AS PROFESSIONAL CONTENT creators know only too well, there’s no room for poor audio in your locker. Arguably, viewers might put up with sitting through slightly shaky footage, but if the sound they’re hearing is less than perfection then those watching – and potential customers – will be hitting unsubscribe in their droves, and your production will look unprofessional.
And the fact is that motion is such a crucial part of the mix for so many professional photographers these days. A few years back, video creation made up around 50% of my workload, but today it’s more like 90%, so I need to be able to deliver excellent content every time. Over the years I have tried a couple of different ‘budget’ wireless microphone options and got my fingers
burned, being let down with patchy connection and the overall low-grade quality of the sound. I needed to up my game, so I invested in RØDE mics and haven’t looked back.
However, given the excellent range that’s on offer, which of the products in their line-up have I chosen to work with? The answer is that I regularly now travel with two systems, namely the RØDELink Filmmaker Kit and the recently released RØDE Wireless GO II.
Any piece of audio kit I intend to use on a regular basis needs to meet three important requirements. First and foremost, it has to be capable of outputting broadcast quality sound. My videos are used a lot on social media, however the more corporate films that I
produce tend to be hosted on company websites, so there’s zero room in the mix for the likes of hiss or fluctuating volumes.
My second key requirement is that the system needs to be robust. I use my kit every single day and professional use means it’s sure to get the occasional unintended knock, so it needs to be sturdy enough to take everything I can throw at it. Lastly, the system has to be compact and portable because, as a one-man band, I can’t be loaded down by unnecessarily cumbersome kit.
Let’s talk about the RØDELink Filmmaker kit first, which is the system I use more when I have a single subject talking to camera. This means that it will get more use should I be interviewing the CEO of a business, who might be presenting to camera, or when I’m out in the field shooting content for a motoring channel that I work for, where the presenter will be talking at a distance from the camera for longer periods of time.
The Filmmaker Kit comprises a receiver (RX-CAM), that fits onto the hot shoe of your camera, and I use this on both DSLR models as well as cinema cameras, such as the Canon C70 and C100 Mark II. There’s also a transmitter (TX-BELT), a TRS cable and a RØDE omnidirectional lavalier microphone, which is basically everything you need to be able to rock up to a location and very efficiently record great audio.
There’s so much to love about this system, but one of my favourite elements has to be the great build quality of the units. The TX features a belt clip so you can get subjects mic’d up in seconds, which is often a necessary evil in corporate productions where CEOs have very little time to give you for filming. Another huge plus for me is how fast the TX/RX units pair and link up on start-up. You don’t have time to waste on an important assignment, and the Filmmaker’s kit holds this connection superbly and the range on this system is massive – up to 100 metres!
On the TX unit, the subject just has to press a button to mute the unit, which is hugely useful if you’re filming all day and the talent needs to take a break from the camera. What’s more, the Filmmaker Kit is powered by AA batteries – though a USB option is also provided – so it doesn’t matter where in the world I’m filming, I can easily get more power if I need to.
With the TX unit weighing 190g and the RX unit tipping the scales at the same weight, this is very much a lightweight and portable system – thanks in no small part to the internal antenna in the units – but it definitely punches above its weight when it comes to audio quality. As a really useful extra, the clip-on lav mic comes with a pop shield and a windshield, meaning that you’re able to achieve great sound even if the wind picks up while filming outside.
I have to confess that on occasion I’ve inadvertently pushed the build quality to the max as cameras have tipped over while filming on location. In short, the Filmmaker’s Kit has taken a beating at times, but it’s still never let me down.
The RØDE Wireless GO II system is a newer addition to my kit bag, but has quickly proved its worth. RØDE built on the success of the original Wireless Go system and the latest version consists of a Receiver and two transmitter units, allowing two sound sources to be recorded at the same time.
This in turn opens up huge creative opportunities, enabling me to mic up two subjects or to capture important ambient sound while a main presenter is speaking. A good example of this is when I film automotive content and want to capture the roar of an engine, without drowning out the presenter.
With a two-mic set-up I can record both and balance the audio at the editing stage. An added bonus is the fact that the Wireless GO II units are unbelievably small, with the TX units weighing just 30g each and the RX tipping the scales at only 32g. Despite this, the built-in battery lasts for up to seven hours and I can recharge the units between takes, using a powerbank.
I’m also hugely impressed by the fact that the units feature built-in recording that delivers 40 hours or more of compressed audio and seven hours of uncompressed: that’s an incredibly important safety net. Overall, this system is perfect for travel assignments, as all three units have a smaller footprint than the Filmmaker Kit units, making them easy to slip into a cabin bag.
Even more space is saved by the ingenious hot shoe mounting arm, which doubles up as a mic clip if you choose to use the TX units as standalone mics without a lav mic (which don’t come supplied). RØDE even includes an equally genius windshield. Like the Filmmaker Kit, the RØDE Wireless GO II units pair amazingly quickly and their lightweight nature enables me to use the RX unit while filming with a camera on a gimbal. There’s also an amazing ecosystem, including accessories such as the Interview GO, an adapter that turns one of the Wireless GO II transmitters into a wireless handheld mic, suitable for presenting at events or interviewing.
What’s more, Wireless Go II system users can make use of RØDE Central, a free companion app for Mac and Windows, that allows users to set up device preferences and to access, optimise and export recordings. So, whether I’m filming one subject or two, the Filmmaker Kit and Wireless Go II have my audio needs fully covered, and I wouldn’t be without them.
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