Review | Sony ECM-S1 stream microphone – We have regularly been able to review microphones at PlaySense, mostly intended for streamers. You can place it on your desk, or you can use a control arm on which you click the microphone and it will stay neatly in place for years to come. In this case, we are dealing with a more professional microphone for different purposes. Sony sent us the ECM-S1 stream microphone: a small, portable microphone. In this review, we will discuss in detail what the ECM-S1 has to offer and in what ways it can be used. There are quite a few.
Small but mighty
The Sony ECM-S1 stream microphone (hereafter ECM-S1) is a microphone that fits in your hand (approximately 63 x 137.5 x 63 mm and 157 grams with stand). This is an extensive package in terms of what you will be delivered. Of course, you have the ECM-S1 microphone itself, a base that you can click on underneath, a pop hood/screen, a receiver and a fabric storage bag. You need the receiver to use the microphone wirelessly on a (photo) camera. Once you’ve attached the receiver, you can use the microphone up to a distance of 150 meters. Because yes, the microphone has a built-in battery, which lasts up to 18 hours. Other than that, there’s no software available specifically for this microphone, but that’s not necessarily necessary. It has a plug & play principle and you are free to combine any software of your preference with it.
The package doesn’t include a USB-C cable, which you can use to connect the microphone to your PC. That’s a bit of a shame, but at the same time we have to admit that we now live in a time when we now have a mountain of those kinds of cables. Still, for the sake of completeness, it would not have been out of place to include a cable. In addition to what you get in the box, the ECM-S1 itself has a number of bells and whistles. On the back, you’ll find the USB-C connector to charge the microphone or connect to a PC setup. In addition, you have the mini-jack connection for mic monitoring, ideal if you want to keep an eye on how your own voice is recorded.
On the front of the ECM-S1 you have two small buttons: the top one is for muting and the one below is the power button. On the right side of the microphone, you’ll find two more dials. The top one is meant to regulate the gain (sensitivity of the recording) and below that you have the volume knob. You can click this in to switch between adjusting the volume of the PC mic output (if you listen to sound on your PC via your ECM-S1) or the volume of the headset when listening to the mic monitoring. In short, you have everything at hand and it is also clearly indicated. All things considered, we can label the black, round microphone with square accents as slick. It exudes ‘professionalism’.
The sound quality and noise filters
Of course, when using the ECM-S1, you have to deal with several factors. The content you record with it, your surroundings and, of course, the sound quality of the ECM-S1 itself. Let’s start with how you sound through the microphone under normal circumstances. For example, we are dealing here with a sound signature that knows how to reflect your voice in a clear way. Without the pop hood, the tones are crisp: a nicely balanced treble and a steel representation of the mids. A clear representation, and in interviews or just a call meeting via Zoom, you sound very clear. However, it is true that the lower tones are almost completely withheld and that is a real shame. With this, your recordings could have just a little more ‘soul’.
The normal way of recording is mainly functional. Something we haven’t discussed yet are the two sliders on the back of the microphone. For example, one is meant to activate noise cancellation. You have three options for this: noise cut filter, a low cut filter, and simply turn off the function. With the noise cut filter, you can eliminate the loudest and most disturbing background noises. This works properly, because while loud sound is largely muffled, your own voice stands out the most. With the low cut filter, you often eliminate lower tones from your surroundings, but it makes your voice a bit tinny. The little bit of lower tones in your voice is completely gone, which makes this a not so interesting option.
The other slider on the back is for setting recording directions. You can choose from three different options: omni-directional and uni-directional (with options: mono & stereo). With this feature, you can use the ECM-S1 for interviews. WhileIf you’re busy recording content, you can also keep an eye on how loud your sound comes in on the front: with a vertical stripe of LEDs, you can keep track of how loud your volume is and how sharp your sound is. All things considered, we can say at the end of the day that this microphone has a lot to offer, but we can’t talk about striving for perfection.
If you use the microphone outside, you’re portable enough to use it, while you can also do all kinds of things with a desk setup. And that’s a good thing: the Sony ECM-S1 sells for € 449.99. Given the price, you also use this more for professional set-ups, but we do have a bit of a problem with the sound quality. For example, the low cut filter is quite unnecessary and there could also be just a little more bass present in the recordings. Two factors that we should point out as points to take into account. With that said, we’re ultimately pretty impressed that such a small device has an incredible amount going for it.
With the Sony ECM-S1 stream microphone, we have a very professional microphone in our hands: one that is incredibly versatile to use. Because it has a built-in battery and contains excellent options in the field of noise cancellation, it is extremely suitable for outdoor use. At the same time, it’s a very compact option for a PC setup, if you don’t need a large microphone around/on your desk. Still, this microphone is meant more for when you’re on the go. This is also where the price tag comes in: €449.99. You’re mainly paying for the handsome, compact technology. The sound quality is good, but lacks a bit of low mids and the low cut filter could also be worked out a little better. Are you someone who likes to film outdoors and is looking for a good microphone? Then you can’t go wrong with the ECM-S1.
- Slick design
- Cordless use
- Clear recording quality
- Lacks bit of bass
- Low cut filter could be better
- USB-C cable could also be included