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Review: Revolabs Solo Desktop Wireless Microphone System

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The Solo Tabletop RF-Armor from Revolabs is a high-end wireless microphone system using 1.92 to 1.93 GHz for its radio transmissions, with enhanced shielding which allows it “to operate cleanly even when in direct contact with all wireless electronic devices known to cause unwanted audio interference, such as GSM mobile phones, smart phones, etc.”  The base station connects to your PC by a USB cable, and no drivers are needed: it just shows up as a USB audio device ready to go!

The diminutive microphone uses a lithium polymer battery, affording it up to 8 hours of continuous use.  The battery charges fully within 2 hours, but reaches an 80% charge within 45 minutes.  The mic I tried was the tabletop model, designed to be placed on a table for an audio conference.  It’s extremely light, and feels pretty well constructed.  I had the omnidirectional model, but a unidirectional model is also available.

It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the Solo Desktop — and presumably the rest of the Revolabs product line.  When you remove the mic from the base station, it automatically mutes itself, so that you don’t accidentally record your fumblings getting the mic and yourself into position.  Simply press the button on the mic and it unmutes.  You can also unmute the mic from the base station.  Both the base station and the mic itself include audio outputs.  You can connect the base station to a mixing station or a conferencing system, and send the resultant audio from that via the base station to the mic, to which you would connect headphones or an earpiece, creating a complete full-duplex audio configuration.

The wireless range on the model I tested was superb: I walked down my street past my neighbor’s house, and was midway through his neighbor’s yard before the signal finally dropped.  The signal was plenty strong to work throughout my house, too.  The signal didn’t degrade in the presence of WiFi, cordless phones, or cell phone usage.

The audio quality was very good.  I recorded a number of short and long pieces, to get a feel for the omnidirectional microphone, and was impressed by how strong the audio was: I didn’t need to speak overly loud, nor get right up on the mic.  A few of the rooms in which I tested produced a little more echo than I expected, but that’s due to the acoustics of the rooms rather than the mic itself.

Here’s a brief unedited recording I made.

The marketing material says it’ll work even if a cellphone is touching the microphone, so here’s a recording of a cellphone sitting atop the microphone!

I also placed the mic next to my microwave oven as I popped some popcorn.  The RF-Armor mic picked up the exciting sound of my microwave oven’s fan blowing, and didn’t register any static or interference of any kind.  The 1.92 GHz frequency is the same as that used by DECT 6.0 telephones, so you know it’s all that.

It works well with multiple speakers, too.  I conducted an impromptu interview of a friend as we sat around a card table, and the audio quality for our two voices was terrific: it picked up our conversation without us having to hunch over the mic or over-enunciate as though we were Shakespearean actors.

Here’s an exciting snippet of the conversation we had.

The Solo Desktop is too expensive for use as a casual Skype microphone, but it would be ideal for heavy-duty podcasters looking to get out from behind the computer while recording: you could record in a quieter room, away from your computer’s noisy case fans, or take it with you to record interviews.  The RF-Armor mics are also a good bet if you need to do some recording in environments with lots of RF interference.

The RF-Armor line of products also includes a wearable omnidirectional mic, if that’s the thing you’re looking for.

Bottom Line
Good for heavy Skype, podcasting, and voice users, might be a bit expensive otherwise.

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