The Sennheiser MK four Digital is the thoughtfully tailored USB model of the analog MK four. At $399, it represents the highest of the worth and high quality vary for USB microphones that we have seen up to now—mics that sound higher than this are usually going to be XLRs made for studio setups. Fortunately, the MK four Digital sounds incredible, and makes use of Apogee analog-to-digital conversion to make sure its whole sign path is respectable. It simply earns our Editors’ Selection for high-end USB mics.
Extra so than some other USB mic we have examined, the MK four Digital appears to be like, feels, and behaves like a pro-level condenser mic. As we talked about, there is a good motive for this—it is based mostly on one. Internally, behind its metallic mesh grille, the MK four Digital makes use of a gold-plated 1-inch capsule, recording in a cardioid sample. It might probably document sign at sampling charges of 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz, and bitrates of 16 or 24 bits, with a frequency vary of 20Hz-20kHz.
Most professional condenser mics are going to be XLR, and sometimes the mic is designed to work with a shock mount that isn’t included however kind of essential. Within the USB mic world, the desktop stand is pretty commonplace. It feels a bit like Sennheiser did not get the memo in that regard—the MK four Digital is a USB mic that arrives with solely a mic stand mount to affix to a mic stand or desktop stand (not included), a padded tote, and two cables. One of many cables is commonplace USB, the opposite terminates in Lightning connection for recording on to iOS gadgets.
Sennheiser makes all types of equipment particularly for the MK four Digital—a pop filter, a shock mount, a carrying case, and a windscreen, however you will not discover any of them contained in the field. In contrast with, say, the Beyerdynamic Fox, which has a built-in windscreen and desktop stand, it is comprehensible that you just may marvel simply why the MK four Digital prices twice as a lot.
The reply is: Not like many USB mics, the MK4 Digital comes about as near pro-level as you may get whereas nonetheless using an in the end digital sign (quite than an XLR connection). First off, there’s an XLR model of this microphone, and it is cheaper. That tells you one thing off the bat—if the digital model have been the identical worth, we would know that someplace within the chain, one thing was compromised. The output of this mic makes use of built-in A-to-D conversion from none aside from Apogee. So what you basically have is the MK four, with its personal high-quality audio interface inbuilt that bypasses the necessity for an XLR cable and does its personal digital conversion. Different USB mics have analog-to-digital conversion on some stage, however they do not all use the high-quality capsule the MK four Digital does, nor do they essentially entrust their output conversion to a frontrunner within the area like Apogee.
The shock mount, pop filter, and different equipment price additional, as they do within the professional world, as a result of that is basically a pro-level mic with a personalized digital output. So, whereas the pricing can appear counterintuitive in contrast with the remainder of the USB realm (and even, at first look, the mic it is based mostly on), Sennheiser determined to maintain this mic construct as skilled as doable, and that is not going to lead to a low worth. And sure, because of this with the intention to use the MK four Digital, you want a mic stand, as properly. And whereas the shock mount is optionally available, it is extremely really useful—the capsule is delicate and this may maintain the mic suspended and make it much less prone to decide up desktop rumble, or some other vibrations within the room.
What about acquire? Most USB mics have a acquire knob inbuilt, however the MK four Digital has no acquire knob and no headphone jack. Thus, you will be setting the acquire in your recording software program. If there’s an precise oversight within the design, this is perhaps it—a acquire knob on the mic or cable, because the mic is designed to bypass Mic Pres, can be helpful.
As for compatibility, the MK four Digital works with current Mac and Home windows platforms, in addition to iOS gadgets.
Merely put, on some stage, a lot of the USB mics we have examined sound like digital mics. That does not imply there aren’t great-sounding mics on this realm, however whether or not they use DSP or not, none of them actually stacks as much as the audio high quality of the MK four Digital.
The MK four Digital is actually an entry-level XLR condenser that, on the earth of USB mics, sounds wonderful. It has the right mix of near-transparency combined with delicate crispness within the high-mids, delivering best readability for vocals. It should sound even higher when equalized and compressed (relying on what gear or plugins you employ, and how much combine you are going for).
You need to use the proximity impact to get some deliciously deep, growly vocals in a detailed state of affairs, and the MK four Digital can be a strong instrument mic. Addressing the mic off entry will tamp down among the high-mids and highs and supply a smoother, mids-focused sign.
Many professional-level studios use Apogee audio interfaces for his or her enter/outputs, so having Apogee deal with the digital conversion right here is not any small element. What you find yourself with is a transparent sign that you may be assured is transformed in an excellent method.
One query I typically get requested about any costly audio gear is: Will anybody truly hear the distinction? The reply is sure, however not all the time straight away. Typically you should prepare your ears to the great things, after which as soon as they’re used to it, return and hearken to your voice via a sub-$100 USB mic and you will undoubtedly discover a powerful distinction.
If what you are actually after is a extra typical all-in-one USB mic that also delivers high quality sound (for much less cash), the Blue Raspberry and the Shure MV51 are each strong choices, as is the aforementioned Beyerdynamic Fox. And in case your price range is far decrease, the Blue Snowball Ice delivers strong audio for simply $50 (Blue mics do not use DSP, in order that they stand out a bit within the USB mic world).
In case you’re seeking to take your music or podcast to the next stage, however you’ve an all-digital setup and may’t use XLR mics, the Sennheiser MK four Digital is totally well worth the worth. It will get you fairly near XLR high quality, and nabs our Editors’ Selection within the course of.