The first time we came across a microphone solution from Saramonic, we nearly missed it. There had been a ton of new names popping up around the world and many of them weren’t worth talking about due to quality control issues that were running rampant. However, the attention to detail and quality of build had caught our eye, resulting in our looking further into it. Something we never came to regret, because it become one of our favorite new brands to enter the industry within an affordable category.
This was the UwMic9 series and its build and sound quality was fantastic. The dual-channel receiver and lav transmitters were spot on, competing against some of the biggest names in the industry at a fraction of the price. Their wireless handhelds were something to take seriously as well (outside of some small build-quality issues we had with them that didn’t seem to affect performance).
Fast-forward some years and now you have the new UwMic9S series that take that line to a whole new level of quality. Keeping up with modern technology and continuing to show that the company can indeed be a threat to some of those bigger names out there.
We have been testing out the Saramonic UwMic9S Kit2 UHF Dual-Channel Wireless Mic System to see how it stands up to the previous series and the results have been quite formidable. There have been some noticable changes to the captured audio, and some incredible enhancements to the specs.
The first thing worth noting is the fact that this kit comes with its own Pelican-like travel case. It is closer to some of the third-party versions of these cases, but still absolutely worth using as it is well-built and will protect your product for years to come. It has an auto-pressure valve, durable latches, and two places to slap on a lock for security.
Much better than trying to use a cardboard box to store everything in and you will look a lot more professional carrying this around. Especially, if you plan to rent your gear out for shows/events.
Inside the case, everything comes packed away into custom cut foam, keeping everything cozy inside and free from scratches. All three units neatly pack away inside with two additional spots for all of the accessories to be randomly sorted within.
We found this to be a nice touch. Although, if you plan to use this on a camera rig that makes use of the cold-shoe adapter, you’ll have to take it on and off each time for it to fit in the case unless you are willing to cut into the foam some to make space for it (the adapter).
Saramonic provides a number of accessories for your lavs, including extra foam and fur windscreens, as well as additional clips. You can never have enough when it comes to the small pieces since they can easily be lost if you aren’t careful.
The fur windscreens come with a button-on design that allow them to easily slide onto the lav mics and pop right back off again. While the foam windscreens are designed to be firmed fitted to the lav mics due to features a tight rubbing ring inside the foam. Because of this, they are a little difficult to get onto the mics, but once they are, there won’t be any accidental slip-offs. Plus, thanks to the design of the fur screens, you could easily use both for those really windy situations (just make sure you don’t pick up any rubbing between the layers).
This kit comes with Saramonic DK3 “High-Quality” Lavaliers. They connect to the lav packs vis 3.5mm connections, just like the previous-gen models did. They sound great, although you can use your favorite alternative lav mics with these packs as well (ie, Sennheiser, Rode, etc). Along with any other mic solution that uses or can be adapted to 3.5mm (as long as it doesn’t have any phantom power restrictions).
They do feature a different design that sets them apart from what came with the original UwMic9 series. They do look a lot more like the Sennheiser models (ie, ME 2-II) in design while sounding like a mix between Senn and Sony.
There is a locking collar that allows you to thread them onto the units so they don’t accidently pull out and their durability is like any other lav solution.
They come with clips already attached, making sure you have four of everything when it comes to accessories (clips, foam, fur).
Saramonic also includes multiple cable options, allowing you to use these in various situations, right out of the box. Covering the two most important: DSLRs and professional video cameras. For DSLR’s, you have a stereo-pair of 3.5mm TRS to single stereo 3.5mm TRS for DSLR and similar setups. While you also get two single 3.5mm TRS to single XLR adapters for larger cameras with stereo XLR inputs.
The XLR cables can also be used to run to recording solutions, like the AJA Ki Pro record decks either as a stereo signal or to two seperate decks as a mono solution for a primary and backup. Of course, if you are using these, you might be running your Saramonic receiver to a mixer of sorts and then to the record decks. There are so many ways of capturing your content and they make it easy right out of the box with just a few seperate cables.
There is also a single 3.5mm TRS to 3.5mm TRS cable for making use of these with line-in sources between a transmitter or the receiver.
As for that latter option, both the TX and RX units can receive line-in or mic-in sources. Allowing you to accept them from either side. Opening your use-cases all the more and allowing this kit to become a powerful solution to so many tasks.
At first, it looks as though the units in this kit are very similar to the original UwMic9 series, but it doesn’t take long to see how different they really are. From the new OLED screens to the change of location for the buttons on the front.
Those buttons allow you to move your way through the various menu options and quickly change them as you go. The menu itself, despite offering a refreshed black and white OLED design, is virtually identical to the previous series. So if you are familiar with the older UwMic9 series, you won’t have to learn a thing about adjusting anything on these.
The antennas also swing and swivel, allowing you to get the best use if them regardless of how you have the receiver or transmitter in use.
The weight of these packs are also noticeably lighter. The transmitters are just 5.7oz, while the receiver is just 6.1oz. A lot of this is thanks to the shift from AA batteries to built-in lithium-ion batteries that are much lighter (and far more efficient).
The top of the receiver offers the dual-3.5mm out, which is what allows you to send each channel separately to whatever source you are capturing with. There is also a physical switch for turning each channel on or off within the receiver. This can improve the battery life of the receiver if you are only using a single lav as the receiver isn’t constantly listening to both channels/frequencies.
One thing we noticed, is there is no longer any noise in the recording when you turn one of the channels off. Something we found to be an unfortunate flaw within the original UwMic9 series. So thankfully, this is no longer something to be worried about. Yet another appreciated improvement.
All units within this kit feature a USB-C port at the bottom, allowing you to charge them via any USB source. A proper wall adapter or other PD solution (dock, hub, and certain PD compatible motherboards) would work best at getting the fastest charge, but this happens to be one of the biggest upgrades when compared to the previous series. No more battery swaps as these built-in batteries last a long time.
The receiver offers up to 8 hours of continuous use, while the transmitters have up to 10 hours. Not only, but they can also be used while charging. Allowing you to slap a USB cable into the receiver if you are using a larger external battery solution within your rig (like a V-Mount battery with USB access directly on the battery or the slot/adapter it is slid into).
This should easily get you through a day of recording without having to worry about losing power. Not only that, but your power solution doesn’t require any proprietary cables/connections unlike some of the options from companies like Shure.
I had mentioned the cold-shoe adapter earlier when discussing the case. This is the exact same design as the previous series. Not that anything needed to be changes anyway. It attaches to the back of the receiver by using the metal clip as a way of anchoring it down. Allowing you to easily attach or remove it whenever you need to. Once on, it isn’t going anywhere and the receiver is ready to quickly attach to your camera, cage, or anything else with a cold-shoe mount. As well as anything with a normal camera thread connection (same as you’d find at the bottom of any small to mid-size camera for mounting plates).
The transmitters look identical to the receiver across the front, with the same buttons across the front. Just like the receiver, the menu system is identical to the original series and very easy to move around within.
There is nothing on the sides of the transmitters as all connections are at the top. Which are just two. You have seperate connections for line-level or mic-level inputs. The lav mic, obviously sliding into the mic-in.
As for the line-in connection, this allows you to easily use these transmitters with any line-level device. Including instruments, content players (MP3, turn-table, radio, etc), audio consoles, etc. So if you have a DJ inside of a building and want to send the source outside so people can here the feed outside as well (but have no way of physically running a cable outside without getting pinched somewhere), you could use these to get the job done.
We actually have a lot of audio engineers and enthusiasts that work here, so I could go on all day with examples. Thankfully, you probably already know them all if you are reading this.
All packs feature status LEDs across the front-top of the unit. Not only do they function to let you know the status of your charge or connectivity, but they feature the one option you want with any prosumer or professional UHF mic solution: the ability to easily sync frequencies between the RX and TX units.
Not only that, but the have the option to auto-scan for available frequencies. So if you start taking hits, you can simply tell it to scan for a new frequency. Then, within the menu, enable IR sync on the receiver and hold the transmitter in front of it to pass the changes over to it. Just like any of the big names out there.
The resulting audio from these units is incredibly crisp/clean. This is where we found them to be a balance between Senn and Sony in many ways. They also venture far from the original series that had a little more focus on the lower frequencies. Instead, these focus on the mid to high frequencies and it just sounds better.
We did find there to be a slight compression in the range though. It isn’t that noticable but if your ears are trained, it stands out just a touch in your recorded content. Most likely won’t notice it though. In fact, it was nearly a balanced debate on our end as we asked everyone to listen to the content we recorded with them.
You can hear what these mics sound like in the following clip, as well as within the unboxing video below:
There are nine (9) levels of volume to choose from when it comes to setting the mic’s gain before sending it to your camera or records solution. You also have headphone monitoring on the receiver in case your camera or records solution doesn’t have this (some consumer-level cameras may not offer this, although most-if not all-records solutions will).
They offer up to 330 feet of range between the transmitters and the receiver. This is in perfect conditions with no obstructions (ie, outside). However, we have ran all throughout the building and maintaining a pretty solid connection. Once we got around 100ft or so away from the mic, things started to get a little sketchy between walls. Which is still great for most indoor recording scenarios. If you find yourself needing better than this, you’d already be prepared for spending a lot more).
The only thing the UwMic9S series is missing is handheld support. UwMic9 offered the choice of handheld or lav, making it a powerful solution for so many industries and users. However, UwMic9S is limited to just lavs at this time.
Update: The UwMic9S HU UHF Wireless Handheld Microphone is available now for this series. Allowing users to choose between lav or handheld if they own both. This model handheld work with the receiver of this kit.
Thankfully, the company does seem to be working on something to resolve this. All it really needs to do is either manufacture a handheld with all the same digital guts inside, or an adapter that can be used with any wired handheld (turning it wireless). The latter can be found from companies like Sennheiser and Sony and are typically quite popular. However, having a dedicated handheld also has its perks as it could look better on camera (just as popular). So those looking for a handheld solution will have to wait a bit to see what Saramonic has in the mix. It does sound like the company is actively working on something, so hopefully, we will see something in the coming months.
It is important to point out that the original UwMic9 series handhelds do NOT work with the new UwMic9S series. Although it does appear that the frequencies do line-up within the available channels/groups. So you won’t be able to get sneaky if you already have those in your inventory. Trust me, we’ve tried!
That leaves us with the final highlight: the price. With a $499 MSRP, this kit is a solid danger to some of the bigger names out there in the industry. In our unboxing video below, we point out that they come very close to options like Sony when it comes to sound and quality. Even though it runs less than half the price.
It is $100 more than the original UwMic9 series (which was $399), but this is absolutely worth it the extra cash. If you take yourself and your work seriously, there should be no reason to go with the original series. Unless you need handheld support and cannot wait for the company to release a solution for the new series.
This has quickly become our new favorite “other company”. By other company, I mean, one that is not in the top list of well-recognized names (ie, Shure, Senn, Sony, AKG, etc). In fact, I shouldn’t mention AKG as these blow AKG solutions out of the water. AKG is a great brand with a lot of great products. It just doesn’t do well when it comes to the wireless side of the industry. I can also say that Saramonic has been one of our favorite “other company” options since the original series. This model simply seals that deal when it comes to keeping that title.
There so many reasons to go with this kit over the original series. The audio is crisper, cleaner, and easier to work with. Despite the ever-so-slight compression (if that is what our ears are hearing). The fact that others swear that they can’t hear it is a good sign.
Build-quality features everything you could ask for, with a strong aluminum body, adjustable antennas, and a durable and easy-to-read OLED interface.
It comes with everything you need, outside of connecting it to mobile devices that need a TRRS connection. However, that can easily be fixed by buying a simple adapter TRS to TRRS adapter. That being said, you likely wouldn’t be using something like this with a mobile device (ie, phone, tablet) anyway as there are more affordable solutions for beginner setups like that.
Update: Now that there is an available handheld that can be paired with this receiver, it makes this kit all the better. Thanks to this, the score has increased for this review, reflecting its versatility to the user.
Co-Authors: James H.
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