One of us (Senior Editor) had the luxury of running into Saramonic during NAB 2018 to talk about their line of products and our recent success with using some of their wireless mic solutions during CES back in January. We actually have a number of Saramonic parts in our inventory now, but the kit we used during CES was the latest, which resulted in a full review and a positive outcome (score) thanks to its solid performance in a high traffic (wireless) area.
Now to expand our knowledge of their catalog a little further, we have been testing out one of their shotgun microphone solutions, the SR-TM1. The SR-TM1 is a cardioid patterned directional condenser microphone, perfect for professionals that don’t have the budget for big-name solutions, yet still want something that can deliver professional sound.
Aimed to compete with other mics within its price range, it also reaches further to push around some of the mics within the $400-$600 range as well (depending on how you play around with its settings). There are three settings in addition to the on/off button that allow you to play around with it so that you can get the best sound for your given situation. You have a -10 dB pad, a 150Hz high pass filter, and a +6 dB high-frequency boost (this is where things start to get serious).
It features an internal lithium rechargeable battery for phantom power when you are mobile (so no batteries are needed from you), and obviously supports receiving phantom power from a board or other external solution all the same when you have such equipment available to you. There is a micro-USB port neatly hidden within the XLR pins on the back that is used to charge it with, and it does come with a cable to pull this off with.
In fact, it comes with most everything you will likely need unless you are working with equipment that needs you to adapt it down to a 3.5mm aux input (ie, DSLR, smartphone, tablet, etc). In most cases though, you will be using the provided XLR cable. It comes with a clip of course, and it also has all the adaptations you’ll ever need for mounting the microphone to a camera, tripod, mic stand, or just about anything else you can imagine.
The mic clip features both mic stand thread types, as well as a tripod shoe thread and a hot shoe connector. There is nothing like not having to buy little parts you run into needing. Now you will have all these little extras in your supply.
There is also a basic foam wind filter and some simple instructionals to get you rolling with and better understanding its features. The only thing it doesn’t come with sadly is your typical mic bag to store it in (this would have been nice).
This microphone seems to be great for situations where there isn’t a terrible amount of noise surrounding you. Since it is cardioid in pattern, it is a little more sensitive to sound coming from the sides. So if there is traffic, machinery, or other sources of noise next to you, it will pick this up more. It is because of this that we personally (mostly) use super-cardioid microphones in outdoor situations because they are a little tighter, which helps to filter more of this out. However, if you are indoors and have control over the sounds of your environment, this can work out just fine.
Right out of the box, you will find yourself making adjustments as it sounds a little high pitched and tinny. You can see this in the video below or some of the audio samples we’ll provide you in a moment. This is good if you are looking to capture certain sound effects, but if you are recording voice, this is where you will begin to play around with the settings.
When it came to voice, we found that using the +6 dB high-frequency boost resulted in the warmest capture. So if you really want to tap into the low-end of your frequencies before even touching your content post edit, this can be a good route. However, we seemed to get some of the best results with everything enabled. Since the result is more natural, it’s easier to go wherever you want within when editing it later on.
Let’s take a look at some examples! In the following clip, we demonstrate the various options you can switch through on the microphone, going through each mode and then finishing it with all modes enabled:
As you can see the HFB and all modes (the last two options in the clip), provided the best results. Without any mode enabled or just the high pass filter enabled, resulted in a less than desirable outcome. Again, this is with voice, so the results can easily change in other situations (ie, capturing certain sound effects).
I mentioned that it competes against other microphones within a similar price range, but it also reaches further to compete against higher-priced solutions as well. An example of this, we pit it against a Rode NTG-2 microphone, which is a popular option for both broadcast and recorded content. In the following clip, you can hear the difference between both mics with no settings enabled (just flat, right out of the boxes).
What you can see (or at least hear) here, is that the Saramonic does come in a little bit brighter and tight to the highs leaving some of the lows out compared to the Rode NTG-2. However, if you enabled all modes of the Saramonic, it would match up almost perfectly with the Rode. If you enabled just the high-frequency boost, it over-takes the Rode in quality. Keep in mind, none of this has been improved on in post (simply cut/spliced together in its raw form), thus you are hearing the direct recording with no effects or adjustments.
You will want to make use of an external mic amp (or a mixer/console) when using these mics to record of course, else the volume is going to come in far too low to make use of it. That is, unless you are recording directly to the camera and the camera has a built-in preamp that sounds good–which rules out most Canon DSLR options other than the recently released models within the past so many months (and the SL1 for those on a budget). Saramonic even makes a number of decent amps for cameras, like the SR-PAX1, which would make for a great starter solution.
Since it can be easily set up to challenge even the Rode mics in our tests, this resulted in a great score from us, especially since it will only set you back $199. This makes it a perfect option for low budgets to get started with, while also working its way up into larger budgets, where it is just plain useful to have (because, why not if it works?). It isn’t perfect, but it is harder to frown at this price-point. You are getting what you pay for, but then again, you are getting a lot more. You can really get this mic to sound good when you need to, and it comes with everything you need to mount it to just about anything.
|Buy from Amazon|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
|Acoustic Principle:||Line gradient|
|Frequency Range:||40 Hz to 20 kHz|
|Sensitivity:||-35 +/- 3dB|
|Output Impedance:||200 ohm|
|Max Output:||10 dBu|
|Dynamic Range:||119 dB|
|Max SPL:||135 dB|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||75 dB SPL|
|Battery:||48V Phantom or internal lithium battery (150 hours)|
|Output Connector:||3-pin XLR (Balanced)|
|Dimensions & Weight:||11.1 x .9 x .9″ (28.2 x 2.3 x 2.3cm). 6 oz (171g)|
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.