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The RØDE SmartLav+ has carved out a niche in the crowded world of audio recording, merging portability with professional-grade quality. Designed primarily for smartphones and tablets, this lavalier microphone offers strong sound fidelity for on-the-go creators.
In this comprehensive RØDE SmartLav+ review, we unpack the features, sound quality, and overall performance of this innovative device.
What is the RØDE SmartLav+?
The RØDE SmartLav+ is a high-quality lavalier microphone designed for recording audio in various applications, such as recording YouTube videos or podcasting. It is produced by RØDE Microphones, an Australian company known for their professional audio equipment.
The RØDE SmartLav+ is specifically designed for use with smartphones and other portable devices, making it a convenient and portable solution for capturing clear and professional-quality audio. This makes it particularly useful for content creators, filmmakers, journalists, podcasters, and anyone who needs to record audio on the go.
The microphone is omnidirectional, which means it can capture sound from all directions equally. It comes with a foam windscreen to reduce unwanted noise from wind or other environmental factors and a durable mounting clip to attach it to clothing or other surfaces.
The RØDE SmartLav+ is a great choice, but there are lots of microphones to explore. Check our recommendations for the best podcast microphones.
RØDE Microphones (the Company)
RØDE is an Australian company that specializes in designing and manufacturing high-quality audio equipment, particularly microphones and related accessories.
The company was founded in 1967 by Henry and Astrid Freedman and initially operated as Freedman Electronics. Over the years, RØDE has gained a strong reputation in the audio industry for producing a wide range of professional-grade microphones, including condenser microphones, shotgun microphones, lavalier microphones, and more.
RØDE is known for its commitment to innovation and high-quality audio solutions. They have received numerous awards for their products and have a global presence, serving the needs of professionals and enthusiasts in various fields such as music production, film and video production, broadcasting, podcasting, and live sound reinforcement.
Some of their popular products include the RØDE NT series of studio microphones, the RØDE VideoMic series of on-camera microphones, and the RØDE Podcaster microphone designed for podcasting. The company’s products are widely used in the audio and entertainment industry and are recognized for their reliability and exceptional sound quality.
RØDE SmartLav+ Design and Features
The RØDE SmartLav+ is a lavalier microphone designed specifically for use with smartphones and tablets, although it can also work with other devices using the appropriate adapters.
Also known as a “lapel mic,” the SmartLav+ is small and discreet, allowing it to be easily clipped to clothing, making it ideal for on-camera interviews, presentations, and other spoken-word applications.
The microphone has a 3.5mm TRRS (Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve) jack, which is compatible with most smartphones and tablets. It’s designed to plug directly into the headset jack of these devices. The cable is made from Kevlar, ensuring durability from rugged use.
The SmartLav+ is compact and lightweight, making it ideal for on-the-go recording setups. It comes with a durable mounting clip that allows you to easily attach the microphone to a wide variety of clothing types.
Compared to many other professional-grade lavalier microphones, the SmartLav+ is relatively affordable, making it a popular choice for amateurs and professionals alike. While specifically designed for spoken word, many users have found it useful for recording a wide variety of audio sources.
When you purchase the Rode SmartLav+, it includes the following items in the package:
- SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphone: The main component, a high-quality omnidirectional lavalier microphone designed for capturing clear and crisp audio.
- Foam Windshield: A foam cover that fits over the microphone to reduce wind noise and minimize plosive sounds (such as “p” and “b” sounds).
- Mounting Clip: A clip that allows you to securely attach the microphone to your clothing or other surfaces for hands-free recording.
- Vanity Bag: A small pouch or bag for storing and carrying the microphone and its accessories.
- Quick Start Guide: Instructional material that provides basic information on setting up and using the SmartLav+.
The specific contents of the package may vary slightly depending on the retailer and region, so it’s a good idea to check the product description or packaging for the most accurate information.
RØDE SmartLav+ Sound Quality
The RØDE SmartLav+ offers a commendable sound quality characteristic of RØDE’s reputation in audio equipment. The condenser microphone captures a broader frequency range and has a more natural sound compared to dynamic microphones.
The omnidirectional polar pattern ensures it picks up sound uniformly from all directions, which is particularly useful when the subject may be moving or turning their head during recording. Good microphone discipline is still a good idea, but you’ll capture audio either way.
The inclusion of a foam pop shield further refines the audio capture by minimizing the impact of wind noise and vocal plosives, such as the sharp “p” and “b” sounds.
This meticulous attention to sound capture makes the SmartLav+ a favorite among professionals and enthusiasts alike, as it offers a clear and consistent audio output, especially ideal for spoken-word applications.
RØDE App Integration
The RØDE SmartLav+ pairs with RØDE’s dedicated recording app, RØDE Rec, especially tailored for iOS devices. When the SmartLav+ is plugged into a compatible device, the RØDE Rec app recognizes it and optimizes the recording settings for the microphone.
Beyond basic recording, the app offers a plethora of features to enhance the user’s experience, including multiple recording formats, adjustable sample rates, real-time waveform visualization, and a suite of post-processing effects.
This integration ensures that users not only capture high-quality audio with the SmartLav+ but also have the tools at their fingertips to edit and refine their recordings, all within the RØDE ecosystem.
RØDE SmartLav+ Limitations
While the RØDE SmartLav+ has been celebrated for its versatility and quality, it’s not without its limitations:
Device Compatibility: The microphone uses a TRRS connector, primarily designed for smartphones and tablets. Users with devices that have different types of inputs might require adapters, and even then, there’s no guarantee of full compatibility or optimal performance.
Omnidirectional Pattern: While the omnidirectional polar pattern is beneficial in capturing sound from all directions, it also means the microphone can pick up unwanted ambient noise. This can be a limitation in noisy environments.
Wired Limitation: Being a wired microphone, its cable can restrict movement. It might also become a hassle in certain shooting conditions, or the cable could get tangled.
External App: To get the best experience, users are encouraged to use the RØDE Rec app, which is primarily tailored for iOS. Android users might not get the same level of integration or features.
Sound Isolation: While it provides decent sound quality, the SmartLav+ doesn’t offer the same level of isolation or noise rejection that more professional (and often more expensive) lavalier microphones might offer.
Despite these limitations, many users find the RØDE SmartLav+ to be a valuable tool, especially when considering its affordability and ease of use compared to more professional and expensive setups.
RØDE SmartLav+ Verdict
Let’s lay out the pros and cons of the RØDE SmartLav+.
Pros of the RØDE SmartLav+
- Good audio at an affordable price.
- Omnidirectional pickup creates a natural sound.
- Small and lightweight design. Easy to carry.
- Works seamlessly with smartphones and tablets.
- Includes a foam windscreen to reduce wind noise.
- Durable construction
Cons of the RØDE SmartLav+
- Short cable length.
- Doesn’t match the audio quality of higher end microphones.
- No on/off switch. Turns on by plugging in.
- Can pick up handling noise if not properly secured.
- Smartphone/tablet dependent.
- Not suitable for outdoor use.
In our opinion, the RØDE SmartLav+ is popular among YouTubers, podcasters, journalists, and others who need a reliable, portable, and high-quality audio solution without the complexity or expense of more elaborate audio systems.
RØDE SmartLav+ Alternatives
If the RØDE SmartLav+ isn’t for you, check out these alternative options. These alternatives cater to different needs and budgets, offering improved features such as cable length, audio quality, or convenience, depending on the user’s priorities.
This lavalier microphone is a cost-effective alternative to the RØDE SmartLav+. It offers a longer cable, which provides more flexibility in positioning the microphone, and comes with a smartphone adapter.
Additionally, it includes a foam windscreen to reduce plosives and wind noise, enhancing audio quality. The ATR3350iS is a solid choice for those on a budget who require versatility and improved wind noise management.
Sennheiser ME 2-II
The Sennheiser ME 2-II offers a step up in audio quality compared to the SmartLav+. It has a reputation for superior sound capture, with a wider frequency response and excellent clarity.
This microphone is a great choice for professionals seeking top-notch audio for interviews, presentations, or video production. However, it typically comes at a higher price point, making it suitable for users willing to invest in premium audio quality.
The Sony ECM-CS3 is a compact and budget-friendly lavalier microphone. It features a unique clip-on design that can be easily attached to clothing, making it discreet for on-camera use.
While it may not match the audio quality of high-end options, it offers decent sound capture for its price, making it an excellent choice for beginners or casual users. Its portability and ease of use also make it a convenient option for vlogging or quick recordings.
Your Favorite Lavalier Microphone
The RØDE SmartLav+ is a powerful and affordable lavalier microphone. It’s simple, easy to use, and the sound quality is fine for most podcasts or YouTube channels. But there are many mics like it on the market. What’s your favorite? Let us know what you use in the comments.