Saramonic Blink Me Wireless Microphone System
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Saramonic Blink Me Wireless Microphone System

Jan 17, 2024

Whether it's vlogging your favorite pooch's run in the park or interviewing a videogame designer to talk about the latest features, good audio is as important as good video. Speaking from experience, getting good audio is often far more difficult than good video, and with one easy step it's easy to ruin that audio, making the video useless. It's not always appropriate to carry a lavalier microphone, and a shotgun mic isn't always the best option. Can't somebody make something easy to use that I can use solo and still sound good? Well, Saramonic has a fresh entry in their audio solutions that might do exactly that. The Saramonic Blink Me might not be the most cleverly named device, but it might be the one you need. I’ve had one for a shade over a month, so let's talk about what we liked and what we didn't.

Unboxing the Blink Me, I was shocked to find a hard case protecting the entire thing, and not a cheap one either. It has a gas vent like you’d find on an expensive Pelican case, and has deep-cut foam blocks for everything, with a bit of space to spare. Inside the top compartment lies a drawstring faux-leather bag as well as a handful of cables for connectivity choices. We’ll get back to those.

The two transmitters have a laundry list of features that frankly exceeds the price tag value. First and foremost, it has a much-requested feature that only the top-tier recording devices carry – 24 hours of on-device recording. It also has active noise-canceling. Couple that with a 9-hour battery, touchscreen capabilities, and the easiest mount system you can have, and you’ve got my attention.

Charging the device is a breeze – the two transmitters nestle on both sides of the receiver magnetically, and all three charge via a USB-C to USB-A cable. Inside the box lies huge stack of magnetic mount options. You can drop a small disc behind your shirt making the transmitter very visible, or you can reverse that, leaving the disc on the outside. Surprisingly, the microphone does a great job picking up voice capture, so if you find the screen distracting, it's easily hidden. It does mean you won't be able to see the screen, so you’ll have to rely on the receiver instead, so keep that in mind. There are also a pair of magnetized clips if your subject isn't keen about reaching inside their shirt or wants to clip it to a lapel.

There are only two physical buttons on the transmitters – a power button, and a bright yellow noise reduction button. The omni-directional microphone does a great job of picking up your subjects, but I found that I needed to be very mindful of volume levels. We found in practice that the volume was a tad low. On the screen and on the receiver there are adjustments to raise or lower the capture volume in 3 db increments.

Pressing the power button will, you guessed it, power it up. Tapping it twice locks and unlocks the screen, so you won't accidentally turn it off. The noise reduction button enables and disables that feature, but double-tapping it will also disable or enable on-board recording. This saves you from having to go into the screen settings if you want to switch to that mode – a handy feature. Holding in that button for a moment will mute and unmute the microphone – something that will be displayed on the screen, thankfully.

There are two capture settings for recording quality – 48kHz at 16 bit or 48kHz at 24 bit. Both transmitters have 8GB of internal memory, providing over 22 hours of recording at the lower rate, and about 15 hours at the higher setting.

When you are outside, it's best to use a Fur Windshield (aka a "dead cat") – and there are two included. These are, surprisingly, not magnetic, instead meant to clip in place. I found these to be a little fiddly to get in place, but once they were they stayed there. In the next revision – you’ve got something good with the magnets, stick with that.

This kit is meant as a two-person kit, meaning you can interview two people with this one setup. This is surprisingly useful as you never know when you will want to ask questions of the person you are talking to. A shotgun mic is great for capturing from the front, but it's terrible for capturing whatever you are shouting from behind the lens – this solves that problem handily. It does so in a mono fashion, so you’ll want to fix that in post production if you want to change out person A being on the left and person B being on the right.

Saramonic has leaned in hard on the 1" touchscreen, and I’m genuinely impressed with what's on offer. You can update the firmware for additional functionality and features, as well as adjust nearly everything about your recording you could possibly need. The default screen shows which mic you are using, whether the settings are locked or not, and a real time readout of the audio capture. This is handy so you know that you are capturing something – immediately useful if you’ve ever lost an interview due to an audio hiccup. You can tinker with several settings to extend battery life, but I have to be honest – with nearly 9 hours of life when capturing on the camera, and about 7 hours when also capturing to the device itself, I never found the need to adjust any of them. There are additional options, including changing the layout, or even putting your own logo on as a wallpaper, if you use the official app.

The receiver is square with a round charge port on both sides. This is handy if you aren't using both transmitters as you can charge the other. On the side of the receiver lies three physical buttons with a touch screen on the opposite side. The buttons are labeled power and +/-. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what these do, but be mindful when you are amping power on both the receiver and transmitter as it can have a multiplicative effect that could ruin the outcome. Test and retest, then go slow with those increments.

There are three ports on one of the sides of the device – a pair of 3.5mm jacks and a USB-C port. The first 3.5mm is a headphone jack, which is used for monitoring the audio capture. This is extremely useful for anyone running the camera to ensure you are capturing clean audio. The second is the analog connection to your camera. The USB-C port serves two purposes, letting you charge the receiver or transfer any locally-captured audio.

As I mentioned, there is a touchscreen on the device. It's used for swiping through options, of course, but is also how you’ll monitor your two audio sources. It's not as good as having in-ear monitoring, but it's a handy visual reminder if you are running this rig solo.

I was surprised to find two additional cables with this device – along with a 3.5mm to TRS/TRRS, comes a 3.5mm to USB-C and 3.5mm to lightning. This means you can use this with an Android or iPhone device with those connections without the need for additional cables or adapters – a rarity these days. This is useful if your run-and-gun shoots are more portable than a big camera setup.

Truthfully, that last bit sums up the Blink Me nicely – it's shockingly flexible, and provides a metric ton of usability in an inordinately small package. The only thing it's missing, and the only thing I can think of that I’d want, is one more port – a 3.5mm jack for a lavalier. There is no input jack for an external microphone. These are a touch on the heavier side with the included magnet, so the flexibility to pivot to a lapel-clipped microphone would be appreciated. It's a minor oversight and an easy add for the next iteration. It's far from a dealbreaker though, as you can hear in the video above. The audio we captured was flawless, with one exception.

You might note in our video that we took the Saramonic Blink Me system to GAMA. Unfortunately, we did a recording that was filled with a ton of static and interference, to the point of being unusable. I wasn't able to replicate that interference (the Blink Me uses the 2.4 Ghz range), and the only thing I can think of is perhaps a bank of microwaves all going at the same time near our ballroom. I tried by firing up a number of competing devices in that same range, but the Blink Me devices were clearly able to dodge around the affected bands in all but the unidentified extreme example.

I’ve come away impressed with the Blink Me Wireless Microphone System. It has delivered time and again and under challenging conditions. The last section of our video shows an extraordinarily RF-packed and with some awful echo. As you can hear, that echo is completely removed, and the audio is clear as a bell. That's a sign of some very high quality microphones and on-device processing as no additional work was done in post. Ultimately, that's what you need, and what you’ll get from these devices – power on, clip where you need them, and you are capturing immediately. Simple and clean.

The last part of any hardware review is always the same – price and warranty. The Saramonic Blink Me Wireless Microphone System is $249 at retail, and comes with everything I’ve described, including the hard case. That's a value given that the case is easily $50. Comparable devices come in around the same price, and slightly higher if you want a case-charge device included. Many of these lack the features that make this one special, including on-device recording and noise cancellation, making these a better choice. Take it from somebody who has purchased and regretted cheaper devices – bad audio will ruin good video, every time.

With on-device recording, active noise cancellation, and the easiest magnetic clip-on system we’ve ever seen, the Saramonic Blink Me system is a robust, feature-full, and easy to use capture system. While it lacks a jack for a 3.5mm clip-on lavalier, the audio capture without is magnificent. It's one of the best run-and-gun easy-buttons on the market.

—Ron Burke

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