Sennheiser MKE 600 is a fantastic quality, 10” short-range shotgun. Although considered an entry model, which is available at rather modest price, it has just about professional performance! Moreover, I’d say this mic is probably the best raw performer in its range. This is not only about the quality but also about the design. It may appear modest, but it’s certainly more convenient than both AT897 and Rode NTG2. It also performs great in both close and open areas without relying on post EQ. It seems, Sennheiser took best of both mics for their MKE 600, and then improved it even further.
Sound & quality
Frequency pattern of MKE 600 is nothing short of epic and I love that curve above any other shotgun. It is reasonably flat and while peaking in the upper range with a slight 2-3 dB boost it gives just about enough presence not to sound “dull”. However, unlike with harsher AT897 this transition is very smooth, natural and unobtrusive. The lower end initially rolls off at 100 Hz, while the “low cut” switch sets it at 200 Hz. With this move, Sennheiser outsmarts both AT897 and NTG-2 whose “low cut” switches are set at 100 Hz and can’t roll off any further. The thing is, anything below 100 Hz is hardly usable anyway as it’s mostly mud and noise, but, it doesn’t stop there and sometimes you may want to cut it further. Sennheiser MKE 600 gives you that opportunity. 200 Hz is the range that often contributes to some annoying boominess, also amplifying wind and machinery noise – so this can be a great fix especially for run and gun /ENG situations.
I would like to point out that this is a very neutral mic and it has a broad and crispy sound. It has leaning-towards-professional noise levels (15 dB-A weighted) and it is quite good at capturing low volume sounds. Unlike NTG-2, the amount of gain is more robust and does not require much amplification. A stronger signal makes it a bit more convenient to use with digital recorders, e.g. Zoom H4n – also, the mic can handle relatively high sound pressure. Then again, that note of unobtrusive presence and a flexible roll off kind of make it sound even better. Really deep down, there is just no way you won’t love it!
Build & package
Sennheiser MKE 600 is quite compact and lightweight, so aside from booming it goes well even with DSLR cameras. A shock mount that goes with the package (MZS 600) also suits for an easy on-camera application. It is of course only basic but at least it doesn’t feel flimsy. For booming you will need to buy some spider shock mount; fortunately they are quite cheap. The standard windscreen foam is somewhat sucky, BUT you are given the option to add a few bucks and get an awesome hairy windshield (MZH 600). This is a very nice move from Sennheiser! Unlike Rode who will shove you a useless foam you will never use anyway, and then have you spend another $60 for their WS6 or an equivalent windsock.
Also unlike NTG-2 and AT897, this shotgun has some well-designed controls. You won’t need any pins as you can easily switch it with your fingernails. It has an essential on/off switch, which helps to converse while on battery whereas NTG-2 and AT897 do not. Instead, they offer you to unplug the cables, unscrew the cover, remove the battery and then, in order to record again you’ll have to put it all back. All the little annoyances that we’ve had with NTG-2 and AT897 (both of sound and design nature) are simply not there in MKE 600.
Who should use it?
This mic is such a great deal that every videographer should have it in their arsenal. You may eventually want to add some hypercardioids and a medium shotgun too, so you can be technically prepared for everything. Nevertheless, when it comes to short shotguns Sennheiser MKE 600 is the deal. Of course, it is more expensive than other entry-level models, but you get the performance. Better are only professional shotguns, but they’ll cost you minimum 3 times as much, and will require a good source of phantom power.
- Fantastic! - 9.5/109.5/10