On the earth of high-end microphones, the type which might be used for recording industrial music, the Neumann model is famous. The Berlin-based firm was based in 1928 and has been making microphones just like the U-87 which were used to seize among the most iconic performances of the previous half-century. Neumann makes very good condenser microphones that may decide up the sound of a mouse scratching its nostril from 100 meters away.
Nonetheless, some individuals could not know that Neumann has been owned by Sennheiser since 1991. Sennheiser has a status for making among the most interesting headphones and wi-fi microphones. Whenever you purchase Sennheiser, you recognize precisely the type of high quality you’re going to get and the type of sound that the corporate’s merchandise can ship. I’ve used Sennheiser headphones for the previous 40 years and they’re nonetheless among the hardest sporting and best-quality headphones for studio and broadcasting use.
With this in thoughts, I believed I’d discover out what Sennheiser’s personal condenser microphones have been like, simply to see if they’re well worth the cash or would it not be higher to pay a premium to improve to a Neumann TLM 103? Sennheiser doesn’t have the identical degree of brand name recognition on the subject of condenser microphones, however I figured that as Sennheiser has owned Neumann for 30 years, among the magic will need to have rubbed off onto Sennheiser’s personal condenser microphones.
For this assessment, I selected the Sennheiser MK4 to check. It’s an reasonably priced, large-diaphragm, condenser microphone that includes a one-inch, gold-plated diaphragm and a cardioid pickup polar sample. It’s a great microphone for capturing vocal performances, whether or not that be singing or studying a script for a voice over.
Condenser microphones are extremely delicate and are greatest suited to studio use or in an area that’s been acoustically handled. Acoustic remedy might be one thing so simple as a room draped with blankets and quilts or it is also a professionally designed sound sales space with acoustic foam tiles on the wall. For anybody eager to make a podcast or document interviews on location, a dynamic microphone with decrease sensitivity and the power to display screen out background sounds will most likely be a more sensible choice than a condenser microphone.
Condenser microphones can decide up each reverberation and echo in a room that hasn’t been acoustically handled. By the way, my present favourite dynamic microphone for podcasting is the wonderful Shure MV7, an XLR/USB microphone that may work wonders on most voices and is right to be used in tough acoustic environments.
The Sennheiser MK4 excels at capturing delicate vocals in a track or the total colour and timbre of a narrator’s voice. It’s so clear, the listener may nearly really feel they’re in the identical room because the individual talking or singing. I examined the MK4 with a Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD USB audio interface. In contrast to USB podcasting microphones, the MK4 has an analog connection that makes use of the trade customary XLR connection and desires 48V of phantom energy to work.
The phantom energy is required as a result of condenser capsules require a little bit of juice to get them working correctly, whereas dynamic microphones don’t. An USB audio interface can present phantom energy after which turns the MK4’s sign right into a digital audio stream that may be recorded on a pc. The Behringer interface is a price range mannequin with simply two XLR inputs and retails for round $100. It’s potential to spend far more on an interface and, with a microphone just like the Sennheiser MK4, I feel it might be value spending additional to get a quieter microphone preamp that may seize each final drop of character from a very good condenser microphone. That mentioned, the Behringer interface I used did a wonderful job and can be sufficient for many individuals’s wants.
The MK4 is a superbly crafted and made in Germany. It encompasses a full-metal housing and has the identical heft and construct high quality you get with a Neumann microphone. It’s completed in a silver-gold shade and the grille that protects the capsule is sprayed matt black. It’s potential to see the gold-plated capsule via the grille. By the way, the capsule isn’t created from 24-carat gold for aesthetic causes; gold impacts the sound high quality as a result of it’s such a very good conductor plus it doesn’t corrode over time.
The capsule is shock-mounted to guard it from choosing up undesirable vibrations. Sennheiser additionally sells an MKS4 shock mount for mounting the microphone on which might then be hooked up to a increase arm or microphone stand. The MKS4 shock mount is superbly made and matches the look of the microphone completely.
The Sennheiser MK4 can deal with sound pressures as much as 140 dB and it has a really low self-noise of simply 10 dB, which suggests it generates no noticeable hiss or interference whereas in use. That is one sturdy microphone, though, like most condenser microphones it’s nonetheless a fragile mechanism and deserves to be dealt with with care.
The very first thing I observed concerning the MK4 was its unbelievable sensitivity ranges in comparison with most dynamic or USB-based condenser microphones. The MK4 can seize the smallest of sounds. For instance, it may simply decide up the faint whisper of the exhausting drive spinning in my iMac on the opposite aspect of the room. As I’ve mentioned, this can be a microphone that deserves for use in an acoustically handled atmosphere as a result of it may well and can decide up every thing. The cardioid polar pickup sample is efficient even when addressed straight reasonably than from the aspect. The capsule could be very forgiving of plosives, these popping noises created when spoken near a microphone. I used to be in a position to document vocals work at pretty shut quarters without having a foam windshield or perhaps a pop filter.
Even though the MK4 can address loud noises, I wouldn’t counsel this microphone as the perfect mannequin for recording loud devices like electrical guitars and basses; I feel it’s far too subtle for that. The MK4’s efficiency is ethereal and large; it may well actually shine and decide up the tiniest nuance in a voice. The proximity impact is a phenomenon whereby the bass response of a microphone will increase the nearer you deliver the sound supply to it. This works to nice benefit with the MK4 and a close-mic recording can actually deliver out the depth and richness in a voice. In case you ever thought your voice sounded skinny or weak when recorded, attempt utilizing an MK4 shut up and chances are you’ll be stunned simply how good you possibly can sound. This microphone can do nearly anybody’s voice a favor.
Though it excels in an expert studio, the MK4 can be utilized in a makeshift recording area, simply make sure to flip off your fridge, silence any canine barking inside a half-a-mile radius and pause recording if a airplane passes overhead at 30,000 toes. I’m certain you get my drift; this can be a microphone that may decide up each nuance and tiny crack in a voice, together with the slightest scrape of a guitarist’s fingers on a fretboard. In case you’ve solely ever used a USB condenser microphone, be ready to have your socks blown off by the MK4. Sennheiser supplies a variety of worth on this microphone and it’s in a very totally different league to the $100 USB microphones which might be a preferred selection for podcasting.
For severe vocal work, in addition to capturing devices like a guitar or acoustic bass, the Sennheiser MK4 has the sensitivity and vary to deal with the quietest sound and the very loudest noise. If you wish to document music at house or if you’re an everyday broadcaster with a sound sales space, the MK4 is value each final penny and it’ll elevate your efficiency to a a lot greater degree than any price range microphone ever may. Any musician will let you know that if you’re recording at house, the lion’s share of your tools price range must go in your microphone. One thing just like the Neumann TLM 103 is taken into account a contemporary customary however I feel the Sennheiser MK4 affords an analogous character and efficiency at a extra engaging value. It simply doesn’t have the Neumann badge on it.
Verdict: There’s nothing to dislike about Sennheiser’s MK4 condenser microphone. It performs superbly and potential is ignored in favor of manufacturers with the next profile int the studio microphone market. The MK4’s construct high quality is exemplary, whereas its pickup sample is forgiving and versatile. The tone produced is wealthy and heat however with out ever sounding cloying or woolly. The graceful richness within the lows gently drifts right into a impartial and open midrange, adopted by glowing higher frequency efficiency that makes this one thing of a darkish horse. I’d actually audition it alongside a Neumann and take a blind check… chances are you’ll shock your self. For studio-based podcasts, acoustic music recording or voice overs, the Sennheiser MK4 affords distinctive worth for cash and will present years of loyal service.
Pricing: £359 / €281 / $299.95
Extra information: sennheiser.com
- Capsule: 24-carat gold- plated 1-inch diaphragm
- Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Polar Sample: Cardioid
- Energy provide: 48 V phantom powering (P48)
- Present consumption: 3.1 mA
- Dynamic vary: 130 dB
- Sensitivity: -32 dB
- Most sound strain degree: 140 dB
- Self noise: 10 dBA
- Impedance: 50 Ω
- Minimal terminating impedance: 1,000 Ω
- Weight: 485 g
- Dimensions: 160 x 57 mm (L x D)