RØDE Microphones – smartLav. Im just back from a week long Mobile Journalism training course in the beautiful Santiago De Compostella, Galicia, Spain. This is the second Circom Regional Mobile Journalism course Ive led with my colleagues Karol Cioma from Circom, John Inge Johansen from NRK Norway and Darko Flajpan from HRT Croatia. Im really looking forward to sharing some of the stories that the participants shot. As soon as Circom posts them to their YouTube channel Ill embed them here also.
Anyway that preamble brings me to the purpose of this post. I was really excited to try out my theory of a budget MoJo kit consisting of just a Glif+ and a Rode Smartlav while on the course. There was a substantial array of different holders and audio accessories ranging from Owle Bubos, Phocus Accents, Makayama iPad holders, Glifs and Fostex AR4i. During the interview excercises I asked a number of the students to try out the SmartLav with the simple holder. The results were very disappointing. I had tested the Smartlav in one of our radio soundbooths and under those controlled conditions it performed pretty well, but when in a moderatley noisy environment – a shop for instance, the audio quality was abysmal. The audio was distorting on several of the interviews and no matter where we positioned the mic the level was always too loud or too much ambient sound. (We were using FilMicPro as our camera app and the SmartLavs were plugged directly into the iPhones (4s/5) ) I will email Rode to ask if we were doing something wrong but Im already anticipating their response. On the website the SmartLav is shown in use with the Rode Rec App which has an integral gain control for the mic. When used with FilMicPro no such audio gain is possible though of course you can see the audio level on the screen you cannot hear it as A. A split adapter would be required and B. FilMicPro currently doesnt support realtime audio monitoring while recording. (Though I am reliably informed that this is something Cinegenix are working on for a future update) Anyway the up shot of all this is that the students themselves refused to use the SmartLav for their actual stories preferring instead to use the IK Multimedia iRig Pre with pro-grade lavalier mics like the AKG C417.
One other surprise was with the iPhone 4s using the Fostex Ar4i . If you are using the Ar4i as your audio interface via the Apple 30pin dock connector you will know that it can support two separate audio inputs. We were using the latest version of FilMicPro (V.3.2.1) which will show two separate audio meters / audio channels when connected to the Fostex -However, every time we clicked into the media review button to check back a clip and then closed it to go back to the FilMic Camera the App would loose its connection to the Fostex, showing only one audio track and in some cases defaulting back to the iPhone mic. This issue caused some problems for some of our interviews which was quite annoying. I need to investigate the issue further to identify if its a particular version of iOS, a version of FilMic or a firmware update with the Fostex Ar4i – but watch out for it! ALWAYS CHECK BACK YOUR AUDIO BEFORE LEAVING THE INTERVIEW!!