Sony ECMCS3 Clip Style Microphone Review / Test

Today we are talking about a stereo 3.5mm lavalier microphone; the Sony ECM-CS3. For the majority of this video, I have connected the microphone to my computer using a new Sabrent USB Soundcard which provides approximately 3.5v to the mic. If you connect this directly to your computers motherboard, you will likely not get similar results.

If you are interested in this gaming headset, it will set you back $18-$20 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Microphone (w/ 1m 3.5mm cable attached)
  2. Documentation
  3. Warranty Card

Specifications

  1. Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  2. Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz
  3. Sensitivity: -38dB

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone does not feel that good. It is an all plastic construction and it has a standard rubber cable. The connection point of the cable and the microphone does not appear to be reinforced, so over time I would worry about stress being placed on this joint. However, this is a $20 microphone, so I can't really fault it for having a subpar build.

The frequency response of 50Hz - 15kHz seems absolutely sufficient for this use case, and my voice did not seem artificial or hollow like some other lavalier microphones.

The omnidirectional polar pattern is also fairly forgiving. I could hardly tell a difference between the audio when the microphone was clipped to my collar versus when the mic was clipped to my lapel. On other microphones, this change in placement is clearly apparent in audio. This is both a good and bad thing. On the good side, it affords you greater freedom for microphone placement on yourself or your talent. On the downside, this means it will likely pick up more room noise/ambient noise.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Decent sound quality for price
  • Forgiving polar pattern (mic placement)

Cons

  • Poor build quality
  • Unforgiving polar pattern (ambient noise)

Conclusion

Given the $20 price tag, I cannot fault this microphone for having a less than stellar build quality. On the other hand, I absolutely can praise the mic for sounding better than I was expecting.

I do not think I can recommend this for gamers because it does have an extremely large pickup pattern, meaning it will pick up all your keyboard, mouse, and computer noise. On the other hand, for vloggers who are trying to improve their audio, I think this is a great budget option. Keep in mind that it will still pick up plenty of ambient noise, so if you're in a room for the majority of videos, I do recommend picking up some audio treatment to dampen the reverb.

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the ECM-CS3 on Amazon
US: http://amzn.to/2g0ctQm
UK: http://amzn.to/2h86H4e

Buy the TRRS Splitter on Amazon
US: http://amzn.to/2gW3v8R
UK: http://amzn.to/2h38a7D

Buy the Sabrent USB Soundcard on Amazon
US: http://amzn.to/2fX6yAn
UK: http://amzn.to/2g8KxNn

 

Rode smartLav+ Smartphone Mic Review/Test

Today I am talking about a lavalier microphone that plugs directly into your smartphones 3.5mm jack; the Rode SmartLav+ Smartphone Lav Mic

My main concern with purchasing a 3.5mm TRRS microphone, like the smartLav+ is the potential for 3.5mm jacks disappearing from more smart phones in the future. If you are planning on upgrading to an iPhone 7 or any phone that has removed the 3.5mm jack, then this is not the microphone for you.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $80 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Lav Mic
  2. Windscreen
  3. Microphone Clip
  4. Carrying Pouch
  5. Quick Start Guide

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 60Hz - 18kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Omnidirecitonal 
  3. Mic Sensitivity: -35dB

Performance / Features

The build quality of this mic feels pretty nice. The majority is plastic, but it has a nice reinforced joint where the cable meets the microphone, so I wouldn't be too worried about the cable shorting out. The windscreen is sufficient, and the microphone clip feels really nice, and provides a really nice option to route your mic cable to avoid unnecessary strain. 

The microphone only sounded decent when it was attached to my lapel. When I placed the microphone on the center of my shirt, it sounded much clearer, but still a little dull. This could be easily remedied with a quick EQ. When comparing it to a similar lavalier microphone that is only $40, I heard almost no difference, but this could be attributed to the fact that both mics were being run through the Rode Rec app. 

Pros

  • Reinforced cable joint
  • Provides wireless functionality w/ relatively low price tag
  • Nice mic clip

Cons

  • A bit expensive for sound quality achieved

Conclusion

This is only a decent microphone. It has a decent build quality but the audio quality leaves a bit to be desired. I also plan on upgrading to a new phone that has done away with the 3.5mm TRRS jack, so this mic will be obsolete if this trend continues.

I would only really recommend this if you are a Rode mic purist, or if you want a mic that plugs directly into your smartphone with no adapters needed. Other than that, I don't think it performs at a level that justifies the $80 price tag. You can pick up a microphone for half the price along with a TRRS adapter and have the same quality audio.

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy it on Amazon
US: http://amzn.to/2dChCT5
UK: http://amzn.to/2dnFJ4M

Zalman ZM-MIC 1 Review / Test

Today I am testing out the Zalman ZM-Mic 1. This is a sort of lavalier microphone that is meant to be clipped to your headphones cable. 

What's In the Box 

  1. Microphone with ~10-foot cable.

Performance / Features

The build quality on this microphone is exactly what you would expect on a $7 microphone; cheap. The cable is a cheap rubber that feels flimsy, and the plastic portion that clips to your headphone cable feels relatively cheap as well. Unfortunately the portion that clips to your headphones is not adjustable. This leads to concerns with headphone cables being too thin or too thick. On top of this, it does not allow you to clip this microphone to your shirt.

This is an omni-directional microphone, so if you are concerned with picking up room noise or background noise, you will not like this microphone. When typing on my keyboard, I found that a lot of keyboard noise was picked up (note: I do not use a mechanical keyboard, so if you are using a mechanical keyboard, the sound would be significantly worse). I want to point out that the majority of Lav Mics are omni-directional because this provides the best pick up pattern to pick up your voice while clipped to your shirt. 

The audio from this microphone sounded best when being held closer to the sound source (just like any microphone). However, when clipped to the headphone cable or loosely clipped to my shirt, the audio sounded dampened. 

Pros

  • Sounds Decent
  • Only costs $7

Cons

  • Cheap Build Quality
  • Lack of Functionality
  • Not versatile

Conclusion

This is a decent sounding microphone for the cost. However, I would not recommend this microphone unless this is your only option. This is because you can buy a 3-pack of Neewer Lav Mics for between $5-$7. Sure the build quality is slightly lower, but it will allow you clip the microphone to your shirt and provide a little bit more versatility. 

If you have any additional questions about this headset, leave them in the comments on this site or on the youtube channel, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Zalman ZM-Mic 1: http://amzn.to/1R0Ri0Q
Neewer Lav Mics: http://amzn.to/1R0Rj4O

What's In Your Bag: Santa Fe Comic Con Edition

I just got back from Covering Santa Fe Comic Con, and I figured I would do a video of "What's in Your Bag?". I will link each item and let you know how it functioned in the convention setting.

  • Timbuk2 TSA Messenger Bag - This bag has yet to let me down once. Highly recommend it.
  • Zojirushi Water Bottle - Another item that has yet to let me down. It is a bit expensive but it will keep you hydrated and not ruin your computer/camera gear. 
  • Field Notes - Even if you are not going to a con, you need to have one of these in your pocket. You never know when you need to take notes, or write a to-do list, or have a brilliant Idea. I always have one in my back pocket.
  • Fisher Space Pen - This is my favorite pen and it always goes with me. Super small and reliable. And this is a custom version to commemorate hitting 100 subs on my youtube channel.
  • Google Acer Chromebook - I am a big fan of this laptop, and I use it more than my Macbook Pro, however, you do not need to take a computer to a convention unless you know you're going to be doing writing throughout the day. This was unnecessary. 
  • Neewer Lav Mic - These things cost about $7, and you get three of them for that cost. HOWEVER, this mic shorted out and yielded almost all my footage from the convention useless. If you are going to get these, be careful, and make sure to check the recordings and make sure they are working before recording anything important.
  • Zoom H1 - I love Zoom's recorders and this is no exception. I got so much use out of this thing. I set it on autogain, tossed it on the table at panels and hit record. It worked like a charm and it's small and portable. One of the most useful things I brought with me.
  • Emergency Battery - Lucky for me, I did not have to use this. But, I always keep it in my bag with an extra iPhone cable. 
  • Go Pro Hero 3 - This is another one of those devices that you just can't go wrong with. I love this thing and I filmed almost all my footage with this thing, however, the lav mic caused all of it to be useless. Not the GoPro's fault though. I do with there was a way to monitor microphone levels though.
  • Samsung NX1000 - This camera worked alright. In lowlight, it struggled, and I started to get some noise when I was in low ISO's, so I'm not sure if this is a great option for conventions. I didn't use the kit lens either. I did take a lot of photos, but many of them didn't turn out well. I blame my amateur photography skills for that, and not the camera.
  • Samsung NX 16mm LensThis is a great lens, but just not for my needs. This is a lens designed for beautiful landscapes, and I'm sure it can kick butt at those. I will have to test that out and get back to you. 
  • Samsung NX 45mm Lens - This lens is the sex. That's what the kids are saying, right? Well I love this lens. It is beautiful, provides great DOF, and a big aperture and just all around great! I took the majority of my photos with this lens, and some of them look spectacular. When there was enough light, the photos turned out great. I have included an image taken with this camera, above.