My pref at the moment is to use an external digital auto recorder like the Zoom H4N and record directly to that. I still record audio the camera but only as reference. Then in post (I"m on FCP) I use Plural Eyes to sync the audio from the H4n. Works great!
If that workflow is not for you as you suggest you can use an microphone preamp to connect your microphones (and use phantom power) as well as control level and monitor directly form the the preamp. Some of these units can even override the AGC on the camera.
Beachtek is very popular but I've found the unit to be very very noisy. My personal preference if you want to go the preamp route is to get a JuicedLinked. Much better sounding audio in my opinion.
And yes these units still connect via the mini stereo plug to your camera.