RØDE, the Australian company that has nothing to do with Norway or Denmark, has just announced the successor to its popular Wireless Go microphone, the RØDE Wireless Go II. This new gadget isn’t just a successor to the original, but it expands the Wireless Go family. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wireless Go continued being sold next to the Wireless Go II, as a cheaper option. But is it worth paying an extra $100 for the latest and greatest?
The original RØDE Wireless Go was built with one goal in mind. Making wireless audio recording affordable and easy. You could disagree with the former, but the latter certainly holds true. Out of the box you didn’t have to pair any transceiver and receivers and the microphone was already built in meaning there was no need to route a lavalier microphone through a person’s clothing. It had a solid battery life and quickly became many YouTuber’s favourite outdoor mic. That said, it wasn’t perfect.
The main complaint the original received was concerning its lack of dual channel recording. You could only use the single mic you received in the box and nothing more. If you wanted to use two Wireless Go mics you needed to buy another pack and connect them to your camera using Y splitter. At that point I think you’re better off getting a professional kit, and having to faff about with multiple cables and devices isn’t what I’d call quick and easy.
Dual channel recording on the Wireless Go II
The Wireless Go II ships with an extra transceiver microphone in the box, allowing dual channel recording. On the receiver you can decide to either record in mono and thus assigning each mic to either the left or right channel or in stereo where both audio inputs are combined. The latter is needed because you can also use just one of the mics and if you’re broadcasting live you will want your viewers to hear your voice on both channels.
What’s in the box
On the topic of broadcasting live, you can now connect the receiver to your PC using a USB-C cable and use it for streaming or Zoom calls. And it even works with Android, iOS, and iPadOS devices. For the iPhone you will need a USB-C to lighting cable (thanks Apple) and RØDE does sell those separately. You do get three USB-C cables in the box but unfortunately, they are USB-C to USB-A. That means you will also need an extra cable when using the Wireless Go II with a USB-C only laptop, iPad, or Android phone.
RØDE Wireless GO II
Dual channel wireless microphone system
In-built rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Up to 7 hours battery life
Series IV 2.4GHz digital transmission, 128-bit encryption
RØDE Wireless GO
In-built rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Up to 7 hours battery life
In the box you will also find three dead-cats (or do we call them dead-mice at that size?) along with a wee pouch to fit everything in and an SC5 TRS to TRS cable to connect the receiver to a mic input on a camera or external recorder. The dead-mice do have a new bayonet connector which apparently is a lot more secure, and I guess you get three of them, so you have one reserve.
No line level input
One more thing that was frequently criticized on the original was the lack of line level input. And unfortunately this hasn’t been added to the successor either. You can adjust the level on the output but not on the input. That means if anything you might be recording were to be too loud for the microphone, it would be clipped as you can’t tell the mic to record at a lower level.
You can cut the output by up to 24 dB which gives you more options than the maximum of 12 dB on the original. In its default configuration, pushing the button on the Wireless Go II receiver will switch between a -24, -12, and 0 dB output level. But when using the desktop app, I’ll get in to that in a bit, you can enable granular controller which allows you to cut the output in 3 dB steps all the way down to -30 dB.
Wireless Go II gives you freedom
Back to the additions, the Wireless Go II features an improved antenna and transmitter which allows the encrypted signal to travel 200 m without any obstacles in the way. The battery life is around seven hours which is comparable to the Wireless Go, and it still has the fantastic magnetic cold shoe clip. The Wireless Go II will also be compatible with any accessories designed for the original.
Another neat addition isn’t related to the hardware, but it is a desktop app called RØDE central. Using RØDE Central you can adjust more of the Wireless Go II’s settings that aren’t available otherwise.
For example, the aforementioned granular gain control can be enabled, and backlight settings can be adjusted. You will also be able to install firmware updates using the app. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the original Wireless Go will be made compatible, but it does also support the RØDE AI-1 audio interface and the VideoMic NTG.
RØDE AI-1 Single Channel USB Audio Interface
Form Factor: Desktop
Simultaneous I/O: 1 x 2
Number of Preamps: 1
RØDE NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone
Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Output Impedance: 200Ω
Power: Internal battery
In the app you can also set up a safety channel. This will only work when recording in stereo. The mic inputs will be combined in to one track and the second track will record at -20 dB from what you’ve set up.
Internal storage saves the day
Finally, and this will be massive for those that have experienced dropouts, the Wireless Go II comes with about 3.5 gigs of onboard storage which will record about 24 hours of compressed and 7 hours of uncompressed audio. The mics will even recognize when the connection is dropping out and using RØDE central you will be able to fill in those gaps easily.
RØDE, why do love electronic waste?
With all the good stuff out of the way, we do have to discuss the not so good aspects of the Wireless Go II. The biggest issue for me is the fact that you can’t buy any of the components. As with the original Wireless Go, you can only buy the full kit. And that just promotes electronic waste which is something I hate.
Surely RØDE could have figured out a way of connecting new mics using the RØDE Central app. But, as things stand, if your receiver dies you are left with two rather pricey paperweights. It’s time for RØDE to do something about that.
The Wireless Go II costs $100 more than its predecessor. I guess that makes sense if you price each individual component at $100. In an ideal world I would have hoped that maybe the price of the original came down to around $150-$175 and the Wireless Go II were sold at $250-$275.
While the onboard storage is fantastic, I was hoping for more when I first read the headlines. It will only start recording when the mic connects to the receiver. There is no way of manually starting a recording or to have it record whenever the mic is switched on. As things stand you will lose all audio if you forget to switch on the receiver.
The onboard storage is only there to protect against dropouts. I don’t think enabling receiver-less recording would eat into the sales of any other RØDE products and I sincerely hope they enable this feature with a future firmware update. Having the ability to record on its own would make it possibly the smallest usable handheld recorder on the market.
The onboard storage issue is only confounded by the fact that the receiver doesn’t turn on with your camera. RODE were the ones that popularized that feature with the VideoMic Pro+. Why not bake it into every battery-powered microphone you offer, RØDE?
And finally, there is no smartphone app. I wouldn’t mind that but considering the Wireless Go II, as the name suggests, is something you use on the go it would have been a nice little addition. Quickly adjusting the safety channel on your phone would be so much easier than unpacking your notebook, waiting for the app to launch, making the adjustment, and packing everything up again. Again, this could be a future release but as things stand, there is no app.
One thing I haven’t been able to confirm yet but would be neat is whether you can use a USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter, to monitor the audio. I know many were missing this feature on the original, and it will be possible to monitor the audio using the 3.5 mm output when using the USB-C port but whether it works the other way around I do not know.
Conclusion: RØDE Wireless Go II
To sum things up, the Wireless Go II appears to be a solid upgrade of the original. But it isn’t perfect and sadly continues to promote electronic waste. For me, the missing local recording without the receiver and no automatic power function are absolutely criminal. I wouldn’t call them deal-breakers and I would still love to have an easier audio setup but with the price of the Wireless Go remaining where it was and the Wireless Go II being $100 more, neither are currently a realistic option for me. Guess I’ll have to deal with a cable for a bit longer.