The reasons for this are many, and can often be traced back to our tendency as humans to fixate on the visual sense, often at the expense of everything else going on within a scene. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially with so much happening in the world of video and content production and the haste to get things out there as quickly as possible. After all, in the context of content creation, it’s probably asking a bit much for one person to be exceptionally proficient across all the diverse technical skillsets that encompass filmmaking?
Luckily, when it comes to the audio side of the equation at least, a bit of basic theory and the right equipment can go a long way towards improving the overall production value of your work. Enter the MKE 200s, Sennheiser’s new small format, super-cardioid microphone, clearly aimed at leveling up the audio quality of Vloggers, YouTubers and videographers everywhere.
The first thing that jumps out with the MKE 200 is the size of the unit itself. Make no mistake, the MKE 200 is extremely sleek and lightweight, and at a mere 69 millimetres long, 60 mm high and 39 mm wide is absolutely perfect for compact setups. It’s made to sit on top of your DSLR or mirrorless camera and stay there, and weighing in at only 48 grams, it provides enough in the way of mobility to really make it an awesome choice for location work or any application where space and weight are of primary concern.
Forget the need for recharging batteries as well, as a pre-polarised condenser,the MKE 200 is operated battery-free, which only further adds to this liberating sense of mobility, because as well all know the less you have to think about power supplies and batteries, the better.
Hidden inside the MKE 200’s wind-screening cage is a shock absorber to minimise harsh handling noise, and it looks and feels so much more robust than externally supported designs that seem to dominate this space traditionally. The MKE 200’s shockmount has a sturdiness to it that is both instantly dependable and also belies a certain level of quality that we have come to expect from the legendary microphone manufacturer. This extends to the quality of the other accessories also, with the unit shipping with a Sennheiser branded furry wind-shield to further negate wind noise in wild, outdoor conditions.
Given the egalitarian price tag and minimal design, the MKE 200 is built for simplicity first and foremost. We found it easy to connect to a camera then either adjust the gain in-camera to reduce fluctuations in background noise, or leave it on Auto (which may prove useful for events or run-and-gun style shooting).
The increase in dynamic audio fidelity was immediately apparent; clean crisp dialogue far more present than the in-built camera mic, and in this regards would be an instant home run for the content creator, instantly improving audio quality straight out of the box.
The Super-Cardioid design works well to hide the unwanted sound from behind or beside the subject, capturing what’s directly in front of the camera’s field of view and direct line of incidence. Small cameras are prone to noisy operation – from clicky handling to electronic auto-focus adjustments on lenses, and the MKE 200 did well to significantly reduce these. The overall frequency profile of the mike is bright and clear, with a presence peak right at the vocal range.
This may almost come across as too bright on first impression, but given its application as well as the likely source of its output (phones, tablets or laptop speakers) it makes sense to favour speech in place of lows or mids, as it sits perfectly above a music bed and it’s always better to have too much detail as adjusting the EQ in your video editing software with a ‘De-esser’ EQ preset is incredibly easy. As a super-cardioid mic aimed at the content creation crowd, I also imagine some of this aforementioned brightness would be offset via a bit of healthy proximity effect at the designated ‘YouTuber’ distance.
The box includes both a TRS and TRRS cables, allowing you to use the MKE 200 with a phone. This opens up the MKE 200’s applications to on-location podcast interviews or an audio backup for events or documentary work. The cables also feature handy locks to secure them in place, avoiding the disaster of cables coming unstuck during shooting. Given the compact design and handy travel pouch, this makes the MKE 200 a versatile mic ever-ready for an impromptu interview.
Sennheiser are revered within the film and broadcast industry for their iconic shotgun mikes. To bring their expertise to such an inexpensive product means you’re getting a lot of technology for a very small investment, and we’re sure the MKE 200 will very soon be a staple in the broader videography and content creation game. At the pricepoint we are talking here, it’s a level quality and operability that few can match.