Following on somewhat from the theme of the previous post.
Launched in 1971 as Sennheiser’s flagship dynamic the MD441 has remained in production ever since. Famous users include David Bowie, Stevie Nicks and Elton John. It is a superb example of German design and engineering, and even today has few competitors. However, a microphone of this quality does not come cheap. A new MD441-U will set you back around £650.00 !
When AKG produced the remarkable D224 (c1967) they went to great lengths with their twin capsule design to eliminate proximity effect, and create a wide, flat frequency response from 30Hz-20 kHz, regardless of distance from source. With the MD441 Sennheiser took a rather different approach. Whist the frequency response is similar to the AKG (30Hz-20kHz), Sennheiser allow the user of the MD441 to have creative control over proximity effect and also high end brilliance.
This is achieved using a five position bass roll-off switch and a 2 position brilliance switch. This provides a choice of 10 different frequency curves to suit the needs of a wide range of applications!
The Sennheiser MD441 User Manual below explains very thoroughly the operation and characteristics this extraordinary dynamic microphone.
Sennheiser MD441 Manual.
So What Does It Sound Like? CLICK HERE for a drum clip illustrating the wide frequency response, dynamic range and highly detailed transient response.
CLICK HERE for Tenor sax and clarinet.
Whether you choose heavy metal guitar at full volume, or a solo violin, a baroque recorder, or a baritone sax, the MD441 delivers! There is little to distinguish between what goes in and what comes out! It sounds remarkably natural on a wide range of acoustic instruments and the human voice. The Sennheiser MD441-U has all the subtlety normally associated with a high quality condenser combined with the smoothness and punch of a great dynamic. If I was only allowed one microphone in my ‘desert island’ studio this would probably be it!
Had been thinking about buying a second Beyer M201………. but then I saw this immaculate 1970s Revox M3500 at a bargain price!
Both manufactured by Beyerdynamic these 2 microphones would appear to be very similar….. so what is the difference?
Frequency response plot of my Revox M3500 measured at a distance of 1 metre
Frequency response plot for the Beyer M201 (Response at 1 metre is the bottom line.)
The low and mid-range frequency response is similarly flat for both mics and both mics are characterised by the same tight hypercardioid polar pattern. BUT>>>>> The high end frequency response is quite different! The Revox has a distinct presence peak at around 5khz whereas the Beyer has a gentle lift at around 10khz. (This is due to minor design differences in electronic components. )
In practical terms the difference is this :- Although these 2 mics have a very similar general character, and are often used for the same tasks, the Beyer M201 is rather more accurate whereas the Revox M3500 appears to be somewhat brighter (which may sometimes be heard as an advantage!) Either way both of these microphones are superb perfomers, especially on drums and percussion.
So why did Revox alter the HF response for the M3500? In the days of analogue tape recording, when using machines with no noise reduction facilities, it was common practice for engineers to add 3 or 4 db of boost to the incoming signal at around 4Khz whilst recording and cut by exactly the same amount during playback This had the useful effect of reducing tape hiss by 3 or 4 db whilst maintaining the flat frequency response of the recording. Cunning these old engineers! (This is of course roughly how Dolby B works, but done manually!)
The Revox M3500 was intended for use with Revox 2 track recorders such as the A77 and B77. These machines did not supply phantom power and hence the microphone needed to be a high quality dynamic. The Beyer M201 was an obvious choice, with its wide, flat frequency response and ability to handle rapid transients. Also, these machines were not blessed with any sort of built-in noise reduction or EQ facility. By redesigning the HF response of the M3500 with a boost at 4-5Khz it is my guess that Revox were simply aiming to create additional brightness in the region of tape hiss that could be reduced during playback, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio of their tape machine.
P.S. I like the M3500 so much I just bought another one!