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RØDE's New smartLav iOS Lavalier, VideoMic Upgrade, Plus Apogee's iPortable Recording Studio

We recently posted about RØDE’s iXY microphone and Rec app for iOS devices. While perhaps not suitable for everyone’s needs (or inversely, budget), it marks another step toward a lone multi-purpose tool handy to the crafty filmmaker — the iOS iPhone/iPad. While I’ll never own one, even I have to hand it to the iLeatherman. In a pinch, it’s a light meter, it’s a GoPro, it’s a shot designer, and with iXY and RØDE Rec, it’s a dual-system audio recorder, too. Now, RØDE continues its drive to make iOS a viable field sound-rec system with the smartLav lavalier microphone — as does the Apogee ONE, a like-minded iPad portable ‘recording studio’ system. RØDE has also upgraded its VideoMic for those run-and-gun shooters unsatisfied with smartphone sound — check out the details of each below.

RØDE’s VideoMic Upgrade with Rycote Shock Protection

RØDE’s VideoMic line has traditionally provided something generally more beneficial to videographers or video journalists looking to stay single-system and ultra-mobile but increase sound quality over on-board recording. In the same vein — but more applicable to filmmakers — the VideoMic could be used to improve camera-recorded sound for the sake of a more tolerable reference track as well.

As far updates to the system go, RØDE has partner with Rycote to implement its Lyre suspension system into the design. In addition to providing a sturdier mount, and therefore sturdier resistance to shock and movement noise, the Lyre lowers the VideoMic’s profile as well. Here’s RØDE’s promo video for the upgraded model, which includes an 80Hz high-pass filtration and -10/-20 dB padding capabilities:

For those interested, the new VideoMic will be available for ordering at B&H within the day, with availability for shipping expected by March 1.

Apogee ONE iPad Portable Recording Studio

Apogee will also be releasing a pro-spec ‘mini-studio’ recording solution called the Apogee ONE. The new $350 model has several improvements over the original (still available) $250 version — Apogee’s page for the ONE has a model-to-model comparison under Product Tour.

To give you a basic run down of the updated Apogee ONE, here’s Engadget’s hands-on preview from NAMM 2013, followed by a promo from Apogee:

This product is clearly geared more towards the roaming musician rather than the traveling filmmaker, but I think it could have some useful applications in film as well. Accessorizing properly would allow the Apogee ONE and the iPad recorder to remain with the sound person — just like a conventional dual system setup. Simply using an XLR extension means you can boom out a shotgun (or mic or your choice) just as you normally would — except you’d be recording through the ONE system using an iPad as your recorder. ONE can integrate into GarageBand or other audio studio apps, including Apogee’s own Maestro. With a newer device you may also need a 30-pin to Thunderbolt adaptor — Apogee stopped by Engadget to clear up the adapter situation:

Apogee has passed along the info via the comments below that a Lightning cable is on the way in Q2 and that users shouldn’t experience any difference in performance with the adapter that they’ll need in the meantime.

This solution and the more field-shooting oriented RØDE iXY both allow for iOS recording up to 96kHz at 24-bit — though the Apogee system seems a lot more customizable. The iXY solution trades off such options and extensibility for simplicity and total portability (the ONE needs out-board juice). Both companies are claiming top-of-the-line internal pre-amplification and A/D conversion, which may be the deal breaker for some iOS-wielding shooters — I would love to get a chance to play the gear against each other in recording situations — anyone with experience with either (or all) of these products, let us know your thoughts! The new ONE should be available this March.

RØDE smartLav iOS Lavalier Microphone

On the other hand, RØDE is already announcing ways to tap the iOS family for recording options more extensible than the hard-mounted iXY: enter the new smartLav.

I’ve never been huge on the use of lavaliers except on the most brutally corporate-style interviews, but that doesn’t mean lavs don’t perform very effectively for close-mic’ing individual subjects. The benefit here is mainly that the usual caveat in the use of lavs — either a wire that can quickly become ridiculously long, or the wireless alternative — is circumvented altogether, because the subject is wired into a recorder he or she is actually carrying themselves. Here’s RØDE on the smartLav, which is going to run you $60:

A foam pop shield is included to minimize wind noise and vocal plosives (hard ‘b’, ‘t’ and ‘p’ sounds), as well as a durable mounting clip with in-built cable management. The smartLav has been designed to pair perfectly with the RØDE Rec app for Apple iOS devices, and is also compatible with any iOS audio app that accepts input from the headset connection. RØDE Rec turns the user’s iOS device into a fully-featured field recorder, with a wide range of equalisation pre-sets to suit various recording situations, in addition to professional editing functions and the ability to publish to SoundCloud and Dropbox directly from the app.

Whatever you think of the usefulness, practicality, or price-to-performance value of devices such as these, it’s clear that the ‘mobile mic’ing’ market is getting competitive — which is great for shorter-budget shooters looking for the solution just right for them. If it hasn’t been released or announced yet, you can bet that manufacturers like Apogee and RØDE are already hard at work on it. This type of gear will never replace dedicated, stand-alone pro-audio devices, of course — but in a pinch, these mics/apps have the specs it takes to get the job done. As for the SNR you get out of mic’ing directly through a iPhone/iPad’s 1/8th inch jack (with the smartLav or, I suppose, even the VideoMic) the more audio-savvy readers out there will have to leave us their thoughts until I can do some testing myself. Either way, I wouldn’t mind having one (or all) of these for some backup in my audio arsenal.


[via Engadget]

[Disclosure: RØDE is a NoFilmSchool advertiser]


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Description image 43 COMMENTS

  • Antony Alvarez on 02.2.13 @ 4:07PM

    What’s the estimated retail value of the smart lav? I could definitely see it coming in handy. I’m not interested in the new RodeMic considering I just picked up the Pro and am totally content with it and it’s +20 db gain. Will admit having PAD is nice though.

  • Smartlav looks brand new. Can’t find a place to put an order online!

    • Dave Kendricken on 02.2.13 @ 4:47PM

      Hey James, yes according to press materials and, “smartLav is shipping to authorised RØDE dealers worldwide in early 2013.”

  • Smartlav is actually a pretty great idea but i can see it being frustrating/confusing having all those files and iDevices. Take the video for example, the guy would need to trust that in addition to his fully charged iPhone, the priest has an iPhone he remembered to charge fully and would also, at some point, need to get the files from him.

    However, if the sound is good and works with the 3G iPod touch, you can potentially get a really solid lav set for <$200.

  • Great post- these are all great innovations/product solutions that fits perfectly with my level of production. Really interested in the Rycote Shock

  • That looks very useful but I’m not an apple guy, hope there is an android version or a converter for the connector.

  • So how does this set up compare to say a zoom h4n and a senhizer wireless lapel?

    • c.d.embret on 02.2.13 @ 7:44PM

      A Zoom recorder Is Not Pro Quality, neither is Tascam. But both will work for non-demanding jobs.

      For playback an Apple iPod is audiophile quality. For the few things I’ve recorder with my iPod Touch 4G the sound quality is very good. I’m using the FiRe2 app

      • “A Zoom recorder Is Not Pro Quality.” Care to qualify that statement? 24-bit/96kHz, balanced inputs, phantom power. What is not pro quality about that?

        • Dave Kendricken on 02.6.13 @ 1:16AM

          The problem is, specs like that aren’t the only issue to consider — the quality of the pre-amp can make or break the deal depending on your standards, and the quality of a pre-amp is harder to qualify (or at least much less touted in press materials). The juicedLink audio recorder shootout gets into this game a bit. But again I’d like to be able to do my own testing at some point soon!

  • The only drawback for me is not being able to monitor the recordings. As you wouldn’t be able to know if anything went wrong (spikes or whatever) until you finish shooting.

    • I’m with Robert. Having one jack for both mic and earbuds eliminates any chance of monitoring even during a soundcheck. You could check between takes for narrative work, but you’re screwed for live events. The wedding in the video sounds nice because it’s a controlled environment. If you’ve got a nervous bride rustling the fabric of her dress you wouldn’t know until it was too late.

    • I wonder if a TRRS “Y” cable from Sescom like the will work with the smartLav to provide headphone monitoring

      • Guy, a “Y” cable usually, if not always doesn’t work because the iOS devices to output audio while they are inputing audio. The cheapest solution I have found is the TASCAM iXZ. It has a single XLR/Phone jack and a 3.5 earphone jack built in. It outputs to a 3.5 plug to your DSLR or iOS hardware.

  • Am I crazy, or is the choice to say that the lav is for iOS devices only a matter of marketing and which OS the app is available for? I mean, if it really is a standard TRRS end on it, then it should work with any phone that has the option for earbuds with inline mic… you only have to find your own app instead of using theirs.

    • Dave Kendricken on 02.2.13 @ 8:21PM

      You’re not crazy — RØDE is likely trying to keep the products of its mobile-based push somewhat associated, even if, for instance, the smartLav doesn’t need RØDE Rec to work. Your point should be accurate though — and even beyond that, any mic should theoretically work in any phone with the jack (and with the connection adapted to that jack if necessary), at least along with the right app. I can’t say for sure because I haven’t gotten much chance to play around along these lines just yet. But as far as I understand, you are correct

    • ios handles audio much better than any other operation system… androids audio processing is too slow.

  • Ill pick up the lav, will be a cheap solution for a second sound pack for my puppet web series.

  • The old ONE had the same mic pre and A/D converters as the Duet and Ensemble, pieces of kit that were able to record studio-quality audio, even with the inbuilt mic. Check out the video of Ozomatli recording a jam with just the (original) was pretty impressive!

  • About the Rycote kit : nice to see Rode finally realize that the shockmount on their original VideoMic sucked cos it started squeeking after a few months. But for anyone who already owns a VideoMic or owning several mics, it’s probably wiser to invest in Rycote’s Universal Camera Kit.

    It has the advantage that it will work perfectly with any VideoMic (the old one and the new Pro), but also with ALL of your future mics. I’ve been using it for the past 3 years in all kinds of conditions and it’s never failed me. It doesn’t start squeeking, still works as new and also includes a few accessories that will allow you to mount it on a monopod and use it as an improvised boom.

    • Forgot to add that the Universal Camera Kit from Rycote also includes a professional windjammer (which outperforms the foam Rode includes with their mics) and a “dead cat” that fits over the windjammer.

  • Hey guys

    This might be a little troll-like of me to write; but why is it that almost every time you have sound-related news, it is about gear on such a low level? Sure it’s good to know about the DSLR level gear that comes out, but as a gearhead and sound designer, i would LOVE to be able to read about the latest stuff coming from top level brands like Sound Devices, Aaton, Saxcom, etc.
    Sure, I can find sound gear related news other places, but i really really like the style and newsflow on nofilmschool, and would love if you covered this as well.
    It is a little biased that you write about both high- and low-level cameras but we sound guys don’t get the same kind of love.

    Are there others out there feeling the same way?

  • on 02.3.13 @ 9:20AM

    The SmartLav seems like a good investment because of its compatibility with the RODE app and other iOS apps, though the Monster Squid lavs may be a more affordable option.

  • I think this is a great idea.. I’m wondering if you could plug in a splitter to record to mics at same time. but then it would be hard to adjust levels if one person talks louder then the other. maybe next they will create a small device that plugs into the charge port and turns the ios into a 2 channel recorder..

  • i just installed the free version of this app and then used the lav mic from my Senn G3 kit and it works great but the cable could detect very easy as it does not fit flush on the iphone

  • The Old VideoMic suspension was absolutely crap, can we buy just the new suspension?
    Does the Rode Recording App comes free with the SmartLav? or separate at

  • Hey guys.

    I work for a press agency and we do not only video but also regular audio recordings, for use on soundcloud or podcasts.

    If i look at the audio-only recordings we do, there are two situations: typical interview setup with handheld microphone and ‘speech’ setup with lav-mic.

    A few years ago we used portable recorders like the zoom but we’ve changed them all to iPhones.
    The big problem with the røde lav-mic is that you don’t have monitoring options. They use a TRRS (4 conductor) connection but actually only use 2 of the 4 conductors. (like an ordinary mono-plug)

    To counter this problem i’ve soldered my own (you can also buy these for ridiculous prices) TRRS male to dual TRS female cable adapter. This way you plug in a TRRS jack to the iPhone and you plug in the microphone of your choosing to one female minijack (i’ve also made one with an XLR connection) and have a female socket for headphone monitoring. And you can use any microphone you want!

    You do need a program that supports realtime playback from the microphone. Due to OS limitations his isn’t possible on Android so I had to buy iPhones.

    So right now we have a very portable solution to record our interviews. And as an added bonus the recordings are synced directly to our cloud, so we can immediately start editing..

    Just a tip for people wanting to go the iWhatever route with the røde mic mentioned above…

    • Dave Kendricken on 02.6.13 @ 1:18AM

      Thanks for the comment Sam, I love it. I also love the ‘iWhatever’ term… you should start selling your adapters for less ridiculous prices! :D

    • Hello,
      I’ve actually bought a “ MUYHSMFF 3.5mm 4-Pin to 2x 3-Pin 3.5mm Headset Splitter Adapter – M/F” only to find out it does not work.
      I think the explanation for the splitter not working can be found here:

      “The MUYHSMFF Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack splitter (4-position 3.5mm to dual 3-position 3.5mm) is a headset Splitter Adapter features one 3.5mm Male (TRRS) and two 3.5mm (TRS) Female connectors, enabling you to add a mono microphone input, as well as a stereo output to your PC or Laptop, through a single 3.5mm audio port.”

      If I am correct, the male is TRRS, but since the female mic and female headphone ports are only TRS, the smartlav isn’t picked up by the RODE rec app or FiRe Field recorder app.

      Can anyone help me find a splitter that will allow me to record and monitor the smartlav?

  • Heck, I’d use this thing on vacation! I’ve got an iPhone heavy friend set. Everyone has a mic on their iPhone, flick em on when your shooting something cool. Sync it when you get home. Way better than the camera mic, and it kills the big booming voice of the shooter. Perfect if you like your home videos to be more than home videos.

    It does seem to be useful for the independent videographer…….even if s/he has to invest in a few pricey iPods.

  • I like the mic and I did a video review on it.

    Check it out and do yourself a favor and get one.

  • Hi I bought the Smartlav, my question is can I use the REC app the paid on for the android as well?

  • Avoid the Smartlav with the Rode rec app if you need reliability and quality. I used it as a backup at a ceremony and when I retrieved and unlocked my iPhone the Rode app crashed. I lost the entire recording. I was using the SmartLav on my iPhone 5 with ios 7. Also it’s got far too much hiss for anything close to pro audio.

  • now if someone could invent an app that would let you stream that audio signal over wifi (perhaps to another ipod touch) while at the same time recording onto onboard storage.. (for monitoring or for connecting to camera) this could be very interesting.. (some wireless transmitters and receivers are more expensive than ipod touches)

    Or imagine a bunch of ipod touch lapels streaming to a multitrack recording on an ipad.. pontential!!
    (just put my name somewhere down the bottom of the patent ;) ;P )