Gear Lab #4: Sennheiser Shotgun Showdown – The ME64 vs the MKE600

Gear Lab #4: Sennheiser Shotgun Showdown – The ME64 vs the MKE600

You know reviewing is a really subjective thing. And when it comes to listening or what sounds good, it’s 100% subjective. But, since posting my written review of the new Sennheiser MKE 600 Review part#1, Review part#2, I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking to hear what the mic actually sounds like. So, we decided to head out and conduct a little experiment. We mounted a MKE 600 and a ME 64 side-by-side on a camera and recorded me yakking away in a busy street environment. In this video we cut back and forth constantly between the two mics so you can hear the difference. Cool!

After giving a good listen in the edit suite, I’m sitting here wondering, “Which mic do I prefer?”

Well, the ME 64 has been my choice for camera mounted microphone for many years. Never have I had one crap out, even in some of the harshest environments. I’ve never had tracks sound poor and usually I’m pleasantly surprised with the results.

I’ve only used the 600 for a few days, but Sennheiser does put out pretty reliable gear so I expect the 600 to be durable and reliable. It’s a good mic, there’s no question about it. It’s warm sounding, it has good reach, a descent width to its pick-up pattern but not too directional, it wraps around the talker so head turning sounds natural and intelligible, and finally, it’s priced well. The MKE 600 was designed to be a camera mounted microphone and it does everything it should do, perfectly.

So, should I replace my ME 64’s? Well, after years of “never let me down camera mounted audio goodness”, I’ll stick with them. But if I were to be looking for a camera mic right now, I’d probably buy the MKE 600.

But, check out this video and decide for yourself!

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19 Comments

  1. November 30, 2012, 11:13 am   /  Reply

    Hey Dean,

    Awesome head to head comparison of the 2 mics. It really shows how different they are in production (but can be edited in post) and how truly subjective these things are. Another great review that would provide value to someone deciding between the two.

    Cheers,

    Shawn

  2. kai
    December 15, 2012, 8:42 am   /  Reply

    very nice review
    Can MKE 600 be a good boom mic too? I mean compare to similar price range product
    or it is mainly for camera mount use??

    • Dean Miles
      December 18, 2012, 9:22 am   /  Reply

      Hey Kai, good question. To be honest I don’t see why not. It has similar characteristics to the Sennheiser ME66 a definite “got to” mic for many ops. It’s not heavy, so that’s a plus when booming. It does have a lot of reach so you’ll need to be careful with jamming the mic (booming to close). To be totally honest, it’s not the mic, it’s the guy pointing the thing that’ll make or break your recording.

      In a pinch I wouldn’t hesitate to use the 600 as a boom mic. Just make sure you have a proper shockmount and wind jammer.

      Dean

  3. kai
    December 18, 2012, 6:40 pm   /  Reply

    Thanks!!

  4. Matthew
    February 22, 2013, 10:14 pm   /  Reply

    I have never really been a big fan of the K-6 Series of microphones from Sennheiser but rather their more robust MKH line of mics like the MKH-50, MKH-416, MKH-60 and the MKH-8060. That said, the K-6 Series is about half the price of most of the MKH line of mics. When bang for buck is discussed however, I believe the the Rode NTG-2 and NTG-3 microphones are the way to go.
    Like you I like using a Neumann KM-185 a lot which had a more forgiving pattern than the MKH-50 when booming two or more people.

    • Dean Miles
      February 23, 2013, 9:22 am   /  Reply

      Hi Matthew, I only use the ME-64 as a camera mounted microphone. The MKH-50 has way to much bottom end and it picks up camera handling noise. I’ve never used a Rhode NTG2 or 3 on a camera so I have no opinion on whether they are a better then the Sennheiser ME-64 – it might be worth a listen.

      But I’ll be honest, the 64 has never let me down, and it does an exceptional job as a camera mounted mic.

      • Matthew
        February 23, 2013, 11:55 am   /  Reply

        Good to know Dean. I wouldn’t use the MKH-50 as a camera mic either and will try out the ME-64 on my next gig based your recommendation. Thanks.

        • Matthew
          February 23, 2013, 12:11 pm   /  Reply

          The Rode NTG-3 is arguably like using a Sennheiser MKH-416 but with a wider pattern. They sound quite identical. On a camera, it would likely have too much reach and would pick up too much of what is behind the subject. I agree with you that the ME-64’s cardiod pattern sounds just right for mounting on a camera. I think Sennheiser came up with the MKE-600 to compete with the Rode NTG-2’s market.

          • Dean Miles
            February 23, 2013, 5:51 pm   / 

            When the Sennheiser rep gave me a MKE600 to try out, it was touted as a camera mounted mic. It came with a cable for connecting into a DSLRs as well as a small cold shoe shock mount. I don’t think they are trying to compete with the NTG2 – but who knows?

  5. July 31, 2013, 6:20 am   /  Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for an interesting review.
    I have not shot much video in the past but this is slowly changing. As is my camera. I am moving from a Sony Z1 to a Canon 5D3 and 1Dx which are quite different in size. Hence my interest in the ME64 and MKE600.
    I currently have the ME66 and ME67.
    I wonder if you have an opinion on whether there is much point to adding the ME64 or MKE600 or if the ME66 can cover almost the same requirements?
    Thanks again

    • Dean Miles
      August 2, 2013, 5:12 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Darrill, the ME64 is a cardiod capsule. Therefore 100% rejection off the back so less camera handling noise and camera op breathing. If you’ve already got the power supply for the ME66, I think you’ll find the small length of ME64 as well as the wider pick-up pattern much better suited for a camera mic then the ME66.

      Buying the MKE600 is another mic altogether and I think a little more money, but it does sound very good and it works great on a DSLR with the provided 1/8 cable. The shock mount is a little floppy when you add the weight of a Rycote softie.

      I hope this helps,
      Dean

      • August 2, 2013, 10:56 pm   /  Reply

        Thanks Dean,

        I am primarily a sports photographer for a rugby club but we are expanding the role this year to include some per-game interviews. So I am looking to capture this sound. Not sure if I want to just use an on-camera mic directly into the camera or use my field mixer. I was hoping to reuse the ME66 but appears from your response and videos (thanks for these) that an ME64/MKE600 is a better solution.

        I also have a one-time requirement to video a wedding service (just the bride and groom saying their vows to the registrar). I think I can get the mic off-camera on a stand so suspect the ME64 will not reach far enough for this.

        Thanks again, Darrill

  6. Rey
    November 24, 2013, 4:31 am   /  Reply

    Hi Dean, thanks for making these reviews, they are extremely useful to those of us that need the best possible gear and can’t afford to buy the wrong stuff for lack of knowledge. I am 90% sure that I will buy the Sennheiser MKE 600 to use on camera with a Canon HF G30 (on a NTSM3 suspension mount) and also on a Rode boom connected to a Zoom H4N. However, I was reading that XLR mics don’t provide the best signal when connected to a 1/8 mic input, unless you patch them first through a Beachtek or a Juicedlink. Do you agree this is necessary or does the KA 600 cable sort out this out? Also, this mic seems to be quite long. Do you think ir will remain firm enough on the NTSM3 on cam and the NTSM3 on boom? Many thanks and cheers!

    • Dean Miles
      November 26, 2013, 1:15 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Rey, The MKE600 is a good choice for an on camera and booming mic.

      Regarding the KA600: The MKE600 with the KA600 cable worked great with a Canon 5D not sure what the pre’s are like on the G30 but I can’t imagine them being worse then a DSLRs. I’m not a fan of those little mic pre-amps.

      I don’t think the MKE600 would be too long for your camera. It is a pretty small camera but so is a 5D. I’d mount the mic as far back in the shock mount as you can with a Rycote softie on the mic – you’ll definitely want wind protection. A simple test of zooming out as wide as the camera will go and see if the mic with the wind sock on isn’t in the frame. Now if memory serves me correct, the MKE600 comes with a camera shock mount and it worked well, but if you prefer the NTSM3 it may give you better isolation.

      I’m not sure about the NTSM3 as a shock mount for booming. I’d spend a few bucks more and buy a Rycote doughnut shock mount to boom with and use the supplied sennheiser shock mount for on camera.

      I hope this helped,
      Dean

      • Rey
        November 26, 2013, 4:21 pm   /  Reply

        Hi Dean, thanks a million! I really appreciate it.

  7. Jim
    May 6, 2014, 4:32 am   /  Reply

    Dean, how would you say the AT 875R compares with the ME66?

    • Dean Miles
      May 8, 2014, 7:55 pm   /  Reply

      Hey Jim, sorry I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve never used any Audio-Technica microphones to be able to comment.

  8. August 12, 2015, 10:00 pm   /  Reply

    Hey Dean,
    I am still shooting interviews on the good old lady Z1. Using the Rode NTG-3 on the built in mic mount right from the camera it picks up a humming noise of the camera. Do you know if there is a better suspension mount I could use instead? In the net I only can find better shot gun suspension mounts with a shoe adapter which wouldn’t adjust there. Using the shoe adapter on the top of the camera is not an option as I use it for the radio mix. Or would using a Sennheiser 416 ( better noise reduction?) or another mic on that built in mount on the right side do the trick. Thanks for your advice. Richie

    • Dean Miles
      August 18, 2015, 1:28 am   /  Reply

      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, I was shooting overseas.

      Hey Richard, I don’t think a shock mount will get rid of hum. The camera would have to be vibrating to transfer sound to the mic through the mount.

      You shouldn’t be getting hum from the camera? Has it always been there? Can you hear the camera humming with the naked ear? If so, I would look at buying a mic with a low cut filter like a Sennheiser MKE600. That would get rid of low frequency hum. If it isn’t audible to the naked ear, first try changing the cable, if it’s not the cable, have the mic checked out – gear does break.

      Let me know how it goes.

      Cheers,
      Dean

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