The easy-to-use Sennheiser MKE 200 microphone delivers a clear, crisp directional signal for cameras and mobile devices.

Most of the microphones we review connect to computers via USB, but the Sennheiser MKE 200 is designed primarily for mirrorless cameras and phones, and at $99.95, it’s an affordable option for capturing audio on the go. Its super-cardioid pattern makes it ideal for picking up sound in front of the camera and rejecting audio behind and to the sides, which makes it a solid choice for vloggers, or anyone trying to record in a somewhat noisy environment. The included windshield is also a solid accessory, and a virtual must for recording outdoors. In all, there’s not to much to the MKE 200, but that’s the point—it’s a simple, easy-to-use directional microphone that will be a marked improvement over your camera’s built-in mic.

Measuring 2.7 by 2.4 by 1.5 inches (HWD), the black MKE 200 is exceptionally lightweight at 1.5 ounces and has a built-in cold shoe mount for easy, quick attachment to DSLRs or compatible mobile device cases. The cylindrical enclosure is all metallic grille—inside, the condenser capsule delivers a frequency range of 40Hz to 20kHz, in a super-cardioid pattern. There are no switches or buttons, which makes operation extra simple, but you’ll need to familiarize yourself with your camera’s audio settings menu if you haven’t already—this is how you’ll get an ideal recording level.

The MKE 200 ships with a black furry windshield cover, and two coiled cables for smartphones (TRRS) and mirrorless and SLR cameras (TRS). The coiling makes it easy to angle the cable away from the camera body, clearing the way for flip-out video displays found on vlog-friendly models. The connection for the microphone’s jack features a locking mechanism so the cable can’t suddenly disconnect. A drawstring pouch is also included.

We tested out the MKE 200 with a Canon EOS RP—you’ll want to make sure to disable any audio DSP (digital signal processing)-type settings in your camera’s menu. Switching the audio gain on the camera to manual, we set it to the middle level. Since you’ve disabled any DSP, you’ll also want lower levels to prevent distortion in the recording.

The capsule’s directionality is ideal for noisy environments—on-camera voices were recorded crisply and clearly, some voices off to the side were also captured with a reasonable amount of level, and anything behind the camera was dialed back in level significantly. 

The fuzzy windshield cover is more or less a must for outdoor use, particularly because the entire enclosure is covered in grille perforations. Wind can enter this thing quite easily—true of nearly every mic, but especially true with this design. The windscreen did quite well in outdoor tests, with a light breeze will having little to no effect on the mic when hitting it from any angle. A stronger breeze was also handled well by the windshield—we could hear the movement of air, but there was no distortion of the capsule to speak of. So the windshield cover does its job and should make recording in gusty scenarios relatively tolerable with a little bit of thoughtful maneuvering, while breezy scenarios should have almost no impact on the recording.

The mic’s overall signal is crisp and clear, but you’ll want to experiment with distance from the camera/mic setup. The MKE 200 can get some decent proximity effect, but beyond a few feet away, that will be less of an issue. If your subject is far enough, and you’re not in a noisy environment, you can dial up your camera’s gain to a decent level before things distort. But at safe, low levels when no camera DSP is employed, the signal is clear, crisp, and perhaps a bit quiet if your subject isn’t loud. A quiet recording is preferable to a distorted one, and overall levels can be addressed in mixing after recording. An onboard gain knob would’ve been a useful inclusion, but setting levels in your camera’s menu is a common necessity.

Some more expensive camera mics will include filters or pads that can attenuate the signal—the Rode VideoMic NTG even includes a “safety” recording channel that pulls in a simultaneous audio signal at a lower level to avoid distortion. There’s no such option here, so setting levels properly is a must.

The cold shoe mount does a good job of keeping the mic’s position steady and also not transferring much of the camera body noise to the mic signal. So if you happen to be holding the camera rather than using a tripod, the recording isn’t going to sound like a lot of hand movements and shock-mount rumble blocking out the intended audio focus.

The Sennheiser MKE 200 isn’t the only somewhat affordable, solid on-camera mic for portable audio recording. If you have more room in your budget, the aforementioned $250 Rode VideoMic NTG is a shotgun-style mic that will zero in on the audio in front of the camera to an even more precise degree. And the $100 Sennheiser Memory Mic is an intriguing wireless, wearable, app-controlled mic that allows your subject to move far away from the camera without the audio signal changing in level. Both of these options bring something a little more specialized to the table, while the MKE 200 is more of a basic workhorse, super-cardioid option. Sennheiser’s roots are in pro-audio, and even its inexpensive, basic options show the manufacturer’s expertise. For its relatively low $100 price, the MKE 200 delivers solid value—you get a crisp, clear signal, even in noisy environments, and the mic is easy to use, even for those without much audio experience.

The easy-to-use Sennheiser MKE 200 microphone delivers a clear, crisp directional signal for cameras and mobile devices.

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