Unfortunately, sound is everything. Fortunately, Sennheiser has set out to help with the worst sound recording scenario: not having a sound recordist. The newly announced MKE 440's strange V-shaped design seemingly sets it apart from other compact stereo shotgun mics; as product manager of Broadcast and Media Kai Lange puts it, the MKE 440 is “quite unlike other stereo camera microphones, [in that] it will predominantly pick up the sound from within the camera angle thanks to its new stereo principle."
The Sennheiser MKE 440.
The two mini-shotgun microphones and new stereo technique are designed to keep the incoming sound limited to the audio emerging only from what lies in the confines of your camera frame. The disadvantage of classic stereo set-ups like AB, MS or XY is that they capture noise from the side; the idea behind the odd-looking V-shape arrangement is so it predominantly picks up the sound from the direction you're filming in, keeping the off-camera noise from coming in at either side of the operator. Any additional handling noise or wind noise are protected by a stainless steel micro-mesh and the microphones are shock-mounted internally.
This could be an innovative approach to enable DSLR one man band situations to sound less bad (it's never going to be as good as a boom mic inches from the subject, but... when it comes to new solutions to an age old problem, we're all ears). Here's what you're in for:
- Pick-up pattern: stereo, super-cardioid
- Frequency response: 50 to 20,000 Hz
- Max. sound pressure level: 132 dB SPL
- Sensitivity: 23 / 42 / 63 mV/Pa, switchable
- Equivalent noise level: 16 / 21 / 40 dB (A)
- Power supply: 2 x AAA batteries
- Operating time: > 100 h
- Connector: 3.5 mm jack plug
- Dimensions: 67 x 106 x 128 mm (HxWxL)
- Weight: approx. 165 g without batteries
- Operating temperature: -10°C to +55°C
- Storage temperature: -20°C to +70°C
- Relative humidity: max. 90% at 40°C
The MKE 440 will be available from June 2016; no word on pricing yet. What do you think of the design, and the potential to improve on-camera sound?
More coverage from the NAB's showroom floor: