sony alpha 7m4 with a sony ecm-b1m microphone attached

An Audio Journey

Luke Jackson-Clark

Luke Jackson Clark is a travel and adventure Creator who explores the world on a quest to capture the world's wonders through photo and video. Lately, video has been a focus in his workflow so we asked him to explain how sound plays a part in his process.

What’s the role of sound in your creative process? 

As a videographer, high quality audio is vital in telling the story of the places I explore. I would even go as far to say it’s more important than the visual as imagining visuals is a lot easier than imagining sound.

What kind of tools do you need to capture the right content?

Recording audio can be difficult and often requires steep learning curves, so finding the right set of mics makes the process a whole lot easier. The microphones I’ll be running through in this article do just that.

top view of a sony ecm-b1m microphone

What is your favourite mic in your setup and why is it so key to your content process?

That would be the ECM-B1M. This mic is a giant by quality but not by size. An 8 audio-capsule shotgun microphone in one of the smallest form factors I’ve ever seen and the fact it connects directly to the hot shoe of the camera throws cable management out the window.

Despite its size, it offers a wide selection of audio options, all controlled by the switches found at the back of the mic. There are two different filters, a low cut and a noise cut filter, that, as the name suggests, help “cut” background noise out of the audio file, helping the listener focus on what's important. There is also a physical audio level wheel which in itself can be seen as a type of noise cut filter, keeping you from having to navigate the camera's audio menus to set the audio level.

rear view of a sony ecm-b1m microphone

Since I vlog my travels, one of my favourite features are the directional controls. There are 3 options: Super-directional - where audio is picked up wherever the mic is facing, uni-directional - similar to super-directional but offers a little bit more breathing room on each side of the mic and finally omni-directional (my personal favourite when it comes to vlogging) - this mode utilises the 8 audio capsules by picking up audio at a full 360 degrees letting the person behind the camera talk about what they’re filming while still picking up audio from in front of the camera. Then to add to its ease of use, you can always click the mic into “auto” and the camera and mic will control the audio for you automatically, letting you focus on the creative.

sony ecm-w2bt microphone mounted on an alpha camera

What mic offers the most versatility in your set up?

If versatility is what you’re looking for, the ECM-W2BT is your mic. Like the B1M the W2BT connects via the Mi-shoe of the camera. What makes it different from the B1M however is the fact it's split into two parts, the camera attached part and a wireless part. Once you turn both parts on with the switches on the sides, they automatically connect to each other giving you the option to record audio wirelessly. A second switch on the camera attached part lets you decide where you wish to record audio from.

You can record from both, letting you interview someone in front of the camera holding the wireless mic while your audio gets picked up behind the camera. Or connect to them separately, offering two options; option 1 - letting you do commentary on what you’re shooting while shooting it and option 2 - record wirelessly, letting you run away from the camera without loss of audio. This wireless part easily connects to the optional ECM - LV1 lavalier mic too if you’d rather downsize the mic attached to your top and hide it away.

What would you recommend to someone starting out looking for a simple high quality audio experience?

Sometimes you just want better quality audio without any fancy thrills around the edges. When that’s your aim the ECM-G1 is there. This mic wins the prize for the smallest of the lot. Perfect for vlogging, the single, large diameter audio capsule focuses on sound coming from the front of the camera and is perfectly suited to the frequency of audio at which the human voice sits. If you’re looking to leave the camera bag at home and take out one camera but still need good quality audio, this is your go to mic.

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