Bandit- External Mic for motorcycle helmet use — TomTom Community

Bandit- External Mic for motorcycle helmet use

pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
edited January 2019 in TomTom Bandit Action Camera

Has anyone had any success with an external MIC on a motorcycle? I've tried various, but can't get anything usable. The wind noise kills it. You can hear it peaking out and everything else is lost. Got to the stage where I have a rubber glove finger over the mike and about an inch of rabbit fur, but still, over ~15-20mph, the wind noise kills everything. Voice is muffled at best now. Breaks at speed with wind noise.

With no MIC gain settings in the bandit cam, I guess it's just a case of finding a suitable MIC, so if anyone has had any success, please let me know what you used.

This is probably one of the best vlogging cameras for motorcycle use, but without a working external MIC setup, it's useless for that.



  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]

    I totaly agree with you. I love the Bandit for my motorcycle rides but it's no use at all for vlogging. I own the Bandit for almost one year and I love the quality of video (especially 2.7K). In the beginning I suggested making an external mic possible using it's bluetooth capability. I am not an engeneer but I guess that this should be possible. The compagnie Removu makes an excellent external mic (even completely waterproof) for the GoPro. TomTom can do the same! It seems to me that many compagnies forget the growing community of vloggers on motorcycles. The Bandit is a fantastic camera but this lack of a wireless mic option is a major minus.
  • fearoffishfearoffish Posts: 16 [Outstanding Explorer]
    Exactly this. In fact, I have a thread that shows a video of what you're talking about, with no gain settings it's unusable. I've had to start using an external sound recorder for this, the problem being that I usually use that to separately record the bike exhaust noise from inside my back pack, I use that for mixing with my mic and adjusting the volume for when I talk. Still waiting for the gain settings! :(
  • pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    So, others are having the same issue, but no apparent working solution.

    Would anyone from TomTom be able to comment? Even confirm it is being looked into? I'm not sure if you are aware, but the vloging market is large and growing and this camera format, battery life, quality etc is almost perfect. Motorcyclist are a large market for this device. Without working external audio though, it's useless. I'm leaving on a 5k mile motorcycle tour in a few weeks and really wanted to use the bandit. If I can't find a working solution in the next week, I'll have to start abandoning that idea. I have the external mic lead and am willing to purchase any mic that works, but I think, based on other cameras I have like the drift and gopro, this is / has been addressed by other manufacturers in the firmware. I would have thought some form of microphone gain would be easy to implement ala Ghost.

    I'd be really surprised if TomTom, who produce a camera like this, made to fit on a helmet, specifically as an action cam with an external mic lead did not test any mics in an action scenario, skiing, biking, etc. They must have had a working solution (surely?), so would anyone be able to enquire as to what may be suitable?

    If this info is not available and there is no possible fix coming very soon, could someone from TomTom just comment so I know the status and can make other arrangements? Most important thing is I have something working. Anything. Would like it to be the Bandit, but if not, I'll live with it. Just need to know.

  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hallo PjSmith,

    It's frustrating that this great camera is useless for vlogging. I was one of the early buyers of this camera hoping the compagny would "fine-tune" this Bandit. One year later with lots of firmware updates, I still can not use it on my motorcycle the way I want to. I hate the idea of switchen over to GoPro this summer (the REMOVU external mic, which is waterproof is €99).
    I am thinking of selling my TomTom Bandit because there is a lot going on in this field of action camera's.
  • NunquamNunquam Posts: 49 [Outstanding Wayfarer]
    I am also having problems with getting usable audio with bandit camera. External mic cable and mic. Wind noise sort of dealt with by having external mic inside helmet. BUT with visor down I get sort of echo to voice that makes audio unusable. I am meant to be doing long Spanish/Portugal run in the summer, do I have to get a go pro to get good audio ? Are some 3.5 mikes better than others, . Should I have omni directional mic?
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hi Nunquam,

    As much as I like the Bandit, it's not the best for your Spanish trip. Or you accept the bad audio quality or look for a different camera. After almost one year of suggesting the Bandit's bluetooth functions to work with a bluetooth wireless mic .... still no news about that. In october I am going for trip to Mauritius (dream-holliday for many years) but I am looking for another action cam to take to this trip for there is no cam-stabiliser which can hold the Bandit and I really want to make great shots.
  • NunquamNunquam Posts: 49 [Outstanding Wayfarer]
    Thanks, shame because I like the battery and picture quality on the bandit camera. If I go and take an action camera then will probably be a go pro unless there is a convenient fix to the audio quality at motor cycle speeds.
  • KMTVKMTV Posts: 7 [Master Explorer]
    We haven't used it with the Bandit, but we use an Audio Technica clip on mic for our videos and it works really well. We use it with a GoPro Hero 2 which also doesn't have any mic settings, and there is a bit of wind noise but our rider was wearing an open faced helmet. If you have a closed face helmet it works much better of course. They're only around £30 : Here is an example video : - you can see the microphone on Lauren's chin strap.

    If you're mounting inside a helmet with the microphone mounted on the helmet, you may find the Audio Technica's cable will be excessively long, however.

    For mounting inside the full face helmet, check out Rycote's overcovers, which gives you furry covers and sticky pads to mount the mic on the chin-bar. (nb, smaller quantities are available!)

    As previously mentioned, I haven't actually tried an external mic with my Bandit yet, however this is the solution that seems to work pretty well with an action camera that doesn't have much in the way of mic settings.
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hi KMTV,

    Interesting reply. I hope homebody will test this mic on a Bandit. If successfull it will solve a lot of headaches of many riders.

    Thanks for this reply.
  • KMTVKMTV Posts: 7 [Master Explorer]
    Hello BikerRob,

    No problem. We have a couple of bikes arriving soon for road tests so if I can acquire an external mic adaptor I will try it out myself and post the results.
  • pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Please do update us here if you try a mic that works well. I've tried mics that work fine in the ghost and the audio on the bandit clips, loosing the voice, even with a rubber glove finger over the top as well as the furry thing, so no go for me. Not sure I want to just keep trying different mics at my expense. Hopefully someone or TomTom can recommend one that is suitable. My current last ditch plan might be to try to get a wireless bluetooth dongle. They can be had for less than £10 and will plug into the mic input on the bandit. If I then get one of the motorcycle headsets with excellent inbuilt wind noise reduction like the Sena 20s for example (though need something else water resistant), you can pair it with the dongle and the mic from the intercom may be able to be used. As all the wind noise reduction is done in the intercom, I might be clean audio for the Bandit. Annoyingly difficult way to do it though and another little bit to find a home for/charge, etc.

    The reason for wanting to stick with the bandit is the video is quite reasonable in 2.7k mode (1080 I find quite low def - Not sure how they are doing their 1080). I can downsize with that and do image stabilisation in post if needed. The battery life is good compared with other cameras. Good to very good. It charges quickly and is just the right format. It's not very conspicuous on my white helmet. I've had some white balance issues. In cloudy skies, in lanes for example, the sides (hedges etc) are almost completely black. But, I'm going off topic. It's a good compromise for me and I can live with everything so far except the audio.
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hallo PjSmith,

    My compliments to you for a fantastic possible solution for a wireless bluetooth solution! I never tough about this. I agree with you because I very much like the video quality in 2.7K mode and I do edit this to 1080p. If your solution works it will a releave for all vloggers (why TomTom did not think about this??). It's not the prettiest solution (first the audio cable and then the dongle) but perhaps TomTom will create a similar, small bluetooth dongle that connect to the Bandits port (I guess that should not be too difficult to create). It certainly would make the Bandit more attractive to many. I am very curious if it will work.
  • NunquamNunquam Posts: 49 [Outstanding Wayfarer]
    Olympus ME 52 mic, does not seem suitable for audio at reasonable motorcycle speeds. I have ordered a sony ECMCS3 mic and I will see next week end if this is better. My grandson ( I am 66yo ) says that the best mike would be a militarised mic of the sort used in helicopters !
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hi Nanquam,
    in my opinion it's ridiculous that so many Bandit owners on bikes are buying al sorts of different microphones in order to find one that works. This is a job TomTom should have done long time ago. The more I read on this forum in different topics about windnoise or not working microphones I feel that TomTom considers this to be a side-product. So many suggestions of fixing this problem were made (and really very good one's) but it keeps quiet !!
  • ChrisChris Posts: 934 Retired Community Managers and Staff
    Hi BikerRob and pjsmith, I have been through this and the other thread started by fearoffish, to be able to investigate this further I need some more information. Can you please let me know:

    What external microphones you are using (which cause you an issue)
    Your own experiences when using the external microphone
    The link to a video you have created with an example of the audio issue

    So far I only know the Mics being used by fearoffish (Olympus ME 52/Speedlink Spes), XennoNL (Generic clip on microphone) and Nunquam (Olympus ME 52).

    Also fearoffish is the only one to so far provide a video clip which shows the issue, so the more the better.
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hello Chris,

    It is very clear how many Bandit owners have their issues with the sound quality of the Bandit. Most owners are very pleased with the video-quality and it's mounting options. I, personally, have not tried any microphone after reading the problems many have. This is the reason why I do not buy the cable for it. Many Bandit owners (bikers!) tried lots of microphones without success. It seems to be impossible to connect a bluetooth microphone to the bluetooth functionality of the Bandit. The option of mounting a bluetooth dongle and wireless microphone will be the solution many will prefer. A good action camera should produce a good quality sound as well (that is what an action cam is ment for). I guess this is also a reason why so many action-sport-fans turn to GoPro (it connects several bluetooth mic's without any problems).
  • pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Thanks for helping with this. It's the missing part of a decent setup for me, but a big part. I have purchased the external MIC lead. I tried the ghost one (which worked find in the ghost until I smashed it!), and a couple off amazon (cheapies, but work OK in ghost). I will get you the brand names. One is 'Neewer'. I have not tried the more expensive powered mic's. Reasoning is, I have no idea if they would be any better and what I have seems to work OK with other cameras based on reviews and my own experience, but as I said, if someone has one that works, I'll probably buy it.

    Yesterday, I just deleted all the clips on my card! Audio was pants! I will get an example clip out on the bike and you will be able to see the issue, though this may not be for a few days.

    In the meantime, as time is short, if you could enquire with dev as to what mic they used internally and had any success with, that would be most useful as I could order one and get one on the way. I leave on a long motorcycle tour very shortly, so have little time to sort this or an alternative (my bad, but really didn't expect any issues).

    With regards to my experiences. First off, I tried the ghost mic with the foam cover. It works and audio is clear (good even), but as soon as you start moving (say 10mph), wind noise is very significant. I have the mic mounted in my helmet, by the cheek peice, out of direct wind. Visor down and a neck/wind shield fitted. Audio clips and voice is intelligible. So, after a bit of reading I tried fur. Still the same. Now I tried a rubber glove finger over the mic as well as the fur. Better, but so muffled now no voice really and audio still clips.

    I will update once I have taken some example video with the MIC.

  • ChrisChris Posts: 934 Retired Community Managers and Staff
    Thanks pjsmith, I look forward to the information and I'm gathering a bit more info on the mics that have been tested.
    BikerRob wrote:
    Many Bandit owners (bikers!) tried lots of microphones without success.
    Hi BikerRob, could you let me know where you have seen this, as I mentioned in the previous post, when I look at this and the other post by fearoffish, I only see 4 users and only a small number of mics tried, Olympus ME 52 & Speedlink Spes Clip-On and a couple of generic no brand mics. If you have seen some other information on this topic from some other users with different mics then I would be very happy to add this to my report.
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hallo Chris,

    In another (earlier) post I mentioned new developments like the REVL action cam (still crowdfunding). When you take a look on the internet about this new development and take a look at the specs this REVL is exactly what I hoped the Bandit would be. Most important feature: bluetooth microphone connectivity. It will be a year from now before it's available but in my view worth the wait and see it's progress in crowdfunding (I will certainly become a backer for it offers everything I want; 4K30fps; mechanical and electronic image stabilisation, fully rotatable and ........ yes bluetooth microphone option. In my view TomTom has waited to long in making their Bandit THE camera all would like to own. For many it still will be a great camera (which it is) but for me as a biker ...... no. I do not want to rig up the Bandit with an extra audio-cable- and a wired microphone to be able to have some decent sound of my rides.
  • NunquamNunquam Posts: 49 [Outstanding Wayfarer]
    Sony stereo ECM-CS3 mic no better . I tried various positions inside the helmet for the external mic and I also tried with the mic below the helmet. 2 problems ;excessive wind nose ,and echo when visor down. I will try various types of wind socks, but I am not optimistic. If anyone at tom tom knows of an effective mic for tom tom bandit camera and motor cycle use then please let me know , otherwise I will buy another action camera that records better audio. I like the video and the bat stick, but the audio is [so far] is not suitable for motorcycle use.
  • pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Thanks for adding to this thread with details of your MIC so TomTom can fix. I'm just uploading to YouTube some footage now along with some notes from a trip out today - I'll post here once done so they can take a look/listen. Pretty sure that Sony one works well in the sony action cam as pretty sure I've seem others moto vlog with that combo.
  • BikerRobBikerRob Posts: 29 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    Hi Nunquam, Just been reading your post about the microphone. You have tried several microphones without any success. My compliments to you for your endurance. I know you are going to make a long motorcycle trip this summer. So am I and I do want to make a nice video to remember this trip and it needs good audio. I am already looking for another actioncam. I hate to part from my Bandit but the closer summer gets, the more reality sinks in.
  • pjsmithpjsmith Posts: 38 [Prominent Wayfarer]
    As promised, I made a sample video today that shows the audio issue with an external Neweer lavalier microphone. This mic is mounted in the cheek piece inside the helmet, with both a fur and foam cover. I've tried a couple different locations for it. It's the best audio I have from it so far. The helmet has a neck wind guard and I tested visor up and down. Max speed in this test is 35mph and the actual winds are very light today. Filmed in 1080/30 mode.

    I hope you have the patience to sit through this video and read all this (product dev really should as it's a good example of why Bikers/Vloggers, a large market, are NOT going to use this product). I have to admit, today was my most frustrating time with the camera so far. I wanted to ensure the firmware was the latest before any testing and it did update this morning before the ride from the mobile app. However, the camera would not stay recording. It kept going to sleep by itself during the ride. It never did this before today. I did format the SD card before the test to ensure it was clean. It is the same card I have used in the camera without issue since I got it.

    So, you probably missed many of my ramblings, which may be for the best :)

    Here is a summary of my feedback/issues with the camera. This is after just a few hours of usage. Some of it just feedback for new products, some are bugs that should be fixed in the current software/firmware. I also describe some frustrations during the ride.

    Most important - Audio levels appear too sensitive and peak out very easily. There is no mic gain adjustment or wind noise filters in the unit as there is with most other higher end action cameras (ghost, garmin ), so this can only be addressed by finding a compatible microphone for your purpose. A next to impossible task given the variety available and the lack of any testing/compatibility list from TomTom. Even without the wind, you can hear the voice audio at the start clip.

    SD card issues - When I got the camera and used it the first time (with a brand new SD card), it would stop recording after 5-10 minutes with a 'check SD card' message. After trying a few things, I found that formatting the card in the camera seemed to resolve the issue and I did not get the issue again. The specific card I used "SanDisk Ultra 64 GB microSDXC Memory Card plus SD Adapter up to 80 MB/s, Class 10 FFP". Purchased direct from Amazon to avoid any 'fake' issues. Others in the forum also experienced this. Format is an easy fix, but I'm not sure if the problem has returned today as the camera did keep stopping recording. I understand 4k to video cards can be difficult, but this happened to me on 1080p/30 too.

    Camera fault - Critical issue and new, perhaps due to the new firmware today - For the first time, the unit kept stopping recording by itself. It'd be recording, then beep-beep-beep, then when I check the camera, it's gone to sleep. It's mounted on my helmet, so no idea if it had come up with any message as I cannot see the display. It seemed to do this at random intervals today, a lot. At least 4-5 times in a 40 minute period, meaning most of my video was lost. I'd be really miffed if that happened on my tour. I'd not experienced this so far, but I have probably only used the camera for 10 hours or so. I have read in the forum of this happening to others.

    App - As can be seen at the start, the android app kept crashing on me today. Not experienced this before but also only really played with this a little inside prior, but it was useless today. Started recording from the app, less than a minute later, app crashes, camera stopped. I sent the crash reports. The release notes from the new firmware say wifi coms with the camera are improved, but this is the worst I ever experienced with it today, by far.

    Design - Format for helmets is great, but rattling audio / shaky video due to the rear mount sloppy tolerances, which TomTom already know about. Can be fudge fixed, but really. It's a £400 camera with a couple options added... Mine has been fudged for this clip.

    Bug - Camera forgets you have selected external mic in the settings every time it is turned off/resets, so you set off on your bike with no audio. This setting should be memorised between resets. I've seen this mentioned elsewhere, but several firmware updates later, it's still an issue it seems. Gutting to film great clips and discover no audio as you have the waterproof lens on.

    Video White Balance - As can be seen in the video, the camera white balance could do with some work. Most of the street sides in this video, most things in shadow/shade are completely black with no detail. Not at all what they look like at the time, which is really light shade. It's over compensating for the sky even though I'm not riding into the sun.

    In order to troubleshoot a couple of these issues further I took the camera out on the bicycle. I found that the issues could be replicated in that, with wifi on, in live view, if you start recording via the phone the app crashes within 60 seconds and the camera stops recording. I sent the crash reports/logs. After replicating this a couple times I reset the camera, left wifi off and continued testing. Also experienced the camera stop recording about 10 minutes into the test. The only thing I saw on the LCD was the timer rotating, just as if I'd pressed the stop button, but I had not. The only difference (not 100% about this) is I cannot recall the timer being above the rotating timer when it did this which it normally is if you press stop. I could just hit record and it would start again. Did not experience this again. Later, at home, I tested the camera with the wifi and time lapse mode. It did not crash. Seems to only be with live video recording it does this.

    For V2, a little digital image stabilisation and bluetooth audio would be nice, but stability and reliability is needed first!

    I'm guessing some of this can be fixed in firmware/software, some are hardware issues that perhaps you will consider for v2. This is a hell of a first go at a decent action camera. TomTom almost got it. Perhaps with a few firmware updates, they'd almost be there.

    I would say the service, both on the phone and via this forum appears to be good. Still have high hopes these issues can be resolved, but perhaps not in time for the purpose I purchased the camera. Shame as it would be a good advert for the bandit. Over 5k miles/3 months of crossing Europe on the bike, all on YouTube.

    I'm an IT engineer/software developer by trade - Ran an IT firm for a long time. If you need to test any BETA firmware / software to see if it helps address any of these issues, I'd be happy to try it.

  • the-civviethe-civvie Posts: 545 [Master Traveler]
    pjsmith Your video is marked as private, was going to look at it because I want to get a microphone.

    Regarding the random shut downs. I remarked on this is another thread. I too had it happen when on my helmet, cannot pin it down as it is very random and no pattern to it. Is there new firmware, or did you just upgrade?

    The design you mention there is a clip that TT are posting out to those who need it. I did request one as my vibrates at times. I will try and dig out the thread for you
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