The GoPro Media Mod promises much being the hub of the new GoPro Hero eco-system. In reality, the built-in mic is mediocre and the quality of the plastic used is poor. However, plug-in an external mic and utilise the two cold shoes for an external mic and lamp and there's no doubting that the Media Mod does the job. The Media Mod might have it's failings but it enables you to transform the small action camera into a high-quality vlogging rig.
- All-in-one vlogging platform
- Enables easy attachment of accessories
- Cheap plastic finish
- Mediocre built in mic
What is the GoPro Media Mod?
There’s no doubt that the redesign of GoPro Hero8 Black has taken the compact action camera in a new and better direction. However, it still appeals to the dedicated extreme sports user base and it offers quality that is as yet unrivalled by any other action camera.
The Media Mod is a cage-like device that clips around the GoPro Hero8 Black and features a built-in directional mic and two cold shoes to mount the Display Mod and Light Mod. The Media Mod is a welcome innovation in the design of the camera and compliments the cameras live streaming and social features.
It’s a bold move from GoPro and one that will appeal to a broad user base, but with the likes of DJI and VUZE now pushing hard in the same sector, GoPro needs to work harder and smarter than ever before.
Alongside, the new GoPro camera comes the Mods, a range of accessories that enable you to transform the Hero8 into a fully-featured vlogging platform.
Read our GoPro Hero8 Black review
If I hadn’t ordered the GoPro Media Mod myself from the GoPro website, I would have instantly sent it back thinking it was some cheap ripoff.
No joke, the Media Mod is not of the usual GoPro quality, it feels flimsy. The typical GoPro matt finish is an attempt to make the Media Mod look higher quality, but it’s a lame attempt.
The problem with cheap plastic is it marks easily, and any moulding imperfections draw attention like a claxon. There’s ringing or rippling; I’m not sure of the technical term, then there’s flashing (correct technical term) around the cold shoe.
Material quality aside, let’s not judge too harshly until we get the GoPro Hero8 Black into the thing and see how it performs. There’s no doubt if you overlook the build the features certainly look impressive.
Designed exclusively for the Hero8 Black, there is, (you guessed it) no backward compatibility with previous Hero models. But hey, this is a new direction for the company, and the idea of the Mod is at the core of the new Hero eco-system.
It also offers a far neater solution than the old GoPro Mic Adapter. The old mic adapter worked well but was a little faffy due to the design that left it dangling out of the side of the camera.
Here the new Media Mod fits snuggly and offers a built-in direction mic; this has pick-up’s on the front, side and rear.
Delve into the GoPro Video settings, and sure enough, there’s the ability to specify the Front Mic, Back Mic or Stereo Mic
Aside from the built-in mic, there’s the option to pop in an external mic using the 3.5mm jack on the back. If the mic is attached, this overrides the Media Mods built-in device.
As with previous generations of the GoPro mic settings, with the external mic plugged in you can then tap Preferences > Input/Output > Audio Input > Standard Mic.
Tap Standard Mic, and you can then adjust to Standard Mic +, Powered Mic, Powered Mic + or Line in.
Audio isn’t the only thing that the Media Mod has on offer; you also have the two cold-shoes for the Display Mod and Light Mod, or anything else you want to fit.
On the back you have a line of three inputs starting with the HDMI-out port for a monitor or to playback your footage on TV, then there’s the USB-C port and the 3.5mm jack for that external mic.
The Mod fits around the GoPro and is easy enough to install. When in place the small fold-down feet at the base of the camera can still be accessed so the camera can be attached to a self-stick or other support as usual.
Build and Handling
GoPro has built a reputation around its build quality, and while the early cameras might feel plasticity compared with today’s models, they were still solid.
The first thing that stands out about the Media Mod is the relatively cheap-feeling plastic. My sample, which is new, and never opened, already had a few marks on the plastic outer even before I’d laid a finger on it.
Removed from the box and given a quick once over proves that the Media Mod looks and feels cheaper than many other GoPro accessories, you can even see some moulding defects, it’s not a great start.
Handling is pretty easy, remove the door from the side of the GoPro, flip over the case, and you’re almost ready to go.
The small fold-down mount feet appear through the bottom of the Media Mod, and if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a dip at one end of the underside which enables the mount body to be easily secured.
It’s all a little tight, but then the Media Mod is unlikely to be attached to anything in a tricky position, so that’s not an issue.
If you’re wondering if the GoPro retains its waterproofing with the Media Mod in place, the simple answer is no. The mic is, and ports are exposed, so water and the Media Mod are a big no.
The first time you install the Media Mod, the GoPro may alert you that the firmware needs to be updated before you can use the Mod. Through the GoPro app, that’s easy enough and should only take around five minutes max from beginning to end.
Firmware and app updated, you’re ready to get started. The Display Mod is yet to arrive, and the Light Mod has just landed on the doorstep, so the test is for the bare-bones system only.
Hmm, the difference between audio with the Media Mod on and off is, to be honest slight. There’s a slight boost in the depth of the audio quality, but by no means to the degree that I was hoping.
It’s not a patch on the RODE Micro, but then that is quite a bit larger, and to be honest, can be used easily with the Media Mod.
What the Media Mod does is to make things neat, it’s nice having everything contained within the Media Mod rather than having to attached additional cages and handles to hold the light, mic and screen.
In use the Media Mod itself isn’t at all bad, it’s simple, adds a little weight and bulk to the camera, but otherwise, it forms the basis of a concise and usable vlogging platform.
There are a couple of points which further niggled. A handle is essential, and one can be easily fitted using the flip-down feet, in the usual way.
However, if there were just a standard 1/4-inch thread on the base, then this would make the Media Mod infinitely more usable and open to other attachments.
One of the nice things about the Hero8 Black is that the base can be removed and new fold-down mounts attached, although I can’t find them available. However, what this does mean is you can make your own more usable base plates and bolt them securely onto the GoPro; such as a 1/4-inch thread version with relative ease.
At this point, and without the other Mods the Media Mod, despite the initial worries about build quality it does start to show potential. Plugging in an external mic and you instantly give the camera a boost on audio quality and the two cold shoes give you the option to add lighting easily.
After a week with the GoPro Media Mod and most of the initial worries are purely founded on the aesthetic. The plastic marks easily, and although only a couple of weeks old, it looks well worn already.
However, in use, the GoPro Media Mod redeems itself and does the job of converting the GoPro into a proficient vlogging platform. The design has been well thought out, and while the small mic only gives a moderate boost in quality, it is better for direct to camera presenting than the built-in offering.
The Media Mod comes into its own is when it’s fully loaded. Pop a RODE Video Micro on top, and a compact Litratorch 2.0 into the cold shoes and the GoPro is transformed into a formidable vlogging platform.
GoPro Media Mod verdict
The Media Mod and associated Mods are at the heart of the new GoPro, and there’s no doubt that the concept has got people both talking and excited about the new model.
In reality, the GoPro Media Mod has a split personality. When it arrives the cheap look made me feel disappointed, where is the usual GoPro quality? However, once you start to use the Media Mod, it starts to redeem itself.
The built-in mic gives a moderate audio quality boost, it’s not the leap I was hoping for, but once the RODE Video Micro is in place with a decent lamp and you instantly have a high-quality vlogging solution.
Couple this with the streaming features and the new GoPro offers you a solution that only a year ago would have cost a small fortune. Not only that but the rig would be a mismatch of various devices, cages and cables and now with the GoPro Media Mod, it’s all neat.
That no-fuss, compact and tidy approach negates the aesthetics of the finish of the plastic, the Media Mod does the job it’s intended to do. It makes vlogging with high-quality video and audio in the field easy.
I’m am disappointed with the overall build quality and finish of the plastic, but functionally I love it.
The Media Mod is far from everything that GoPro hyped, but it is unique. However, with Vuze about to launch their modular action camera GoPro could be in trouble.