Gearbox: Sennheiser HandMic Digital
Sennheiser HandMic Digital – Dependable Dynamic for iOS
By Jason Allen.
Latest in a string of Sennheiser products for recording-on-the-go, the HandMic Digital offers a hand-held dynamic cardioid for those who want to record directly to their iOS devices. It joins the lavalier versions ClipMic Digital and MKE 2 Digital, and all models leverage Apogee A/D conversion and processing.
Out of the box, you know you’re holding a real microphone, not some flimsy iOS accessory. The HandMic Digital has all of the weight and seriousness of a standard analogue dynamic, and feels just as trustworthy as an SM58. There’s a clip, case, and very solid desktop stand provided, too.
Connection to iOS is via the provided two metre microUSB-to-Lightning cable, or microUSB-to-USB. The microUSB connects to the base of the mic, and a sturdy plastic connector then bolts into the bottom of the mic, keeping everything plugged in. It does its job so effectively that its quite hard to remove when you’re done.
The mic is compatible with any app that runs on Core Audio. I installed both the Apogee Maestro control app and Apogee MetaRecorder to test the mic. Maestro lets you set input gain and turn processing on and off. Processing options include the Rumble Reducer (high-pass filter), Hiss Reducer (lo-pass filter) and Overload Eliminator. The Rumble and Hiss Reducers are quite dramatic on a cardioid dynamic, and I’d only employ them in quite extreme environments. The Overload Eliminator works exceptionally well, and I’d definitely leave it activated as it could save the day on that interview you only get one shot at.
Input monitoring is available on MetaRecorder, and introduces a very slight, but perceptible latency, though not enough to be distracting. Of course, latency will vary according to hardware, app, and settings. The mic and MetaRecorder can be set to record at 16 or 24 bit at 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 kHz.
The HandMic Digital is sonically excellent – it’s actually the Sennheiser e835 capsule on the inside. If you’ve not used an e835, to my ear, its unprocessed sound sits between a Shure SM58 and a Beta58, with very strong rejection outside of its polar pattern. This makes the HandMic Digital a great mic for shooting video in noisy locations, or outside in the wind. For reporters doing pieces to camera (phone) on the go, it’s ideal.
Like any cardioid dynamic, the person using it is going to need to use it with decent mic technique, as the response falls off exactly as it should. If the person you intend to mic can’t keep it in the right zone, you’ll be better off with an omni. But, in the right hands, the HandMic Digital produces an extremely polished result.