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)
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
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 the early 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 mics!)
Tech Spec for the current MD_421_II_GB
Here are some sound clips of my MD421-2 in action.