When you head to shoot an interview. What are you carrying in your kit bag? I can almost guarantee it’s a setup that’s quite complex to get up and go. If this is the case, we’ve got a product for you. It’s the Saramonic Blink 500 B2, which comprises of two transmitters, capable of wireless transmission directly to your camera, and one receiver. All of which is small enough to fit in your pocket.
In the box, you will find two transmitters for two people, and a receiver for your camera. The transmitters act as standalone microphones, or you can hook up the included lavalier kits to them. You also get two 3.5mm jack to jack cables. One will be for your camera, and the other for your mobile phone if you’re planning on shooting on that. There are also three small USB Type-C cables for each device so you can charge them simultaneously.
On each transmitter, there are a couple of buttons, which are for power, and the second is a toggle for microphone sensitivity. The sensitivity is indicated by the blue light. If the ring goes around the whole power button, the microphone is super sensitive. If it doesn’t then the sensitivity will be lower. The built-in microphone is placed on top of the transmitter, which has been designed to aim towards your mouth, and the clip on the back enables users to clip the transmitter to their clothing.
I will say now that it’s probably best to clip it sideways to a shirt, rather than the collar of a t-shirt. The reason being is the transmitter is a little heavy, and if you’ve got a slightly looser fitted tee, then the collar can sag a bit. If it’s clipped between buttons on your shirt, then you will be absolutely fine. On the receiver, the clip on the back of the device is wide enough to fit inside of the hotshoe on a DSLR camera, so it can be nice and secure. It means the hotshoe now can’t house a small screen or LED light if that’s your thing, but if you’re using a cage, then that shouldn’t matter too much.
Setting up the Saramonic Blink 500 is an absolute breeze. Because everything has built-in batteries, there’s no need for external batteries. Just charge everything through the USB Type-C port and you’re good to go. The units will last for up to five hours, which is plentiful if you’re going to be using them for interview situations.
So, to set them up, all you need to do is turn both the transmitter and receiver on, and they will pair within seconds. A solid blue light on both units indicates this. And from here, plug the included 3.5mm cable from the receiver into your microphone port on your camera, and away you go. Be warned, you’ve got to use a specific cable with each device you use, and as an example, I originally used the 3.5mm cable that had three notches on the jack, but this didn’t work with my Sony A7RII and I had to use the jack with two notches. Both transmitters, or microphones can hook up to one receiver which is a great feature and means that equipment is kept to an absolute minimum during one on one interviews.
Now, in terms of audio quality, you get from the device. I must say it’s pretty clear. I definitely preferred using the external lav mic, especially for our use in the studio and when we’re out shooting. But if you’re in a pinch, I can see no reason on why you wouldn’t use the actual transmitter to capture your audio. Just clip it onto your subject and away you go. It might be, in my mind that it’s bulky, so really stands out in the frame, but I have spoken to Saramonic about this, and the reason they make a white and black variant is for different clothing situations. The white Blink 500 would look a lot better against a white shirt, which is a very common colour of shirt, especially if you’re wearing a suit.
Between both ways of capturing audio though, I must say I preferred capturing to a lav connected to the Blink 500 transmitter. The audio sounded cleaner and clearer, and I could add a bit of that lost bass back in post. The transmitter itself had a fuller sound, but it did lose a bit of quality from the high end. However, both ways of capturing audio were very well controlled, and I didn’t have much of an issue with background noise or even hiss. Admittedly though, I did have quiet surroundings.
But, even when I took the Blink 500 outside, I was surprised at how little background noise was actually picked up in favour of my voice speaking directly to the camera. And when I was recording, there was a motorbike, someone was speaking just off-camera and there was also a lawnmower started in close proximity, and it was all very faint. So it’s safe to say that as long as these sorts of items are at a decent enough distance, they’re disguised while filming.
If you’re needing something on the smaller side to get you through your interviews, to record decent audio, at a relatively low cost, then for £200 on the Saramonic website, the Blink 500 could be yours. It performs well in quiet studio environments, and I’d be happy with my production value if I was to interview someone outside and got the audio it produced. I love the fact you can hide the transmitter in a pocket and use a lav mic instead, and the battery life of five hours is plenty of time to finish an interview. But if you’re interviewing someone for over five hours? Then you’re going to have a bigger problem than audio. For more information or to purchase your own, then head over to the Saramonic website.