How Does the Saramonic Blink Wireless System Fare in the Field?

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The Saramonic Blink Wireless system was released a little while ago, and we here at B&H were given a unit to test and evaluate in the form of an article, which you are now in the process of reading. Hello, and welcome to our review of this wireless system.

Saramonic Blink 500 B2 2-Person Digital Camera-Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier Microphone System
Saramonic Blink 500 B2 2-Person Digital Camera-Mount Wireless Omni Lavalier Microphone System

But what, dear reader, is the Saramonic Blink Wireless system? Lately, you may have noticed a trend: you may have seen a particular kind of transmitter/receiver combo, both of which are clip-on units, and both of which are priced exceedingly reasonably. The transmitter will have a 3.5mm input for a lavalier mic, but here’s the kicker: this transmitter doubles as a microphone. If concealment is not a concern, you can clip the transmitter to the pocket of your shirt and hope the signal will be clear, present, strong, and pleasurable.

A unit from a company located in a country where water flows in the opposite direction as it does in New York (how’s that for a vague allusion?) originated this trend earlier in the Year of our Tech 2019, but it is a single-ended unit: one transmitter, one receiver, and that is it. You cannot beam two transmitters to one receiver. It just won’t fly.

And this is the big selling point of the Saramonic Blink system! Each receiver can pair with two transmitters at a time, ostensibly making the system suitable for two-hander interviews or two-person scenes.

So how did the unit fare in the offices of B&H?

Unit and Testing Conditions

Multiple versions of the Saramonic Blink 500 wireless system exist, in multiple configurations and pairings. Some are suited for Lightning-outfitted iOS devices, others are intended for USB Type-C devices such as Android smartphones. We were given a version designed for DSLR cameras, recorders, and 3.5mm-compatible smartphones. Inside the package were two wireless transmitters, the dual-channel receiver, two lavaliers, and two connecting cords—one TRS, the other TRRS (for smartphones). Three USB charging cables were also included.

The system had to be charged before its first use. This took around two to three hours. Once everything had some power stored, I was instructed to pair each transmitter with the receiver using a combination of button presses and a tiny metal pin slipped into the packaging; I had to insert this pin into a little hole to activate the receiver’s pairing mode.

This seemed a little weird to me—I could imagine messing this up in a mission-critical situation—but thankfully, I only had to do it the one time. Once it was paired to each transmitter, everything stayed linked, even after powering off and on again.

We tested the receiver with two different recorders—a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder, and a Sony a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera. We used the B&H corporate office as a testing ground, where there are spindly hallways, Wi-Fi signals aplenty, and enough Bluetooth pairings to trigger any latent disorders doctors will eventually associate with wireless technology.

I have size 11 shoes. I tell you this not to brag, but to make the practical range of the unit at B&H’s corporate offices clear. In this environment, the Blink system made it 63 paces, heel to toe (with plenty of obstructions) before it incurred any dropouts—and those were only occasional.

Audio Quality

I tested the transmitter’s built-in microphone first, both by my lonesome, and then again with a friend, so we could test its dual-channel operation. The microphone’s quality took me off guard—here is some audio of me testing it out as I walked down the halls of B&H.

You hear a lot of room noise, to be sure, but this is a loud office environment, and lapel mics often do pick up room tone. I was pleasantly surprised by how clear the microphone’s sound seemed, how it wasn’t overly peaky in any particular frequency range. For the money, this is a pretty good capsule.

A lavalier was also provided, and it sounded like this:

Not a bad lapel mic, all things considered—especially the price. Use the included clip to pin it to your shirt, and you could capture some solid ENG work in a pinch. Personally, I preferred the sound of the built-in mic to the lavalier, but I’ll let you be your own judge on that. It’s why audio examples were provided, after all.

Drawbacks

When I tested the mic with a friend, one issue became readily apparent: the wireless system did not record both channels as we would like it—i.e., with the ability to edit each track independently.

If you plug a two-channel system into a DSLR, for instance, you have a very particular expectation: one track will be recorded to the left channel, while the other will be recorded on the right. This would allow you to edit both tracks independently in post-production, so you can correct any issues that might occur with one of the speakers, doing so without affecting the other.

The Saramonic Blink 500 system operated differently. It summed both transmitters into a single stereo transmission—they were mixed together equally in both channels, making independent editing impossible. If I wanted to edit my own voice, my friend’s voice also fell prey.

I confirmed with the company that this is the case: it is designed for applications such as YouTube and Twitch, where people don’t usually edit audio in such a deep manner.

If you want to record editable audio on stereo channels, you’re advised to purchase a second receiver independently, as well as a simple splitter, to plug each receiver into your DSLR, or your stereo recorder’s 3.5mm input. This is still not that much money, all things considered.

Conclusions

All in all, I was quite surprised with the Saramonic Wireless Blink system. In my youth, products that cost so little usually sounded terrible. Presently, they don’t: We live in a time where fewer dollars gets you farther distances, as well as a Golden Age of technology.

What do you think of the Saramonic Wireless Blink system? Let us know in the Comments section!

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