Rødelink Performer Wireless Microphone
First foray into live sound wireless hits presentation sweetspot.
There are a couple of things that instantly impress about Rode Microphone’s first foray into live sound wireless. The first and most impressive is the rechargeable battery. The lithium-ion battery is the size of two AAs, so you can substitute conventional alkaline batteries if you need to, but otherwise you can recharge them via the micro USB input on the mic. This is really, really nifty. Most FOH mixing spots will have some kind of USB port knocking about. I popped the (supplied) RodeLink lead into the USB data port on the front panel of my Midas Pro1. It’ll charge up in about three hours. The battery will last up to (a quoted) 10 hours. Being 2.4GHz wireless, it will be heavier on the juice than a UHF system. But the endurance was most respectable.
ALL IN HAND
The transmitter feels balanced and pleasant to hold. When I gave it to our female talent her first reaction was very favourable, she loved the satin finish and the slightly slimmer form factor compared to the Shure and Sennheiser transmitters she was accustomed to (and at 220g the RodeLink transmitter is a good 20% lighter than the Sennheiser SKM-D1). This system is fighting it out in the Shure BLX or Sennheiser D1 sandpit and the build quality is comparable. Buttons depress with reassuring resistance. The barrel of the body takes a little bit of elbow grease to unscrew, which I prefer. The on/off button is on the bottom and easy to negotiate.
The receiver is your customary half-rack width device with the requisite ins and out and a pair of antennae for dual diversity reception.
The two-colour screen is great for a system at this price. The battery life meter is reassuring to have and the audio level metering is prominent.
Pairing the transmitter is a standard process of pressing the pairing buttons. It all functioned as expected.
The transmitter uses a M2 capsule. I’ve used handheld condenser mics for some time now (mostly the S1), so the hypercardioid pickup pattern and frequency response curves were familiar (presence lift around 4k and some bumps around 12k). There’s plenty of vocal clarity and the handling noise is reassuringly low.
Interestingly, there’s no beltpack system yet. I’m sure it’s on its way. After all, the Rode HS1 headset mic has been on the market for about a year, and is crying out for a companion transmitter to plug into. [Ed – The RodeLink transmitter in the filmmaker kit is most of the way there.]
RodeLink Performer is good value. At the price, it’s up against the likes of the Sennheiser D1 — another system I’ve had plenty of experience with — which has a similar spec and receiver features. Saying that, the D1 has some nifty audio DSP features and a choice of transmitter capsules. Meanwhile, RodeLink’s 4ms latency is perfectly acceptable and the 128-bit AES encryption is welcome, although not a feature you’d normally hear people demand in this price range. For mine, the USB battery recharging of the Rode system will be enough to win it a place in many single-channel presentation applications — it’s just such a handy feature.