A Classic Dynamic Microphone. Sennheiser MD421 (Circa 1960)

Sennheiser MD421-2

Introduced in 1960, the Sennheiser MD421 is a robust, large diaphragm, cardioid, dynamic microphone originally designed as a general purpose tool for the German broadcasting industry. It has an excellent frequency response from 30 Hz to 17 kHz with a brightness boost at around 4-5 kHz making it perfect for speech and vocals. 55 years later the 421 is still in the Sennheiser catalogue and continues to be one of the best-selling microphones ever made!

  • Great for speech and vocals both in the studio and on stage.
  • Excellent for brass, delivering smooth full tone, and rich timbre.
  • Effortlessly handles even the loudest electric guitar.
  • Especially good on drums and percussion, producing both punch and fine detail!
  • For many engineers the 421 is the bass drum mic of choice with its ability to accurately reproduce low bass and cope with high SPLs.

Throughout the 1960’s the MD421 was adopted by recording studios and performers all over the world. Here is a review from Hi-Fi Sound (Dec 1967)

Sennheiser MD421 Review from Hi-Fi Sound Dec 1967

Sennheiser MD421-2 Side view.

The 1960’s was of course  a time of experimentation and innovation, and one unusual feature of the MD421 is that the body is made of plastic which is rare for a high quality professional microphone. Other examples I can think of (also from the 1960’s) are the AKG D202 and the D222.

In 1971 George Harrison and Ravi Shankar held their famous Concert for Bangladesh at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The stage was positively bristling with MD421s, including all of the stars’ lead vocal mics  (Eric Clapton, Ringo Star, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and Billy Preston)  Check out the video: –     https://vimeo.com/66413717

Sennheiser MD421 Script Logo

My Sennheiser MD421-2 pictured above with its rare script logo is a fine example from the early 1960’s. It still sounds as good as it ever did. In fact some say that these early MD421-2 models (which have no bass roll-off switches) sound better than the new ones!                                                                                                                       (N.B. This might just be a myth spread about by owners of old 421-2s!)

Tech Spec for the current MD_421_II_GB

Here are some sound clips of my MD421-2 in action.

CLICK HERE for Tenor Sax

CLICK HERE for Drum Kit Overhead

CLICK HERE for Bird Song.

4 responses to “A Classic Dynamic Microphone. Sennheiser MD421 (Circa 1960)

  1. The early ’60s 421s, also with their script logo, did have the bass roll-off on the DIN (connector) version, the broadcast version with Tuchel connectors did not.


  2. Many thanks for this information. That is correct and I have modified my last paragraph accordingly. You have also made me think that perhaps I ought to write a post on vintage connectors.
    It is interesting that in the UK we often refer to the small German 3 pin microphone connectors as DIN plugs and the larger ones as Tuchel. Both were types of Tuchel connector and both had DIN numbers! Klein Tuchel DIN 41524 (small) and Grosse Tuchel DIN 41624 (large). Rather like Amphenol in the States Tuchel made connectors in many different pin configurations. (Tuchel these days is a branch of Amphenol !)
    All the Best


  3. Thank you for the review!
    I am about to possibly buy two for $600 (one late seventies; the other 80’s/90’s)

    I will be lugging these around Detroit with fetheads and my Zoom H6 for street musicians and street interviews (and home recording and interviews with politicos)

    What have you done with your microphone?


    • That sounds like a good price! Good Luck with your recordings!
      I have been working on a number of Rock’n’Roll theatre shows here in the UK and have mostly used the 421 on guitar cabs, also on drums (excellent on kick) and also on trombone and tenor sax. Unfortunately at the moment all the theatres are closed. 😢


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