What’s the best wireless microphone system? Throwing the spotlight on the new RODELink Performer Kit to see why it could be the ultimate Rode Wireless Mic for professionals, public speakers, singers and functions
“Radio microphones” have come a long way over the years. Old systems of the past have been guilty of being tricky to set up, subject to crackles and pops as distances increases, and worst of all, the cause of taxi drivers suddenly appearing over your performance of Lady in Red - but this is where the RODELink Performer Kit
stands out from the crowd.
In fact many true radio systems of the past have become restricted to use, owing to changes in the law regarding frequency bands - making old systems illegal to use without proper license! But wireless systems, free of cables, offer a tremendous freedom for a performer or presenter to move around the space and work with an audience without being tethered to the spot. This kind of microphone is essential for presentations, but for a vocalist in a gig scenario, it truly can lead to better performances.
In the last few years, a new strain of wireless microphones has emerged addressing a need to move out of the restricted frequency bands. And from this, a new model made by Aussie mic pioneers RØDE, which aims to be one of the easiest to use and best-sounding systems of all. It's called the RODELink Performer Kit - so let's have a look and we'll learn some tips and tricks along the way.
What makes the RODELink Performer Kit the best Rode Wireless Mic?
The Performer kit is made up of a handsome looking all-black metal-body microphone with on/off mute slider, and a matching desktop receiver unit with handy OLED screen (showing that microphone is paired, mute status, microphone battery indicator and levels coming in). We can adjust the output volume of the microphone to cater for whisper-quiet performers – or, let’s be honest, mainly to suit exceptionally loud belters – of which it can cope with perfectly.
License free use
One of the key features is that the Performer Kit is actually not technically a ‘radio’ microphone system, in that it does not use these restricted old bands (shared with taxi drivers!). In fact, it uses Series II 2.4Ghz Digital Transmission, using the same frequency band that WiFi uses. As such, this means it is completely exempt from any restrictions, and can be used in any country in the World. Perhaps ‘wifi microphone’ would be a better name, not that you need a WiFi network present for it to work – it simply occupies this frequency space. All is taken care of when you turn the system on, no other gear is required, it just pairs automatically (but you can manually pair– for example if you wish to set up to 8 systems in the same space, which you can!). The fact that this is license free, means that you don't have to pay a yearly subscription fee to use the wireless frequencies, saving you around £75 per year. This is perfect for small venue owners, events organisers and even professional singers who gig regularly. You can just turn up and sing.
According to OFCOM
the prices of a wireless mic or wireless guitar system licence for one year is around £75. But with the Rodelink Performer kit, you don't have to pay for a licence. You can read more about wireless systems and wireless frequencies here
Easy to set up and pair - just turn it on!
One of RØDE's primary pieces of user research feedback was that professional wireless microphone systems are difficult to set up and pair - which is the kiss-of-death in a commercial setting when a team is using a shared office space for example. To pair the Performer Kit however, you simply turn it on. It pairs automatically. It'll work with a range of up to 100 metres, line of sight. The presence of existing WiFi networks does not stop the system from being used of course - excessive WiFi networks simply reduce the overall maximum distance the microphone can reach. The system will always hunt for the best connection, utilising what is known as 'dual diversity' - but this is all completely automatic, requiring no intervention on the part of the user. The system takes care of it – and your audio is transmitted without discernible latency, or delay. The maximum latency here time is 4ms – for reference, it takes longer for sound to travel 1.5 metres. And this audio is sent with full 128-bit encryption: Nobody else can listen in, not even a taxi driver, even if they own the same system!
Better than 'corded' sound
With the RODELink Performer on and paired, simply speak into the microphone and you'll emerge from the balanced or unbalanced outputs of the receiver unit. Here's the real kicker though - how it sounds.
All other 'radio microphone' systems in this price range use dynamic microphones in their transmitters. While this is a classic choice – dynamic microphones are resistant to feedback, they aren’t really the ‘best’ sounding microphones, subjectively. In a studio recording we would tend to use a condenser microphone which provides significantly more authentic detail and presence - they simply sound 'sweeter'. The RØDE Performer Kit in fact incorporates a condenser microphone – tailored for live use so it has the rejection properties of a dynamic, but with ‘studio sound’ – and is the only wireless microphone system in this price range to do so.
This means that sound is incredibly detailed and clear, not requiring the post-processing of a dynamic microphone that would be required to try and bring back the natural detail of a performance, by increasing the top end. It just sounds right, out of the box. Of course, the mic behaves exactly as you would expect in a live scenario without causing feedback associated with studio condensers. And of course it has low handling noise and an integrated pop-shield to protect against ‘breath noises’ hitting the capsule. And in-between speeches or solos, you have an on/off switch on the microphone, so the performer can mute the output themselves.
Rechargeable battery via USB
True to RØDE’s word, it really couldn't be easier to set up, and to maintain the RODELink Performer - the microphone itself includes a rechargeable battery, charged via an included USB cable and which will run for many hours on one single charge. Alternatively, 2 x AA batteries can be used if you wish. A carry bag with zip is included to protect the microphone between use.
RØDE have been building microphones for over 20 years now and have become a much-loved brand through offering incredibly good value-for-money products. Built in the outskirts of Sydney, their factory is a bit of a Willy Wonka's paradise, with remarkable investment in technology that means they can build nearly all their product in-house - the Performer Kit is definitely one of the fruits of this investment – it’s built in-house and backed up with a 2 year warranty as a result.
Does this sound like the wireless mic system for you? The Performer Kit is incredibly simple to use - you simply turn it on and it pairs automatically. Using robust 2.4Ghz wireless technology it is completely secure and constantly achieving the best possible signal. And mainly, being a condenser microphone system, it’s simply one of the best sounding wireless microphone systems available, presenting the speaking reproducing the voice with crisp and detailed accuracy, completely unlike other dynamic microphone systems – either wireless, or wired.
Shop the RODELink Performer kit
over at PMT Online today or call in to your local PMT store
to check it out for yourself and speak to one of our PA experts about our full selection of rode wireless mic systems.