One of the most important components of good video production is sound. Most people will oversee any problems with lighting, camera shakes, focus and so on, but nobody will accept bad audio, and most of the time capturing good audio in some situations can be a real challenge.
These challenges are in a lot of forms, but one thing that most audio recordists out there are worried about is quality versus price. And me, being someone that is involved with the audio industry for most of my life, first as a musician, then as an audio engineer and now as a film crew member, I can say good equipment is and ever will be on the expensive side.
But, for some people, the solution lives on the balance of how much you are paying for the quality you are getting out of the equipment. And this is true in every scenario that I worked with.
One company that has been using this mentality for years is Godox, they are committed to bringing the best quality possible for those that don’t have rivers of money running in the backyard.
It’s the case with their lighting systems, and now the case with their line of products as a whole, where we can see the evolution and the effort they are putting to bring us more affordable options. And one of the new options that they have on their holster now is a UHF wireless microphone system, the WMic S1 Pro, which is the evolution of the previous WMic S1.
Today we will talk a bit about this system and I will put here my thoughts and comments about the unity, and you will be able to decide if this is where you want to put your money or if you will look elsewhere.
Godox WMicS1 Pro
UHF microphones systems are not the hottest news in the market, but for sure they are super useful in certain scenarios and the new Godox WMic S1 Pro is here to bridge a gap that will allow a lot of video productions to expand their possibilities in terms of audio capture.
Having the ability to transmit audio wirelessly can improve your video production in many ways, with the liberty of not using cables comes a lot of other composition possibilities and also more variety of moves you can do with your talent in relation to the camera.
The WMic S1 pro comes in different kits which gives you the alternative of choosing the right kit for your needs, but to be totally honest I think Kit 2 is the most versatile. With the ability to transmit 2 signals at the same time to be recorded in different tracks, one on the left channel and one on the right channel, you can run 2 people interviews without any problems.
Out of the box, this kit comes with a lot of extras that will make your life much easier when setting things up for the go time. Everything comes organized inside a good quality carrying pouch that will protect all more fragile bits and pieces.
The system on itself is very simple and intuitive to use, and if you are used to connecting your smartphone to a Wi-Fi network, you won’t have any problems setting the WMic S1 to work. To be honest, the unit is basically plug-and-play, you just need to put the tight cables in the right places and turn it on, and everything, the transmitter and receivers, connects by themselves and are ready to use.
Not having to fuzz around with menus, and settings is a gift for my day-to-day. After all, the time that you spent setting up equipment is the time taken from shooting time, and in this day and age, some projects will require lighting fast setup times in order to keep the clients’ requirements in check.
Se let’s see what this system can offer us, and if it is worthy of your money!
Construction and Quality
It’s not news that Godox is improving their game in regard to quality, and the WMic S1 Pro is living proof of this. Constructed with a metal case and with a good and readable LCD screen, this UHF wireless microphone system is on par with the most recognized and expensive brands out there.
Everything about this system speaks durability, the quality of the case, the antennas, and even the cabling that comes in the box with the unity. This is one of the first times that I received a tech product that came with more than you will need to make your work without the need to go shopping around for adapter or cable alternatives.
The quality of the cables and lavalier microphones also impressed me, don’t get me wrong, they aren’t the best of the best in the pack, but they aren’t also the cheapest and trashiest out there. For the price, you are paying for the whole kit. You will receive a good quality product with lots to offer in terms of versatility.
I would love to see some different choices in some aspects of the system as a whole, I think that we could use a better quality lavalier mic, not that the much that comes with the kit is bad because it isn’t, but the system as a whole would rank much higher if Godox decided to use bundle together a better Lav mic.
Also, a smaller lav clip would be very well welcomed with this kit, I’m more than sure the sound recordist out there would appropriate this, I certainly would.
But, for the most part, I can say that the quality is there, the WMic S1 Pro is a unity that you can bring with you to the field without the fear of breaking because it’s plastique or too fragile to work, not far from that. It is a solid piece of gear!
- Lav mic 01
- Lac mic 02
- Transmitter 01
- Transmitter 01
- 3.5mmTRS to XLR balanced cable
- 3.5 TRS to 3.5 TRS audio cable (to use with cameras and some recorders
- 3.5 mm TRS to 3.5 mm TRRS (to use with smartphones)
Any kind of wireless transmission range is a super important thing, sometimes you will see yourself trying to communicate with a person 50 or 62 meters from you and this situation can get loud!
For a wireless microphone, the idea of transmitting the signal over the air is something that will expand your possibilities of filming.
The Godox WMic S1 Pro promises a range covered with about 100 meters, which is very useful in many scenarios.
For sure this kind of coverage it’s only possible when we have a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver and during my testing, I was able to find that when you have a clear line of sight the signal is strong and clean. So no problems in this department.
Problems begin to occur when you have bodies between the transmitter and the receiver, these will block the signal and cut the transmission, which is a common problem with many wireless systems, not just UHF microphones. The same situation happens when you have a great number of walls between the two devices.
For sure, you can use the High gain setting on the WMic S1 Pro to help with the loss of signal over distance, but this will cost you more energy draw, which is not a big deal.
Word of advice, when recording important things with any wireless system pay attention to your signal strength, some takes can’t be redone!
The WMic S1 sound quality is on par with most budget and medium-priced UHF wireless systems. From my testing in a fairly live room, a room with a great amount of reverb, the lav mic and the wireless system behaved well as expected.
With the lav mic positioned right in the middle of the speaker’s chest, we can hear good clarity and good volume. In my opinion, it could use a bit of bass boost just to give the voice more punch and stay away from some irritating middle frequencies.
Overall this system will work perfectly for interview situations, indoors and outdoors, being outdoors is a situation in which we will lose the reverb, but we will introduce unwanted noises, so keep in mind that even the most expensive system will be subjected to this.
One big thing related to sound quality is the ability to monitor the sound during the recording, and unfortunately, the WMic S1 Pro is lacking in this department, we don’t have any option to control the monitoring volume on the receiver, the volume that the unit outputs I found very weak, maybe it is something that a firmware update can fix, but I’m not sure.
This can be a dealbreaker for me, most of the time I’m in the field working on interviews that are surrounded by different noises and sounds, so the ability to hear my talents in microphones properly is something that I can’t put aside.
The only way I was able to get around this problem was using my recorder output for monitoring, which is ok, but having to boost the volume much higher than I’m used to when I use my other UHF wireless system.
We can use microphones on lots of occasions, but normally wireless microphones are used for situations where you are far enough from the talent that running a cable for the microphone is impossible. Or the ambient noise is so loud that using a shotgun mic doesn’t help, and you need to use a lav mic.
I see the WMic S1 Pro usage mostly in interview scenarios, that’s where the lav mic and wireless system shine. And taking into consideration the cost of this system, I would say that if you are an aspiring documentarist or if you work with productions of corporate videos, this system is a good addition to your tools.
Personally, I use it mostly on interview sets where I can control most of the noise, due to some monitoring limitations of this unit. But it is totally possible to use it for recording audio in some walking interviews, vlogs, and educational presentations for example.
The price is right
I would say that the WMic S1 Pro lives right where it deserves in regard to pricing, the price is high enough to justify its quality, and it is low enough to put it as a good affordable alternative to other brands.
If you compare the price of a Sennheiser EW 112P G4, around CAD 750, and it comes with just one transmitter and lac mic, with the price of the WMic S1 (kit2) that comes with 2 transmitters and 2 lav mics, you will be paying almost half price for twice the goods.
Sure, we are not talking about audio quality in this comparison, but we are talking about what your money can accomplish if you are on a tight budget.
Ow about you what is your preferred way to run audio to your camera? Lavs or Shotguns?