New Sennheiser MKE600 XLR shotgun mic designed for video journalism

By site editor Dan Chung:

The new Sennheiser MKE600 is a short shotgun XLR microphone from the famous brand which features a low-cut filter and the abilty to run off a single AA battery or phantom power. Priced at 399 Euros (with dealers already offering discounts) I would consider this Sennheiser’s cheapest serious XLR shotgun mic offering. According to product manager Kai Lange, “with the MKE 600, we are presenting the ideal microphone for video journalists who want to produce a report or a film in perfect video and audio quality but do not wish to resort to highly professional shotgun microphones or a separate wireless link. In developing the MKE 600, we paid particular attention to achieving a high level of directivity and a balanced sound.”

That’s quite a big claim for a mic that isn’t all that expensive. Last year I was fortunate to work with Sennheiser to create some web videos and had a chance to try out an early pre-production MKE600. I was impressed with the build quality and the sound – it looks and feels like a professional product, not a toy. I didn’t compare it directly with other mics but what I heard seemed to my ears to be very satisfactory. Not too bright, with a reasonable bass response. I hope the finished product is the same if not better.

It’s size and weight make it an ideal choice for the latest generation of cameras. It will work well on XLR equipped cameras like the FS100, FS700, C100 or C300 as well with audio recorders like the Zooms and Tascams. It will also work with adapters like the Juicedlink and Sound Devices mixers and you can use it directly on a DSLR with a KA600 XLR to 3.5” minijack adapter cable (although you may get better results using an audio adapter rather than plugging straight in thanks to the superior preamps is some adapters).

It comes with a hotshoe mount kit – although you will probably want to replace this with something better from the likes of Rycote or K-Tek. It can be mounted on a boom too of course.

Another nice feature is the low battery warning LED which comes on when battery voltage is low – still giving the operator a further eight hours to change the battery.

There is a standard foam windshield included and you can add further wind protection in the shape of a furry Softie or a blimp.

What I like about the MKE600 is that for a reasonable price you get a mic that will grow with you in your career. It will work on a basic camera like the Canon 60D, but be equally at home on a C300 or broadcast camera. Sure there are better small shotguns out there – such as Sennheisers famous 416 and the newer 8060, but even if you upgrade there will always be room for a spare and this mic will still be useful.

It’s nearest competitors are the popular Rode mic range – from the Videomic and Videomic Pro, through to the NTG-1 and NTG-2. There are also the phantom powered Audio Technica AT875R and similar from Sony and Azden. The Sennheiser is more expensive than all these but has the big advantage of being shortish, yet battery or phantom powered with XLR – to my knowledge none of the popular ones do this is such a small size.

According to Sennheiser the MKE600 will be available from IBC 2012 onwards.

Full disclosure – the author has worked with Sennheiser on promotional activities in the past but is not currently engaged by the company in any way.

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