Sennheiser MKE 440 Review – The Most Underrated Camera on the Planet?

The Sennheiser MKE 440 is not a microphone that belongs to the most popular. And we are not surprised considering that most of the reviews on it don’t give any audio examples which are clearly important when considering buying a microphone, especially when a microphone looks unlike any other microphones out there.

But what if you told you that if you were to choose between only having two microphones, that we would choose this one? In this Sennheiser MKE 440 review, we test this microphone out in real-life work scenarios whether that’s interviews or shooting b-roll + sound while comparing this microphone to other options, and analyzing where this microphone works well.

The Issue with Most Shotgun Microphones

The limitation of lavalier microphones is that while they sound great, most mirrorless cameras only support one audio connection at a time, and due that they are quite limited to the person wearing one. They aren’t great for recording surrounding sounds, and for sure not great when it comes to filming documentaries when it comes to shooting where you don’t know what will happen next.

Shotgun microphones, on the other hand, don’t have that limitation, as they pick up sound all around and work right away, are much more flexible as far as work. 

Except the problem is that picking up sound all around often doesn’t produce great-sounding content, and in fact, it makes it harder to do. And then there’s the echo issue…

How does the MKE 440 do things differently with its 2 shotgun microphone setup? By picking up audio directly in the field of view and rejecting the rest, allowing for more clearer capture of what you actually wanted to capture, while at the same time getting incredible sounding background noise behind the subject due to that narrow field or recording that this microphone produces.

The result?

The audio has a feeling much more similar to that of an experience of a human. You hear the person in front of you with the most focus, while still capturing some subtle noise around you. (Not to confuse this with 3D Audio. For that, you would need a different microphone.)(Something we will look at in the future.)

The Audio Experience:

The best way to talk about audio is to show audio and while it’s hard to do that with headphones, it’s super easy to do that with microphones.

This is how the MKE 440 sounds in an indoor scenario:

Not only does the microphone capture the voice perfectly, but it also picks up the subtle noise around you, which as Gardon Ramsey would say, is “to die for.”

Those are the sounds that bring your videos to the next level of production.

MKE For Sound Recording

Look at any great footage and mute the sound. Does is it still look as great? Not as good as before, right?

Sound is the most crucial part of videos.

And the MKE 440 allows you to shoot incredible sounds of whatever is happening, allowing you to very often skip the processes of having to get sounds effects.

And WE LOVE THAT!!!

It saves time (and money) trying to find the right sound effect and feels much more natural.

Here are some examples of coffee making.

But hey, why not compare the sound to something that a lot of people already use? For instance, the Rode VideoMic Pro?

Do you hear that? The Rode VideoMic Pro sounds flat, meanwhile, the Sennheiser packs much more dimension to the sound.

Best Vlogging Microphone

One thing we noticed, even on the popular vlogging microphones by Rode is that the mount would often cause big trouble as far as external noise. This is not the case here, although we did have some other issues with the mount that we mention as you keep reading.

Due to that already mentioned field of view, this microphone does a very good job at picking up audio right in front, while providing very ambient background noise creating a super cinematic audio experience that you wouldn’t get with the level of, with any other shotgun microphone.

You’ve already seen talking clips though.

Let’s show a situation with echo.

This clip was shot in a 100m2 office, with huge echo inside, and showcases the Sennheiser having a slight edge over the Rode in the echo aspect.

The Wind

The microphone does a decent job with low wind, although, of course, high wind, well for that you need some accessories.

The Battery

The microphone is battery powered which we have mixed feelings about, but at least they came included, and are rated for around 100 hours.

The fun story with the batteries is that when testing this microphone, we were in Italy, and then the lockdown happened. (Italian lockdown was more extreme than most lost lockdowns) The nearest shop? It didn’t have the batteries we needed for this microphone.

…But with that said, this Sennheiser microphone requires a more standard set of batteries. And that’s much better than the Rode VideoMic Pro with a battery like…

Who is This Microphone For?

If you are planning on doing interviews and are looking for a perfect microphone for that, we wouldn’t choose it as our first microphone for that. There’s too much risk regarding echo and hearability depending on the distance of the subject and the direction they choose to point at.

…But this is an incredible microphone that will allow you to capture everything you want, in the most cinematic way at this price point.

The sounds recorded with this microphone sound more dimensional, and this is simply an incredible microphone for recording sounds, and as far as overall talking goes, it’s also a great option, provided you rock a camera with a headphone jack so that you can monitor the audio.

Documentaries where you don’t know what’s going to happen? This microphone is an absolute yes for that. Vlogging? An absolute yes. Sound recording? An absolute yes.

…And most importantly, if you are looking to take your overall audio to the next level, this is a microphone for you.

It’s a microphone that doesn’t belong to the most popular, but perhaps it should.

Not the Best for Interviews, But Also the Best…

If you are looking to mostly just interview one person in an interview with the interviewer being nearby, this is where the MKE-II lavalier microphone form the XSW-D set comes in with an example of what you can produce with it below.

On the other hand, if this is an interview where you are at a lake, and are following a subject around, provided you got audio monitoring, that’s where the MKE 440 comes in.

Built like a Beast, But…

Built-in Europe, this microphone feels like a beast, and well, it is.

This is by far the most premium microphone we’ve ever dealt with as far as to build quality.

…That doesn’t mean it fully behaves like it.

An issue we had with this microphone from the start is that it didn’t attach well to our shoe mount on our Sony alpha cameras. By that, we mean that if the camera was held at the wrong angle, there was a possibility that the microphone would fall, and well, it fell. Luckily, not into a river.

This was actually an issue on the likes of a6400 and a6500, but not so much on the a7 III.

Furthermore, the back of the microphone hood bent slightly in my backpack. (Nothing major, and fixable if you were to unscrew, but something to mention)

Perhaps the biggest complaint as far as the built goes is that the cable is not unscrewable in any way. 

Is the MKE 440 Worth it?

If we could only choose from two types of microphones to carry with us, we would choose the XSW-D Set and this MKE 440.

It works better than a lav for interviews with several people, deals better with echo than a standard shotgun, and limits the noise behind that would otherwise be present with a shotgun microphone, while a the same time providing a more cinematic feeling to the audio than any other shotgun microphone.

But frankly, if you are looking for a microphone to record just one person, get the XSW-D wireless set as it’s far more useful. Shotgun microphones have limited reach, and even though the MKE 440 performs well in wind, it doesn’t deal quite as well with wind noise as lav microphones.

 

If you have this microphone on while recording on a mirrorless camera or a DSLR, there’s no better microphone out there for this price, that can do things this microphone does.

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