MovoPhoto, the official USA distributor for Saramonic, released a photo of what they claim is the “worlds first interference free wireless microphone!”
And with that info to go on, I started to investigate and see if I could find more info out about these units. This lead to me a page posted on AliExpress and another post on a Taiwanese “Amazon” like market. Both listings where blank with details but had photos uploaded and a price.
Here we can see that Saramonic has already tied a price to these units, $790. On the AliExpress listing they were listed for $800. Given that both are within $10 of eachother it’s safe to say that it probably going to release at $799-ish. Here are more photos from Aliexpress. I will break down what we can see from each photo and what it will mean.
The Antenna: They appear to be super stiff plastic elbow antennas like what you see on a WiFi router. If you look at the bottom of the antenna they do appear to have a grip on them… this means that you may be able to unscrew them and swap them out. Now traditionally WiFi 2.4Gh and 5.8Ghz SMA connectors are actually RP-SMA. This is all AWESOME news because you can easily buy 5.8Ghz Yagi antennas. A Yagi antenna would eat a Sharkfin antenna for breakfast when it comes to pinpoint accuracy and high gain capabilities.
Also notice that the transmitter is also dual antenna. This could mean that it has a diversity antenna system like the Shure Axient, or it could be something more tame like how Line6 V75 has dual frequencies and when it gets a hit on the A Signal, it bounces to the B Signal, rescans the A Signal and bounces the audio back to A. The Axient system does more, and coordinates it across the whole Axient network so its flawless and doesn’t hurt the other transmitters, but that may be too much to ask for form a system thats only $800. But maybe the preset channels you can choose from on the TX are pre-coordinated, which is more like Line6.
One thing to note is that with these antenna, these units are no small! Even bent at 90 degrees, these units will be hard to hide on a narrative shoot.
The Screen: We can make out a 5 step RF meter. We also can see the 25 is selected. I have seen these screen layout before from Comica (another Chinese company that is starting to get into wireless microphones and at NAB presented something called the Comica WM300 which was a lithium rechargable verision of the Saramonic UWMIC9.) On the Comica screen this number was used to donate output volume. The microphone signal means the unit is currently not muted. and a 3 stage battery meter. In all my searches I could not get a photo of the transmitter screen but not even the Comica featured input sensitivity like we are use too.
Audio Inputs and Outputs: The Transmitter features a locking 3.5mm Mic Input AND a locking 3.5mm locking Line Input.
On the reciever we can see that the top port is a Headphone output and the bottom port is a Line Output. I know in the case of the Comica the Headphone and the Line Out are linked to the same “Volume Output.” I would be surprised if they are independent of each other. I would hope they are, but I doubt it.
Battery System: This one is a surpise and I love what they have done here. They opted to use a battery system that is popular! The VMicLink5 will use the LP-E17 battery, the same battery used in the Canon Rebel series! This means that it should feature some long battery life given that the LP-E17 is Li-Ion, 9.5Wh at 7.2V…. and there is no way this unit needs 7.2V! It probably will have some kind of voltage regulator that will drop the voltage and increase the battery capacity from 1300mah to something way higher!
Now you may be looking at the above photo and think… 4 batteries for a pair… that can’t be good battery life at all. Oh yea…. I forgot to mention this… this kit isn’t a TX RX pair.
This kit is actually three transmitters and one reciever!
In this photo we can clearly see the antennas have been removed for storage! It also seems the kit comes with a nice soft case lined in foam. Not pelican quality but for videographers/Youtubers/college kids out there this is gonna be more then enough. Now how will it combine the signals or allow you to separate them out on the 3.5mm Line Output is the mystery question. The first Saramonic UWMIC10 systems output a mono muxed signal from the 2 transmitters it was packaged with. After the first month in production Saramonic released a firmware update that let you output a “stereo” signal that grouped the transmitters as either A or B, allowed you to put A on the Left output and B on the right. It would be nice if these same kit would let you do the same. But theres nothing on of the leaks that indicate anything of the sort currently.
Now for the other elephant in the closet.
5.8Ghz Frequency: This is a SUPER high frequency. Here is a chart showing you were it lies on the spectrum.
Currently most professional wireless microphone systems land in the UHF frequency range, that is where the TV icon is on the chart. UHF signals can travel great distances, punch through walls and can carry alot of bandwidth. Depending on where you live, you typically get a majority of the TV stations in your market. To the right on the chart is the next range, cell phones. This should be familiar to even the most novice of wireless users, think about all the times you are in a spot and you get a weak signal. Thats due to the wave lengths being smaller and can’t punch as deep into buildings. Simplier materials like wood start to block those signals. Now lets go two more slots over to satellite technology, this is the same frequency space these wireless microphone sit. (On the bottom side of it, but they do cross paths.) If you have ever tried to watch the news for updates on a rain storm and had your TV signal from your dish get knocked out because it was too cloudy and rainy then you can start to get the idea of what these wireless microphones will act like. The psychics of the frequency would tell us these are not gonna be interference free, no matter the claim by MovoPhoto. They will probably work perfect as long as they have line of sight and are within their milliwatt range… but put a wall or a lot of sacks of water (humans) on set between talent and the mixer and these units will be dropping hard. Also consider that camera drones and WiFi routers are now moving ti fill the 5.8Ghz range because the 2.4Ghz range is full.
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com