Review: RØDE Microphones Wireless Me
All the perks of Wireless Go but with a personal touch.
The Røde Wireless Go took the world by storm (as do many of Røde’s products) through its simple ingenuity. Sure, the peculiar little square form factor took a while to get used to, but once we discovered the diminutive transmitter unit also housed the mic itself, no one seemed to mind clipping it onto lapels and dresses for the sheer convenience of it all. No dangly, knotted cables to run through people’s clothing or fiddly clips that spring into the stratosphere if mishandled. Besides, I have seen the compactness of Wireless Go spark creative use cases not otherwise possible with a typical beltpack and lapel setup – for example, gaffing a Wireless Go to a wedding celebrant’s handheld mic for a no-fuss audio feed to the videographer. But Wireless Go is also darn cheap for a reliable 2.4GHz channel of wireless audio – an absolute godsend for vloggers and smartphone journos.
Digital connectivity is another beloved feature of Wireless Go. The convenience of plugging the receiver straight into my Samsung smartphone via the USB-C port can’t be overstated. Suddenly, capturing quality wireless audio for smartphone-filmed video is well within reach. Even the supplied USB-C cable at the receiver end is suitably short, and the clip opens wide enough to perch on the end of my phone (at least on my Galaxy S21).
The new Røde Wireless Me one-ups Wireless Go in one key area: Røde has introduced a mic into the receiver unit as well – a ‘Me’ mic, if you will. So it’s a dual-channel system where both transmitter and receiver have built-in microphones.
What’s the point, you may ask?
The clue’s in the name: Wireless Me. Yes, you – Wireless Me validates the voice of the person behind the camera. Interviews are the obvious application here, but also think about slating scenes or shots, filming the ever-popular reaction videos on a smartphone (both front and rear cameras can be recorded via the Røde Capture iOS app), or even using it as a way to grab ambience or room sound. The mic on the receiver faces backwards when slid onto the hot shoe of a camera, kind of like a shotgun mic in reverse.
NEED TO KNOW
RØDE Microphones Wireless Me
Dual-Channel Wireless Microphones
IN THE BOX
Wireless Me ships with enough accessories to put it to immediate use in a variety of applications. Two short coiled 3.5mm cables let you take the receiver’s analogue output into a camera (TRS to TRS) or a smartphone (TRS to TRRS). Alternatively you can use similarly short USB-C cables to plug into a smartphone or computer – Rode supplies two versions with both Lightning and USB-C connectors at the other end. Two fluffy windshields are thrown in for when it’s windy outside.
Physically, the units are almost identical to Wireless Go, however, you won’t find a screen on the receiver, or a dB button to select output level, or even a Link button. The only button on both transmitter and receiver units is for Power – linking occurs automatically. The transmitter has a mic input for a lavalier.
Unlocking the full feature set requires connecting Wireless Me to the Røde Central application. Thankfully, if both Tx and Rx units are powered up, you only need to plug in the Rx unit to control parameters on both.
Røde Central is where the ‘Me’ mic in the receiver can be activated and Gain Assist mode selected – a setting which modifies gain in real time to best match the incoming source signal. You can choose whether the transmitter and receiver mic signals are Merged or Split (left/right in stereo). Three output gain settings are available as well as a toggle to dim the LED lights on the physical Wireless Me units. Gain Assist and LED brightness can be toggled on the transmitter and receiver independently.
Sound-wise, there’s no surprises and no complaints. The omnidirectional microphones perform well and benefit from close placement to a source for maximum presence. If you don’t like the sound of the built-in mic, you can turn the transmitter into a ‘beltpack’ by connecting a lav into the 3.5mm input. In all my tests the 2.4GHz link stayed solid.
The Gain Assist feature is an intelligent automatic gain control with two modes that determine how it reacts to changes in SPL. I was able to yell so loud that my wife jumped in the next room, yet the camera input remained blissfully un-clipped. It’s nice to know that if you’re shooting out and about those spikes will be caught quite effectively, but note that when the compression kicks in it creates a very noticeable ‘ducking’ effect, especially on Mode 2.
My one complaint is the inability to activate or deactivate the receiver microphone without using Røde Central. The ‘Me’ mic is a fantastic feature that I see myself regularly switching on and off during a shoot when I need it to fulfil a particular purpose. To have to decide whether it’ll be always on or deactivated entirely before I walk into a shoot feels restrictive. The same goes for the output gain setting, although I can live with this – once the Wireless Me receiver output is set to High via Røde Central it’s easy enough to gain down the input on my camera if needs be.
Most of my tests were with a camera, however it’s clear Røde designed Wireless Me to work just as well with a smartphone. The versatility of the system in this regard really sets it apart from any competing products (aside from the fact that I can’t think of another wireless system that has a mic built into the receiver).
With Wireless Me, Røde has once again created a ‘why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ type product. And if you found yourself asking that very question, you’ll be pleased to know such a product now exists and may well make your videography workflow that much better.