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Sennheiser: a sound choice for recording winning audio

Posted on Oct 17, 2023

Audio specialist Sennheiser has no fewer than three microphones nominated in the Photography News Awards 2023. We hear why they’re all sound options for readers shooting video alongside stills

As everyone shooting video knows, if your audio isn’t up to scratch, even the most beautifully filmed frames won’t be able to make your recording seem anything more than amateur hour. Bad sound is distracting and viewers will simply switch off, frustrating your best creative efforts. Not ideal if you’re getting started as a content creator of any description. Fortunately, for professional audio made easy, Sennheiser is the brand to seek out.

Three of its devices have been nominated in this year’s PN Awards. Up for the accolade of best wireless microphone is Sennheiser’s AVX-MKE2. Its MKE 400 and MKE 200 are also jointly proposed for best on-camera microphone. 

Even a cursory examination of all three makes it clear that for those seeking better results than their camera’s built-in mic, Sennheiser is the one to beat when it comes to clarity of sound. A third-generation family-run business, the German brand has a history of audio excellence stretching back over 75 years. Its latest products demonstrate its desire to shape not only its own future, but also that of the world of audio.

Relax, it’s an AVX

That long-developed expertise has enabled Sennheiser to lay claim to the fact its AVX digital wireless microphone system works faster than the human ear. By which it means that before any interference becomes audible, the AVX selects the best operating frequency and switches to a clean channel. Put simply, Sennheiser concentrates on the audio, freeing up the videographer to focus on the image.

Designed to operate straight out of the box, the Sennheiser AVX-MKE2 Pro Lavalier Set is an ideal digital wireless microphone for film/video projects. The system fully self configures, meaning users are ready to hit record within seconds. 

An ultra-compact receiver plugs directly into the XLR audio input of your camera, camcorder or recording device, switching on and off automatically by detecting the phantom power and cleverly conserving battery power when the camera is turned off. Combined with a body pack transmitter and high-quality lav mic, users are provided with the ideal set-up for broadcast-quality, hands-free interview and documentary recording. For example, AVX optimises dynamic range, so perfectly levelled sound is delivered whether the surrounding environment is quiet or loud. After matching to the camera’s input sensitivity once, it will then adjust itself automatically.

Accessories are included for use with DSLRs, while the microphone’s metal housing ensures it’s robust and built to last. As both handheld and body pack transmitters are provided, flexibility is provided in spades. Plus, the AVX operates in the license-free 1.9 GHz frequency range so it can be used in many countries worldwide without requiring registration. So relax, it’s an AVX.

On camera and on the money

Those readers with more compact mirrorless cameras or smartphones who are looking to upgrade their audio capture via a lightweight and affordable camera-mounted directional mic are directed to fellow PN Awards nominee, the Sennheiser MKE 200. Up for top honours in the best on-camera microphone category, this one is perfect for vloggers and content creators starting out and looking to instantly increase their production value.

Delivering much better audio than your camera’s integral mic can – these sit within the camera housing with sound coming in through a tiny opening, giving muddier results than an exterior mic – handy features here include a built-in shock mount and wind protection, plus an attachable furry windshield. What’s more, the MKE 200 condenser microphone features a super-cardioid capsule that provides focus and detail while simultaneously rejecting unwanted background noise.

Included in the package are interchangeable 3.5mm TRS and TRRS coiled cables, while the MKE 200 has an integral coldshoe mount for swift and intuitive attachment to a compact camera or mobile device of your choosing. Operation is battery free.

The step-up option is the MKE 400 – also suitable for the vlogging fraternity. This is another directional on-camera mic designed to isolate and enhance audio. It also features a windscreen and shock mount that are conveniently fully integrated, and comes with a furry windshield – but it’s got a few extra tricks up its sleeve.

Fine tuning audio capture further are a low-cut filter and three-step gain sensitivity switch, while a headphone monitoring output is also provided. Although some cameras provide a handy headphone jack, not all do, so that’s where the headphone monitoring output feature comes into play. Users can plug any 3.5mm headphones directly into the MKE 400 and use the integrated volume control to dial in their live audio monitoring and ensure top results.

The supercardioid polar pattern and acoustic interference tube reject unwanted background noise and ensure the cleanest possible recordings of dialogue, again, even in the noisiest of environments.

This coldshoe mounted device is suitable for use on DSLRs, mirrorless and mobile devices, with a pair of compact AAA batteries powering the microphone for up to 100 hours. The MKE 400 automatically powers on or off when connected to DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Both it and the MKE 200 are regularly acclaimed as providing the best quality in both their respective price points.

Originally published in Issue 111 of Photography News.

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