Audio manufacturer Sennheiser launched its first side address, large diaphragm condenser microphone during the NAMM show last January. The microphone was widely praised for its versatility, workmanship and pricepoint, which is just $299 street.
Rogers Masson at the console inside his studio.
Audio manufacturer Sennheiser launched its first side address, large diaphragm condenser microphone during the NAMM show last January. The microphone, which is manufactured in Germany and suitable for a wide range of recording and broadcast applications, was widely praised for its versatility, workmanship and pricepoint, which is just $299 street.
Recently, Rogers Masson - a Nashville-based producer / mixer / engineer - used the Sennheiser MK4 while recording a publishing demo for Josh Brown, lead singer of Grammy nominated rock band Day of Fire. Masson, who does mixing and overdub work out of his home studio dubbed the Rog Mahal, works within a wide spectrum of musical genres and has worked with everyone from The Mavericks to Marilyn Manson. For his recordings, Masson relies on an agile, DAW-based system and uses his new MK4 to record everything from lead vocals to drums to screaming electric guitars.
What were your first impressions of the Sennheiser MK4?
When I held the mic for the first time, it had a very high quality feel and the workmanship was obvious. The build quality in many other manufacturer's microphones in this price range have a lot to be desired. In this world of control surfaces, computers and automation, I miss tactile things. When I pick up something that has been made very well, I notice it. I'm not afraid to move this microphone around and handle it, because I know it's not going to break.
Tell us about your recording project with Josh Brown and in what applications you used the MK4.
We were doing a publishing demo. Josh's voice can be very loud and he generates this raspy, third order harmonic stuff that is just not great for a lot of microphones. He gets in front of the mic and really belts it out. I've never been able to put a larger diaphragm microphone on this guy but this mic took everything he threw at it. It was fantastic. I went straight into an Apogee One converter with no compression or EQ. The mic gave a very uncolored response and it was very responsive. Josh said "Wow - this sounds just like me," before I even said anything. When the artist notices a sound that way, it carries a lot of weight with me. We have access to every kind of microphone here, and the MK4 stood up to all of them and we got exactly what we needed right back out of it.
What happened next?
At that point, I wanted to try it on guitars. First, I put it in front of a really loud electric guitar, because I knew it could handle the SPLs. I had it in front of an Orange amplifier and the guitarist really cranked it out -- the MK4 really captured all the overtones without exception. It was very honest, and captured every nuance of the electric guitar. Then I tried it on a 1960s' Gibson J 45 acoustic -- the thing that I found most fascinating here was that I could move the microphone in different positions without any changes in coloration. This made it very easy to set up and get a good sound very quickly. I ended up having it just off the 12th fret, a little off axis so I could capture some nice room sounds. All in all, it had great rejection on the back and captured the J 45 very faithfully.
How about percussion or drums? How did the MK4 perform there?
I took it into the studio and put it on a floor tom, and also cut some percussion just to check it out. I ended up using it on the floor tom and thought it was just amazing. The sound was big and full and once again, the MK4 was able to handle the SPLs very well. It was a very open kind of drum track and I didn't need to gate anything. Sonically, it stood up to every other major mic that I had used on that kit - drums were one of my favorite things to record with the MK4.
What is your overall impression of the MK4 and how long did you use it for?
I used it for two months, and I think this is a very real and honest sounding mic. Time will tell, but I think the MK4 will become a go to microphone for a number of applications, similar to how the MD 421 is. I think it is a diverse microphone that will share a similar legacy in the long run. The fact that Sennheiser waited so long to introduce a side-address large diaphragm mic says a lot to the care and consideration that Sennheiser places in their product line. Especially with the build quality, the price point is great. The price makes it accessible and not out of reach for the next Rick Rubin, Bill Putnam or Al Schmitt, and that's important.