The Rode Wireless Go II makes a significant upgrade on the Wireless Go, which is one of our favourite camera accessories. Its ability to record two channels makes it useful for a wider range of situations while the safety channel is great when the sound level is very changeable. Rode has also extended the operating range, which could be helpful at times, but should also mean that the signal is more stable at closer quarters.
The on-board recording is an excellent addition that gives reassurance when there’s a chance that the signal may be lost for some reason.
One of the nice things about having a Wireless Go II, like the Wireless Go, is that it makes you think about audio in a slightly different way and you become more creative. Instead of recording audio from a fixed position (usually the camera), for example, you have the option to clip the mic to someone in scene – even if they’re not speaking – or position it somewhere in the scene to get the sound from a more remote area. This means that instead of only hearing the sound of someone walking when they get close to the camera, for instance, you have the option to record their footsteps from 200m away.
Small, compact units with a built-in mic
Safety channel available
Internal battery not replaceable
Advanced features require a computer for activation and deactivation
One of our favourite camera accessories just got a whole load better with greater range and advanced features.
What is the Rode Wireless Go II?
Rode has introduced the Wireless Go II as a step-up from the original Rode Wireless Go, but the Wireless Go continues in the range. Like the original, the Wireless Go II is a wireless microphone system with a small receiver that connects to the camera or other recording device and a transmitter with a built-in mic that clips on the talent – or wherever you want to record sound.
However, the Rode Wireless Go II receiver is a dual-channel unit and the kit comes with two transmitters and a single receiver. The receiver is connected to a camera or other recording device via the supplied cable while the transmitters are positioned where you want the sound to be picked up. For example, you can clip the transmitters on two different people to record their conversation.
Also, the Wireless Go II’s range is up to 200m by line of sight. That’s up from 70m with the original Wireless Go and it’s double the range of the Rode Filmmaker Kit. It means that you can use a Wireless Go II transmitter to capture sound from afar.
Rode Wireless Go II Price and Availability
The Rode Wireless Go II is available to order immediately for £279 / $299.
Transmission type: 2.4GHz Digital Frequency with 128-bit encription
Transmission range: 200m line of sight
Microphone type: Omnidirectional
Input: 3.5mm TRS
Frequency Range: 50Hz – 20kHz
Power: Built-in rechargeable Li-po battery with a life of up to 7 hours
Dimensions: Transmitters: 44×45.3×18.3 mm, Receiver: 44×45.5×18.3mm
Weight: Transmitters: 30g, Receiver: 32g
As I’ve already mentioned, the Rode Wireless Go II builds on the original Wireless Go
with the addition of a second channel for recording and greater range. It can also be switched between mono (Merged) or stereo (Split) recording so the two transmitters’ signals can either be mixed together or recorded on separate channels.
Rode has used its new Series IV 2.4GHz digital transmission with 128-bit encryption for the Wireless Go II to enable the extended range of 200m (by line of sight). It’s also optimised for stability in areas with lots of RF activity, which should mean fewer dropouts.
Although they have microphones built-in, the two Wireless Go II transmitters each have a 3.5mm TRS input to enable an alternative mic to be used. This means that you can use a small clip mic or transform a mic with a 3.5mm output into a wireless microphone.
Naturally, Rode has updated the Wireless Go II’s receiver screen to enable you to monitor key information such as the signal strength, battery level and output level for the two transmitters simultaneously. The gain can be jointly adjusted via the receiver.
In addition, the Wireless Go II has a safety channel feature that’s also seen on the Rode VideoMic NTG. When this is activated, the Wireless Go II saves a second channel at -20dB lower than the main channel in case of clipping or distortion. It’s a useful feature if the sound volume is likely to change unpredictably and it is in addition to the three-stage pad (gain control), which can be extended to a 10-stage pad.
Also, both transmitters can be set to record around 43 hours or more of audio just in case of signal dropouts. Recording uncompressed audio limits the onboard recording to 7 hours while recording compressed audio extends it to approximately 43 hours.
Rode also launched Rode central with the Wireless Go II. This is free software for Mac and PC computers that enables firmware updates, gives access to the advanced features and allows audio files stored on the transmitters to be played or downloaded.
Build and Handling
One of the key attractions of the Rode Wireless Go II is that the units are small. The transmitters measure 44×45.3×18.3mm while the receiver is 44×45.5×18.3mm, making the units a bit smaller than a small box of matches. The Wireless Go II units look almost identical to the Wireless Go units.
The receiver has a clip that can slip into a camera hotshoe or be attached to another recording device or a camera strap. Similarly, the transmitters have clips that enable them to be attached to clothing. They’re also compatible with Rode’s Magclip Go which enables them to be attached to clothing by magnetism. That’s handy if you’re wearing a t-shirt or jumper rather than a shirt, jacket or tie.
Rode supplies three furry windshields with the Wireless Go II. These attach to the transmitter with a new ‘twist-to-lock’ connection, similar to a lens bayonet mount, which makes them less prone to being knocked-off than the original Wireless Go’s windshields. It’s a really secure fix.
There’s also the SC5 cable for connecting the receiver to a camera or recorder with a 3.5mm input, and three USB cables for charging or recording to a computer or other USB device.
The SC5 is a flat cable rather than a curly one and it’s easy to bend it around your camera so it doesn’t get in the way.
Receiver power button
Receiver connection ports
Receiver control buttons
Transmitter power button
Transmitter USB port
Transmitter mic and mic port
In a nice touch, Rode supplies a slim neoprene case that has room to store the complete kit and keep everything protected.
The transmitters and receiver are paired right from the get-go, but they can be disconnected and reconnected if necessary. However, unlike with the Rode Filmmaker Kit, there’s no option to set the connection channel, it all just happens automatically.
With just two control buttons and a power button on the receiver, the Rode Wireless Go II is pretty straightforward to use and it only takes a little while to become familiar with which features are accessed by pressing both buttons, which needs a single button press and which needs a long press.
Conveniently, it’s possible to mute either or both of the transmitters via the receiver. Simply press the pair (chain link) button on the receiver to select the transmitter that you want to mute, then press the mute button. The muting is clearly displayed on the receiver screen.
There’s also a 3-stage gain control button or pad on the receiver. This adjusts the output level in 12dB steps and pressing it toggles between high (0dB), medium (-12dB), and low (-24dB) gain settings. Alternatively, fine gain control mode can be enabled using Rode Central.
When the fine gain control is selected pressing the gain button on the receiver toggles through the options in -3dB steps from -30dB to 0. That means if you miss the setting you want, you have to make quite a few more button presses.
The level icon in the middle of the receiver’s screen shows which gain setting is selected while the output meter on the receiver makes it clear whether your audio is in the right range.
If the system is set to record in ‘Merged’ (mono) mode, only one output level is shown, even if two transmitters are in use. If ‘Split’ (stereo) mode is selected, two levels are visible. If you’re only using one transmitter, it’s best to set the Wireless Go II to ‘Merged’ mode as this pushes the audio across both channels rather than just the left or the right.
The transmitters or receiver must be connected to the computer via one of the three supplied USB-C cables to enable Rode Central to access them.
The Wireless Go II is the first of Rode’s microphones to use Rode Central, but other mics, including the VideoMic NTG and AI-1 will be integrated in the future.
As soon as a Wireless Go II transmitter or receiver is connected to my computer when Rode Central is running, I can see its battery status and the current settings. If there’s new firmware, you’re notified straight away and you can set it to install with a click.
Connecting a transmitter or receiver doesn’t trigger Rode central to open, you need to fire it up from the applications list.
Rode Central is easy to use, just connect the receiver to adjust the settings or select the mode (Merged or Split), and connect the transmitters in turn to access their recordings. Oddly, there’ no disconnection option, once you’ve made the settings changes that you want, you just disconnect the USB cable.
It would be handy if the settings could be adjusted via a smartphone app rather than requiring a computer. If you’re out on a job and you realise that the sound level is very varied, for example, you might want to activate the safety channel. This can only be done via Rode Central Computer app.
Although you need to use Rode Central to activate the advanced features, you can adjust the settings using the receiver’s two control buttons. Here’s a breakdown of what adjustments or settings can be changed using the on-board controls:
Power and pairing: Press and hold the receiver button to power it up. Doing the same on either transmitter will power it up and it will pair automatically with the receiver.
Gain: Single-press the gain (dB) button on the receiver to toggle through the gain values. Use this same control whether the gain is set to coarse or fine.
Reconnecting: If a transmitter loses the connection with the transmitter, the blue LED above the link symbol will flash. To reconnect it, press and hold the pair (link) button on the receiver for three seconds then single-click the transmitter power button. The two units will automatically connect.
Disconnecting: if you want to disconnect a transmitter for some reason, select it on the receiver by pressing the pair (link) button, then press and hold the button again be three seconds.
Merged or Split Mode: press and hold both control buttons on the receiver for three seconds and watch for the output level meter to change. If you see one level, the Wireless Go II is in Merged mode, if you see two, it’s in Split mode.
Mute Control: Click on the pair (link) button until the transmitter that you want to mute is selected then single-press the gain control/mute button. Alternatively, press the transmitter power button once to mute or unmute it.
Power Save Mode: In Power Save Mode the receivers LED backlight turns off after 10 seconds of inactivity. To turn this mode on or off, single-press the receiver power button. A small sun icon shows next to the middle battery symbol if power save mode is active.
Rode Central Adjustments
The following settings can only be activated or deactivated via Rode Central:
Fine gain control: Use the Gain mode control to toggle between Fine and Coarse gain control.
On-board recording: this is activated or deactivated and the recording quality) compressed or uncompressed) is set individually on each transmitter via Rode Central.
Mute Lock: Prevent accidental muting of the transmitter from the transmitter
Safety Channel: The safety channel can only be activated if the receiver is set to ‘Merged’ mode. If ‘Split’ mode is set, the Safety Channel setting is greyed out.
Recording Quality: After the shoot, the audio files recorded on the transmitters can be played back and downloaded using Rode Central. With the desired file selected, click on ‘Export’ to access the file settings and set the file name, file the (WAV or MP3), bit rate and sample rate.
Like the original Wireless Go, the Rode Wireless Go II is easy to use, but with a few extra modes, it’s worth thinking through which options would suit your situation best. Do you need to record from the transmitters on two separate channels for example, or would a safety channel be a good idea?
As usual with a microphone, it’s important to think about how you plan to use it, or where it will be positioned when you’re setting the level. As a rule, it’s best to set the camera gain low and use the Wireless Go II’s gain controls to determine the recording volume.
The Wireless Go II’s output meter gives a good indication of the levels being recorded, but if you have time, a test or two will help.
With the Canon EOS M50 Mark II shown above, for example, I set the camera’s ‘Sound recording’ to ‘Manual’ in the menu and set the ‘Recording level’ to the lowest registered value. Going a step lower than that value turned the audio recording off. After a few tests, I found that the Wireless Go II produced the best results when set to -3dB when I was recording my own voice with the transmitter clipped to my jacket.
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that you can only set one gain value for the system, so if you’re recording two people who speak at different volumes, you may want to move the transmitter closer to the quieter person’s mouth.
When correctly set-up, the Wireless Go II produces high-quality audio. Shooting outdoors, or where there’s some ambient sound, the system picks up some of that noise, but the talent’s voice always comes across clearly. It means you have some context for your recording.
Testing the range revealed that Rode’s 200m claim holds true when the transmitter is in line of sight of the receiver. Within around 50m, the Wireless Go II also coped well when the transmitter was clipped to the front of a jacket of someone walking away from the camera. In some cases, it stayed connected over greater distance, but the signal broke up when a tree or bend in the road got in the line of sight. Once the line of sight is restored, the transmitter and receiver reconnect quickly.
The on-board recording is also useful in situations like this and again, the results are good.
It’s great than Rode has upgraded the windshield connection for the Wireless Go II and as usual, they give good protection in a light to moderate breeze.
Because of the pandemic and the current lockdown in England, I haven’t been able to test the Wireless Go II in a busy RF environment. When that opportunity arises, I will update this review.
Rode Wireless Go II Sample Audio
This video was recorded on a Sony A7 III with the Rode Wireless Goo II connected to record the sound. The gain was set to Low and it was in ‘Split’ mode.
We love the original Wireless Go and the Rode Wireless Go II makes a solid upgrade on it. The fundamental features are just as easy to use and the Rode Central app makes activating the advanced features very easy.
For the time being at least, the Wireless Go is continuing in Rode’s range, which means that anyone looking for a wireless microphone system has a choice between it, the Wireless Go II and the Rode Filmmaker Kit.
If you don’t need the extended range, on-board recording or the ability to record across two channels, the Wireless Go makes a great choice and saves some cash.
In comparison to the Wireless Go, the Filmmaker Kit seems a bit more serious, but with a range of 100m and no ability to connect more than one transmitter, the Filmmaker Kit is less versatile than the Wireless Go II. It’s also quite a bit bigger.
The main advantages offered by the Rode Filmmaker Kit over the Wireless Go II are that it uses AA batteries, which can be replaced easily, and the communication channel can be specified from 1 to 8. In other respects, the Wireless Go II is the system to go for as it brings the option to record from two transmitters, on-board recording, a safety channel and the 200m range.
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