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Review: Saramonic UwMic9 Wireless Microphone System (Lav and Handheld)

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Recently, we came across Saramonic’s UwMic9 wireless mic system, to see how it fared against some of our other equipment. The price was attractive compared to what we normally use and we have tried their external DSLR amps in the past with good success (plus we promised to share our reaction to everything).Normally we would just break everything apart with an unboxing and then do an internal benchmark at the office, however we wanted to take it a little further this round with a true field test. We decided to put together a kit using one dual receiver, two handhelds and one lav (total price: $600). Next objective, CES 2018 (Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas). 

I mean, if we want to know how it holds up to everything else, we are going to have bring them into like situations where we would normally use them. So we did, and the results were pretty good.

First of all, the price. Compared to the Sennheiser packages we are used to, an entire Saramonic kit (that we put together) came in at less than it costs us for a single Sennheiser receiver and lav. Not too shabby. Consider putting together a Senn package with all the same parts, and it would run us around $1400-$1500, unless you decide to buy your gear from auction opportunities (which we have done so in the past with success). So if the quality of the kit delivers close to the Senn’s, we are doing pretty good.

You have two options for the Saramonic wireless units, including these (UwMic9 series) as well as the UwMic10 series. The only difference between them is that these fall within the 500 MHz range, and the UwMic10 series fall within the 600 MHz range (thus you may want to stay away from the UwMic10 line-up since the 600 range has been sold off to T-Mobile).

The Saramonic units (receiver, transmitters, lav mics and handhelds) feel close in durability to our Shure and Sennheiser alternatives. They feature an aluminum build mostly and took on an average amount of wear while they were out in the field for the show. Feedback was fantastic in this area outside of two things: 1) the paint was easier to scratch than on the Sennheisers, and 2) the antennas bent very easily, so storing them had to be just right. So these can get a little scratched up if you aren’t careful, leading to some paint pen fixes later in the shop. Also, the antenna has a thick-gauge wire inside, which holds its shape if you bend it around. So when it comes to storing them in a bag/case, you have to make sure the antenna can be kept straight. Beyond that, they came back fantastic. Even though one of the interviewees dropped one of the handhelds by accident during one of the shoots (thankfully on padded carpet).

So the big question is, “how did they do audio-wise?”. The Sennheiser kits came in with slightly better audio, but only slightly. There wasn’t enough difference to say we’d rather buy the Senns in the future over the Saramonics. We might find ourselves testing other Saramonic units down the line since they did quite well.

As you can see in the video above, the voices came in pretty well for both handheld microphones. The receiver is a dual-receiver, thus one for two mics vs two for two like the Sennheiser (this results in great savings there alone). The handhelds can be quite directional and picky at times, so it is always best to stay on top of the speakers when it comes to keeping them close to their mouth. As soon as the mic begins to drift off angle to the mouth, the camera op will instantly be able to notice the difference in sound. The same applies when the mic is taken further from the mouth. This of course happens with all handhelds, but we felt these were a little extra sensitive to this.

The Saramonic lav mics are quite a bit more hot/sensitive than the handhelds, so they will pick up a decent level of background noise. In the video above, you can hear that there is quite a bit of action going on, despite being in a semi-isolated room from the show floor. What you are still hearing, are all the nearby booths, as well as individuals speaking next door in another semi-isolated room within the same booth. The above is one of our better videos caught using the lab thanks to the semi-isolated room.

Another example includes being more exposed to some of the noise around us. Here is an interview we had with the company Swagtron, where it was quite a bit more noisy. Given, we also took over the booth slightly for the shoot and it was early morning on that day, so the floor wasn’t packed just yet. You can easily tell how quickly though things change with the lav mics. They perform much better in a quieter environment, as the lav mics sound nearly as good as most of our other lav solutions when shooting at the office–which is fantastic.

They also performed quite well frequency-wise, despite there being a crazy amount of wireless traffic at the show. This is by far one of the largest (if not THE largest) shows that Las Vegas gets every year, and it had us worried about how well they would perform as a wireless solution at such an event. However, they performed with minimal troubles, which matches them up to the Sennheisers decently well. I believe we only had to change frequencies twice during the show due to somebody stepping on us nearby (it was next to impossible for our roaming teams to coordinate frequencies since we had no list of what others were using where).

Syncing frequencies is also pretty easy as everything is managed from the receiver. You choose what frequencies you want for each mic, and then hold their IR transmitters close to each other within so many inches after you have chosen to sync with transmitter from the receiver menu. The receiver will pair the mic you have held to it, to that channel (A or B) and frequency. The IR transmitter/receiver on both the receiver and the lav transmitter is located to the left of the power LED and also acts as your RF status LED. The IR receiver on the handheld is located within the battery compartment, just above the two switches (it looks like a purple square/icon with 3 white arrows inside).

We did find that when the batteries begin to die out, the result is quick with no warning. The individual will begin to go out a few times within a few seconds, similar to sudden frequency issues, and then the unit would instantly die (both transmitters and receivers experienced this). So there isn’t much for warning there. So if you feel you are getting to the last bar, it’s best to swap those batteries before you run into this. Of course, you should be doing that anyway for professional shoots, so this shouldn’t be a problem (we just let them run dry to see what happens).

Distance was also impressive, although we couldn’t (obviously) get as much at the show, we were able to get a decent distance from the receiver before we experienced any issues. You can also switch them to “high powered” (RF) to get a little more boost if needed. As long as you plan to stay within a normal range from a camera, you shouldn’t ever have any troubles (we didn’t).

Due to the performance of these at the show, we decided to keep them in our inventory for future use and might even add other units to the collection down the line. This is a good sign as we can get pretty picky with the equipment we use at times.

There were a few downers we wanted to point out. For one, the handhelds are fixed when it comes to the mic head, so no switching to a Shure SM58 cap, which could have been awesome. This of course was expected though, as it is only something you’d expect to find with Shure equipment and not something like this. Also, the lav and transmitters are 3.5mm aux, with a threaded collar. Quite similar to some of the Shure and Sennheiser solutions. We tested a shure lav in the transmitter to see if it would work (maybe?…please…nope). The Shure lav mic fit snuggly, threads and all, but it wouldn’t respond.

Our Conclusion

So are they perfect? I wouldn’t say perfect, but they come pretty darn close to the Sennheiser kits (DSLR/Camera) we use. Since their price falls around half or less of the Sennheiser equipment, this makes for a pretty good deal. It’s nice to know there is an affordable option for expanding your gear with. Saramonic allows for a lot of groups that might have smaller budgets (private bloggers, Twitch(ers) ,etc) to get their hands on similar gear that the pros are running around with. It also allows the pros to expand on their own equipment if they need B-kits or other solutions for when they run out of their normal inventory (like we have). Durability isn’t equal, but only when it comes to paint for the most part. Frequencies, distance, clarity  and user-friendliness are pretty much on the dot in comparison. It’s easy to say, that Saramonic has a great series here.

Find it all on Amazon! 


Our Rating

7.5 / 10 stars           

Average Price*

$149-$750

*Average price is based on the time this article was published

Unboxing Video:

Additional Images:

 

Specifications:

Lav/Receiver

Channels:

96

Groups:

A and B

Oscillator type:

PLL synthesizer

Output:

3.5mm mini jack

Antenna:

1/4 wire antenna

Audio output level:

-60 dBV

Headphone output level:

30mW (16 ohm)

Frequency Range:

514 MHz – 596 MHz

Sensitivity:

-95 dBm

Signal to noise ratio:

70 dB or more

Voice delay:

12 ms

Reference deviation:

+/- 5 kHz

Frequency response:

40 Hz to 18 kHz (+/- 3dB)

Distortion:

0.5% or less

Spur suppression:

-60 dB

Weight:

218.7g (w/out batteries)

Battery:

2 AA size batteries

Dimensions:

170.9 x 63.5 x 30.0 mm

 

Handheld

Channel number:

96

Channel group:

A and B

Oscillator type:

PLL Synthesizer

Carrier frequencies:

514 MHz – 596 MHz

Reference deviation:

+/-5 kHz (-60 dBV, 1 kHz input)

Signal to noise ratio:

70 dB or more

Spur suppression:

-60 dB

Voice delay:

12 ms

Antenna:

1/4 wire antenna

Reference audio input level:

-60 dBV (MIC input, 0 dB attenuation)

RF output level:

30mW/20mW/10mW selectable

Distortion:

0.5% or less

Weight:

Approx. 338.2g (excl. batteries)

Battery:

2 AA size batteries

Dimensions:

254 x 52 x 52mm

 

 


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.

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About Author

Designer, Editor and Product Reviewer Poc Network Ryan is an avid gamer that spends most of his time either commanding teams on the Xbox One or out on the grass kicking the soccer ball around when others are willing to take the challenge. He comes with a bachelors in electrical engineering and a hobby in the installation of advanced audio-video environments.

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