iPhone 4 and Sony Wireless Microphone

You’ve probably seen some of my other posts where I talk about the importance of good audio for your videos. I’m always looking for a better microphone solution. I may have found one.

I’ve recommended wired lav mics like the Audio Technica ATR-3350 [aff] because they improve your audio by getting the mic closer to you when you’re on camera. And having a 20-foot cord means you can get pretty far back from your camera. But that long of cord creates other issues and it’s always getting in the way.

Shotgun mics like the Azden SMX-10 [aff], lets you avoid tripping over the cord. But I find the audio typically isn’t as good if your far away. And if you’re using a small camera, like an iPhone or a Kodak Zi8, there isn’t a way to attach the microphone to the camera because they don’t have a “hot shoe” attachment like regular video cameras. So even these are a bit unwieldy to use when you’re out and about shooting.

In my perfect world, I’d like to find a WIRELESS solution that would let you get a mic on your subject but still be small enough so you can carry it with your iPhone or pocket digital camcorder. Most of the solutions I came across are actually LARGER than the cameras themselves. The receiver and antenna would literally dwarf an iPhone. Oh, and you still have run wires on your subject because they have a transmitter pack and a wired lav mic they have to wear. It was beginning to look like more of hassle to try to take a wireless mic set and pocket digital camcorder out.

That is until I found the Sony ECM-AW3 Bluetooth Wireless Microphone. [aff]

This little unit has 2 small silver capsules. You wear the transmitter (more on this in a second) and then plug the receiver into your 3.5mm jack on your camera. They each operate with a single AAA battery. They’re very small and light weight. And most importantly, I think they sound good enough. Make sure you watch the video above to listen to the quality.

What I’m not crazy about is the fact the transmitter is like a baby Coors beer can in the fact it’s a “silver bullet.” I wish Sony would have made these units black in color so they’d be a little more discreet. In the video, I’m wearing mine inside my shirt and I’ve placed some black electrical tape on it. Tacky I know. I suppose you could take a Sharpie pen to it. That’s definitely more permanent and maybe even tackier. But I digress…

I like the fact that it improves my audio even when I’m pretty far away from the camera. It’s small, light weight, and is compatible with my iPhone (if you use a kVConnection cable), a Kodak Zi8, or my Canon Vixia.

If you’re looking for a way to avoid the wires, you may want to check ‘em out. And if you want to learn more about shooting great pocket digital videos, check out Pocket Video Power [aff] by Jules Watkins. It’s a great video course that’ll help you shoot better pocket videos.

*** Updated 1/11/12 with transcript ***

Hey, everybody. Scott here. You know, one of the things I’m always looking
for is a good audio solution when we’re shooting iPhone 4 video. It’s the
piece that’s really missing in so many videos with the iPhone. What I’m
using for this video is the Sony ECM-AW3 Bluetooth Wireless Microphones,
and I’ve got to tell you, I really do like this solution. It is so small,
so compact, and so portable. So many of the other solutions I was looking
at, the transmitter and the receiver are so big. It’s actually bigger and
it’s a pain to schlep and carry and all that.

Let me show you what’s going on on the iPhone side that I’m talking to
right now. You’re going to see here, this is the Sony transmitter. It’s
very small and it’s powered with one AAA battery. I have it connected to my
iPhone 4 with the KV connection cable. This is a must if you’re going to do
any type of audio. This is the receiver and I am wearing the transmitter on
my shirt. You can see it right there. So that’s the actual set-up I’m
using.

I’ve got to tell you, this is a great portable solution. The one downside
that I see to this is that, “Sony, what are you thinking? Are you out of
touch with what we need again?” That large silver bullet, you can’t hide
it. I actually have mine turned around on my lapel and I’ve put some black
electrical tape over it. I know, kind of tacky, but it least it covers it
up a little bit more.

If you wanted to, another great solution would be to conduct interviews
with this. You can literally hold this in your hand and [inaudible 02:12]
just like that. I’ve got to tell you, I think this is a great solution. I
really do like this. I think it sounds pretty good, it’s completely
wireless and it’s Bluetooth. It operates with a single AAA battery in both
the transmitter and receiver, and the quality is good. You may want to
check this out. I’m pretty pleased with it.

Until next time, I’m Scott. Take care. Bye-bye.

Comments

  1. Looks interesting Scott, and what’s great for us UK people is that it’s available here.:)

    (The low cost radio mics aren’t due to frequency restrictions)

    Shame about the mic size though, I’m never a fan of seeing mics in shot but can see it’s useful to put on a table or on a stand in front of you when you are capturing your public presentation.

    • Scott Skibell says:

      I hear ya, Jules. The size itself isn’t too bad, but the silver color can’t be hidden easily. Canon has introduced something similar with their WM-V1 mics. At least theirs is black.

      I know some people place the mic on their belt loop. In my experience, it doesn’t sound as good as when it’s placed higher on a collar. Placing it on a table or holding it in your hand (if you don’t cover the hole up) would work too.

  2. Can you tell me which KV connection you are using with this mic please.

    • Scott Skibell says:

      Chris,

      Here’s a link to the cable that I use: http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-mic.htm

      If I were going to purchase another one, I’d probably get this one with 2 microphone capabilities because it would be great for interviews: http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-mic.htm

      Hope this helps you out.

      • Thanks for getting back so quick thats very helpful so with the two mic solution could you run two Sony Bluetooth mics into the iphone?

        I have a great little setup with iPhone 4 + Owle

        See here: http://www.almlive.com/store/products/Bubo-for-iPod-Touch.html

        Plus a Manfrotto modo steady.

        See here: http://modo.manfrotto.com/ all of the kit here is great.

        I have been looking into a mobile jib as well but not found one of any good portable use yet.

        • Scott Skibell says:

          I think you’d have to test the two Sony Bluetooth mics. I wonder if there would be any cross-over when they try to pair with each other. In other words, how does each receiver know which transmitter to pair with? I suppose if you turn each pair on one at a time, they’d pair with each other, and then turn the second one on to have it pair. In theory that should work.

          If you add the cable and 2 Sony Bluetooth receivers to your iPhone, it’ll definitely become heavy to one side. I’m not sure the ModoSteady could compensate enough and still remain balanced. You may need to provide some type of counter weight to the other side. I know this is the lightest possible camera/wireless combo but I’m not sure any of the steadycam type solutions could do it out of the box because of the concentration on one side.

          You might consider mounting the iPhone to a small plate. That way you can attach the plate to the steadycam and some counter weights to the other side to keep it balanced.

          Either way, I love where you’re going with this. If you get it all working, I’d love to see a picture of your setup or some sample footage.

  3. All the videos on this site were shot on this setup with motion graphics from apple motion and edit done in iMovie.

    http://gtvpembrokeshire.co.uk/

    My other vids can be seen here mostly iPhone stuff:
    http://www.vimeo.com/chriskellett/videos

    I have just added a Sony Nex 5 to the kit bag along with an iRig mic from IK Multimedia which is a gret little mic with their app on the iPhone.

    Link: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irig/features/

  4. Hi Scott —

    Off topic: Due to tech issues I missed most of the Advanced Skype for VO webinar. Here’s my issue:
    When I plug my Logitech (USB) headset into the CPU of my PC, Skype recognizes it immediately and when I made a test call, I could dial, connect and hear myself back. I then tried a couple of the Digi002 settings and SKYPE tells me it’s configured correctly — however, I can hear the other person who can’t hear me. An clues?

    • Scott Skibell says:

      Perry Anne,

      I sounds like a config error. Paul Levin talked about using SoundFlower last night on the webinar. This allows you to change your output from Skype and re-route some things. That sounds like what the problem is. For the next week, you can download a replay of the webinar. Contact me directly via the contact form and I can send you the link directly. Hope this helps.

  5. What do I need to purchase in conjunction with this ECM-AW3 in order to use it with my iPhone 4S?

  6. I was prepared to get this for recording lectures, but after watching your video review, I wonder why the sound cut off at [inaudible 02:12]. I dread this most when using other brands’ wireless mics. Did the cut-off happen again in other shoots? How frequent does it happen? Thanks for the demo review.

    • Scott Skibell says:

      The audio cut out at 2:12 because I was demonstrating using it for interviews. You may find a few cutouts with wireless units but this one has been decent. I’m not sure how it would work for lectures though. You still need to get this mic pretty close to the subject. If they’re walking around stage, I think that would be problematic. If you can get them to wear it, that should work. I could see a shotgun mic working depending upon how far away you are. Another solution could be to place a separate audio recorder near the stage, maybe something like the Zoom H1, and record the audio separately but then sync it together in post. That’s a lot more work though.

  7. What would be ideal would be a wireless clip-on lapel mic. (not a wireless headset) I need this for doing lectures over Skype from the whiteboard and moving around the room, with no umbilical cord. I can hear the other party fine from my laptop speakers, but need the mic near me so they can hear me clearly.

    • Scott Skibell says:

      The Sony ECM-AW3 should work. You could also try the Audio Technical wired ATR-3350. This has a 20-foot cord. Not exactly a non-umbilical cord solution but for $25 USD, it’s a pretty cost effective one.

  8. Eric Winters says:

    Hi Scott,
    I wonder if you have any suggestions re my recording difficulties. Here’s the setup;
    Iphone 4
    kVconnection KM-IPHONE-MIC adapter cable
    Sony ECM-AW3

    Let me first say that when I use the Sony ECM-AW3 and KVconnection cable with my Ipad, it works every time. 7 presses on the receiver + button makes it even louder. So all well with the Ipad.

    However with my Iphone, audio is recorded perhaps 1 time in 20 attempts. My sequence is;
    Power off Iphone.
    Power on Iphone.
    Connect ECM-AW3 Receiver (powered off) to the powered on Iphone via kVconnection cable.
    Power on both ECM-AW3 microphone and receiver.
    Increase sensitivity of receiver with 7 presses on the + button.
    Start Camera application.
    Start recording a video and keep receiver in line of sight.
    Stop recording.
    Disconnect devices.
    Playback recorded video.

    The result is annoyingly inconsistent. It almost always fails. I’m even making sure that the cable is pushed in exactly the same way every time. I cannot seem to get a reliable recording with the Iphone – but the Ipad is painlessly working every time.

    Do you have any ideas? I appreciate your input.

    Cheers,
    Eric in Sydney, Australia

    • Scott Skibell says:

      Eric,

      That’s strange. I’m not sure why it would on your iPad but not your iPhone. I am aware of one user having a faulty iPhone 3.5 jack adapter. You may want to get it checked out at an Apple store. This other user did and they discovered it was her jack.

      Again, your process sound right. The cables and equipment all work on an iPad. And, it seems to fail just on the iPhone. That tells me the point of failure maybe with the iPhone itself.

      Wish I had more to tell you…

  9. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for getting right to the point in showing us how your rig. Can you tell me what tripod mount you are using for the iphone? I’ve checked out the Studio Netgear, but have no way to compare… please advise!

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052G679K/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?ie=UTF8&smid=ASNDEDGSCHLEO

    • Scott Skibell says:

      Federico, I use 2 types of cases. In this video I’m using the X-shot camera case [aff]. It has an adapter that slides into it and allows me to connect it to a tripod. This is my everyday case and it’s held up very well.

      The second type of tripod adapter I use is the Glif by Studio Neat [aff]. The only drawback to it is the fact you have to put a naked iPhone in it and that makes me a little nervous. When I say naked, I mean an iPhone without a case on it. If you drop it, well, you know…

      I do have a third type of tripod mount on order. During their KickStarter campaign, I ordered a couple of Slingshot handheld mounts. This has a tripod adapter for it as well and I’m hoping it’ll accommodate a case on the iPhone too. When it finally arrives, I’ll have to do a review of it. But for $15, I thought it was a good deal and worthy of trying.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Bob Boyle says:

    Thanks for the great video. My wife is looking for a microphone to record the sounds on her fitness videos that I will be getting the pleasure of recording on my iphone :-). Would you recommend the Sony ECM-AW3 for this purpose or would it fall off as she moves around?

    • Scott Skibell says:

      Bob, I think this would make the perfect microphone for fitness videos. They are extremely light. The only thing I would be worried that would be picking up external music that she might be working out too. Then again you might want to add that in post.

      Either way, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment to try it out. Good luck.

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