Side by Side: Sony XLR K1M vs. the XLR K2M
With so many affordable microphone options nowadays, there really isn’t an excuse for bad audio.
One easy way to up your audio quality is to ditch the in-camera mic in favor of an on-camera shotgun mic. In-camera mics can often sound tinny and pick up far too much noise, whereas an on-camera shotgun mic will give you the crisp, clean sound that draws viewers in.
So what should you look for in a good on-camera shotgun mic?
We love using the Rode VideoMic Pro, which is an excellent on-camera shotgun mic. It’s great at isolating the sound emanating from wherever you point it. The VideoMic Pro is also super easy to operate. You just plug it in and turn it on—that’s it! If you do need a little more control, you can adjust a single setting to account for louder or quieter recording environments.
But for shooting our upcoming Academy of Storytellers course, On Set with Joe Simon and The Delivery Men, we wanted something with a little more control—and the ability to simultaneously record audio wirelessly using XLR input. So we opted for a Sony mic and adapter to go on top of our Sony A7S II.
In our case, we used the Sony XLR K1M. But while ordering the K1M from our pals at B&H, we also ran across the Sony XLR K2M. Curious about what exactly the differences were, we ordered both to test. Here, we share our results with you!
Here’s our breakdown of each mic’s features and a fun audio test.
Cable or no cable
The main difference between the Sony XLR K2M and the Sony XLR K1M lies in their mounting points. The K2M mounts directly to the camera’s hot shoe, whereas the K1M allows you to mount the microphone separately from the hot shoe (though a cable from the mic must be attached to the hot shoe).
Both options have their benefits and their drawbacks. The K1M gives you a little more flexibility in where you place the mic, but at a cost: you can’t directly mount the mic itself to the camera hotshoe. On the flip side, it’s great that the K2M connects directly to your hot shoe. But that’s not so great when you want to move the mic elsewhere.
When it comes to choosing between the two mics, think ahead about where you want to mount the microphone. Consider how it will work with your other accessories, like a cage or monitor.
For filming the course with Joe Simon and The Delivery Men, we ended up using the K1M. This allowed us to use the TILTA cage (check out our review of the TILTA here) and attach both the K1M and SmallHD 502 in a convenient way.
The K1M has an additional accessory shoe on top while the K2M doesn’t. With the K1M’s added shoe, you can also build your rig upwards to add a wireless audio receiver or mount a ball head for attaching a monitor.
Though this extra shoe may not seem like a big deal, it is. With the K2M, you essentially have to make use of a cage or get friendly with gaff tape if you want to make use of that second XLR input on the unit.
Luckily for us, we were using the K1M, which meant we could also make use of the on-camera shotgun mic and wireless audio simultaneously when filming for our course. This was a huge advantage, and is a big advantage to the K1M.
Foam vs. Furry
The K1M has a black foam windscreen. The K2M has a dead cat windscreen. They serve the same purpose—to block wind—but with different results. The foam is great for minimal wind conditions, and the dead cat/furry steps it up for extra-blustery conditions.
We ended up bringing both windscreens. This was great for our changing environments. Some of our locations had calm skies, but others—like the beach—were very windy. In both cases, we were pleasantly surprised with the audio’s crispness, regardless of the conditions it was recorded in.
A cable and an extra shoe on the K1M results in a $200 increase over the K2M. Both mics are premium upgrades for your Sony camera, at $798 and $598 respectively. We think that either upgrade is definitely a worthy one.
Whether or not the additional features of the K1M warrants the difference in price over the K2M will come down to your needs. Decide what you’ll use the mic for, then decide on the right mic for you.
They’re both great for audio control
Both the K1M and K2M sport the same super handy sound module. You can control all of your audio settings and levels. Plus, it gives you phantom power—the 48 volts of power that you need to get a mic up and running when using a condenser mic. With higher-end cameras, the phantom power will be included, but for smaller cameras such as the Sony A7S II that we were using, you need a sound module to get phantom power.
One to rule them all
Though we’re fans of both the K1M and K2M, we would love one unit that combined the best of both (are you there, Sony? It’s us, Story & Heart). Here’s our wishlist for a single unit:
A detachable cable so you could either plug directly into a hot shoe or not.
An additional shoe on top of the unit.
And both the foam and furry windscreens.
Combined into a single unit, the K1M + K2M would be perfect—even at the higher price point. Until then, either will do just fine based on your unique needs.
Side by side sound test
Story & Heart co-founder, Justin DeMers, put these mics to the test—a side by side audio test, that is. Listen to the differences in audio quality between the Sony K1M, Sony K2M, Sony A7SII in-camera microphone, and the Rode NTG4+ as he reads the same passage from one of our favorite books at S&H, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.
You heard it here first—a side-by-side comparison of the Sony XLR K2M vs. the K1M, complete with an audio test and logged time in the field.