Sennheiser MKE 400 Cellular Equipment evaluate: Professional-grade audio recording to your telephone

“The Sennheiser MKE 400 Cellular equipment helps you understand your smartphone’s potential as a cellular vlogging device, by including high-quality audio and a complete set of equipment.”

Nice-quality audio

Full set of equipment included

Suitable with telephones and cameras

Headphone monitoring characteristic

Requires you to be taught new expertise to make use of it effectively

Quantity ranges might be low

Your smartphone nearly definitely has a extremely succesful video digital camera, and since it’s all the time with you, it’s actually the proper on-the-move vlogging and video-creation device. Besides it’s all the time going to be let down by the built-in microphone, which has to carry out too many various jobs and easily can’t be nice at all of them.

Fixing the issue has annoyed me for some time, as only a few of the choices out there are concept. Now, Sennheiser has launched the MKE 400 Cellular Equipment, which is designed to carry pro-grade audio recording to movies shot in your telephone. Might this actually be what I used to be on the lookout for? I’ve came upon.

Why use your telephone?

Each iPhone because the iPhone 6S has recorded 4K-resolution video, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely and newest Galaxy S21 sequence telephones shoot 8K video, so taking high-quality video together with your telephone hasn’t been a priority for a while. If this can be a huge precedence for you, corporations like Second make spectacular lens equipment for telephones, and there are various video-editing apps out there for each iOS and Android. Your telephone actually is a one-stop video-creation store.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Properly, nearly. Good audio high quality is crucial should you’re planning to publish your movies. N one will need to watch if they’ll’t hear you, or if all they’ll hear is wind noise or distortion. The microphone in your smartphone is a compromise, because it has to do varied completely different jobs, and making you sound good on video is just not that prime up on the listing of priorities. It’s not appropriate for distance recording, or in loud environments.

There are numerous choices out there to treatment this. Lavalier microphones are in style however you’ll be tied down with a wire, or you possibly can spend money on an costly wi-fi microphone system. However there’s a wonderful line between doing this, and contemplating transferring to the following degree fully with a DSLR-based setup, and the cash actually begins so as to add up at this level. It may well really feel demoralizing trying on the completely different choices, and generally pointless when your telephone is true there and shoots completely good video.

All the things you want

What makes the MKE 400 Cellular Equipment particular is that it’s designed primarily to be used with a smartphone. Contained in the field is the Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun microphone, a sturdy aluminum smartphone clamp to carry each it and your telephone, and a Manfrotto Pixi mini tripod that doubles as a handheld grip. A three.5mm TRRS cable to affix the microphone to your smartphone is included, together with one other three.5mm TRS cable designed for DSLR use, offering tons of flexibility.

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The MKE 400 attaches to the smartphone clamp with a regular chilly shoe mount, because it makes use of two AAA batteries for its personal energy. The mount itself has a number of 1/Four-inch threaded holes to connect it to a tripod, plus a single three/Eight-inch threaded gap, and a rubber-lined clamp to your telephone. This may be rotated from portrait to panorama orientation, and the clamp might be locked into place so it doesn’t transfer — and so your telephone received’t come unfastened.

Manfrotto’s Pixi tripod is small however very sturdy. It’s constituted of chrome steel and has a most peak of 5.three inches, with every of the ft ending in a rubber grip for added stability. It’s wonderful to be used with a telephone, however Manfrotto doesn’t suggest it for supporting something heavier than 2.25 kilos, so it could not work effectively with some DSLRs. Press the button on the facet firmly and the pinnacle might be repositioned, giving it loads of versatility.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

The Pixi tripod can be utilized on a floor or handheld, the clamp is large enough for many telephones — I’ve used it with the iPhone 12 Professional and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely — and the connection system is easy. You’re up and prepared in lower than 5 minutes, it’s extremely moveable, and really solidly made.

What in regards to the microphone?

The MKE 400 is a shotgun microphone with a supercardioid polar sample, that means it’s designed to choose up audio from instantly in entrance and barely behind, however not a lot from the perimeters, to chop down on undesirable ambient sound. The MKE 400 identify has been utilized by Sennheiser for years, however the firm has up to date the design and added options to this newly launched mannequin.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

The windscreen and shock mounting have been positioned contained in the metallic microphone case for a extra compact, visually pleasing look, plus a “useless cat” furry cowl can be included within the field to scale back wind noise much more. On the facet of the microphone is a volume-controlled three.5mm headphone output to observe the audio, a three-stage sensitivity acquire management, and a low-pass filter.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Two AAA batteries are contained in the field able to energy the microphone, and Sennheiser estimates they are going to final for 100 hours earlier than needing to get replaced. It weighs 93 grams, so about half of most fashionable smartphones, however nonetheless feels sturdy. It additionally seems to be actually fashionable and professional, whereas merely having the Sennheiser identify on the facet offers it an enormous quantity of credibility. It might sound odd, however this can be a huge deal.

How does it sound?

I’ve recorded audio with the Sennheiser MKE 400 outdoors when strolling round, and inside when seated, plus within the automotive and different comparatively noisy environments. I’ve used it linked to an iPhone 12 Professional via the included three.5mm cable and a Lightning dongle. It has carried out extraordinarily effectively always, however most significantly of all, it’s an enormous enchancment over the audio recordings you’d get should you simply used the built-in microphone, or different cheaper microphones.

The obvious distinction is within the drastic discount of background hiss and ambient sound. The MKE 400 data your voice clearly, whereas nonetheless taking in simply the correct amount of ambient sound. For instance, when recording on an early morning stroll, the microphone nonetheless recorded the sounds of the encircling woodlands for a pure, pleasing tone that precisely captures your atmosphere with out overpowering your voice.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

It additionally makes my voice sound much less synthetic, eradicating the echo and harshness you get from the iPhone 12 Professional’s microphone. I additionally in contrast it to a Rode SmartLav+ lavalier microphone, and once more there was a lot much less background hiss and echo. Exterior, it operates effectively at round a meter to 2 meters distance, offered you’re dealing with within the microphone’s normal path. It additionally data effectively while you’re behind the microphone, so long as you’re not too distant. Inside a transferring automotive, when behind the microphone, there’s just a little extra echo, however as a result of the ambient sound is minimized, it doesn’t break the recording.

The downsides are available in studying how one can use the MKE 400 to one of the best of its means. Whereas it’s not particularly difficult, there’s various trial and error concerned, which isn’t actually discovered utilizing a easy plug-in lavalier microphone. For instance, the amount is sort of low with the acquire set at regular, and to listen to it effectively when performed again on the iPhone, the amount must be at about 75%. There’s a three-stage acquire management, however while you flip this as much as the excessive degree, it will increase general noise, so there’s a tradeoff between recording at a better distance and introducing extra ambient sound.

The headphone jack on the microphone physique helps you to hear what’s being recorded, which is useful to a sure extent. It’s laborious to do that should you’re by yourself and need to verify distance recording, for instance. I don’t assume the MKE 400 requires pro-level expertise or data to make use of, however I do assume you want persistence and a willingness to study sound recording to get one of the best from it.

Utilizing the Sennheiser MKE 400 has been releasing. I’m used to recording with a wired lavalier microphone, and never having to fret in regards to the wire is nice. I’m additionally horrible about forgetting to clip the mic again on if I’ve to maneuver away from the digital camera, which isn’t one thing you are concerned about with the MKE 400. The sound high quality is nice, too. It additionally works with the digital camera app or voice recorder app, and a DSLR if wanted, so it’s laborious to think about a scenario the place you’d need a lot else.

Value and availability

The Sennheiser MKE 400 Cellular equipment prices $230, or 200 British kilos. It’s available for purchase now via Sennheiser’s personal on-line retailer, or via different Sennheiser sellers.

Our take

The Sennheiser MKE 400 Cellular Equipment is a complete, high-quality, straightforward to make use of sound-recording system to your telephone. Though it’s made for a smartphone, don’t assume this implies it’s fundamental, as all of the options right here provide help to file one of the best audio attainable together with your smartphone.

Sennheiser’s determination to make it a full equipment is impressed, as you don’t want to purchase the rest, so it’s perfect for anybody simply getting began or somebody desirous to improve from a extra fundamental setup. Regardless of this, there’s nothing easy in regards to the efficiency, and audio high quality is an enormous enchancment over the built-in mic in your telephone, and even competent lavalier microphones too.

The flexibility means it’s appropriate for handheld, camera-facing recordings, desktop use, outdoors recordings, and even in noisy environments like the within of a transferring automotive — all with out wires or a Bluetooth wi-fi connection. It’s not low-cost, however the value displays the power, high quality, and welcome simplicity of the general bundle.

Is there a greater various?

There are numerous shotgun microphones the work together with your smartphone, however only a few include the vary of equipment the MKE 400 Cellular Equipment supplies. Costs additionally differ wildly. This Comica equipment with a wi-fi microphone system prices $170, whereas Rode’s VideoMic digital camera mount set prices $147. An excellent lavalier microphone just like the Rode SmartLav+ prices round $90, and Audio Technica’s ATR3350xiS microphone prices about $35.

All will do a greater job at recording audio than the microphone constructed into your telephone, however contemplate how and the place you’ll be recording earlier than deciding which one to purchase. Sennheiser isn’t the most cost effective model, however high quality is nearly all the time assured.

How lengthy will it final?

The parts included within the Cellular Equipment are rugged and strong, being largely constituted of varied metals, with solely the bottom of the microphone manufactured from plastic. The common three.5mm headphone jack to attach the microphone to your telephone requires a dongle if it doesn’t have the corresponding port, so ensure you have a kind of readily available. There aren’t any apps that have to be put in, and no firmware to replace both. The MKE 400 will final for years offered it’s handled effectively.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. It’s all the pieces it is advisable to vastly enhance the audio recorded by your smartphone.

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