Mirfak WE10 Pro
Value for Money
The field of ultra-portable wireless microphones has kept growing, after my review of Comica’s dual kit that was fresh at the time for including the quick option of built-in mics on the transmitter, or lavalier mics plugged into the transmitter for a better look. That’s a legit use case, even for serious filmmakers, because you can complement a primary durable kit running on licensed frequencies, with these run-and-gun clip-ons that run on unlicensed 2.4 GHz, to catch a few more channels of properly mic’ed audio. Instead of wiring up talent in that awkward and time-consuming routine, you’ve got the option for a tiny matchbox-sized clip-on or two, while you run around on location, grabbing footage and impromptu dialogue by asking, “Hey, can you clip this on real quick?”
After Comica and of course Rode at the top of the game, many more of these arrived to market, more or less the same. What then was left to add as a feature? Answer: internal recording. Mirfak is the audio brand of Gudsen MOZA, and their WE10 Pro is now available: in fact, they’re offering FocusPulling readers (that’s you) a gigantic 40% discount at $100 off when you use the exclusive discount code GQAN7D2V at checkout, when you buy at Amazon using this link. Or you can use the same code to get 40% off the 1-transmitter pack option at the same link.
Most of this should look familiar, and needs no explanation. But the distinguishing feature is internal recording, so let’s focus on that first. Each transmitter has a slider (labeled 1 above) that can activate internal recording: it starts once you move the slider there, otherwise it’s only feeding live sound to the receiver (but it does that simultaneously too when it’s recording internally). Each transmitter has a MicroSD card slot, and you need to be careful finding the right card(s). It cannot exceed 64gb, and some cards won’t work: my Transcend Premium 400x 64gb UHS-I wasn’t recognized after properly formatted to exFAT rather than NTFS or HFS+, even though it works in drones and cameras. Point being, they’re cheap anyway and you will find one that works, but make sure that you’re up and running before heading into the field.
But there’s something you need you know, and it’s a compromise: Mirfak, to avoid adding a localized input gain control (compared to the receiver output gain control), sets the whole transmitter at a fixed volume level. The above analysis shows me talking at normal conversational loudness, mixed with a few quiet moments, but then you can see clipping when I’m talking a bit loudly — not even yelling, but above normal. So, even though it’s recording internally at a better (and more reliable) audio quality than wireless transmission, you need to be careful. Sometimes, it just won’t work. When I record stand-up comedy, I can quickly throw a WE10 transmitter on talent, farther away from their mouth to be safe, but when the whole room laughs, that cumulative loud noise clips. You might be confused by the gain control on the receiver unit — I was, at first — because it does let you toggle between -18 dB, -6 dB, 0 db, and +6 db. But that is only adjusting the output preamp to your camera/external recorder. As you toggle between the gain settings, you’ll notice that the meter isn’t affected, and it bounces up to the same level with each changed setting. So if there is clipping before any sound arrives to the receiver, you’re in trouble.
Another issue: the audio files, while stored in WAV format at a fairly low 177 kbps bitrate, are oddly fixed at a 44.1 kHz sampling rate, which takes us back to the good ole days of spinning compact discs. (The bitrate on 16-bit stereo audio CDs is generally 1,411 kbps.) The entire universe of video production is, of course, 48 kHz, so if you’ve got an hour of internally recorded audio that you need to sync with video, there will be some drift. However, you can always time-stretch fairly easily, and when using format-agnostic NLEs like Adobe Premiere Pro, the program interpolates behind the scenes so that you mostly don’t need to worry about this unfortunate anomaly on shorter clips. In sum, the sampling rate problem isn’t a big one for me.
Another selling point of the WE10 Pro kit is of course that you can record from two transmitters at once, through one receiver, into your camera with live sound. And here, there’s something else you need to know: unlike most other competing products, this one cannot allocate one transmitter to the left channel, and one to the right channel, with independent gain control and/or (most importantly) the ability to separate them out during post-production. That might be a deal-breaker for you; for me, it’s a minor frustration, and another compromise: it keeps things simpler, meantime for best results I’m always recording internally anyway, and syncing each transmitter’s separate recorded audio in post, able to control each channel independently that way. And that’s the whole point of internal recording: an insurance policy against no wireless dropouts, with theoretically better sound quality, and peace of mind. I still record the mono-summed audio into one of my camera locations for an ironic backup of the internal recordings, as well as for syncing in post. But I also envision situations when recording internally at the transmitters, and leaving the receiver off entirely, makes sense: for example, when I’m flying on a gimbal, not having a receiver in the mix really simplifies balancing and re-balancing.
Some highlights of its basic features: I like that the charging ports are USB-C instead of outdated micro-USB — and as you can see below, Mirfak includes an octopus of three plugs so that you can charge everything at once from one standard USB Type A connector. Mirfak also includes a drawstring pouch that holds everything, as seen below too. For that matter, you also get a coiled 1/8-inch stereo miniplug cable, with the same for smartphones using TRRS (“tip-ring-ring-sleeve” stripes on the connector). Lavalier microphones with clips, windscreens, and cables are included for the transmitters, and the sound quality is mediocre: if you have a spare one from a better kit, it will probably be compatible with the industry’s notoriously vague “plug-in power” to drive the condenser microphone. I’d even dare say that the internal microphones sound a little better than the included lavaliers, but there are more factors to consider, like aesthetics (hiding the mic in your shots), and isolation from rumbling/bumps that tends to go better with lavs than with clip-on packs.
In my last picture from the row above, besides the gain toggle, you’ll also see (on the receiver) a mute button, and a highpass filter toggle that cycles between off, and two cutoff frequencies: 170 Hz, and 230 Hz. Basically, you choose these to avoid low-frequency rumble caused by street noises, wind, HVAC, etc. But I always save that decision for post-production anyway: I’d rather make that choice non-destructively, when I have the time and quiet environment to get it right. So it’s always off (0 Hz) for me, and you can see it confirmed on the receiver’s OLED screen.
In sum, this is the only ultra-portable and cheap wireless mic kit that comes with everything: two transmitters into one receiver, lavalier mics for when you want/need them, internal recording capability, and cables/windscreens (dead cat as well as spongy)/storage pouch. At $250, it’s a nice option to have; but with the exclusive discount code offered by Mirfak here (see above), it’s a real bargain option to have handy at all times for running and gunning.