When Apple decided to delete the headphone/microphone jack from its popular iPhone, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth among professional users, because a professional microphone could no longer be connected to those devices to record audio. A separate microphone improves the quality of audio recordings made with any cellphone or tablet.
The end of using such devices in field acquisition? Maybe not.
Enter Sennheiser’s Handmic Digital, based upon its Evolution series. The company partnered with Apogee Digital to make the digital magic (16-/24-bit/ 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz audio) by developing a mic and software interface package. The cardioid pattern dynamic Handmic Digital offers an audio frequency response that company specifications describe as 40 Hz–16 kHz, with a noise level of -96 dBFS at minimum gain, and maximum sound pressure level of 124 dB at minimum gain.
The Handmic Digital connects to iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices with a Lightning connector. It also connects to standard USB Type A connections. At an informal SBE Chapter 1 show and tell, I connected it directly to a dual-boot Windows 10 and Android tablet running the latest version of the Audacity audio editor through a USB port. The device immediately recognized the Handmic Digital and I was able to record a quick voice track.
Apogee Digital has two apps in its App Store or on the company’s website that work with the Handmic Digital, Apogee Maestro and Apogee MetaRecorder. However, any Core Audio-compatible app, video app or recording software will work with the Handmic Digital. The device will work with any iOS device that runs Version 9 or later; any Mac OS running Version 10.7.5 or later, and any Windows device running Vista or higher.
The Handmic Digital has an advantage over other microphones in a news scrum situation, where cellphone signals can wreak havoc with non-RF blocking XLR connected microphones. Since the signal is digitized, and passes through a Lightning, USB or USB/On-the-Go (OTG) cable connection, RF from a cellphone doesn’t affect the signal.
Sennheiser includes a USB 2.0 cable and Lightning cable (both about 2 meters/6.5 feet-long) with the Handmic Digital, along with a substantial table microphone stand and carrying case. The Handmic Digital weighs 340 grams/12 ounces, and is 180 mm/7 inches-long.
If you have an iOS device with a headphone jack, Sennheiser suggests you connect those phones before you connect the Handmic Digital to your device. Once it’s connected and passing digitized audio to your device, you’ll see a red tally light light up on the front of the microphone.
Of course, Android phone users (like me) may ask, what about us? Nothing in the documentation mentioned connection to an Android device but I am told that Sennheiser is working on an Android version, possibly for summer delivery.
Paul Kaminski, CBT, is a longtime Radio World contributor and columnist and a semi-retired radio newsman. Reach his Twitter page: msrpk_com. Facebook: PKaminski2468
SENNHEISER Handmic Digital Microphone
+ No external power needed for dynamic mic
+ USB/Lightning connections resist RF from cellphones in close quarters interview situations
+ Quick recognition and connection with Windows OS
– Microphone weight may be a drawback for reporters who really want to reduce their gear
– Not for Android — yet