Listening to Motor Sound During Flight | Microphone for FPV Quadcopter

Some people love listening to motor noise during flight because it makes them feel more connected to the quadcopter. This tutorial will explain the different ways of getting audio for FPV, and discuss other benefits of doing so.

Benefits of Having Audio Flying FPV

FPV flying should not be limited to what you see, listening is a huge part of the experience. What you hear might actually help your flying too!

The motor noise changes with RPM and throttle position, being able to hear it during flight makes you feel you are more connected to the aircraft. This is espeically useful when you are flying with other people, so that you don’t get confused with other quads that are flying around you.

When you fly too far out, you won’t be able to hear your quad. With a mic, you will still be able to hear it. You can even hear the low battery beeping from the buzzer!

I can’t speak for everyone, but I do feel more confident when I can hear the motors spinning. Some people begin to panic when they couldn’t hear the quad because it’s too far away.

Downsides

However, some people might hate it!!

The quality of the audio depends on your signal strength. On a good flight it’s like hearing your motors singing to you, but when you get interference, the speaker will shout at you with super loud electric noise.

How to Get Audio on a Quadcopter

There are 3 ways to get audio on your quad:

  • Using a VTX with Built-in Microphone
  • Using an FPV camera with Built-in Mic
  • An external microphone

Here is some quality comparison between a VTX built-in MIC, and the External MIC, as well as a GoPro. It was less noisy when I was listening while flying, the audio quality became worse when it was recorded on the DVR for some reasons.

VTX with Built-in Microphone

The good thing about VTX with built-in Mic is that you don’t need to worry about wiring at all, it’s plug and play! Examples including the Holybro Atlatl HV, and the AKK OBVTX.

Getting Audio from FPV Camera

There are now more and more FPV camera with built-in microphone, such as the Runcam Swift 2 or Runcam Eagle 2 Pro.

The wiring is relatively simple, just connect the Audio output from the camera to the audio input on your VTX. Note that not all VTX has audio input pin, so that’s something to beware of when buying new VTX.

External Microphone for FPV

If neither of your VTX or camera has built-in mic, you can use an external microhpone, I’ve tried this one and it works ($2.2): http://bit.ly/fpv-mic

Or this one which has a wider sound frequency range: http://bit.ly/2sNvvjg

fpv-mic-external-microphone-quadcopter-flying

Although it requires additional wiring, the audio quality is better than those cheap built-in mic on the VTX or FPV cameras. Also it’s a lot cheaper than replacing your VTX or Camera.

To use these external mic, you have to power them with 12V, and connect the signal wire (white) to your VTX audio input and that’s it. Some VTX might have two audio inputs (left and right channels), I recommend connecting to both channels.

fpv-mic-connected-to-vtx-hawkeye-audio

How to Listen to Motor Noise?

On your FPV goggles, for example on the Fatshark Dominator HD3 or HDO, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio output where you can plug in your headphone or earbud there.

Fatshark-Dominator-V2-earphone-jack

This is the Steele earbud I use, it’s made by TBS and designed for FPV.

if you are using FPV monitors, there are usually built-in speaker and should play audio from the video receiver out of the box.

If you think the noise is too loud, and there isn’t a volume control on the earbud, you can try adding a resistor to the audio signal (e.g. 220ohm – 330ohm).

When you are flying fast you can get a lot of wind noise. If you find it too noisy, you can try covering the microphone using some foam.

Edit History

  • Mar 2016 – article created
  • Sep 2018 – article rewritten

57 thoughts on “Listening to Motor Sound During Flight | Microphone for FPV Quadcopter

  1. Anthony Hartfield

    Hi Oscar

    I have been using these microphones from banggood

    banggood.com/3pcs-CJMCU-MAX9814-High-Performance-Microphone-AGC-Amplifier-Module-CMA-4544PF-W-For-Arduino-p-1106007.html

    The auto gain control works great, it’s still small and light, and reason I prefer it to the ones you linked, is it’s powered at 5V.

    Reply
  2. Petar Holland

    Hi Oscar! Can you please explain how to make the mod to connect at the same time the audio coming from the camera microphone (i have a swift 2), and TBS smart audio? I can’t understand the schematic in the TBS website…

    Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  3. Erik

    Oscar, thank you so much for the article. I soldered a separate mic to my micro-quad, as described and it works great. It is so much better to fly with motor sound! Aloha, Erik

    Reply
  4. Steve

    Hi Oscar! I’m totally new. I have the Wizard x230, Aomway commander 1 and rotor riot run am swift 2. And wanting to use the built in mic. My vtx does not have a mic on it. I plugged my ear buds into the headphone jack on the goggles but I’m not hearing the motors/props. Would you happen to know what I’m doing wrong?

    Thank you,
    Steve

    Reply
      1. Jesse Wooten

        Oscar. Thank you so much for all you post and write about. It is so much easier to read about all this than to watch you tube videos.

        I have been spoiled by audio and love it. I have an akk vtx and the audio no longer works. I bought the mic you recommended from bangood (a few of them) I hooked one up to my quad with a unify. It was easy I just paired it with the smart audio wire. Where and how do I connect the external mic to the akk? The akk has an fc uart pin but that is for smart audio only I think. Should I try and solder the mic to where the on board mics pins are?

        Please help.

        – Jesse

  5. Adriyel

    Hi oscar,

    Sorry if this is a repeat question, but will the mic from banggood work on a VTx that is integrated on the FC (Omnibus F4+)?

    If yes, will I connect the wires (mic) to the wiring running from the cam to the board?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Peter

    hello, i would really appreciate it if someone explained to me how i can get live audio to my fpv eachine ev800 goggles using my vtx becuase it says on the vtx that it has audio. I am flying an eachine wizard x220. can someone pls explain to me in detail what i have to hook up in order to do this becuase i am new to fpv drone racing and could really use some help. thx in advance.

    Reply
    1. François Langlois

      There is a 3.5mm jack on the ev800(revised version) that is sending video and sound on a 4 segment 3.5mm jack. Use only a standard earplug/be imaginative to have sound.

      Thank you so much for all the effort that goes into Oscar Liang’s website and all the poeple behind it. So great to have reference.
      😚

      Reply
    2. Tony K.

      Great article, thanks! I tend to be extremely reliant on audio cues in pretty much everything I do, and I’m really hoping I might be able to find some help here. When I’m able to hear my motors, I’m at least twice as good a pilot as when I can’t. The trouble is, I’m still pretty new to the hobby and so far have only been flying tiny whoop class quads. When I’m practicing and can hear my motors, I’m not a bad pilot, if I do say so myself. But when I go to my local club’s meets, I struggle severely with being able to control my altitude, and I’m convinced it’s because I lose the ability to hear what my motors are doing. I would be eternally grateful for any help in figuring out how to get audio working with a cam/vtx combo small and light enough for a 65mm whoop class quad. I will go back and re-read this article carefully to search for info applicable to solving my problem. I just got all excited about the prospect of having found someone who doesn’t write me off as a kook when I mention this subject, and couldn’t keep myself from firing off a quick note to see if there might be some hope for me after all. BTW Oscar, I’ve watched quite a few of your YouTube videos and would like to say thanks for the great content you create. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  7. robert

    Hello, I have a Quanum Cyclops goggles from Hobby King and Eachines Lt200 200w FPV transmitter with a 700TVL camera. I will be installing an FA-MT01-6-12 mic with my transmitter/camera and I will use a PAM8403 3W Stereo Audio Power Amplifier Board Module with Volume Control Pot and a separate 4 pin sterio headphone jack on the goggles powered with a PDB I have in my spare parts box that has a built in lc filtered 5v-12v BEC.
    I believe this setup should work well,,,, I hope!!!

    What are your thoughts on this setup????

    Reply
  8. Simon Ashley

    Oscar I have tried this but all I can hear is a strange repetitive beeping / static sound. I have fatsharks dom v2 and fpv cameras with built-in microphones. If I use the DVR on the goggles the recorded sound is the same.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
    1. Moritz Beyer

      I have the same problem.
      Mic is soldered to the tbs unify.
      So the voltage is 5V and not 6Vto12Volt as recommended.

      Question: Is that the reason? Or do I need a resistor?

      Please Oscar help!

      Reply
      1. Oscar Post author

        Yea for that mic i recommended, you need higher voltage to power it (9V to 14V).

  9. GB

    What about MEMS microphone? Like this one: sparkfun.com/products/9868
    These are very sensitive, very small and compact.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. GB

      Hi,

      May I suggest more options:
      I was looking for something smaller and lighter for my 3in build (155mm frame). The BG one is too big, in my opinion, when you look at the size of current VTx and built-in mic. After searching over the web and asking people, I found and bought that:

      1/ fpvhobby.com/171-3-5v-nano-microphone.html (amazing sound quality and sensitivity. Really small !!!. I’m using the 3V output of the Tramp HV VTx and the audio line. Clean and efficient setup).
      Others to consider:
      2/ nghobbies.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=814#.WSxT7es19hE (looks like the same as 1), so another source in North America)
      3/ electrodragon.com/product/microphone-max9812-amplifier-breakout/ (Very cheap but bigger than the 1/ and 2/. I bought several but did not use them since I got 1/).

      Hope this helps for more options

      Reply
  10. Everton Leite

    Oscar, is it possible to use a mic from any old device, like a headset? The difference is there is only 2 wires. I tried and it didn’t work, but I may be doing something wrong.

    Reply
      1. Joshua Crane

        I just purchased the (6-12VDC 100-5500Hz Microphone Pickup Aerial Audio Signal Collection For Camera FPV) That you recommend. I have the Betaflight F3 board and I don’t have any additional PDB but I’m running my VTX off of VBAT, Can I merge this power wire in with my VTX. My VTX runs off of 7-24 volts, So I was thinking I can merge the two together and it would work. Does that sound right?

      2. Oscar Post author

        not a good idea. your VBAT is way over 12V and it’s going to fry the mic. You might just have to get a 12V voltage regulator in this case.

  11. Geniack

    Hello someone on banggood mentions you can power the mic directly from a 4S battery:

    banggood.com/3Pcs-High-Sensitive-Audio-Tiny-Microphone-for-CCTV-Security-Camera-p-969680.html?rmmds=search

    “These are fine at 4S (16.8V) on a quad. Cover the end with foam as they are very sensitive and will pickup wind noise. I have 6 of these now, all working on 4S ok.”

    Cheers

    Reply
      1. Geniack

        Whats wrong with this kind of mic? Because I just bought it and planned to connecting it to a 4s battery too, otherwise I have to put in another stepdown module.

      2. Oscar Post author

        Try to get the one I recommended and power it with 12V :) (if you run 4S, use voltage regulator)

  12. Fernando

    Hi Oscar, i have a built in mic on my ft48x VTX, buy i seem to get no audio when i hook up my headphones to my fatsharks, is there anything i have to do in particular in order to get it working? I just think the expirience would be much more imersive if it had audio, thanks

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      I think it should just work! I saw a Q&A on Banggood, they suggest the is on your right audio channel if that helps.

      Reply
  13. xlnzee

    Hi Oscar, I setup a mic after seeing your post, it’s working through my goggles but as soon as I start the motors on my quad it picks up a lot of static noise from the motors, this is with props off and I can barely hear anything anymore. I have it connected from PDB 12V -> LC Filter -> mic/vtx/cam. The reason I installed it is because I wanted to hear the low battery alarm go off, but I can barely hear that between the “noise” when motors start.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      what mic are you using? in order to hear the buzzer you need to place them quite close otherwise it will be overwhelmed by the motors..

      Reply
  14. Pippos

    Hi Oscar,

    Im flying with this kind setup for over a year now and got used to hear the motors if I’m far enough. One thing though is to use only the left or right channel instead of both of them. As I have noticed on quite of few vTx and standalone mics the one channel is always transferring noise. Most of the vtx are sending the signal to one of the channels (L or R), so I have first checked which channels outputs the clean signal .i.e. L CH and custom made a short one earpiece headphone.

    Reply
  15. MTFinger22

    Hi Oscar!
    I’m also using the BG microphone. On my goggles (Quanum DIY V2) I added a “headphone volume” cord so that it’s not screaming in my ears. However, since the audio will be going to multiple things, headphone, DVR, etc. I would rather control the volume on the quad it self. I think this can be done with a resistor on the signal line of the microphone, but I have no idea what value resistor to use or start with. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      i recommend using a pot that can be adjustsed between 0ohm to 1Kohm… tune resistance until you are happy with the volume.

      Reply
  16. Yoav

    Why would you want to mount a mic if you can see the throttle position and “Low voltage alarm” on the OSD (and much more info)?

    Reply
    1. Stuart

      Some people dislike having and OSD because they either forget to look at the numbers or they get distracted looking at the OSD.

      Reply
    2. Jaymzee

      Why would you want to see throttle position and low voltage alarm on the OSD if you could just hear the information?

      Reply
  17. Indy

    Hi Oscar,
    Very interesting topic.
    I’ve a question that would be related…
    How to protect efficiently the mic from the wind?
    I bought a Runcam 2 and so far I’m happy with it, but the sound of the wind is horrible.
    How could I get the great noise of the motors like on the videos I can watch on YouTube?
    Thanks,

    Reply
  18. Salle RC

    To bad it’s 12V, not everyone have that on their 4S machine. Quite common to only have a regulator for 5V for FPV-cam and FC/reveiver. Maybe it will work with less also. Think I set my D-Sun to output 7V since FC and receiver can handle up to 10V. Thanks for the article!

    Reply
  19. Attila

    Hi Oscar,
    It would be great to see a list of (example) VTX / VRX that supports audio!
    I’ve got Eachine stuffs, would they work? Found nothing on www.

    Reply
  20. Dragonsbane777

    Any pilot who cannot hear their quad’s engines is missing out. I use the sound to directly tell me how much thrust I am getting at any one time. Perhaps I played too many racecar video games, or perhaps it was racing around in my own cars. Perhaps it is I am a music teacher for the last 20 years, I don’t know. When I do take off and I have forgotten my earpiece, however, it feels like a scary, unconnected flight. Get that audio going!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      exactly! I feel very much the same as well when i can’t hear my quad! that’s why i have hated med/long range flying before i have the audio.

      Reply
  21. Joel

    Hi Oscar – I was searching your site last week for this very solution. Thank You!

    Quick question. Where do you get the 12v power? Does this come off of the Naze32 board?

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      i am powering my vtx and camera with 12V from my PDB (voltage regulator), so i just use that to power the mic too.

      Reply
  22. George Doukas (fb: geDuke, google+: gDuke68)

    Hi Oscar (very interesting blog!)

    The mic on FPV it’s also an “FPV range indicator”! When you are about to exceed the limits of your fpv transmitter, first you are start to loose the sound and then the video signal!! So when the audio quality are getting bad this is an “alert” that you are about to loose the video signal in a few seconds!

    Reply
  23. Dynamo_fpv

    Awesome write up Oscar.
    I been using that same mic from BG on all my builds in the last 6months and love them!
    Helps allot when flying with others so that you dont get confused by listening to all the miniquads at once but rather only yours.

    Reply

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