Think audio and Sennheiser will inevitably be one of the first brands that come to mind. The company covers audio solutions for every sector you could think of, including the digital camera market.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 is a direction shot-gun mic that offers a neat, compact audio solution. Captured sound is clear, crisp and features such as the low-cut filter and density adjustment give plenty of flexibility over the capture quality.
The MKE 400 is an interesting mic with a price tag that puts it at the entry-level for professionals and top end for beginners. Audio capture quality is excellent and ideal for vloggers, who Sennheiser looks to be aiming this mic at, but it’s equally suited to semi-professionals as well as amateurs. Professionals may find that the mic lacks the full depth and sensitivity they would want, but it is still useful for b-roll cameras.
For most people requiring a decent mic for their DSLR or Mirrorless camera, the MKE 400 will fit the bill, and the price and features are hard to beat.
3.5mm audio monitoring port
What is the Sennheiser MKE 400?
Uni-directional mics are essential for anyone wanting to shoot video on their DSLR, Mirrorless or even phone. The Sennheiser MKE 400 is one of the neatest solutions out there and certainly the best looking.
It packs in a low-cut filter and sensitivity adjustment, but more importantly, it’s simple to use.
Plug into your intended camera, power on, and you’re away. The boost to the audio quality is instant and profound.
The MKE 400 is being marketed as a vlogging mic, but the quality and sensitivity make it equally suited for all small camera productions.
It also includes one or two features, such as the headphone monitoring 3.5mm port that helps to elevate it above many of its rivals.
Dimensions : 126 x 67 x 37 mm
Frequency response: 50 – 20,000 Hz
Max. sound pressure level: 132 dB SPL
Weight: 93.5 g
Microphone connector: 3.5mm
Power supply: 2xAAA
Operating time: >100 h
Headphone connector: 3.5mm
Transducer principle: Pre-polarized condenser
Pick-up: Pattern super-cardioid
Build and Handling
The compact MKE 400 is beautifully designed, slightly industrial and understated. Its simple lines fit well with the straight edge styling of today’s mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A, Fuji X and latest Nikon Z fc cameras.
The quality of the build is solid, there’s nothing plasticy about the outer casing, and everything feels good and robust. The MKE 400 is a reflection of the high-quality build of Sennheisers professional mics.
What’s nice to see with the MKE 400 is the simplicity of the design; everything is easy to understand, with a simple 3.5mm port linking the included coiled cable directly from the mic to the camera. Then there’s the 3.5mm headphone jack so you can monitor the audio levels captured by the mic before applying the in-camera audio adjustment.
Low-pass and sensitivity adjustment is placed on the side, making adjustment easy, and headphone volume is neatly placed next to the port.
The exterior design and control are finished with the cold shoe mount that enables the mic to sit and clamp onto a camera hotshoe or sidesaddle on vlogging grip such as the excellent Mantispod.
Inside the main shot-gun, assembly is the super-cardioid shot-gun mic that provides the directional audio capture. This is achieved by the acoustic interference tube that focuses on the sound you want to capture while rejecting background noise – all very clever.
The mic itself is suspended from rubber dampers that help reduce the internal noise generated by the handling of the camera or knocking of tripods or furniture.
In the box alongside the mic is a windshield to eliminate wind noise. This completes a very comprehensive audio capture package.
Setting up the Sennheiser MKE 400 involves slotting it into the camera hotshoe, in this case, a Sony A7 III, then connecting the supplied cable.
Once done, the mic with 2xAAA batteries installed is powered on, and everything is ready to go.
Plugging in some headphones into the camera and it’s instantly apparent the difference the directional MKE 400 shot-gun mic has on the audio quality compared with the small splatter gun mic of the Sony A7 III.
The audio is focused, clear and rich, with the direction mic helping to reduce surrounding noise.
A handy addition to the MKE 400 is the headphone input for audio monitoring. If your camera doesn’t have its headphone jack or you’re using mobile for your video capture, this comes into play.
Using this port for monitoring lets you directly hear the effect of any changes you make to the low-cut filter or mic sensitivity. To ensure that you hear what’s going on, there’s an eight-step step volume control.
If, however, your camera features direct audio monitoring, then it’s best to bypass this feature and monitor directly from the camera.
Monitoring the audio and the three options -20dB, 0dB, and +20dB gives a good adjustment over the subject vocal volume.
In our test, the optimum distance from the mic was 1 to 2 meters, but the pick-up quality was still impressive, up to 4m with the gain and low cut filter on max.
A wind filter is built into the mic, and this does a good job of helping to reduce light breeze; however, in the box is a windjammer which is far more effective for light to moderate breezes.
Testing the mic in several different locations and with different background noises, you can hear the audio capture quality.
At the beach, the waves and noise are audible, but then with the sensitivity increased and low-cut filter on the mic effectively picks up the audio from a good 3 meters. Extending that distance and the quality of the audio drops.
In a quieter situation such as the woods, you can extend that distance to around 5 meters, but the vocal, while audible, is weak.
Near road traffic and a distance of 1 to 2 meters is optimal before the mic struggles to balance the vocal audio over the traffic noise.
At less than £200/$200, the Sennheiser MKE 400 is an impressive mic. Designed for vloggers and amateur filmmakers wanting to pick up the quality of their production, the MKE 400 is just about as good as you get for the money.
One of the greatest features of the MKE 400 is that you don’t need to know anything about audio capture to get great results from this mic with your existing equipment.
For those just starting and using a mobile phone. The onboard audio monitoring enables you to isolate and adjust the low-cut filter and sensitivity with ease. While those with more experience can adjust and monitor in camera.
Either way, the results are impressive for such as small and compact mic.
For anyone getting into film-making, YouTubing or media student, the Sennheiser MKE 400 is the mic you should be looking at.
While the MKE 400 offers everything someone just getting into video could need, it has an equal amount to offer professionals. The price, build and audio quality make it a great option for 2nd or 3rd cameras.
Overall an excellent mic with little to fault for the price.
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