t find anything remotely close to an updated, comprehensive list of options. Why is this so difficult? I’m beginning to think that between the gibberish of model numbers and the poor design of so many shopping and review sites, they’re intentionally repelling my business. The real irony is that I have points on a Sony credit card and so want to buy Sony, and yet their Sony Points site is the worst of all for searches and specs! Harumph….

  13. John Williams says:

    Hi. If anyone is interested i have a Paasonic nv mx350 3 chip 16/9 or 4/3 camcorder in mint condition and will sell it £450.0. It has mic input plus volume control, plus headphone skt. tele +w,angle adapters and gadget bag. If you live in/near Kent you can can check it out before you buy. there are no marks or scratches on it, it looks and works as new. Cost new- £1200.0. now £450.00. John.

  14. Sam Deeks says:

    Nice one John – if anyone comes this way, I’ll pass on your email. Thanks for commenting

  15. Hi John,

    If it’s still available I may be interested in your Panasonic. What would the possibility be of shipping it to Scotland before next Wednesday ?
    Do you have an e-mail address I can contact you on ?

  16. peter rice says:

    John you still got ur camera?

  17. John Smith says:

    Interesting article, it is a problem that still has not been resolved over a year later. However, as a Customer Service manager, I feel compelled to defend the customer service provided (or not).

    “I’ve got a need that your website isn’t satisfying” I began to the bored front-line Customer Services girl.”

    She wasn’t bored, she was frantically looking up the correct page on the script.

    “I’m sorry” she said “We don’t pacifically (sic) have a marketing department”.

    Education is slipping in all areas of this once great nation.

    “Yes but they don’t have a customer facing role” – Translation, no one wants to talk to Joe Public and be told how to run their business.

    “At this point I lost the motivation to teach this corporate giant the basics of a customer-focused (as opposed to ‘product-obsessed’) marketing strategy.”

    You wouldn’t have taught anybody, anything. Here’s the rub you see; all multinational corporations put customer service as a low priority. Sad but true. No right thinking company would put call centres in India or Pakistan or Eastern Europe – poor quality phone lines, satellite delays and heavy accents all impact on the quality of the service.

    All big corporations’ responsibilities are fiscally driven, shareholders, marketing, market share. No one gives a fig about the customer.

    As for belittling the girl on the other end of the line – what’s the point? She is probably making 8-10 k per year, her supervisor will want every call to be terminated ASAP so they can get through the calls quickly so they don’t have to employ more people. She doesn’t know much more than the script because training = lost money, so they keep it as short as possible. She probably fielded 3 more calls whilst you were on hold.

    Hers is a miserable existence. Perhaps you should try it sometime to gain a little perspective.

  18. Sam Deeks says:

    Thanks for your comments, John.

    You are right, of course, hers probably is a miserable existence. But how much of that is that a personal choice and how much is absolutely done to her by the job she does? And before you make assumptions, I’ve done things just as ‘miserable’ in my time, so I do have some perspective on it. Even when I did those kinds of things, I tried to find ways to do them well – and make it interesting, if I could. It seemed to brighten life up a bit for me and for the customers I dealt with.

    You’re right, though, she probably learned nothing – mind you, I didn’t expect her to. I was just making a point.

    Seriously – and I don’t mean this as an insult, I’m interested – how do you carry on working as a Customer Services Manager when you feel the way you do about customer services?

  19. John Smith says:

    Sam, thanks for replying and apologies for making assumptions!

    The reason I am okay being a customer services manager is because the company I am with is a small one which really does try to resolve every issue that a customer may have. We have no call centres and a high level of product training for all staff.

    I have though, spent a lot of time at various big corporations and if I had to work there now, I would need to change careers as conflict-resolution options, initiative and pro-active customer help are actively discouraged.

  20. Sam Deeks says:

    Good to hear, John :-)

    Good to have your insight from within the big corporates (even if it makes depressing reading) – thanks for commenting.

  21. Tornikitoto says:

    I am looking for an HD camcorder with mic jack for under 600USD for a month now. It’s very frustrating. I feel like slapping a few manufacturers. Camcorders may be able to get close enough to film the craters in the moon, but to interview someone and record the voice clearly enough with a clip-on mic attached to my camera, that is still only affordable to professional TV networks.

  22. Alan says:

    At last – stand up and be counted… the good old day’s we had camcorders with an external stereo mic input and….wait for it…. stereo headphone socket….amazing, so usable, so efficient.

    Shift forward to the 21st century and – zilch !!!! uummmmmm.

    Back to the drawing board me thinks.

  23. Phil Argouarch says:

    Sony does this on purpose.

    I had the same problems for years now ..but I believe I figured out. They feel that if u want to put video on internet, your are an educated person and already understood that everybody can makes his own TV channel. So, they conclude that if your are that smart, you probably have the income to buy the semi pro range of sony cameras that shall give you a microphone jack and plenty of hi-definition you do not need for internet –but would justify for them that you pay the 1000 pounds minimum price. The lower price camera are aimed at a different public, the daddy type that loves to film the kids and watch it years later on TV– if they ever do.

  24. Fay says:

    Has this thread being going for nearly a year and a half?!

    I am looking for said relatively cheap minidv camcorder with external mic jack to shoot short and ended up here where it appears all my fellow lost souls have ended, simply because they are aware sound is ‘king’ and picture quality is usually pretty decent on most camcorders.

    No doubt someone else will be here in another year and a half’s time.

  25. Tom says:

    It seems to be quite a cynical move by the manufacturers to split the market clean in two. The one thing that marks out amateur video from professional is the sound quality; low-end models can capture great video … but unless you have separate sound recording equipment, the result will never pass as pro. For a small company trying to record decent video in-house, this is really frustrating.

  26. Tom says:
  27. Sam Deeks says:

    NIce one Tom, thanks. Amazingly hard going eh? :-)

  28. Bob Clifford says:

    According to the reviews on Amazon this is one amazing camera from Panasonic with mic-in and headphone … it received 5 stars from almost everyone that reviewed it (14 reviews)

    It’s in the mid price range (approx 615 pounds) but is apparently well worth the money!

  29. Karen says:

    I spent several days looking for the best oprtion to record video for training with a good sound
    After searching and searching I bought a Canon Vixia HF M 31 and a Azden WLX Pro mic (wireless Lavalier microphone).
    I started recording and I got a terrible static sound in the recording, even if the mic is off or if I plug somthing else the static is there…the quality of my recordings are ok but the sound is terrible!!!
    Now it looks that Canon has that issue with external mics…anyone has any suggestions that don’t involve cleaning the audio with software?
    I bought the camera on ebay and is a real issue to return it
    I’d really appreciate the help!
    My email:

  30. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Karen
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s usually nothing you can do to fix bad sound once you’ve captured it -which is why it’s all the more important to get a video recorder with good sound capability or the option to take an external Mic WITHOUT creating a buzzing noise from hell in the first place.

    Without fiddling with your camera and mic, I’ve no idea why this combination is making a noise… but I do recall working with someone recently with a similar problem – and it turned out that you had to scroll through a million menus to switch ‘Mic Attenuation’ off (or on I can’t remember which) to record without an ear-splitting buzz. Horrible!

  31. Sammy D says:

    Hi all, thanks for this thread…I’m not a semi pro, just a mum who wants decent audio on her home videos because I get really annoyed by poor sound quality. (probably ‘coz I’m visually impaired, but also because I’m a bit of a perfectionist.) Anyway, I found the canon list of camcorders with external mic at
    and now I have to persuade my husband that they’re worth the money!!! I have found an HR10 on ebay for £50 second hand, but am I right in thinking that mini DVDs are now ancient history and are likely to become harder to buy?

  32. melina says:

    The Kodak Zi8 is cheap (a bit over 100 dollars) and it comes with the possibility for an external mic. It’s not the best camera in the world, but depending on what you need it for, it’s pretty decent.

  33. Anders Forsberg says:

    Hi everyone.
    This is typical.
    I have also spent hours on the internet, even found a consumer magazine
    test, that actually stated several cameras had mic input but later it revealed itself that they didn’t.. I even paid for the test pdf file. ..grrrhh.

    Anyone found an intersting hd vid camera with mic input since autumn 2010 ? (..)
    mid price range
    I want one NOW.

    Anders F

  34. Jules says:

    Great post, what did you get in the end?

  35. Sam Deeks says:

    Well, strangely enough… nothing for a while. In the end, I figured a simple solution (just like your avatar): a Flip HD video camera and a simultaneous recording to Zoom H2 or mAudio Microtrack using either Sennheiser wireless lavalier (when indoors) or a wired lavalier when outside.

    By the time you lay your extra sound on top of your camera audio, you can synch up any tiny time creeps visually first and then by listening – but they barely happen given the digital nature of things. Once dubbed, you can junk your camera soundtrack, replacing it with your hi-quality recording.

    This is a really, really cheap but workable solution for web-quality video – although the Flip is only really good when mounted on a tripod or a really steady hand.

  36. Steve says:

    One thing I’ve never understood is why the external inpuut is a mic input – wouldnt a line input make more sense?

    Any suggestions on how to mount a wireless receiver and receiver(headphone-or-line-out)-to-mic adaptor/lead onto a camcorder.

    As far as I can see no cheaper camcorders can handle this easily and from what I have read on the internet I understand modern camcorders with hotshoes tend to like proprietary powered microphone interfaces.

    Rather than having all that lot dangling off your 3.5 mm socket,
    (and probably getting in front of the lens with my luck)
    and relying on a single wireless mic transmitter
    perhaps a more modern solution would be to incorporate a bluetooth receiver into a camcorder.

    My budget so far hasnt allowed me to test this out,
    but if anyone would like to to review such a camcorder please get in touch :-)

    (The reason I mention relying on a single mic:
    In the 1980’s I had a camera and VHS recorder with a 2.5 mm detachable mic…
    I couldn’t afford a wireless option then either,
    but when I left the detachable mic behind, I couldnt find a shop open anywhere selling 2.5 mm rather than 3.5 mm mics)
    Bluetooth would give you dozens of mic’s to cover an event with,
    immediately providing proximity and quality.

  37. Roberto says:

    I am having this problem too: I need to make some presentation videos for my company products and I would like to make something as more professional as I can. After hours of surfing I found what could be a possible deal, the Panasonic HDC-SD90 @ 400 EUR with external 3.5 mic input. As external mic I found the Sony WCS 999, the Azden WLX PRO and some others that costs from 80 to 120 EUR. A Lavalier clip like RKR micro is suggested alogn with a mono to stereo jack converter (around 5 EUR).

  38. Sam Deeks says:

    Roberto, thank you for that! I am sure that will be a useful piece of information for many people. I get around 10-15 people a day arriving at this post after searching in Google.

  39. Mark McCormack says:

    It looks like Kodak responded to this demand with the Zi8. Does anyone have feedback on their experience with that?

  40. Lleucu Meinir says:

    I’m as frustrated as all the above. Although I work with a semi-pro camera, when I go into schools I need cheaper alternatives for them to buy. But, I want the students to appreciate the importance of good sound. I’ve also spent hours online looking for a camera. This panasonic is around £400 and has a 3.5mm socket for an external microphone. But, I don’t think it will work well with macs, which is a shame for many schools. Here’s a link to a review:

  41. Lleucu Meinir says:

    …..the Zi8 doesn’t seem to be available anymore.

  42. Colin Leal says:

    I’ve been trying to update my old hi 8 canon camcorder and have in the past used a cheapo radio mike with tieclip and reciever fitted on the camera shoe it needed a bit of patience to use but eventual result were quite acceptable. I think it was an Eagle. My question then does anyone market a digital camera priced between £200 to £500 with a mic and earphone skt. Also a well priced radio mic. Many thanks in anticipation ona reply.

  43. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Colin
    I’m not sure about the camera you’re looking for (check back through the comments on this post – some people seem to have found one or two with mic input sockets). If you’re looking for a good radio mic, I use the Sennheiser ‘Freeport’ lavalier mic. Last time I looked, it was about £110 in the UK.

  44. James says:

    You know,
    Here in the UK the BBC and government hold such strong audio recording licence systems, that it is always super expensive to buy a camera with audio line input for licensing reasons.
    I have known cameras available in the USA, Europe, Asia identical to UK camcorders, but with audio inputs and of course a different model number.
    Then we can buy an upgraded version for usually 3 times the price, making a £400 camcorder £1200.
    Its all about licensing!

  45. James – that thing about licensing: I’ve never heard that cited before as a reason for the lack of audio inputs on low-medium cost camcorders in the UK. Is that speculation or known fact? I’d really like to look into that at a deeper level if you have a link you could share with me.


  46. This is a listing on with an external mic 3.5mm jack. Not sure if you can buy it through

  47. Sam Deeks says:

    Thanks, Dan!

  48. Mark Hill says:

    Hi Sam, great article and will let you know if I find a good camcorder with external mic.. still looking, but, what I am interested to know is that you say you are syncing a Zoom recorder to your Camcorder. Which software are you using? Is it relatively easy to do?

  49. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Mark thanks for commenting. This article is quite old now, but it’s still a real challenge by all accounts. Re. synching a Zoom recorder… it’s not very high tech, I’m afraid but it IS a quick and usable ‘work-a-round’. What you do is capture your video (with poor sound from the built-in mic) and at the same time capture a separate audio file by recording with (for example) a Sennheiser Freeport lavalier mic through into something like a Zoom audio recorder. You’ll end up with hi-quality audio separate from a nice video image with crap sound.

    Then, assuming you’re going to edit with a decent editing package (but this is probably even do-able in iMovie for Mac) you can replace your video audio with the high-quality audio file. You may have to cut the audio every few minutes and pull left or right to maintain absolute synch but it’s workable if you’re prepared to work at it. For an interview with plenty of cut-aways or for a film with lots of different, short talking heads it can work surprisingly well and give you a way more professional sound than you technically ought to have for so average a camera.

    Hope that makes sense?

  50. Zubin Malhotra says:

    I came across this post approx a year ago… at that time I, like Sam, was struggling to find a mic to work with my sony handycam. I did finally locate a sony mic that connected to the hot-shoe — but it was 1) very expensive; and more importantly 2) not available in India.

    Since then I have been searching for a reasonably priced solution of decent image (don’t really require HD quality for brief snippets of professional-looking videos to upload on our website, youtube channel, etc) but with good sound.

    Every visit to a TV studio, or whenever the tv channel fellows came to us for “bites” and interviews I would grill them…but they could only suggest professional models.

    On a recent business trip I came across a solution being used by a local tv station that worked perfectly. they had a Panasonic camcorder — didn’t get the model exactly but it was a “3CCD” one to which not only had they connected a 3-5 mm mic , but it also had a hot shoe for a video light. It was obvisouly an “old looking” model, but it gave me hope.

    For the last 2-3 days, since returning I have been searching online…but I guess this model is not actively sold by panasonic…definitely not in india. Which is when my web search began all over again and I came upon this page again… Must say its been active for quite a long while…

    I did find some other panasonic models that had only a mic input (no headphone output) but then they were very expensive $500 dollars. The CNET camcorder reccomending engine through up a some Sony HDR models that have mic inputs…but then again close tothe $600 range.

    I did find some reasonably priced Canon models that are flash-memory based that have the mic input feature…however they don’t retail them in India…just my luck!

    when I did go on the canon direct store the only mics they had on offer were the type that attach to the accesory shoe (directional mics).

    I need some advice here… for recording in single person PTC (piece to camera) format does a directional mic suffice…or am i better off using a hand-held or lapel mic (lavalier?). What abt cost differences???


    P.S. didn’t realise this had becomea looong post!

  51. Sam Deeks says:

    Hi Zubin – thanks for your comment. It’s frustrating isn’t it? :-)

    I’d say for single person piece to camera use a lapel mic if you can (a low-cost Sennheiser model like the Freeport for about 110 GBP is perfectly good). Unless you’re using an expensive shotgun directional mic on a big boom or a high quality hand-held mic (that you don’t mind being in shot) then the discreet lapel mic is best.

    What you’re aiming for is the best voice to noise ratio you can possibly get. When you’re close to the sound source, you don’t need the input level (gain) turned up as high as you do when the mic is further from the sound source. When it’s close, you capture a strong signal of the sound you do want (i.e. voice) with very little of the sound you don’t want (i.e. background noise). The further away from the sound source you move the mike, the more background noise you’re going to capture to achieve that same overall voice level.

    So rule of thumb is have the mic as close to the sound source as you can get; and the best budget tool for that, in my opinion, is the lapel mic.

  52. Krissy says:

    Hi Sam,

    I can see how outdated this post is but I was just wondering if you ever did come across a camcorder with an audio input jack?


  53. Sam Deeks says:

    Strangely Krissy I did – by accident; it’s an old Canon at the place I work (don’t know the model number). But generally, I still haven’t found anything at the budget end of things that’s set up for mic inputs. Thanks for the comment!

  54. Aaron Parks says:

    Happened to find this in my own search for the same thing. Stumbled on this during my search and thought I’d share.
    Actually seems pretty decent for the price. Built in mic is said to be crappy, but has the all important feature we are looking for, a microphone jack! Enjoy.

  55. Sam Deeks says:

    Mmm. Doesn’t even appear to be availble in UK :( ah well. Let me know if you got one and how it works. It seems pretty low-end (judging by price). A compromise I’ve reached for *some* applications I need a camera for is the Drift HD ‘wide-angle’ sports cam

    which has the ‘holy grail’ of a mic input socket for 2.5mm mics. I’m currently using a wireless Sennheiser set consisting of two belt-mounted, battery-operated packs – one with a mic attached (the transmitter) and the other with a 2.5mm cable out (the receiver unit). It gives me great sound on an almost ‘fish-eye’ picture which is good for recording certain group training activities where I work. Still doesn’t cover the basic ‘good quality, wide-screen aspect HD video camera with external mic in socket’ division, though.

  56. Adele says:

    I have recently had this problem and it took me a while to find a lower price camcorder with an external mic jack, there are very few models available. I managed to find one though- the Toshiba Camileo x400 full HD x23 optical zoom, they retail for about £100- 150 but I managed to get one on ebay for £57.

  57. Alex says:

    This is wild! A conversation spanning several years and no desire to meet the demand. It is insanely frustrating searching for this stuff.
    I am looking on behalf of a small theatre company that have a budget of about £200-250 for a camera and I casually recommended the importance of audio input and output for monitoring. I have joined the struggle on their behalf and the labyrinthine systems you have to go through are insane.
    Any joy yet?

  58. trudi says:

    Still looking in May 2014!! There seem to be soooo many more choices in the USA than here in the UK. I’m trying to buy a camera with a mic input and heaphone socket for around £300 – and I’m starting to feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole! What on earth is the point of a mic input with no headphone socket which loads of cameras (esp Sony) now seem to offer. Just so you can film all day an discover the audio buzz when you get home and play it back!

  59. Sam Deeks says:

    Trudi – that’s such a good point. Duh! Thanks for pointing it out. Stupid isn’t it? I’m sure there’s a deal between all the manufacturers that goes something like “Look, we know that we’ve made our basic consumer tech pretty much perfect…so we’ve got to do something to make the professionals pay through the nose! Aha! Sound!” and so on…

  60. Ruth says:

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