The Sennheiser MKE 400 is a shotgun microphone with super cardioid pickup pattern. Basically it's a directional microphone that can block out unwanted sound from the side and back.
The 2nd generation is a huge upgrade over the previous model in many ways that I'll explain further.
Official retail price is US $199.
These are the things included in the box:
- MKE 400 on-camera microphone
- CL 35 TRS, locking TRS to TRS coiled cable
- CL 35 TRRS, locking TRS to TRRS coiled cable
- MZH 400 furry windshield
- Drawstring pouch
- Quick guide
- Safety guide
There's also the Mobile Kit bundle which is US $50 more and that includes a phone holder and a table-top tripod. That tripod is light-weight but it's not extendable so it has limited usage, ie you'll always need a high surface to put it. I use the Manfrotto TwistGrip phone holder and a Velbon tripod which are much better.
I've been using the first gen MKE 400 for years. My first unit had cable problem that couldn't be repaired. My second unit (above) has cable problem too, this time the rubber cracked to expose the wires.
I also have the Sennheiser MKE 440 too which is a stereo shotgun microphone. That had cable problem too.
I'm not sure why I keep coming back to Sennheiser despite all these problems.
Anyway, the 2nd gen is a huge upgrade in many areas:
The system now uses two AAA batteries compared to one. That's a downside since it adds to the weight. Battery life is still 100 hours which is great.
The microphone will now switch off automatically with the camera. This is an excellent feature to conserve battery life. I can't tell you how many times I had forgotten to switch of my 1st mic and have the battery drain overnight.
The removable batteries allow you to bring backups. And if you don't have backup batteries, you can always buy them easily at convenience stores which I have done so many times.
Dead cat furry windshield included
The 1st gen came with foam windshield which was ineffective at blocking wind noise, and the form shield can't be secured properly so it drops off easily. The dead cat furry windshield was also sold separately.
So it's great that the 2nd gen comes with the windshield included.
Problems with cable is quite common. With usage, the cable can become loss. Humidity can affect the rubber of the cable. Or the cables just malfunction for whatever reason.
Having detachable cables means the cables can be replaced easily.
Mic can be used with cameras and smartphones
The mic comes with TRS and TRRS cables. TRS is used with cameras. TRRS is used for smart phones and Sennheiser has helpfully labeled that cable.
TRS and TRRS cables are not interchangeable. Don't use the TRRS smartphone cable with your camera, vice versa.
You can identify TRRS cables with the three (instead of two) black stripes on the 3.5mm jack. If you use the wrong cable, the recorded audio will have extremely low volume or there will be no audio recording at all.
For phones without the 3.5mm port, an adapter is needed.
The shock mount is now inside that big thing at the top. Shock mount for the 1st model is that wobbly thing attached to the hot shoe and I've broken that before and had to use superglue to glue it back.
So those are upgrades that addresses the many problems that came with the 1st gen.
Other features include mic gain (with options for -20 to +20dB), low cut filter to remove low frequency background noise, and...
A 3.5mm port with volume controls for monitoring the audio recorded into the mic.
Frequency response is 50 – 20,000 Hz.
Main downside is the weight.
The 1st gen weighs 60g and the 2nd gen is 93.5g. It's still considered lightweight but is heavier compared to the Rode Videomic Pro shotgun mic which is 85g.
Years ago, I considered getting the Rode but went with the Sennheiser because it's smaller and just 60g. The weight difference is actually not significant or noticeable but when you start adding accessories and other attachment to your camera, all the weight adds up.
The other downside is the design is now much bigger and draws more attention. The 1st gen is smaller and more discreet.
There's also a smaller MKE 200 model which is battery-free but it doesn't have the ability to control mic gain and low cut.
This is now my main mic for vlogging with my camera.
If my old Sennheiser MKE 400 broke, I probably would have bought the Rode Videomic Pro instead. It does not make sense to buy the same product that always breaks down. So I'm glad that Sennheiser has upgraded and fixed the old design.
The new model now looks more durable, and the sound quality is still excellent.
This is now a mic I can highly recommend.
Just make sure you don't get the first generation by mistake. The first gen comes with the foam windshield.