RØDE Wireless Go II review
Quick Verdict: The RØDE Wireless Go II is a feature-rich, ultra-portable audio solution that delivers not only great sound recordings, but the kind of ease-of-use most professional grade technology can only dream of. Its minor foibles are far outweighed by its performance across devices, at home or on the go.
- Good sound with extreme portability
- Deep feature set including dual-channel recording
- Easy to set up and use
- Backwards compatible with existing accessories
- No RØDE Central mobile app unfortunate
- More cables should be provided at this price
- On-board recording controls could be better
- Not waterproof
In the new world, multimedia is king. It's no longer just about gamers who want to be YouTube stars. From small business owners trying to spruik their wares to workers stuck on Zoom calls in COVID lockdown, everyone needs to be multimedia ready. Not just ready, but professional. And nothing says professional like good audio.
Even average smartphones nowadays pack video cameras that record at a web-ready (or beyond) resolution. The problem for many isn't the footage, it's the sound. You need to keep a uniform, intelligible dialogue with the person on the other side of the screen, regardless of your distance from the camera, or ambient noises such as wind and the next-door neighbour's damn dog.
It is in this context that I set about reviewing RØDE's Wireless Go II, with RØDE being a brand with a strong reputation in the audio space. Is this the easy, versatile and cost-effective audio solution we've all been seeking?
The RØDE Wireless Go II comes ready to fire for almost all use cases. The package comes with a receiver box and 2 transmitters. You also get windshields and the cabling required to not only charge but connect the RØDE Wireless Go II to typical recording devices with USB-A or audio jack ports.
However, more "luxury" cables, such as the iPhone lighting cable and USB-C to USB-C, are not included. While I can understand not having the former, I wish the latter was included. This allows you to connect directly to most modern laptops for recording, or to use the mic for teleconferencing.
It also comes with a little carry bag that's smaller than your hand. Furthering that flexibility, the 2 transmitters have enough internal memory to store up to 40 hours of compressed audio and 7 hours of uncompressed audio. That means you don't even need the receiver on-hand or fully charged to be able to record.
The beauty of coming with 2 transmitters – which have the same in-built omnidirectional condenser mic as the original Wireless Go – is that it can be set up as a dual-mic for stereo recordings, or for 2 people to participate in the same recording. This is handy if you plan to interview someone or host a podcast with a guest. You can also record the same thing twice simultaneously at different levels, providing a "safety" recording in case 1 distorts or picks up too much ambient noise.
Lots of flexibility
The dual channel receiver plays a big role here. It's a nifty bit of tech, allowing you to easily monitor sound levels and battery life, mute a mic and switch between modes. You can also alter the decibel volume of a transmitter in 12db increments by default, but this can be improved to 3db increments via the computer app. This gain control gives you surprising command over sound, allowing you to avoid potential problems on the go.
You can expect 7 hours of battery life on a single charge, but the device is smart enough to enter power-saving mode pretty quickly when it's not in use.
Finally, if you're recording onto a Mac or Windows computer, there is the RØDE Central app. This not only acts as a hub to do some light editing and exporting, but provides you with a whole extra level of adjustments and features that can't be accessed on the receiver itself. This gives the Wireless Go II incredible versatility for such a small device, as you can expand its use in powerful ways.
I'd love to see RØDE Central app appear on mobiles. There is a RØDE Mic and a RØDE Video Recording and Editing apps available, but they're not awesome, rated 2.9 and 1.6 out of 5 respectively. I avoided using them altogether.
RØDE Wireless GO vs Wireless GO II
If you're wondering what has changed between the release of the 2 microphones, it's all in the features. The design and even the microphone itself have stayed the same between the 2 iterations. However, a lot more has changed in the capability of the device. Namely:
- RØDE Central app
- The dual channel recording, including Safety Channel option
- Almost triple the range
- More stable wireless transmissions
- On-board recording
- The 3db increment gain control
- Universal compatibility with cameras, mobiles and computers
The 2 Wireless GO II transmitters and the receiver are the same size, which is smaller than a box of matches. Both come with a clip on the back, making it easy to position on clothing or devices so you're ready to go without any fuss. The accompanying windshields clip on and off easily too, and are much better than those that shipped with the original Wireless Go.
Buttons on each component are clearly marked and easy to press, although there's not many of them. On first use, it can be a little confusing. It's definitely worth schooling yourself on what each of them do via the website before you record something important to ensure you know exactly how to press them to get the effect you want. The website has a wealth of useful information.
The little screen on the receiver provides a lot of very useful information in a small space, too. Everything you need, in fact, to go from no sound to quality audio in a matter of heartbeats.
Indeed, being compact and easy to carry around or store is part of the big selling point of the RØDE Wireless Go II. If you're doing a recording out in the wild, all the required equipment you need – a phone and this kit – can fit in your pocket. Which is awesome!
Personally, I did feel a need to get the lavalier accessory. I do most of my recording in light clothing, such as a T-shirt, and the 32g weight of the transmitter is just enough that it looks a bit weird, moves when you move and is distracting when pinned to the collar. I'd imagine it would be the same in a dress, so it's something to keep in mind.
Plus, the transmitter has RØDE branding all over it and can reflect sunlight, so I like it better in my pocket rather than being visible to the camera. But it's certainly a good thing that the Wireless GO II is fully backwards compatible with the expansive, and useful, range of RØDE accessories.
While I've experienced no issues with the buttons wearing over time, or the plastic shells being able to handle small drops to the ground on occasion, it's worth confirming that the RØDE Wireless Go II is not waterproof or weatherproof. It's a worthwhile feature for RØDE to look at in the future, given that the main draw of this tech is its mobility.
The RØDE Wireless Go II makes use of RØDE's fourth gen 2.4GHz digital transmission with 128-bit compression. This delivers a huge range bump from the old 70m to a whopping 200m. Although that is an unlikely use case.
With the transmitter and receiver in the same general region as each other, I've encountered no interference in my recordings – even in a busy home filled with appliances and IoT devices everywhere. However, the lack of a dedicated transmission frequency does leave the door open to interference if you increase the range or significantly break line-of-sight with something like a fridge.
In uncompressed mode, you can expect a 48KHz, 24-bit audio WAV stream, which is more than enough for most people's needs. And in my experience, the final audio is great for this price.
But it's the flexibility and ease of use that makes the RØDE Wireless Go II so unreal. This is the definition of user-friendly. You don't need to be a gun audio technician to achieve a solid result. You can literally plug it into your phone, press record and shoot a video knowing the audio will sound pro. But then it has the depth with its dual-channel recording, gain control and on-board storage to be professional grade, as well as useful in a wide range of situations.
Where it could improve
Could it be better? Sure. I really do wish you could access all the settings through an app on your phone rather than through a laptop. And when relying on internal recording (which sounds better for obvious reasons) it can be a bit clunky to try to get it to stop and start, or mark timestamps.
Battery life is a little on the low side – not quite enough on paper to get through a full day of shooting – but I haven't had an experience yet where it's run out of juice on me, which makes me think the built-in power saving feature is quite effective.
Should you buy the RØDE Wireless Go II?
- Buy it if you want a great bang for buck, easy-to-use audio solution for all your multimedia activities.
- Don't buy it if you've no need for portability and you want to focus on audio for a specific use-case.
The RØDE Wireless GO II provides a marked step up from its predecessor, which was already one of the most popular entry level audio solutions for those looking to expand their multimedia horizons. I love how easy it is to set up regardless of your technological know-how. It's effectively plug and play, and I love how mobile it is.
But the RØDE Wireless GO II has genuine depth, too. Enough to make it more than just a great hobbyist solution and very much an option for professionals.
Yes, you can get better audio, and more robust builds and technology better suited to specific use cases. And I do so wish that RØDE Central was an app on your phone as well as your computer. But the general-purpose useability of the RØDE Wireless Go II cannot be underscored. It puts great audio quality in the pockets of multimedia users and creators no matter where you are, with room to grow with the user as they master their recording skills.
For my use case, where I'm frequently filming YouTube videos with a mobile phone outside and on the road as much as in the office, the Wireless GO II has been a game changer.
How I tested the RØDE Wireless GO II
If you drop by the Finder Australia YouTube channel, you will find a number of video reviews appearing through the second half of 2021 with yours truly as the host. All of these, both outside and inside, were shot using the Wireless Go II.