In the world of vlogging or youtube, it doesn’t matter how good your video production is or how great your camera setup is when you’re just going to record all of your audio with a small cell phone microphone or a set of earbuds. don’t get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere! When I began creating content, I was using the iPhone that I had and using a pair of AirPods as my main microphone for the video work I did. It worked to a point but eventually I learned more and more about creating better content from the visual side of things and quickly realized that all of that effort would be for nothing if I didn’t have the right audio quality to go with it. Videos began to look better but the audio didn’t sound as good. What to do now? Well, using a single USB powered condenser is one way to go but it begins to get difficult to create content when you’re on the go or want to do interviews. You’re basically stuck in one spot and as soon as you move more than a few inches, everything sounds off. Talking head videos are good, but sometimes you need more variety or different visual perspectives all in one take when you don’t want boom mic’s showing in those other shots. Best way around this? Wireless microphones!
For the longest time, wireless lab mic’s consisted of a small microphone attached by a wire to a small pack worn on your belt or in your pocket. That signal would then have to be sent to an audio interface and then into a computer where it would have be mixed and synced up to your video content. Bluetooth technology wasn’t as good as it is today with Bluetooth 5 so it was difficult to create lav mic’s that were both easy to use and high quality without a lot of extra bulky wires or packs that you had to run under a shirt or jacket. This is where Sabintek has stepped up and created a high quality Bluetooth mic that can be used in a variety of different scenarios and maintain its portability, all while offering excellent performance. They have managed to offer up the high fidelity audio, real-time monitoring, noises reduction, transmission distance, and 6 hours of battery life in a small and portable package that has no wires and clips directly to your shirt or jacket. It connects wirelessly to your smartphone or camera and offers ton of smart features that make them an all-in-one solution for almost any content you’re making.
SmartMike+ or AudioWow Mic
Foam and dead-cat windshield
USB charging cable
Headphone for monitoring
Design and Specs…
Sabinetek has designed both of these mic’s to be very compact and light weight. The Smartmike+ is barely the size of your pinky finger and the AudioWow is smaller than a box of matches. Both weigh in at only 15g. Both mic’s run on Bluetooth 5 and get about 5-6 hours of run time but that can be extended with the use of a battery bank and the charging time is roughly 2 hours for both mics if your not using them and charging them at the same time. The SmartMike+ charges by Micro USB connection and the AudioWow uses a more modern USB-C connection. Both have an integrated clip that can be used to attached the mic to your shirt, jacket, or pocket quickly and efficiently and do a great job of hiding your mic away when you don’t want it to be seen. They both have a 3.5mm headphone jack allowing for real-time audio monitoring, phone calls, or video chats. This headphone jack is also utilized for using the mic with third party apps by using a TRRS/TRS cable. More on this later!
The SmartMike+ and AudioWow are true stereo wireless microphones. They feature the main features that you would want in good quality wireless lav mic. High fidelity audio, stereo sound, real time monitoring, etc. And they do an excellent job at it. Quite a lot better than most other mics would be able to produce and certainly better than the audio quality from a source such as the AirPods Pro. Where they really go above and beyond though, is the smart features. The mics work best with the Sabinetek apps that can be downloaded through the App Store. Both mics have a dedicated app that will allow you to maximize your productivity and utilize the mics to their full potential.
The SmartMike+ is capable of real-time monitoring of your recordings with the ability to adjust your gain, mix, noise reduction, speech recognition, and even subtitle transcription right within the app itself. It’s capable of using AI to recognize over 120 languages and transcribe it for easier editing in post. You can use the in-app vlogging tools to record and create your videos in full 4K video or use the Interview mode to record audio from your phones microphone and the SmartMike+ at the same time. The in-app video and audio recording is very good and uses its smart AI to reduce background noise that would specifically inhibit an interview or product shoot. You can also mix (in real time) background music from third party apps like Spotify, Prime, or Apple Music.
the AudioWow is capable of pretty much everything that the SmartMike+ is a capable of plus much more. It effectively replaces a traditional studio setup and places it all into one tiny little package. It can additionally used for music creation, and podcasts. Though it can be used with the SmartMike+ app as well, the AudioWow utilizes its specific mobile app for audio work only. You can select the format of the audio file, the function of the button on the mic itself, record audio calls and separate the caller from the receiver. You can also use the app to modify your recording EQ, monitor EQ, and even digital effects settings with just a few taps on your screen. Reverb, five band equalizer, noise reduction, voice changer, its all available! One of the coolest features, is the ability to remove vocals from music in the background, allowing you to use a specific song without having the lyrics in the background.
There are a ton of features and customization that can be utilized by using the apps that are specifically designed by Sabinetek to maximize the effectiveness of the technology that they’ve packed into these mics. That being said, the have also included an option if you want to use them with other third party apps or devices. To do this you will need a second SmartMike+ or AudioWow mic. This will effectively turn the 2 mics into a transmitter and receiver, or “master and slave” configuration as the Sabinetek calls it. The downside is that you will be unable to utilize a bunch of the features that require the individual apps for use. This includes not being able to use real-time monitoring, mixing, and any use of AI directly adjusted through the Sabine app.
Setup and Performance…
Setting up and using a single SmartMike+ or AudioWow is fairly straight forward and just like most other Bluetooth devices. After downloading the corresponding apps for your mic and turning on your Bluetooth, hold the red power button on the mic for 3 seconds and select the SmartMike+ when it shows up in your Bluetooth devices menu. Then, open your SmartMike+ or AudioWow app and you’re ready to go. Setting up 2 devices to use in the app at the same time follows the exact same process for the second mic.
Setting up 2 mics in sender/receiver mode for third party app use is a slightly more complicated process.
Hold the red power button on Mic A for 10s until it blinks red and green.
Hold the red power button on Mic B for 3 seconds until it blinks blue.
Mics will pair automatically and light will be solid green (Mic A) and blue (Mic B)
Plug either Mic into your phone/camera.
You also have the option of using foam or dead-cat wind filters that come with the mics. I found that these were much more effective than I thought they would be. Especially in comparison with my stock iPhone microphone, which, after comparing with the SmartMike+ with a dead-cat, seemed to let a lot of ambient wind and environmental noise into the shot. Using the dead-cat really helped to eliminate having to do several extra takes for shots I couldn’t use due to the amount of noise that had been introduced by not utilizing the filters.
The other interesting accessory that I had a chance to try out was the unidirectional microphone that I could plug into the 3.5mm jack on the SmartMike+. It would best suit an situation in which you want to pick up sound directly in front of the microphone and not from other directions. It was great for speech recognition and also for interviews in slightly noisy environments where I needed a clear take. As an added bonus, it can also be used with an phone or computer directly and without the need for the SmartMike+. Simply plug it into the headphone jack of another device and start using it. Great for Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc.
The overall performance of both the SmartMike+ really exceeded my expectations! I was expecting a good mic for the price and it certainly delivered but I definitely did not expect the level of customization and adjustment that they offered. Sound was clear and crisp, especially when I was using the Sabine apps designed to utilize the AI and technology inside the microphones.
What I liked…
I really enjoyed using both microphones once I got used to the setup process and figured out how to use the functionality of the apps. It really made for great sounding audio that outdid any other single mic setups that I have used. It allowed for more mobility in my shots and actually helped reduce setup and tear down time as there was no cables, booms or amps to use. I really liked the small size and lightweight form factor. I felt as though I wasn’t wearing a mic most of the time which allowed me to focus on my content instead of where my mic was. I really like how Sabintek focused on small refinements of all aspects of the devices and apps. Everything from the noise reduction to the WiFi transfer feature which mad exporting files very easy. Lastly, I really liked how the app and physical attributes such as the dead-cat handled wind and noise cancelling. It really made a huge difference in the clarity and quality of my shots.
What I would change…
Despite the best efforts of Sabintek, there are still some things that are either missing or were not able to be included due to limited space or design. I wish that the smart AI features (or most of them) that are utilized by the Sabintek apps were able to be use by third party apps as well. This would mean possibly having a slightly larger design, but that could provide more tech in each mic that might allow for settings to be altered and saved to the device itself without being reliant on the app for real time monitoring and adjustment. I also noticed that there is some really nice feeling “click” from the power/mode button on the mics. Usually, that’s what we all want with buttons, a solid feel and feedback. Unfortunately, that satisfying “click” can be heard when using the button while recording. Its not necessarily noticeable in the moment but when you start editing in post, it can be slightly hard to hide it. Lastly, there is no battery level indicator on the devices. I have a connected device battery level indicator on my iPhone but I have to go into a separate widget to view it, and even then, its not always accurate. Ideally, it would be best to be able to somehow see the battery level on the mic itself or at least through the Sabinetek apps with an additional notification when you get to 50%, 20%, 10%, etc.
The SmartMike+ and AudioWow have so many different options and customizations available that they really do hit the sweep spot for most content creators. They wont be an all-in-one solution that will work for every single scenario but they do offer enough value that they could be used in a large portion of anyone’s project. Whether its being used for interviews, product reviews, vlogging, video/audio calls, and even small scale music production, there is a use for them. If you’re a professional, you likely have some other equipment that you have procured over the years that you are used to using and use if effectively. I would suggest that any of these mics from Sabinetek are best suited for someone who is either looking to utilize the built in AI by using the Sabinetek apps or someone who is looking for professional results in a smaller, compact, and mobile setup.
the integration of technology and the stability of Bluetooth 5 really make these microphones excel. Sabinetek has really created an excellent ecosystem that balances physical device quality with a solid user experience through its mobile apps. There really isn’t much to dislike about these microphones. They’re portable, compact, wireless, versatile, and sound great! I was pleasantly surprised with how much I got out of these tiny microphones and I think you will be too!