Gear review - LensGo LWM-328C
Review of LensGo LWM-328C Wireless Lavalier Microphone System
While existing reviews cover its specifications and technical details, my focus will be on practical performance based on over two years of extensive usage. If you're looking for a quick rundown of specifications, other reviews may be more suitable. However, if you're interested in understanding how this system truly performs in real-world scenarios, you're in the right place. But first, let's begin with a brief overview of the company, as well as the purchasing process, shipping, and packaging. While these topics may be considered less exciting, they are often overlooked in reviews. However, I believe it's essential to provide a comprehensive perspective that covers all aspects of the experience.
LensGo is a recently established Chinese company that has ventured into the audio-for-video production industry. Their official website provides organized information in English, indicating their commitment to accessibility which is always a good sign. The company also maintains an active presence on its official Facebook group, sharing promotional materials and occasionally hosting live streams and giveaways—a notable engagement strategy for a Chinese company in this field. LensGo stands out by focusing on innovative solutions rather than simply replicating popular products and most of its product lineup is primarily aimed at non-professional consumers. As someone with a preference for more professional-grade equipment, I appreciate that LensGo currently offers two systems, the LWM-328C and 338C, that meet my requirements. Looking ahead, I hope to see their continued focus on developing and enhancing systems of this nature. Interestingly, I couldn't locate any official LensGo stores on popular platforms like AliExpress. Instead, their products are scattered across smaller shops, which is unorthodox for a brand of their stature. Notably, even the "Where to buy" section on their website yields an empty page.
Purchasing, Shiping, and Packaging:
Personally, I opted to use AliExpress as it provides convenient access to this type of gear in my country. However, LensGo products are also available on platforms like Amazon, so it's advisable to explore all purchasing options before making a decision. In the attached picture of my order, you can observe that I utilized a store discount and two coupons, reducing the price by $14, which is a reasonable saving that nearly covered the shipping cost. When shopping on AliExpress, I recommend checking the store for any additional discounts or coupons.
The purchasing process was straightforward; I made the payment and the product was shipped after a few days using standard AliExpress shipping. Given the product's price was approximately $200, I had some concerns about potential customs taxes. Fortunately, I did not incur any additional charges, and the package arrived at my door in the typical AliExpress nylon and bubble wrap envelope. Considering the package's size, it's understandable why the shipping cost amounted to $17.
While I personally prefer a carry bag over a box, I must admit that the packaging for the LensGo system is exceptionally well-designed. The box boasts an impressive aesthetic appeal that caught my attention. Inside, the components are securely held in place with EVA foam, ensuring their protection during transit. The package includes all the expected accessories, which I won't go into detail about here, but you can find more information on their official website or through other reviews.
However, it's important to note that the package does not include a split 3.5mm locking jack to 2 XLR cable, a crucial component for utilizing the receiver's dual channels and sending two separate signals to a recorder. It's interesting to observe that this kind of cable is often not included by most Chinese companies, and I would like to see them reconsider this decision. If you plan to use the system in this manner, as many professionals do, be prepared to either purchase this cable separately or create one yourself if you don't already have it.
Overall usability, build quality, and performance:
Let's begin with its appearance here. The system boasts an appealing design with a nice raindrop effect on matte black color and yellow accents around the screen, reminiscent of Sony's wireless systems. It exudes a professional look and feels, instilling confidence in both the user and the on-set talent. I would describe this system as aesthetically pleasing and among the most visually appealing I have come across among Chinese manufacturers.
The shell is constructed from plastic, which may not be the ideal material for professional-grade equipment. However, I must note that despite many accidental drops during shoots, there is no visible damage or scratches on the device. The plastic used seems to be remarkably strong, and its lightweight nature is an added advantage. While I personally prefer a metal shell, in this price range I really can't complain about the plastic casing. The battery compartment, typically a delicate component, is made from standard thin and elastic plastic. So far, it has shown no issues, and even if it were to break, finding a replacement would be a straightforward task. The screen, consistent across all three devices, evokes nostalgia with its simplicity, reminiscent of old mobile phones. I appreciate its functionality and power efficiency. In my opinion, incorporating extravagant screens such as OLEDs like many companies seem to do these days would only inflate costs and increase battery consumption, without significant benefits.
The buttons on the unit are well-made and stand out favorably when compared to those on Sony or Sennheiser models. They offer a satisfying tactile response, unlike their counterparts that can feel awkward and prone to accidental presses. The layout of the buttons again is very reminiscent of Sony systems. Unfortunately, the antennas are not unscrewable, limiting flexibility in certain scenarios or quick repair. Additionally, an infrared sensor is present for alternative pairing, although I personally haven't found the need to utilize it. The inclusion of a USB-C charger port on the side is a welcome feature, enabling convenient usage with power banks. The input jacks follow the standard locking type found across all devices, further ensuring secure connections. All components are held in place with four accessible Philips screws on the back, facilitating easy repairs or replacements, such as changing antennas or inputs—an aspect I genuinely appreciate. Additionally, it is worth noting that the transmitters feature a slot for an SD card, which will be discussed in more detail in the next section. Furthermore, all devices are equipped with sturdy pocket clips, and it is worth mentioning that each company tends to design them slightly differently and cannot be used on other brands' devices although they look very similar.
While LensGo undeniably showcases a pretty unique design and innovative approach with their other semi/non-professional equipment, it's hard not to spot the inspiration they drew from Sony systems for this particular system. It's almost like they paid a subtle homage to Sony's renowned aesthetics and functionality. I don't mind it one bit, but I can't help but wonder if Sony might raise an eyebrow or two.😄
I would like to emphasize my pleasant surprise regarding the exceptional build quality of the system. As an individual who is highly cautious and values the longevity of my equipment, anyone familiar with the demands of working on a movie set knows that it can sometimes be a chaotic environment. Audio gear, in particular, often endures unintentional mishandling and rough treatment. However, these components demonstrate remarkable resilience, performing flawlessly and remaining resilient in the face of such challenges. They consistently deliver the expected results and are always prepared for the next project.
Before we delve into the technical features of the system, I wanna explain how I typically incorporate it into my workflow. On most sets that I work on, multiple Lavalier microphones are often required. To address this, I almost always utilize the receiver in stereo dual split channels, sending each signal separately to my Tascam DR-70D recorder. This approach allows for individual recording of each talent and independent level adjustments. The ability to deliver isolated tracks of each talent is crucial for most productions. This system eliminates the need for a second receiver, streamlining my equipment and optimizing battery usage. Since the receiver is typically nestled in my bag, it remains connected to my power bank, ensuring a continuous power supply and alleviating battery concerns for the receiver itself. For the transmitters I predominantly rely on rechargeable batteries, trading a slightly shorter lifespan for long-term convenience. However, I always carry a backup set of regular alkaline batteries in a secondary bag for added peace of mind. By outlining my typical usage scenario, you can compare it to your own workflow and gain a better understanding of what I'm gonna talk about next and its overall performance.
In addition to my typical usage, I have encountered rare situations where I require more than three Lavalier microphones, but my current audio recorder only has four inputs, and one of them is always connected to my Boompole Shotgun microphone. In such cases, I employ a workaround by combining two Lavalier microphones into a single signal. However, it is crucial to communicate this approach clearly with the producer and director to ensure everyone is aware of the setup. This ensures smooth operations and avoids any confusion during the post-production process.
Technical Features, Options, and Settings:
The system offers a wide range of customizable options and features accessible through its menu, making it exceptionally versatile and adaptable to various workflows and setups. In this discussion, I will specifically highlight the features that I find most beneficial and provide insights on potential areas for improvement.
Let's begin with the receiver. Personally, I have a slight preference for a different design where the display is positioned on the top side, similar to Diety systems. This would allow for convenient monitoring even when the receiver is in my bag. However, considering the price point and acknowledging that this is merely my personal preference, I cannot fault the current design choice. One feature that I absolutely appreciate is the ability to view the battery capacity level of the transmitters directly on the receiver's display. This eliminates the need to inquire about battery levels from the talents wearing the lavaliers and enables me to plan timely battery replacements. The receiver's display also includes an audio signal level indicator, which proves useful for troubleshooting potential signal loss. I should note that this particular indicator exhibits a slight latency, but since I primarily use it to verify signal reception rather than for critical monitoring, it does not pose an issue for me. Lastly, the frequency signal strength level indicator serves as a valuable tool for identifying any potential signal issues.
Within the receiver's menu, you'll find various options for pairing the devices, though I personally haven't utilized them. Working in controlled environments on most sets, frequency adjustments have rarely been necessary. Nonetheless, having these options available offers peace of mind, providing quick solutions should pairing issues arise. With 99 available frequencies, the system ensures coverage for any unforeseen circumstances requiring frequency changes. While I haven't extensively used these options in my current workflow, their presence is reassuring.
Among the menu features, the "power" options allow signal cutoff from the transmitters, although I've yet to encounter a need for this function. The "Volume" adjustment proves handy, enabling fine-tuning of input signal levels from different Lavalier microphones. Personally, I prefer using my recorder to control the signal volume, typically set at "14" on the receiver, with a range from 0 to 20. Another vital feature is the "Audio Output," facilitating signal splitting or combining into a single track. For my purposes, I consistently utilize stereo splitting into two distinct tracks. The menu also offers additional options, including adjusting the LED screen, activating the Lock button, selecting alternative languages, and the ability to reset settings back to factory defaults if necessary. Notably, all transmitter options can be individually adjusted, proving useful when employing two different Lavalier microphones on each transmitter.
In general, I am quite satisfied with the range of options available on the receiver. They are well-designed and offer excellent versatility. However, it's important to note that while I understand the functions and their purposes, less experienced users may require guidance. Thankfully, a comprehensive user manual in English is included in the package, providing clear instructions and explanations for those who may need assistance in navigating the settings.
In the transmitter's menu, you can find familiar options such as LED screen settings, screen activation, Lock button, language selection, and reset options. Additionally, there are more advanced options for channels and frequencies, although I haven't had the opportunity to explore them extensively like I did with the receiver. The menu also offers low-cut options, although I prefer applying low-cut during post-production rather than on the transmitter. One interesting feature is the ability to switch audio output settings between Mic in and Line in, allowing for greater versatility, such as connecting instruments. The most valuable option I discovered in the transmitter's menu is "TX Power," which enables adjusting the signal strength between High, Middle, or Low. This proves useful when working in close proximity, like interior sets, as selecting Low can significantly reduce battery consumption. Another beneficial setting is "Mic Gain," which allows for fine-tuning the input gain to accommodate different microphone levels or better integration with your recorder. Personally, I keep this setting at 0 on the receiver, but it can be adjusted from -3 to +3 if desired, which is a thoughtful inclusion. Another notable feature introduced by LensGo and now adopted by other companies is the "Record" function. This allows you to record on an SD card inserted into the transmitter, providing a backup recording option. While I haven't found much practical use for this in my workflow, it's always reassuring to have a backup option available.
Similarly to the receiver, the transmitter's menu is well-designed and practical. Personally, I am familiar with and appreciate all the settings available. However, I can understand how some users might find the abundance of options overwhelming.
The devices feature a small LED on top that provides helpful indications such as power status, pairing with receivers, and low battery warnings. This well-designed feature adds to the overall user experience. Additionally, there is a USB-C input on one side of the devices. While some users have expressed confusion regarding its functionality, it is important to clarify its purpose. If rechargeable batteries are installed in the device, it can be used to recharge them, there is even a small convenient LED indicator to show when the batteries are fully charged. This feature proves useful for those who don't have a separate battery charger. However, it is crucial to note that connecting the devices to a power bank without rechargeable batteries will not power up the system. This feature will only work with rechargeable batteries. It is essential to follow the user manual's instructions and avoid using regular non-rechargeable batteries with the charger, as it can result in damage to the devices or even pose a safety risk. It is strongly advised that users who are not familiar with such equipment or fail to read the manual opt for simpler alternatives. Professional equipment should be handled by those with the necessary knowledge or expertise. It is vital to exercise caution, read the manual, and refrain from making uninformed comments or reviews online, as it only perpetuates misinformation.
Honestly, If you are stupid enough to put regular non-rechargeable batteries into a battery charger and expect that somehow batteries will be recharged you should be far far away from any professional audio equipment.
It's important to approach the topic of signal range with a practical perspective. While some reviewers may focus on conducting exaggerated distance tests, such assessments can't be considered reliable indicators of real-world performance. The effectiveness of the system's signal range can vary depending on the specific environment in which it is used. Instead, a more valuable evaluation involves testing for signal dropouts, examining performance under different obstructions and interference conditions, and considering the impact of high radio frequency noise. In my experience, utilizing this system on smaller sets, I have consistently maintained a reliable signal without any dropouts, even within a range of up to 50 meters. If your requirements involve longer distances, you have the option to activate the backup record function on the transmitter, providing an added layer of security.
The included Lavalier microphones provided with the system are functional, but they have certain limitations. Like many other Lavaliers from Chinese manufacturers, they tend to be bulky, making it challenging to conceal them effectively. Additionally, their frequency range spans from 30Hz to 18kHz, which may not deliver the desired professional audio quality. For optimal results and higher-grade audio, it is advisable to consider investing in more expensive microphones.
In my conclusion, this system stands out as one of the top choices among Chinese brands. It is evident that it caters to both professional users and those with less professional requirements. With its excellent price-value proposition, the system offers great affordability, which has further improved since my initial purchase. LensGo, as a relatively new but credible company, demonstrates innovation, setting it apart from other dubious Chinese brands lacking even a website. While the system boasts impressive features and craftsmanship, it is worth noting that it may not match the performance of more expensive, high-end professional systems. Nonetheless, for individuals embarking on professional audio recording in smaller film sets, this system serves as an ideal first investment, proving reliable and valuable in their audio recording endeavors.
Excellent value for the price.
Professional appearance and build quality.
Reliable signal range with no dropouts.
Many useful features in the menu.
Integrated battery charger.
SD Card slot for backup on the transmitters
The receiver LED screen placement is not at the top.
Limited frequency range on Lavaliers mics
Frequency range operating limit: Before purchasing these devices, it is crucial to verify and comply with the frequency range operating limits set by the laws in your country. It is important to ensure that the system's frequency usage aligns with legal requirements. Please be aware that in certain rare countries, the use of such devices may be prohibited.
Personal purchase: I want to emphasize that I acquired this unit with my personal funds and I have no sponsorship or affiliation with LensGo or any other related entities. This review is solely based on my own experience and perspective.
Chinese Quality Control: It is important to note that Chinese manufacturing quality control standards can vary. While I can speak positively about the performance of the specific system I own, I cannot guarantee the same level of quality for all products within this series.