Capturing sound for film, TV, or podcasting can present some unique challenges. Unlike audio engineers working in a studio setting, many who work in film and TV do not have the relative luxury of working in the same acoustic environment every day. Each day can mean a new location to shoot, and the miking that worked for the news report from a park on Monday won’t necessarily work for a one-on-one interview in an office on Tuesday. Any experienced audio engineer will tell you, there is no one microphone that is ideal for every setting. If you’re looking to replicate high-quality results consistently, regardless of locale and subject and without having to drag a mic locker with you from shoot to shoot, the Sennheiser K6 series is worth exploring.
When it was introduced, the K6 series broke new ground in the shotgun market by bringing Sennheiser’s reputation as one of the most respected and trusted brands in location sound equipment to the under-$500 price point. Today it is easy to walk into our SuperStore or browse online and find no shortage of shotgun mics covering a wide price range, but before the K6 series there were not many shotgun mic options for reporters, filmmakers, and film students on a budget. The quality of this system is such that, years later, even with a vast choice of shotgun mics available, many still find the K6 line a reliable, go to selection for sound capture.
At its core, the K6 series condenser microphone capsules are interchangeable with two powering modules, allowing you to attach the capsule that best fits the needs of your shoot that day. This setup allows you to bring the powering module of your choice and swap out mic capsules ranging from shotgun to lavalier and almost everything in between, providing a cost-effective solution that spans multiple mic types. If your morning shoot calls for a handheld cardioid mic, but later that afternoon you need to employ a boom-mounted shotgun mic, you only need to bring a few components from the K6 series.
The base of the K6 series is the powering modules. The K6 and the K6P perform the same basic function: providing power to the condenser capsules while serving as the mic body. Both have a standard XLR connector and include an on/off switch and bass roll-off filter.
The difference between the two is in their power source. The K6 can operate modules with either a single AA battery or 48-volt Phantom power from an external source, such as a mixer. The K6P is powered only by Phantom power and requires an external source that can provide it. While the K6 does offer more power-source versatility, it is almost 2 inches longer than the K6P because of its internal battery compartment, which is something to consider based on your setup and needs. A third option, the K6RD, features the same power sources as the K6 but with reduced sensitivity, which results in slightly decreased output in comparison.
Sennheiser produces a variety of K6 capsules that cater to your specific needs. The ME 66 is the K6’s flagship capsule, excelling at its function as a general-use shotgun for several applications. It features a highly directional polar pattern, offering off-axis noise rejection that makes it a clear choice when close-miking is not an option. Its 8.7” length makes it an excellent candidate for use on a boompole and is an excellent choice if you’re in need of a solid, multipurpose shotgun.
If you require more isolation, the ME 67 (while similar to the ME 66's sound) has a slightly longer body at 13.5”, giving it an even more pronounced and tighter pickup pattern. Although this helps in isolation, it is slightly less forgiving than the ME66 and will require you to be more on point when aiming it at the subject. While all the capsules are available separately, you can also purchase a convenient kit that pairs an ME 66 capsule with a K6 or K6P power source if you're a first-time buyer. The ME 67 is also available similarly configured with either a K6 or K6P.
The ME 64 capsule, the shortest shotgun of the family, has a more standard cardioid pattern, which provides wider pickup in comparison to the ME 66 and ME 67, but offers itself as a great tool when you're trying to record farther away from the source than is ideal. It will offer similar qualities in sound to its two longer-bodied relatives in the K6 family, but would be recommended for indoor and very controlled sound environments.
The smallest body in the K6 family is the ME 62, which uses a similar element as all the other shotgun-style choices, but features an omnidirectional polar pattern for more environmental recordings. This makes it suitable for capturing room ambience or street sounds, but most importantly, for capturing good-quality room tone to layer in ADR recording situations.
The K6 series provides a handful of close-miking options as well. The ME 65 is a handheld capsule with a supercardioid polar pattern. This tight range of pickup makes it a great choice for an on-location reporter recording dialog in a relatively noisy environment. While its body reduces handling noise, the polar pattern will try to reject off-axis pickup from ambient sources. As with all such handheld mics, just be aware that you'll really have to direct the head of the mic close to the source, or else you may not get clean dialog.
Finally, hands-free miking with a lavalier mic is also a breeze for the K6 series. You can connect a cardioid, supercardioid, or omnidirectional lavalier capsule to a K6 or K6P via a straight cable adapter, which has an insert to install microphones. You can save a little by adding these two components to a K6-series power supply if you already have it in your tool kit, rather than purchasing a brand-new MKE-style lavalier.
If you have any questions about the ME series from Sennheiser, feel free to submit a comment below. You can also speak to a B&H sales professional by visiting our SuperStore in New York City, giving us a call at 1-800-606-6969 or joining us online for a Live Chat.
I have a question about the correct microphones for what I am filming. I have recently purchased the Canon XA20 camera specifically to obtain better sound to go with my videos. I primarily use the camera to video tape sermons for our church to upload to the web or make DVDs for some members who can not always get themselves to church and do not have access to the internet. With my old video camera (Samsung MMC Plus) I was only recording with the built in stereo microphone, but with the camera 15 feet from the pulpit, I would also get all the off axis noise as well. The sanctuary is not large and I speak with out using a microphone now, but would not mind using wired lav microphone or an appropriate shot gun microphone is that is possible (in other words, wireless is not required for my needs at this time).
The other filming I am involved in of high school and college marching band field shows and street march competitions. In this situation I am either filming at a much greater distance (from the press box)or much closer (5 feet and above the band on the street) but still would like to capture the best sound possible.
And finally, considering the price of the camera, I do not have a huge budget for all the sound gear I could easily put on a wish list. What are your recommendations considering my primary uses and budget restrictions?