Sony ECM SST1 Stereo Microphone Review

Ok, let me get the first thing off my chest here…what the heck was Sony thinking not putting a microphone jack on the NEX 5n? The camera does awesome video but the on-board stereo mic is painfully inadequate for anything professional. Sony, seeing (with blinders on) that there just might be a market for some enhanced audio gear and gives us the ECM SST1 stereo microphone. While this is better than nothing, I would easily have dropped $50 to have a microphone input instead of a mic itself. With a mic jack I could use my wireless lavalier mics. I am actually close to buying another ECM SST1 and trying to wire a mic jack into it instead of the mic pickups. Anyway, that’s my little rant, lets get into the review itself.

Kerry’s Quick Hit: The Sony ECM SST1 delivers much improved audio recording over the built-in microphones on the camera body.

Features

The ECM SST1 is designed for the NEX-3 and NEX-5 series mirrorless cameras and mounts to the Smart Accessory Port.  Designed to improve the audio for your video recordings,  the SST1 has adjustable angle pickup and requires no battery.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (Approx.) : 2 7/8 x 2 x 1 1/8 in (72.8 x 50.2 x 27mm)
  • Weight (Approx.) : 1.5 oz ( 40g)
  • Battery Type : N/A – runs off power source from camera body

Product Highlights

  • For α Series NEX-3 and NEX-5
  • 90° & 120° Patterns
  • Powered by Camera
  • Includes Windscreen

Included in the box: Microphone, Windscreen, Carrying Case, Instructions

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Setup

There is really nothing to setup beside plugging the ECM SST1 into the camera and screwing it down. You will have to make important decisions like to use or not to use the windscreen and do you want the narrow angle or the wider angle for the pickup.

To help block wind noise you can slip on the windscreen. I really don’t see any reason not to leave it on all the time as it will help keep the microphone elements clean.

Once in place on the camera, the camera will use the SST1 by default, there is nothing to change or adjust in the camera settings for it to function properly.

Usage

To say that the SST1 is an improvement over the stock microphones is like saying that dropping in a Chevy Small Block V8 into a Toyota Yaris will give it more horsepower….well…duh. Certainly its going to be an improvement, the only question is how much of an improvement.

When I received the ECM SST1 I decided to try to give it a very real-world test and go shoot my review video in the backyard while we were having 5-10 mph winds. The stock mic picked up a lot of extra noise. With some effort I could have cleaned up the wind noise but it would have left audio very tinny sounding. With the ECM SST1 the audio is noticeably better right from the beginning and with very little processing, it comes out quite good.

Results

With the forward facing elements, the ECM SST1 clearly delivers better audio quality. Its a little disappointing that your can’t attach a nice Rode mic or a lav mic, but that’s a complaint about the camera, not this microphone. The microphone does its job even though the cost is a bit high due to the proprietary connector.

Summary

Please get with the times Sony. Proprietary connectors disappeared on cell phones a couple of years ago even though carriers made tons of money on replacement chargers. Your DSLR’s use a different hot shoe and your small cameras are completely non-standard. You would sell more cameras and thus, more accessories if you used standard connectors. Open standards are the way to go. If you have an NEX-3 or NEX-5 and want better audio, than the ECM SST1 is not your best choice, its currently your only choice. Fortunately it works and does a reasonably good job.

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KerryG

Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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1 Response

  1. July 15, 2012

    […] is poor, you will lose your audience faster than anything else. For the NEX 5n, you can use the Sony ECM SST1 Microphone for improved audio. For best results, record to a second audio device such as a ZOOM H1 […]

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