Who is the Rodelink made for and should you get it?
When it comes to wireless systems, most people think of the Sennheiser G3 and the Sony UWP-D11. I haven't used the Sony, but I've used the Sennheiser for years and overall, have had a good experience with them. They're a little hard to get set up. I can't tell you how many times I've had interference during interviews and/or dialogue. The price of the Sennheiser and Sony are well over 600 dollars. When it comes to wireless options, you really only have 2 options; "cheap" with terrible build and sound quality or "extremely expensive" with great sound quality. That's where Rode comes in. The Rodelink Wireless Filmmaker Kit.
Right out of the gate - THE PRICE. At $399.00, this doesn't force you into filing for bankruptcy or selling one of your kidneys. What you get for that price is a high broadcast quality lav mic, an easy-to-use wireless transmitter and receiver, and some accessories to help. One thing I wanted to test out, was how well the the kit would perform by just using an iPhone. I know of several different video journalists who only use their iPhone to film, so for this review I only used my iPhone 6 plus and the Rodelink filmmaker kit.
Using the Rodelink has got to be the easiest set up, EVER. You literally turn them both on, and your good to go! Honestly, turn them on, and you're set! Now, most of us will want to fine tune the gain and input levels, which for the iPhone, I was set to the standard db gain.
Both receiver and transmitter have gain adjustments, but they differ from each other. The receiver has 0, -10, -20 while the transmitter is 0, +10, +20. Both have the pairing buttons, so when you do choose the channel/frequnce you want, just press and hold briefly, and boom! You're set.
To get the filmmaker kit to work properly with my iPhone,I had to use the Rode SC4 converter cable. It's a super easy and cheap way to get any 3.5mm mic to work with your smart phone.
Shooting with an iPhone is a lot harder than it looks. The highlights become a "beast" to manage, as you can see in the video. (And not like a "Beast" like Marshawn Lynch) It did show me that you can have both an iPhone and the Rodelink, and actually get some great stuff. I can see why video journalists are switching to their phones.
My frankenstein rig, was the only way I could get all the things I needed in one place for this test. I wanted to do some testing with an entry level shotgun mic, Rode Videomic, and the Rodelink.
I wanted to hear the difference between a shotgun mic and a wireless set up. I wanted to see which sounded better. Now granted, the price is different, and they are different types of applications. This was just to test the sound going from shotgun mic into the iPhone, Rodelink into the iPhone, (which I did in 99% of this review), and going from Rodelink into a Zoom H5 and syncing in post.
The transmitter and reciever are made of a soft plastic material. They feel great in your hand, strong, and well built, but I do wish they were made from aluminum like the Sony and Sennheiser. With that being said, I have seen some posts from Rode on their Instagram stating, "The unfortunate victims of our #RODELink stress test, pleased to say that they are were all still working after our abuse! We build them to last. Video coming soon" so we'll see what that has to bring.
I have heard some people complaining about the size of the Rodelink, but I haven't felt that it is a problem. Instead of having the antennas outside of the packs, Rode decided to place them inside the packs, and make them a little more simple in the design.
Personally, the design of these are by far the best! Hands down, compared to the competition, and Rode has always done a great job with their design and build quality.
What about sound? Do these stand up to the others? Putting the Rodelink set up against systems that are two times the price, and Rode's sounds just as good, if not better, I was truly amazed.
If you really want to see these things shine, plug them in a recorder or sound mixer. That's when the filmmaker kit will come alive. With it's included broadcast omnidirectional lavalier microphone, you'll get rich and warm sounds with very low floor noise in a small package.
You will still need to purchase an adapter if you're wanting to use the Rodelink with XLR inputs. Rode has you covered with their Rode VXLR Adapter. This will covert your 3.5mm to a more professional balanced XLR.
In conclusion, is the RØDELink Filmmaker Kit something professionals' and the up-and-coming filmmaker should buy?
RØDE has knocked it out of the park with this set up. For this review, I plugged it straight into my iPhone, and the results were pretty good. As you can tell from the review, when I plugged it into the recorder the results were amazing. The fact that you can have a product that is so easy to use, gives you broadcast quality sound, and doesn't cost you an arm and a leg, that's a product that I will always use and keep coming back to. RØDE has really established themselves for having great quality products at an affordable price.
Personally, I like to stay with companies that I believe in and trust their products. RØDE has proved why I'll always stay with them and use their new RØDELink Filmmaker Kit as my "go-to" wireless system.
- Levi Whitney - UpHill Cinema