It’s like everyone is jumping on microphones right now and not one to be left behind, SmallRig decided to try their own system as well. It’s called the SmallRig Forevala W60, and like just about every other recent release of small wireless microphones, it operates at 2.4GHz. This is 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) up to 100 meters away, with adaptive frequency hopping to ensure uninterrupted 48kHz 16-bit audio. You also get most of the usual features you might be used to, like a low-cut filter to eliminate rumble and background noise, and mono or stereo output from the receiver.
The transmitters and receiver can be charged directly through their built-in USB Type-C ports or through their storage case. The store case doesn’t appear to have a battery of its own, so you’ll still need a power bank or other USB power source to charge them up when using the case. The transmitters themselves, however, include a 450mAh battery and the receiver includes a 630mAh battery which SmallRig claims provides up to 8 hours of uninterrupted use on a full charge.
Although the transmitters have a 3.5mm TRS microphone jack for plugging in an external lavalier microphone, none are included in the kit. Strapping a small brick to your chest seems to have become more acceptable on camera over the last couple of years, but you can still use any 3.5mm TRS lav mic if you want. Each transmitter has its own built-in omnidirectional microphones and soft windscreens are included when you’re outdoors.
The receiver features one-click switching between mono and stereo. Personally, I think it’s an impending disaster. Rarely do most people want to switch between mono and stereo while recording. Once you’ve sorted out your setup, you’ll pretty much use the same setup for every shot you take, and it’s pretty easy to clone an audio channel in the timeline. But if you have two people talking at the same time and you want to record them on different channels…
Well, I can imagine that a short press of that button could easily happen by accident on set, and then you’ve ruined your recording. Yet, that’s how it reads on paper. This button may not be so easy to press on the actual product. If so, SmallRig may be able to change it to something less crash-prone in a future firmware update. Maybe a double tap?
In addition to the usual clip mechanism, the transmitters have a magnetic mounting attachment, allowing you to attach it to a set of metal objects so that it does not pollute your chest. Or, you can use the magnet to attach the transmitters to clothes for better (hidden) placement while preventing the clip from bunching those clothes. The receiver offers a 3.5mm output and includes both TRS and TRRS cables, so you can plug it into all the usual devices – cameras, smartphones, computers or whatever else you want to record with.
Although the receiver has an integrated USB-C port, it seems that it is only used for charging and there is no USB data connection. So that means you can’t use the receiver as a digital audio device and rely on the quality of your computer’s or smartphone’s preamps for sound quality.
The SmallRig Forevala W60 Dual Microphone System is available for pre-order now for $199. It should start shipping soon, although a specific date was not provided.