by Fabian Chaundy | 29th December 2016
The long-awaited RØDE Rødelink Newsshooter Kit hit the market a few weeks ago after being announced way back in 2015. A sibling to the popular RødeLink Filmmaker Kit, the Newsshooter model offers a whole fistful of useful features – literally. As a one-man shooter working mostly in an Electronic News Gathering, there is one thing that I demand from all my kit: flexibility. In regards to audio, you may need to tap into the audio feed of a news conference, do a quick Piece to Camera quickly followed by a live transmission, you may get an extra guest on air at the last minute, or you may need to grab some quick Vox Pops in a busy environment. These are all situations that demand different solutions and, depending on what you have available to you, could mean carrying a lot of different equipment. This is why I was keeping a close eye on the release of the RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter Kit ever since it was announced last year. While the receiver (RX) is identical to the one in RØDE’s previous Filmmaker Kit, the RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter Kit offers a transmitter unit (TX) that works with both XLR and 3.5mm sources. This means that you can plug in a handheld dynamic mic or switch to a lavalier with the push of a button, without the need for a special TX for each microphone. The RodeLink Newsshooter Kit is compatible with mics with XLR, TS and TRS connections. The 3.5mm port on the TX can provide Plug-In Power, as well as 48V Phantom Power via XLR. This is great for using condenser microphones such as shotgun directional mics, meaning you can forget about the dangling XLR screwing up your boom sound. Clearly, this benefits any kind of shooting in which boom mics are used, not only newsgathering environments. Another great feature of the RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter Kit is the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack on the TX. This allows a reporter to monitor the audio they’re capturing, for example to keep the interviewee within the pickup range of the microphone. Nice! Micro USB and headphone ports on the TX. I had already been working with the Filmmaker Kit for about a year before I got my hands on the Newsshooter Kit, and I was always very pleased with its sound quality. Its 2.4 GHz digital transmission technology means that you can use the RødeLink system worldwide, without having to worry about accidentally entering restricted radio frequencies. Although, in theory, this technology should exhibit dropouts in busy digital signal environments — such as a city centre with thousands of WiFi networks — I have never experienced any problems: the system automatically hops across different frequencies to find the best one. I was happy to see that the new RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter Kit shares not only this impeccable sound quality and usable range (approximately 100m) with its older sibling, but also the incorporation of a micro-USB for powering via a standard power bank. Another great feature is the option to power the TX with a standard Sony-style NP-F battery, greatly increasing the battery life over AAs. The RodeLink Newsshooter Kit can be powered with the AA caddy or Sony NP-F style batteries. Unfortunately, the Newsshooter Kit also shares what I believe to be the RødeLink system’s greatest fault: size and ruggedness. The units are built out of plastic and are rather large, especially when compared to some of the competition. Don’t get me wrong, I have never had any problems with these units… But it does feel that the kind of accident that would only dent a metal unit would likely crack the RødeLink. Rubberised corners on the corners of the RodeLink Newsshooter Kit TX That said, the new TX on the RØDE Newsshooter Kit does feature rubberised corners which, along with the unit’s heft, gives it at least a little bit more of a rugged feel. Add to that the faux leather case and belt clip for the TX (90’s Nokia phone cover, anyone?) and it does feel like it could at least take a bit of abuse from even the clumsiest talent… But look at how big it is! One comment about the cover, though: I was looking forward to seeing how RØDE would provide a belt clip solution, as I had seen from product images that this wasn’t integrated on the body as with the TX unit on the Filmmaker Kit. I was glad when I opened the box and saw the cover, although the clip creates a problem: it makes the 3.5mm mic port point down, meaning the lav cable has to loop back up to reach the talent. Since this could create problems when used with shorter lav cables, I think it would have made more sense to have the mic come out the top when clipped to your belt. All in all, I am very happy with the RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter Kit. Sure, it may not be the sleekest product around, but having a flexible solution that allows you to wirelessly mic almost any situation, as well as being able to wirelessly tap into a sound desk at a press conference or event, makes this a truly versatile tool for any kind of shooting. Add to that its superb sound quality, power options, reliability and price when compared to the competition, and you can see why the RØDE RødeLink Newsshooter really is a no-brainer for one-man shooters looking for ultimate flexibility. Have you had any experiences with the RødeLink system from RØDE? How would YOU rate it against the competition? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
by Olaf von Voss | 28th November 2016
Saramonic has just released yet another audio device. This time, it’s a tiny 2-channel mixer with 48V phantom power designed for those mirrorless and DSLR cameras which lack a headphone jack, as well as for use with smartphones. Meet the Saramonic SmartRig Plus! Saramonic SmartRig Plus Shooting with small cameras these days can often be problematic when it comes to audio. Quite a few cameras lack a proper headphone jack and smartphones usually don’t have any audio section at all. The Saramonic lineup of affordable audio adapters and mixers are here to help tackle these issues. The new SmartRig Plus offers a lot of features for its form factor and price point, namely four inputs in a variety of different connectors, 48V phantom power and two output channels. Features In terms of connectivity, the SmartRig Plus doesn’t leave you in the rain. Two XLR combo inputs let you connect either a XLR source or a 1/4″ source per channel. On top of that, the unit is equipped with a 3.5mm mini jack input per channel, which adds lots of possibilities there. That way, it’s even possible to connect up to four sources at the same time, but remember that since the SmartRig Plus is a two-channel device, it will mix down two channels down to one respectively. The gain on each channel can be adjusted individually with some decent sized knobs just like you would expect from a proper audio mixer. The incoming signals can be set to stereo, resulting in a baked in stereo file. When set to mono, though, each channel can be controlled independently. 48V phantom power can be switched on and off, and there is also a switch for setting up the output of the SmartRig Plus for camera or smartphone use. What this does is basically route the signal to the correct segments of the hard wired output mini jack, be it TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) or TRRS (Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve) often used in smartphones. You can see the different type of connectors below. comparison between TRS and TRRS style mini jack connectors Next to the output cable, you can find the headphone jack which you so desperately miss on your Sony a6300 / Sony a6500! While being able to monitor your incoming audio, this headphone jack can also be used as a second output if you happen to need more than one outgoing signal. The whole unit is powered off a single 9V battery which will last up to six hours. To mount the unit, there is a standard 1/4″-20 mounting point as well as some convenient strap holders attached to the bottom of the SmartRig Plus, allowing you to tie the unit to a tripod or handheld rig. Really nice! Pricing and Availability The Saramonic SmartRig Plus is available as of now, but stock still seems to be a bit limited. You may have to wait a few more weeks until you can pick it up at your retailer of choice. It is priced at $99.95. (a little bit less then the $120 Jennifer is mentioning in the video). Read more about the SmartRig Plus on Saramonic’s website. Are you struggling with decent audio quality on your existing cameras? Maybe this tiny thing can improve it, big time! What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.Read more
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