Review: Røde Wireless Go II
Røde ups the ante with Wireless Go II, which may well be the most indispensable accessory in any videographer’s bag.
As a videographer who regularly shoots interviews with a wireless mic system feeding straight into the camera’s audio input, I am painfully aware that adding any more than a single channel of audio is an exponential jump in complexity.
Aside from pulling out a multi-channel field recorder and going full sound recordist, I usually opt to record the second input on my smartphone and sync it up later. Typically I’d use a wired lapel mic straight into my phone (eg. the Røde SmartLav), or use Rode’s SC4 adapter to take the TRS output of a second wireless mic receiver into my smartphone’s TRRS audio input.
Whichever way you spin it, adding that extra channel usually ends up in a lot more fussing around. Especially considering a shoot with two people is hardly a rarity: it could be a face to face interview, a podcast with two presenters, or the ever popular couple vlog.
GET SET, GO
If you can relate, don’t despair. Wireless Go II brings cable-free dual-channel recording to the masses. The concept is typical Røde innovation; pinpoint a need, create a solution, then sell it at a point where cost isn’t an issue. And this one’s a real winner.
Building on the popular Wireless Go system (which AT reviewed here), this second iteration comes with not one, but two transmitters. Dimensions haven’t changed: both receiver and transmitters are a diminutive 45mm x 44mm. The receiver accepts both signals at the same time and feeds them separately into the left/right outputs, turning a camera’s stereo input into a dual mono recorder. Suddenly, a dual mic recording is no longer a headache.
The system comes with a neat pouch to stow all three units, along with a coiled TRS to TRS cable and a few USB-C to USB-A cables. Furry windshields are included for both transmitters.
Press and hold the ‘Ø’ buttons on the transmitters and receiver to turn them on. Pairing occurs seamlessly within seconds. Røde states the Series IV 2.4GHz digital transmission (upgraded from first gen Wireless Go) will give you a stable wireless connection up to (an astonishing) 200m line of sight, and its performance is meant to be smooth sailing in busy RF/wifi environments. I had no link or dropout issues in my tests although I must admit I didn’t run 200m from the receiver to truly put Røde’s claims to the tests.
The Wireless Go II system is piloted from the receiver unit. A bright LED screen tells you when you’re connected to one or both transmitters and clearly displays their input and battery levels. Either channel can be individually muted via the receiver. Output level can be set to 0dB, -12dB or -24dB. Split mode outputs transmitters 1 and 2 on channels left and right, respectively, but you can set the output to stereo (Merge mode) which will either sum both transmitter signals, or let you use a single transmitter and save yourself panning it to centre later on. The -20dB safety channel, which provides insurance against loud audio spikes, can be engaged in Merge mode only.
Every recordist takes failsafes seriously. Onboard recording is a huge selling point in Wireless Go II, offering a valuable backup in case of RF dropouts or poor gain setting further down the chain. Internal memory in the transmitters has enough capacity for over 40 hours recording time of compressed audio.
NEED TO KNOW
RØDE Wireless Go II
Dual-Channel Wireless Microphone System
One thing I love about Wireless Go II is it’ll plug into pretty much anything. In a short time I’d used Wireless Go II to record into a smartphone, computer, and a camera, while using the internal microphone, a Sennheiser lav, and a Røde shotgun as the source.
The receiver has both USB-C and 3.5mm TRS outputs. The USB-C connector allows it to interface with all manner of digital devices: iPhones or iPads with the SC15 Lightning cable, Android smartphones with the SC16 USB-C cable, or even straight into a computer with the included USB-C to USB-A cable. Plugging the receiver into my MacBook instantly created a new input in System Preferences which can be selected as a recording source in a DAW or QuickTime.
Wireless Go II’s ability to transform into a tiny audio interface sets it apart from the pack. Now you can easily record two wireless channels straight into Pro Tools with no power cables, XLR leads or other paraphernalia. It’s ideal for content creators in a studio-based multi-cam setup to capture audio in your computer and sync it up later in your NLE. Or it makes a quick podcast recording a breeze.
Alternatively you can bypass the digital interfacing and use the receiver’s TRS output into any device that’ll accept analogue inputs. But the upside to using the USB-C output is it frees up the analogue TRS output as a realtime headphone monitor.
While the Wireless Go II’s built-in omnidirectional mic sounds fine, don’t forget the 3.5mm input jack makes any audio source with a line output fair game for the Wireless Go II system, like a nice lavalier or headset mic. I even plugged my Røde VideoMic NTG straight in with a 3.5mm TRS cable for an instant wireless shotgun rig. Interview audio has never been easier!
To unlock its full array of features, Wireless Go II needs to be paired up with Røde Central software – a free download off Røde’s website. Connecting the receiver offers you various extended functionality including a 10-stage pad for finer gain setting (in 3dB increments), easy firmware updates, and a mute lock. The Ø button function can be toggled from a backlight on/off switch to a marker button, which will drop a marker on the internal recordings whenever it’s pressed.
Internal recording happens pre-airwaves right in the transmitters themselves. The feature is activated inside the Røde Central companion app – there’s no way to do this on the units themselves. Once activated, the transmitters will begin recording the moment they form a link with the receiver.
Depending on your needs, recordings can be in a compressed format (around 40 hours) or uncompressed WAV 24-bit/48kHz (around 7 hours). All your recordings show up as a list in Røde Central where each can be previewed and scrubbed. Signal dropouts are signposted with markers, as are marker points from the receiver’s Ø button. Recordings are time stamped which many editors will greatly appreciate. You can export a full recording or just a selection, with options of WAV/MP3, 44.1/48kHz, and 24-bit/32-bit floating point.
At time of writing, Røde released a firmware update which allows a WG II transmitter to record uncompressed audio without being connected to the receiver. In other words, a transmitter can also be used as a standalone recorder, meaning you don’t have to worry about staying within a safe link distance. The applications for this are endless: from a personal dictaphone to a Zoom-like portable handy recorder, to an ‘attach to anything’ audio capture device on set.
MAKE IT TWO
To state the obvious, the standout distinguisher of Wireless Go II is how effortless it makes dual-channel recording in a single camera setup. Forget camera-top mics and the background noise they introduce, or field recorders and their bulkiness; Wireless Go II provides all the benefits of clean, crisp spoken word, times two. One can only imagine the appeal this has to doco filmmakers, wedding videographers, vloggers, journos and podcasters.
A word of advice, though. When it comes to multi-mic setups, don’t forget the 3:1 rule – the distance between microphones should be at least three times the distance from the microphone to the source. Not adhering to this usually results in all manner of phasing weirdness, as audio bleeds in and out of both mics at slightly different times. Facing the mics away from each other helps lessen the effect, as does using cardioid lav or lapel mics, but still do your best to keep a fair distance between them when recording with both transmitters or you’ll end up with the painful task of gating or automating levels for each one in post.
One minor operational complaint is when using the 3.5mm TRS jack as a headphone output. If I’m recording two channels in Split mode, the headphone output reflects the USB-C output by hard panning the channels. Naturally it can feel a bit odd monitoring with a different voice in each ear and a welcome feature would be the ability to collapse the headphone feed to mono while splitting the channels on the USB-C output.
All up, my experience reviewing the Røde Wireless Go II was filled with pleasant surprises and regular exclamations of “wow, that was easy”. Not everyone has time for complicated wireless mic systems with scrollable menus and a hundred and one frequency options. For the run ’n’ gun types, Wireless Go II is for you. Turn it on and it just works, in various ways and with various devices, and now with two channels.