Sony expands its Multi Interface Shoe accessories with a compact wireless audio microphone.
Sony has developed a new wireless audio system in the ECM-W2BT that can be paired with an optional new stereo lav, aptly named the ECM-LV1. The ECM-W2BT combines a wireless receiver and transmitter with internal microphones much like the RØDE Wireless GO II, but has some different features.
The ECM-W2BT supports digital and analog audio and is designed to work with Sony's proprietary Multi Interface (MI) Shoe. Similar to the XLR-K3M, the wireless receiver can be mounted on top of the camera without needing any additional cabling to record audio. However, the system can still be used with any 3.5mm input allowing you to connect it to competing cameras, audio recorders, or computers.
The receiver features an analog/off/digital switch that allows you to record digital or analog audio. When mounted on a Sony camera with MI, you'll want to be in digital mode. The transmitter features an on/off switch and a dB gain control of 0/10/20 dB. Pairing the transmitter with the receiver is easy and automatic. When paired, a "LINK" LED will turn blue on the receiver. Sony says with clear line of sight you can get approximately 656ft (200m).
What makes the ECM-W2BT unique is that the transmitter and receiver both have internal omnidirectional microphones as well as a 3.5mm input to record audio. In addition, it has three operating modes: MIC, MIX, and RCVR.
- MIC mode: records audio from the transmitter only (e.g. lav or internal mic)
- MIX mode: records audio from both the transmitter and receiver
- RCVR: records audio only from the internal microphone at the receiver
While MIC mode is generally what most people will use, MIX mode is a great feature to have and reminds us of the Deity V-Mic D4 DUO, a dual directional on-camera microphone that can record audio from two sides. With the Sony ECM-W2BT, you get similar functionality but a longer range. So if you're shooting a wide shot or are simply further away from your talent, you can cleanly record the audio. Better yet, you can use either the internal mics or plug in a lav on the transmitter and receiver.
The transmitter has a plastic clip on the back for easy mounting, and both units are charged through USB. Sony says you can expect around 9 hours of runtime when using it with a Multi Interface compatible camera.
Oddly, Sony has yet to release which cameras the ECM-W2BT is compatible with through MI, but based on the pictures alone, we're expecting the Alpha 1, a7C, a6600, a7 III, and a7S III to be among them. It'd also make sense for them to add the FX3.
One thing Sony missed here is an internal recording option similar to the Wireless GO II. Obviously, there are some patent issues to consider when transmitting and recording wireless audio simultaneously a la Zaxcom. But can recording to an app be the workaround? Either way, maybe we'll get that in a future generation.
The ECM-W2BT is available for pre-order for $230, and the ECM-LV1 lav will set you back $30 and comes with a windscreen. Expected ship date is this April.
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