Sennheiser introduces some new microphones for creators to use on cameras and consumer-level phones, including an update to the popular camera-mounted MKE 400 shotgun microphone and new phone-friendly lavaliere microphones.
The updated MKE 400 shotgun microphone seems to be an upgrade in many ways from the previous version – it has a new design, which includes a windshield (it also comes with a furry windsock), a built-in headphone port and, blessedly, can automatically turns the camera on or off. It also comes now with a free windbreaker for when it gets really airy. It should help reduce the number of times you finish recording, only to realize that you did not actually capture the sound you were hoping for (something I certainly have done before).
It is now also designed to work with mobile devices such as phones or tablets; it comes with both a standard TRS cable intended for DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, as well as a TRRS cable that should work when connected to the phone’s headphone jack. Or, more likely, a 3.5mm USB-C or lightning adapter. With the microphone’s built-in headphone jack, you should even be able to monitor when shooting with a phone (or with a camera that has only a microphone input and no headphone output).
The new features will help make the Sennheiser microphone a more convincing competitor to Rode’s latest microphones – the older version of the MKE 400’s lack of automatic on / off and relatively outdated design made it difficult to sell compared to something like a Rode VideoMic Pro. It’s nice to see Sennheiser catch up with the rest of the market.
All the upgrades to the MKE 400 cost a bit in the battery department, though: Sennheiser estimates that the old MKE 400 will last 300 hours on a single AAA battery, while the new version only announces 100 hours of use of two AAAs. The microphone still sells for the same $ 199.95.
Meanwhile, Sennheiser’s new XS Low microphones are intended for use on a shirt collar or lapel and can be useful for creators who want better sound, but who do not want to use a large microphone with a shotgun. The clip-on microphones come in two versions: one with a 3.5 mm TRRS plug and one with a USB-C plug for dongle-free use with phones or computers. Sennheiser had previously made a lavalier microphone for iPhones that was connected via lightning, but it seems to be no longer widely available. (You can find one that mysteriously looks like the one on Apogee.)
The USB-C version should be the most compatible, as it will be useful for both Android phones and computers with a single audio port (connecting it to a combined headphone jack on a MacBook, for example, will make it difficult to use headphones, but you can use the USB-C port instead). iPhone owners will look at the XS Low with the 3.5mm connector, even if an adapter is required.
The 3.5mm version costs $ 49.95, and the USB-C version costs $ 59.95 – both are cheaper than the $ 79 Rode smartLav Plus.
Both the MKE 400 and the XS Low USB-C can also be purchased as part of a “Mobile Kit”, which adds $ 30 to the price and includes a small stand and phone clip mount.