Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit review
Sennheiser is well known for its professional shotgun mics and ties. Lately, the company has shifted its focus to a slew of new products to appeal to casual content creators. The Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit is at the top of this list. This bundle is a complete audio solution for anyone looking to add production value to their smartphone videos.
Who is the Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit for?
- YouTubers, vloggers and online content creators those who need a portable audio solution for video can connect this mic to their phone.
- Independent filmmakers looking for an on-camera microphone for videography or clean scratch audio should splurge on this compact kit.
- Smartphone videographers those who need a compact microphone for electronic information gathering (ENG) or general content creation will benefit from Sennheiser’s best mobile mic.
How is the Sennheiser MKE 400 built?
The second generation Sennheiser MKE 400 has a sleeker design than its predecessor, released almost 13 years ago. The new MKE 400 features a lightweight and durable matte black aluminum housing.
This microphone shares similar design cues to its cheaper counterpart, the Sennheiser MKE 200 mobile kit. It has a built-in windshield to protect the microphone capsule from light winds that could otherwise distort your recordings. The base of the Sennheiser MKE 400 includes an internal shock mount to reduce handling noise, as well as sound controls for the microphone. There is a cold shoe mount under the base, so you can attach the Sennheiser MKE 400 to most cages and camera bodies. There is also a 1/4 inch screw hole under the cold shoe mount for mounting on tripods, magic arms or even a mini quick release plate.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 uses two AAA batteries which last for around 100 hours, which is more than enough for a few days of intermittent recording before needing to change the batteries.
With the kit, you can connect the microphone to a camera using the included 3.5mm TRS cable, or to a smartphone using the 3.5mm TRS to TRRS cable. Most smartphones don’t have a headphone jack at this point, so make sure you have the correct dongle adapter for your setup.
The mobile kit also includes a Manfrotto PIXI mini tripod and an aluminum Sennheiser smartphone clamp for easy mounting. The tripod is very strong and light, so rest assured that your smartphone and microphone will stay in place on the tripod.
What does using the Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit look like?
Whether I’m capturing a video with a smartphone or shooting a videography gig with a full camera, the Sennheiser MKE 400 is a treat to use.
One of the most underrated (but indispensable) features of the Sennheiser MKE 400 is its auto power function. The microphone automatically detects when your camera is on and turns on accordingly. Autopower is a lifeline during videography gigs when you might forget to turn on the microphone during a busy event.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 has a control panel so that the recording is better suited to the subject. These on-board controls are particularly useful when you need to film on location, regardless of the acoustic properties of a space. On the left side is a three-level sensitivity switch that allows you to decrease the sensitivity when recording louder sources (like a concert) or increase the sensitivity for quieter sounds like whispers. Next to the sensitivity switch is a low-cut filter, which attenuates sounds below 200Hz, which is good if you’re recording in a space where you can’t turn the air conditioning off.
A headphone jack and volume control rocker are located on the right side of the microphone base. These basic additions are great because many DSLR cameras and smaller smartphones don’t include a way to monitor audio levels beyond an on-screen audiometer. Real-time audio monitoring is an absolute necessity when shooting interviews or managing any videography gig. It is clear that Sennheiser has taken the needs of its customers into account with this microphone.
The integrated windshield effectively prevents light wind and plosives to distort the recording, both in the studio or outside on location. At the same time, the internal shock mount suspension successfully prevents vibrations from reaching the microphone, giving you the freedom to create handheld recordings with clean sound.
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How does the Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit sound?
At just under $ 230, the Sennheiser MKE 400 sits alongside established shotgun microphones like the Rode VideoMic Pro. Rode is a popular brand for vlogging and versatile content creation, but Sennheiser clearly has a lot to offer.
The dialogue goes very clearly through the microphone and I don’t see any of the low frequencies present with the more affordable Sennheiser MKE 200. With this type of frequency response, lower-pitched vocals sound clear rather than distant. However, the microphone comes with a low cut filter switch, again if you need to silence a nearby refrigerator. Hmm.
The Sennheiser MKE 400 is significantly more directional than expected. In the recording below, there’s a light construction outside my window with loud trucks and drilling sounds galore. Hardly any of these sounds make it through to recording, which showcases the prowess of Sennheiser’s microphone.
Example of a Sennheiser MKE 400 microphone:
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This section is usually where we display a frequency response graph to show you exactly where the audio output shines and where its gaps are. Unfortunately, we encountered a technical issue during our testing. To combat this, we have an SCM-3 mic and will add a speaker with standardized output samples to update our testing and data collection. It will take some time to reach our office in Canada, but we will update this review (and many more!) These will be made evident by an announcement explaining the change and a new graphic aesthetic.
Thank you for being with us, and we hope to see you again once we have everything sorted out.
Should I buy the Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit?
The Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit is one of the best audio solutions on the market, both for smartphone content creators and videographers who need a reliable microphone on the camera. The microphone design caters to its target audience of filmmakers with its sleek but functional appearance, many built-in sound settings, good sound quality, and built-in headphone monitoring.
For $ 230, the Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit isn’t the cheapest microphone set on the market, but it offers better value for money than others from Shure and Rode. Alternatively, the Sennheiser MKE 200 mobile kit offers a similar plug-and-play mobile recording experience, and for almost half the price. If you don’t need any of the dedicated smartphone accessories, the Sennheiser MKE 400 microphone is available separately.
Sennheiser MKE 400 mobile kit
All prices shown in USD, unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary widely by currency.
Related: Shure MV88 + Video Kit Review