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Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit Review: A Cheap, Easy Upgrade for Content Creators

 

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit with phone

Thanks to your smartphone, it’s never been easier to start creating videos. The camera in your phone might be great, but the audio still leaves something to be desired. The Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit aims to be an affordable upgrade to not just your audio, but your video workflow in general.

The MKE 200 Mobile Kit, as the name implies, offers more than a microphone. It has everything you need to start creating high-quality videos on your phone: a tripod, a mount for your phone, and all the cables and accessories you need.

The question is: did Sennheiser take on too much with this kit? Thankfully, a few missteps aside, the company does more right with the MKE 200 Mobile Kit than it does wrong.

Here's What We Like

  • Great sound quality for the price
  • Sturdy build quality for mic and kit compontents
  • Tripod also works for handheld recording
  • Works well as an all-in-one audio upgrade kit
  • Standard attachment points make it compatible with other gear

And What We Don't

  • No USB-C or Lightning adapter included
  • Color coded cables would be nice

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Who Is the MKE 200 Mobile Kit For?

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit handheld

Audio is key when it comes to professional quality video. You can have perfectly color graded 4K footage, but if the audio quality is poor, it’s going to make the entire video seem like the work of an amateur.

The Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit is the perfect first upgrade for your video gear. This is especially true if you film with your phone, as the smartphone mount and tripod will help you get more stable footage.

That said, as I’ll look at later, the MKE 200 Mobile Kit features a standard cold shoe and 1/4-inch attachment points. This means that, aside from the smartphone mount, everything in the kit will work with your mirrorless or DSLR camera.

What’s in the Kit?

The main feature of the kit is the MKE 200 shotgun microphone. If you’re interested in the microphone but not the kit, the microphone is sold separately.

Instead of packing a generic Sennheiser-branded tripod in the box, Sennheiser instead partnered with Manfrotto, a company known for its tripods and tripod heads. The tripod is simple, but it does feature an adjustable ball head.

The smartphone mount is Sennheiser branded. Aside from these items, you get all the cables you need as well as a windscreen for shooting outdoors.

Build Quality: Surprisingly Solid

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit angle
  • Microphone dimensions: 2.71 x 2.36 x 1.53in (69 x 60 x 39mm)
  • Microphone weight: 1.69oz (48g)

Looking at the build quality, everything in the kit is tougher than you may expect, given the price. Sennheiser’s MKE 200 microphone is built out of aluminum, so it’s tough but also surprisingly lightweight.

While the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod is mostly plastic, it feels strong. I wouldn’t hesitate to put a heavy DSLR on it, but this may limit how much you can adjust the ball head. For use with a smartphone, the tripod is sturdy enough to hold at any angle.

Similar to the microphone itself, the smartphone mount is made out of solid aluminum, making it stable. The mount is on a swivel, letting you orient your phone to portrait or landscape mode. An adjustable control lets you lock the mount at any angle.

Sennheiser included a smart idea with the cables and the microphone. On the end of each of the two cables that plug into the microphone, a bolt is attached that fastens on the mic. This secures the cable and prevents it from ripping out while you’re recording.

The only aspect of the package that seemed somewhat off was the windscreen. No matter how I tried to attach it, it never felt properly seated on the microphone.

Connectivity: You Might Need a Dongle

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit cable plugged in and locked
  • Connector: 3.5mm jack
  • Cables included: 3.5mm TRS, 3.5mm TRRS

The MKE 200 Microphone has a 3.5mm jack on the front of it, and as mentioned above, this is a locking connector, which is handy. Sennheiser includes two cables to connect the microphone; there’s a TRS cable for connecting to a camera and a TRRS cable to hook up a smartphone. Both of these cables are coiled to offer flexibility without cables hanging from your phone or camera.

The only problem is that both cables are the same blue color. This may be nice for aesthetic reasons, but it makes telling them apart more difficult than it needs to be. The TRRS cable is labeled with a paper sticker reading “smartphone,” but making the cables different colors would have made it easier to tell them apart.

The majority of phones these days are getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Sennheiser doesn’t include a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter or a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter in the box. Third-party dongles aren’t expensive, but it would have been nice to see at least one in the box.

Even if Sennheiser didn’t want to put one in every box, offering cables for the MKE 200 that feature Lightning or USB-C on one end would be nice to see.

Setting Everything Up

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit box contents

Setup depends on whether you’re using a camera or a phone, but because smartphone videographers seem to be the focus for this kit, that’s how I’ll assume you’re setting up.

I found it was easier to first attach the smartphone mount to the tripod, then place my phone in the mount. The tripod gives you slightly more leverage when you’re pulling open the sprung smartphone mount to insert your handset. Once your phone is in place, you can use the switch to secure it.

With your smartphone mounted, you can plug the cable into the MKE 200 microphone. You could do this first, but doing so after you plug in your phone helps you make sure the cable won’t hang in front of your camera lens.

If you’re shooting outside on a windy day, you probably want to attach the windscreen ahead of time. It takes some work to get it properly secured on the mic, so you don’t want to have to deal with this in the field.

Shooting Video With the MKE 200 Kit

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit wind screen

You’ll want to save actually adjusting the tripod until you’re shooting video because you aren’t certain how you’ll want the tripod set up. The built-in ball head, combined with the adjustability of the smartphone mount, lets you shoot at almost any angle you can think of.

The lightweight nature of the tripod is useful if you’re looking to do some handheld shooting. It doubles as a selfie stick of sorts, and holding it by the tripod will give you smoother video than holding your phone by itself.

If you’re using an actual camera, the utility of the tripod in handheld mode will depend on the weight of the camera and lens. That said, the tripod will be handy as a light, portable alternative to full-size options.

Finally, unlike some mobile mics, there is no app or software bundle. You’ll need to use an app like Filmic Pro (available on iPhone and Android) or your phone’s built-in camera for shooting video, or similar options like Ferrite (available on iPhone) for recording audio.

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Sound Quality: The Mic Is the Star

Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit without phone
  • Frequency response: 40 to 20,000 Hz
  • Pickup pattern: supercardioid
  • Max sound pressure level: 120 dB SPL

The Sennheiser MKE 200 is a condenser microphone in a shotgun form factor with a supercardioid pickup pattern, which is meant to capture audio directly in front, rejecting sound from the sides. It draws the small amount of power it needs from your camera or phone via the included cable, so there’s no need to worry about batteries or charging.

While the microphone is directional, it doesn’t sound as directional as some other shotgun-style mics. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just worth knowing. This makes the mic handier for recording conversations between a few people, for example, but it also makes it harder to pick out a single voice on the street.

Smartphone mics have come a long way, especially up close. At a distance is where you’ll start to lose sound quality. The MKE 200 is much more consistent as you move away from your phone or camera, and as you move a few feet away, you’ll notice the increase in quality more and more.

Of course, as with any microphone, the further you move away from the microphone, the more the ambiance of the room you’re in is audible. In an untreated room, you’ll want to stay within around five feet for the best sound. Outside, this is less of a consideration.

The microphone has a built-in shock mount that does a good job of minimizing handling noise. This is good if you plan to use the included tripod for handheld videos. Of course, if you drop or jostle the tripod too much, the mic will pick it up.

When it comes to wind noise, the included windscreen does a good job of reducing it. Unlike some cheaper windscreens, there isn’t too much of a reduction in the pickup of higher frequencies with it attached.

Should You Buy the Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit?

If you’re just getting started as a content creator, the Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit is a great way to upgrade your audio. If you’re buying this kit mainly for the mic (which, keep in mind, is available separately), the tripod and smartphone mount still make it a great value.

Even if you’re buying this microphone for a mirrorless or DSLR camera, and you don’t need the smartphone mount, the tripod is handy to have. While you may already have a larger, more professional tripod, having this small handheld model is useful in many situations.

The Sennheiser MKE 200 is a major upgrade over your phone’s built-in audio, and it sounds better to me than alternatives like the Rode VideoMic GO II. Add the smartphone mount and tripod, and it’s a better value for a similar price.

Rating: 8/10
?

  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection

 

Price: $100

Here’s What We Like

  • Great sound quality for the price
  • Sturdy build quality for mic and kit compontents
  • Tripod also works for handheld recording
  • Works well as an all-in-one audio upgrade kit
  • Standard attachment points make it compatible with other gear

And What We Don't

  • No USB-C or Lightning adapter included
  • Color coded cables would be nice

Original Article