Resembling micro retro radios, the SmallRig Wireless Microphone kit stands out from the outset. The design is striking, and the company has gone one step further than other wireless mics I have recently reviewed.
Like others, there’s the charging case, although this one plugs into a power source rather than providing its own. Then there’s the transmitter microphones (TX) and receiver (RX) all with small LCDs, a monitoring audio port on the RX and an external mic on both TXs.
The units are simple to use, and the two dials on the RX makes balancing audio for interviews extremely easy.
Again as with other wireless units, the design is not discrete, with the relatively large box-like design of the two transmitter mics being easily visible when clipped to clothing. However, the audio pick-up quality is superb, and you have the option to wire in a lavalier mic for a far more professional look.
Overall an excellent wireless mic solution that will suit vloggers and those conducting interviews professionally.
Compact and lightweight
Easy to use
Great audio quality
Retro design might not be to everyone's taste
No charging case
What is SmallRig Wireless Microphone?
The SmallRig Wireless Microphone is a comprehensive all-in-one wireless microphone solution. The duo kit is designed for videographers looking to vlog or conduct interviews.
The system is a step-up from some other wireless mic systems that I have looked at recently, with the addition of small LCD screens to monitor the settings and levels, monitoring outputs on the RX and mic inputs on the two TXs.
The units have several nice features that make the workflow easy to understand and adjust as needed. Each unit is relatively simple; the RX resembles a retro stereo and features two largish dials that enable you to adjust the input levels of each microphone easily. This makes balancing the audio when shooting interviews extremely easy.
Although each unit is compact, they all feature built-in rechargeable batteries. These hold a good amount of charge to see you through several hours of interviews. Although the case doesn’t feature its own power source it will plug directly into any standard powered USB port such as those on your laptop or a power station such as the BLUETTI EB70.
Channels : Two
Sample rate: 48kHz 16bits
Battery life : 8 hours
Latency : <10ms
Frequency Range : 2400-2483.5MHz
Working distance of : 100m
Charging time : 1 hour TX 1.5 hour RX
Build and Handling
The TX and RX arrive as a kit neatly packed into a box that resembles a pencil case. The case is part of the package with a direct USB Type-C port on the side ready for charging, or a channel underneath neatly holds a standard USB cable that can be plugged directly into a USB power outlet.
While some companies with similar products have opted for a charging case with an internal battery, SmallRig has kept things simple. Considering the Mics and Reciever have an eight-hour battery life, this makes sense and helps keep the unit’s weight and cost down.
The case design is effective; opening it up, you have the two TX mics and the RX laid inside. Taking each out and the two TX mics are identical with the mic on top, clip on the back, power and dual function manual link / low pass filter on one side, 3.5mm external mic in and USB Type-C port in for charging on the other. Then on the front, you have a relatively large colour LCD that shows the connection status and audio levels once switched on and connected.
Looking at the RX and on top, you have two dials that enable you to adjust the Mic levels. On the side, you have the power button; clicking this once enables you to switch between stereo and mono modes; then, on the side, you have a USB Type-C in, audio in and monitoring headphone jack.
The design of the wireless system makes it very easy to figure out.
When setting up the camera, the RX slots into the camera hot shoe and the two TX mics clip to your collar or clothing. Alternatively, the TXs can clip to a belt, and a lavalier mic can be attached for something a little more discrete.
The great thing about the latest range of wireless mic systems is that they have been designed to be as plug-and-play as possible. This means all you need to do is make sure the units are charged, plug them in, power up, and then you’re ready to go.
In the background, there are, of course, far more complex things going on and these wireless mics pack in the features. For example to enable the clear wireless transmission you have dual-channel, low-latency wireless audio transmission with a range of up 100m. This 100m is, of course, clear view without any obstacles obstructing the transmission path.
Although unlike similar kits, the charging case is just a case with power inputs rather than sporting an internal power supply, the small units can still supply 8 hours on a single charge.
To ensure the best possible audio quality, the two TX microphones feature omnidirectional condenser microphones that capture high-definition and high-quality audio.
A nice feature of the mics is the ability to switch between mono and stereo recording quickly. This is a common feature of many systems, but with the SmallRig Wireless Microphones, it’s made very easy with a single button press.
The low cut feature helps to remove background hums and buzz below 200Hz and helps produce a clearer audio track.
Another nice feature is the dual volume input dials on the RX. These can be adjusted independently to match the volume of the people wearing the mics.
Each of the units also incorporates a small screen that lets you see the mics’ volume level and status. While the screen is small, it relays all of the important information and is a worthwhile addition, especially as you take the step from having fun with video to needing to take things a little more seriously.
Removing the units from the case requires a power button tap to get them started. I found that starting the RX first and then the two TXs on the boot sequence ensured that everything paired together quickly.
The pairing process from cold takes around 10 seconds, and you must remember to switch the units off once you’ve finished. Many other wireless systems feature an auto-start and pair system as soon as they’re removed from their case. These systems also switch off the units as soon as they’re replaced into the case, which is handy. While the SmallRig Wireless Microphone set doesn’t do this, it should come as second nature once you get into the process of switching on and off, its a bit retro in that respect.
Once the units are paired, the wireless connection is solid and plugging the receiver into the Canon EOS R5 C, the audio is of a good high quality. As ever, there is a little adjustment of the camera mic input level to get the balance of the audio levels just right.
Again the ability to adjust the audio input volume on the receiver is a real benefit, with the ease of adjustment over that input volume enabling you to balance louder interviewees with quieter ones easily. This helps save a good amount of time in post with the audio processing.
The lowpass filter also does a good job; it doesn’t over-process the audio as with some other units, but the amount applied is fixed as either on or off.
Regarding use, two things make the SmallRig Wireless Microphones stand out. The first is the audio input volume control. This direct volume adjustment means that you can easily balance vocal input volume as you record, and with the small screens, you can see the effect of those adjustments as they are made.
The other is the external audio input on the TXs; these 3.5mm jack inputs enable you to plug in an external lavalier mic. This means that, unlike other compact wireless systems, you can tuck away the small, yet visually obvious TX mic unit and replace it with a discrete tie mic. The effect is far more professional and leaps your video interviews from vlogging to professional in one step.
After using the mics for voiceovers and a few simple interviews, I have to say I’m incredibly impressed with the audio quality and ease of use of the SmallRig Wireless Microphones. The only issue I’ve had is that the initial set-up takes a few seconds longer than some other systems, such as the Hollyland Lark M1. You must remember to power down the units after use otherwise when you come back to them the following day they will be flat. Otherwise, these are superb in every other respect.
A year ago, the options for a decent wireless microphone system were extensive but generally expensive with only the RODE Wireless being available at the affordable end. Today the choice is even greater, across the price range but the real battleground is now in the £100-£200 price bracket, the area that has been dominated by the compact RODE system.
The SmallRig Wireless Microphone is an excellent option and as with almost all of these small wireless systems smashes it with rich audio quality that would have cost a fortune a few years ago.
In use, the units are easy to set up with the pairing working 100% of the time during the test. My only issue was remembering to power the units down after use. I have got so used to wireless mics in charging cases automatically powering up and down as they connect that I kept forgetting to do it here. So, a small negative on this point.
In all other respects, the case is good and solid, with dual charge options through either the standard USB cable attached or the Type-C port. The case is of decent quality and keeps everything together nicely.
When showing the units to others I have been a little surprised that the design has split opinions, with some loving the compact retro radio style while others have instantly rejected it as simply too faffy. However, either way, the design for most parts works well and provides a solid performance.
At the end of the test, I was impressed with how the SmallRig Wireless Microphone system works. The audio quality is excellent, the external input for both transmitters is essential, and the ability to switch between mono and stereo so easily is a huge positive.
Ultimately if you want to take the step up from vlogging and get involved in interviewers or co-presented pieces to the camera, then the SmallRig Wireless Microphone system is an ideal choice.
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