It’s like everybody’s jumping onto microphones right now and not being one to be left behind, SmallRig’s decided to have a go at their own system, too. It’s called the SmallRig Forevala W60 and like pretty much all of the other recent small wireless microphone releases, it runs on 2.4Ghz. It’s a dual microphone kit that comes with two transmitters with built-in omnidirectional microphones and one receiver.
It promises low-latency transmission (as low as 10ms) at up to 100 metres away, with adaptive frequency hopping to ensure 48Khz 16-Bit audio without interruption. You also get most of the usual features you might be used to, like a low-cut filter to get rid of rumble and background noise as well as mono or stereo output from the receiver.
The transmitters and receiver can be charged directly via their built-in Type-C USB ports or via their storage case. The store case does not appear to contain a battery of its own, so you’re still going to need a power bank or other USB power source in order to top them up when using the case. The transmitters themselves, though include a 450mAh battery and the receiver includes a 630mAh battery that SmallRig says provide up to 8 hours of uninterrupted use on a full charge.
While the transmitters do feature a 3.5mm TRS microphone socket for plugging in an external lavalier microphone, none are included in the kit. Clipping a small brick to your chest seems to have become more acceptable when in front of the camera over the last couple of years, but you can still use any 3.5mm TRS lav mic with it if you want to. Each transmitter features its own built-in omnidirectional microphones and fluffy windshields are included for when you’re outdoors.
The receiver features one-click switching between mono and stereo. Personally, I think this is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s rare that most people will want to switch between mono and stereo while recording. Once you’ve got your setup sorted, you’re pretty much going to use the same setup for every shoot you do and it’s easy enough to clone an audio channel in the edit. But if you’ve got two people talking at the same time and you want to record them on separate channels…
Well, I can imagine that a short press of that button can easily happen by accident on set and then you’ve ruined your recording. Still, this is just how it reads on paper. That button might not be so easy to press on the real product. If it is, maybe SmallRig can change it to something less accident-prone in a future firmware update. Maybe a double tap?
As well as the usual clip mechanism, the transmitters feature a magnetic mount attachment, letting you attach it to an array of metal objects so that it’s not polluting your chest. Or, you can use the magnet to attach the transmitters to clothing for better (hidden) placement while preventing the clip from bunching those clothes up. The receiver offers a 3.5mm output and includes both TRS and TRRS cables, to let you plug it into all of the usual devices – cameras, smartphones, computers or whatever else you want to record with.
Despite the receiver having a built-in USB-C port, though, it appears that it’s only to be used for charging and there’s no USB data connection. So, this means you can’t use the receiver as a digital audio device and you’re relying on the quality of your computer or smartphone’s preamps when it comes to how good it sounds.
The SmallRig Forevala W60 dual microphone system is available to pre-order now for $199. It’s expected to start shipping soon, although no specific date has been provided.