Review: Rode Wireless Go
Rode strikes again, this time with a super affordable vlogger-friendly grab ‘n’ go wireless mic system.
Filmmaking has been democratised in the last decade. Consumer-produced YouTube videos have never looked and sounded so good; and vlogging – the practise of documenting your life on camera for the world to see – has practically become a legitimate career path.
Røde cleverly capitalised on this snowballing market early in the piece with a very intentional focus on developing audio tools for video producers. Once again, the Aussie manufacturer has identified a niche and put forth a product that uniquely and affordably fills it.
It’s called Wireless Go — a wireless microphone system comprising a diminutive transmitter and receiver weighing just 31g each. Besides its size, what makes Wireless Go unique is the Transmitter <is also the microphone>. The covert built-in omnidirectional mic means you can clip the little black unit straight to your talent’s lapel without an intrusive cable weaving through their clothing.
The suggestion here is people will be having the transmitter as part of the talent’s wardrobe. The truth is, most videographers won’t be cool with a black lump fastened to their subject’s shirt. Which is why it’s great the transmitter also has a 3.5mm mic input for connection to a lav of your choosing (note: Wireless Go doesn’t come with an external mic, but the Røde Lavalier Go mic is sold separately and any lav mic with a minijack input will do just fine).
However, I can see why Røde chose to incorporate the built-in mic. There’s something to be said for the run ’n’ gun swiftness with which you can attach and remove it from talent that offsets the sacrifice you make visually. (Chances are, we’ll see the Go transmitter conspicuously in more and more vlogs.)
COME IN PLEASE
The clip on the receiver slides neatly onto a camera’s cold-shoe mount. Connect it to your camera’s audio input using the coiled red 3.5mm cable. It starts up with a 3s press of the On button (marked by the Røde Ø logo) and pairs promptly with the transmitter via Bluetooth. The backlit colour display on the Receiver shows battery levels for both itself and the Transmitter pack and has a clear level meter and signal strength readout. Besides the Pair button (with the link icon), the dB button toggles through three output levels dictating how much to feed your camera. A headphone monitoring output is the only omission on the receiver, though it’s not quite fair to demand one at this price point.
TIME TO GO
The spec sheet claims the mic capsule has a noise level of 21.8dBA and will handle up to 100dB SPL. It’s a clean sounding mic that’s best placed close to the base of a person’s neck. Up against a Sennheiser ME2 lavalier mic the Wireless Go did a fine job maintaining vocal clarity and richness, albeit with slightly less high-mid presence and overall polish.
Gain is set automatically and it works fine for the most part — I didn’t detect any ugly signal clipping or level breathing. For outdoor shoots Wireless Go comes with a fluffy windshield to place on the built-in mic which results in an even bigger aesthetic impost on camera but could well save your skin in a windy environment.
Even on the highest output, I wasn’t getting a huge amount of level from the receiver into my camera (compared to something like Sennheiser’s AVX system). Keep this in mind if your camera can’t supply a few extra dB of clean gain to its audio input.
NEED TO KNOW
RODE Wireless Go
Wireless Lapel Mic System
Having experienced some link flakiness with the RødeLink Performer Kit, I was concerned with how Wireless Go would fare within the same 2.4GHz band. Rode states it’ll give you an impressive (but unrealistic) 70m line of sight range. Although I didn’t test Wireless Go quite to this limit, the link did stay solid from one side of a house to another and even while running around the outside. In a more practical ~3m link test it reliably held it together over the course of a shoot. So I’m pleased to report that Røde’s Series III 2.4GHz tech is ready for prime time.
After giving Wireless Go a fair run I’m glad to say Røde has done it again and given the filmmaking market something it didn’t yet know it needed – an affordable, practical, portable and slightly eccentric-looking gadget for high quality wireless audio. The micro-sized kit will be an irresistible proposition for vloggers, video journalists, indie cinematographers, and even as a backup mic option for professionals.