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I am doing podcasts and videos, and I am currently looking to upgrade my sound quality. I have my eyes on the Sennheiser MKE-2, linked here:

https://en-us.sennheiser.com/clip-on-lavalier-microphone-live-speech-instrument-mke-2

However, I know nothing about compatibility between the Sennheiser MKE-2 and MacBook Pro. I have a 2015 15" MacBook Pro, and I was wondering the following:

  1. Is the MKE-2 MacBook Compatible
  2. Is there a general adapter solution to external microphone compatibility issues on MacBooks?

Thank you.

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I fully agree with all user3052786 has said regarding the usual connectivity setup via a powered body-pack & eventually running through a USB audio interface. This is your optimum setup for mobility.

Now, I don't actually know the Sennheiser system at all [I've used the mics, but never actually been part of the rigging/setup crew] & working through their web page I'm not seeing exactly how they terminate their mics, nor how simple it would be to use one of these wired straight into a 48v USB interface.

What I am familiar with is the DPA [Danish Pro Audio, part of Brüel & Kjær] system. Their lav mics come with a proprietary 'micro-dot' termination system designed to plug directly into their own interfaces... the upside, however, is they make adaptors for just about any system you can imagine, including on to a regular XLR. This would allow you, if you needed, to plug the mic directly into your USB interface & save on the entire radio side of things.
If your presentations are seated, or 'low movement' that could be a good place to look.

The particular mic I'm thinking of is one of their 4060 range - in all colours, sizes, different SPL levels; EQ control is similar to the Sennheiser system by changing mic covers [& I'm pretty sure it was B&K who invented that system]
The DPAs used to be considerably more expensive, but I see their pricing is now very similar to the Sennheiser.

See the range of 4060 & accessories at DPA - d:screet™ 4060 Series Miniature Omnidirectional Microphone

I have no affiliation, just a happy user.

  • Without a doubt this is the perfect product. The only thing I didn't find was a USB adapter from DPA. Would it be a proprietary adapter or any old one that will plug in to the setup? – Arno Natal Jan 6 at 4:48
  • @ArnoNatal Ah, now I can confidently say the first order of business would be for you to shop for a sound card. While USB audio mics exist, you'd be hard pressed to find one comparable in sound quality to something out of a pro Sennheiser kit. You want one with a mic input providing phantom power, and from there, you can make your choice depending on how many input channels you need, how many outputs, audio formats supported (bit depth /sampling rate / sample format) and any special features you like. Microphones are analog devices. The audio interface captures this in digital format. – user3052786 Jan 6 at 5:52
  • Arno - 'any old one' really so long as it has at least "a mic input with 48v phantom" - they start at about $£€ 30 & go up to hundreds - I pulled a list pretty much at random via Google - thomann.de/gb/usb_audio_interfaces.html?oa=pra – Tetsujin Jan 6 at 9:39
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A lav mic like the one you linked to is so detached from your Mac that it really doesn't make sense to consider the compatibility between the two devices...

In a way, yes, all microphones can be made to work with your Mac, but if you were wondering if you could use one of the 1/8" terminated replacement model numbers plugged directly into the headphone jack, the answer would be a big no.

A lav usually plugs into the body pack (power feed/radio transmitter) on the wearer, used in situations where mobility is important (theatre, broadcasting, stage, etc.)

In a typical use case, you have lav → pack ⤏ (RF signal) ⤏ receiver → mixer → then the output. It usually comes part of a system comprising at least the first three components in that chain.

Between the mic and your MBP, there would have to be (at the minimum) an audio interface providing 48V phantom power. If you already have a system capable of powering a condenser mic, conceivably you might be able to order it XLR-terminated, but I don't know if Sennheiser would fill such an order.

Actually, your question made me curious and I googled around a bit, and to my surprise, did find this lav mic that looks like it would work directly plugged into the headphone jack on a MBP. It's definitely an oddball, but looks cool, apparently they use some MEMS device to make a proper condenser mic work with the limited current available from the TRRS jacks on iPhones and Macs. Maybe it would fit your requirements better.

  • Thanks, this does make sense and I understand your confusion. What matters for me is the maximal sound quality offered by the MKE-2. I've worked with it before and I am more than willing to jump through as many hoops as possible to make it happen, even if it requires an adapter for the AVX setup. However, if there is a USB mic that offers equal quality I would happily switch over without a hitch. – Arno Natal Jan 6 at 4:46
  • @ArnoNatal you've worked with it before..? At the risk of being judgemental, can I ask if you were on the crew side or the talent side of the production? Now I understand that you probably weren't expecting to be able to plug it into the headphone jack (I hope) but I just want to make sure you are aware of everything else you'll need, apart from the lav itself. – user3052786 Jan 6 at 5:18
  • Or, if you don't need the mobility of a mic pack, wiring diagrams are available from Sennheiser upon request. i.e. you could order a replacement lav open (not) terminated and put a standard XLR plug on it – with hefty strain relief! – to use with any audio interface that provides 48v phantom power. – user3052786 Jan 6 at 5:24
  • If this is the case, you might want to look at some other options before making your choice. Lav mics sound great when used in situations they are designed for, but these are very specific. For example, it will pick up all the noise made by the person being miked; this might be desirable if you want to capture the intimacy of being right next to the person, but not if the noise of, say, shuffling papers gets overwhelming. The frequency / dynamic response characteristics are not bad for voice, but I'll bet that you'll find other microphones that you'd like better for far less. – user3052786 Jan 6 at 5:37
  • Oh no, you're absolutely right that I'm from the talent side. I don't mind laying down the money for it, nor do I mind the sensitivity as these are things I can adjust for. What matters most is that the full range of my voice is captured, pitch, gravelly bass, etc. Thank you for your help! – Arno Natal Jan 6 at 7:07

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