In the world of microphones and pro audio in general, it often feels like there hasn't been any new tech or innovation for a long time.
Classic industry standard shotgun microphones like the Sennheiser MKH-416 are still the industry standard today, and it was developed in the 1970s. Preamps and mixer boards have adapted into all sorts of computer and tablet interfaces, but recording professionals still look to age-old analog pre's as the very best in the field.
Some companies are figuring out how to merge the classic, time-proven audio standards with current digital needs. Chameleon Labs, for example, is a company that's creating original analog preamps and mixers for a digital industry.
And microphones like the Schoeps SuperCMIT are combining industry microphone workhorses with totally innovative noise reduction and directivity technology built in.
One day we will get our hands on the SuperCMIT for a real review - we've tested it at a trade show and it's amazing. But it's also over $4000.
So what about the rest of us mere mortals? What's happening in the audio world that can improve the lives and workflows of us everyday documentary filmmakers and corporate videographers?
Using a Wireless Microphone in Video Production
In this article we take a look at the Mikme, a brand new microphone that was first launched as a highly successful Indiegogo campaign about two years ago. It was completed recently and is now available on B&H Photo Video.
Here are the essentials that make up the Mikme:
- It features a 1-inch gold-plated, phantom powered true-condenser capsule.
- It records 24Bit 96kHz studio-grade audio to built-in 16gb of storage.
- There's one button on top to start/stop recording, and buttons on the back for level adjustment as well as power on/off and bluetooth pairing. And there's a headphone jack for monitoring or line out. And there's a 3/8" and a 1/4-20" accessory thread on the bottom.
- It has a USB micro jack for powering and recharging. It also connects to a computer for access to the recorded clips. A future update will enable the Mikme to be used as a USB microphone as well.
- There's a Mikme app that syncs with an iPhone and automatically replaces the internal microphone, for both audio and video recording.
- The battery lasts up to 3.5 hours of continued recording, and the internal storage space can record 34 hours of WAV files.
- It's about the size of a pack of playing cards, if playing cards were square and thicker. More specifically, 2.75 x 2.8 inches, and less than 6 ounces.
- The housing around the microphone capsule is itself a shock-mount, enabling handheld and mobile recording on the fly. This thing is meant to be used without requiring any additional accessories.
Mikme was founded by Philipp Sonnleitner, an Austrian sound engineer who worked at AKG previously. He partnered with a few other former AKG colleagues to design the microphone. So unlike many other crowdfund projects, the Mikme is actually made by sound professionals rather than popup design companies.
The story is they wanted to build a simple and elegant microphone/recorder for musicians, journalists, filmmakers, and podcasters to be able to use on the go, but still record studio quality audio.
Mikme as a Studio and Voiceover Microphone
One of our favorite things about the Mikme is the simplicity of the setup. Anytime we need to record voice overs, or something for Youtube, it always seems like overkill to get out the mixer, mic stand, shock mount, pop filter, XLR cables, the microphone itself, and then a computer or handheld recorder unit.
Our favorite place to record voice overs is in the closet, among a lot of clothes. The noise proofing is really good, despite how absurd you look. But bringing in all the gear inside a closet is impractical, if not utterly frustrating.
Now, what about more professional cinema cameras, or DSLR and mirrorless cameras? Bluetooth audio input are not built into any of these cameras yet, but there are Bluetooth receivers out there that could plug into your camera's 3.5mm mic input.
We haven't had a chance to test if that works yet, but all that would need to happen is a Bluetooth pairing between the Mikme and a Bluetooth receiver.
However, that's probably not entirely necessary, because most DSLR/mirrorless and cinema camera shooters are capable of editing their videos. So you can always record scratch camera audio and then sync the Mikme track in post production. The reason why the iPhone combination is attractive is many smartphone shooters - both hobbyists and vloggers - upload their videos directly online without editing them first.