The concept of the Nomono Sound Capsule is undeniably innovative. When I first tried it out, the ease of recording blew me away but I’ve been using a demo model for just under a month (I will be returning it to the company) and can now identify more clearly the features that I love and those that didn’t quite work like the site said they would.
The design is clean, the microphones look smart on camera, and the case is light and compact. It’s perfect if you record in different locations and need portable gear without the faff of multiple mics in different cases and recorders and cables and extra batteries and SD cards.
The Sound Capsule includes four wireless lavalier microphones and a spatial recorder with a big red button on it. Hit that button, and a few seconds later you’re recording. It detects which microphones you’re using and you don’t need to set any levels. Generally the Nomono was reliable and delivered as expected, however once or twice it wouldn’t register that I was only using one microphone and kept recording all of them which was frustrating.
The Nomono team were quick to look into it when this issue was raised, and explained that it could be caused by the outer carrying case being too low on power (despite all microphones and the central spatial recorder being fully charged), so it couldn’t recognise which microphones had been removed. This isn’t obvious to users, so Nomono have said they will include a note in the user manual to highlight this and are looking at ways to solve it in the next gen, which I think would be a great idea as there will be times when producers let the charge in the outer case get low or find themselves in the field with it out of battery.
The microphones are omnidirectional so you’re obviously not going to get the same vocal richness and warmth as you would from a traditional VO mic but the quality is good and I didn’t have any problems with peaking or distortion so the device set the levels well. I noticed occasional popping in the audio when the microphone was positioned in the centre of my shirt as specified by the instructions, but when the microphone was positioned off-centre this was no longer as much of a problem.
When you’ve finished recording, you hit the big red button once again and the audio files automatically upload to the cloud. No SD cards needed. When you have Wi-Fi this upload is fast, but if you don’t have Wi-Fi the recorder will store ~15 hours of audio and upload it as soon as it connects to Wi-Fi. I have used the recorder a lot over the past month and I only had an issue once when I was recording without Wi-Fi. When I reconnected to Wi-Fi, the audio from only one microphone uploaded to the cloud and the other microphone’s audio disappeared.
By far, the most exciting feature of the Nomono Sound Capsule is its capacity for spatial audio. The Sound Capsule monitors where the microphones are in relation to each other, so you can hear the speakers moving around your headphones as if they’re in the room with you. It takes aural storytelling to another level.
The Sound Capsule is £2,190 (ex VAT) plus subscription costs for the Cloud. You can use the Nomono without the cloud or use the Free subscription tier, but the most useful tier is $29 a month. Weighing up the few issues I’ve had with the device, I couldn’t justify paying over £2,190. However, as someone who writes a column for Pod Bible on innovation in storytelling, I think the spatial audio element and portability is exciting.