Sennheiser’s latest dynamic duo – the MD 435 and MD 445 microphones – have the ruggedness and class to excel on stage and in the studio.
For over three-quarters of a century, Sennheiser has been at the forefront of pro audio, especially at the extremes of the signal chain: headphones and microphones. Recently, we had a chance to test drive two recent additions to their catalogue, their new MD 435 and MD 445 microphones.
Being one of the larger players in the niche field of audio manufacturing, Sennheiser has the scale to be versatile. As such, the MD 435 and 445 are microphones that meet a need that many other companies can’t — rugged, all-purpose dynamic microphones, but with a touch of sophistication.
Dynamic or moving-coil microphones have been around for a long time. In live settings, they’re pretty much essential and are largely responsible for the consistency of sound reproduction in live music. They’re not so much lauded for their sound quality as they are for their reliability.
With the MD 435, Sennheiser has delivered handsomely on the reliability front, but also on a degree of nuance rarely heard in a dynamic microphone. To achieve this, the MD 435 uses Sennheiser’s famed MD 9235 capsule.
The difference between the MD 9235 and a conventional copper coil capsule is its use of lightweight composite material. This means that the coil can move faster and offer more detailed responses across the frequency spectrum, even in unpredictable live environments. Got a loud band and a not so loud singer? The MD 435 to the rescue.
While the live applications are obvious, it’s also a boon in the studio. For vocals, it’s a clear winner, especially if you’re recording a singer who wants to maintain a lively energy (it’s designed to be handheld, so that’s also an option). And if you can get past its clear ‘vocal mic’ aesthetic, there’s a whole world of possibilities.
Take the guitar cabinet for example. Most would usually reach for the trusty SM57, but the MD 435 is a more than suitable alternative. Alongside fundamental frequencies of individual notes, the speaker inside a guitar cabinet also outputs a series of chiming and clashing harmonics, which all make up the ‘magic’ sound of a guitar amp.
A lesser dynamic wouldn’t be detailed enough to capture these ethereal upper harmonics and complete the full picture of a guitar tone. The MD 435 does it easily, reproducing tone in a characterful yet detailed way.
The MD 445 is similarly innovative but in a different way. It features an all-new aluminium-copper voice coil, yet chiefest among this new mic’s features is its super-cardioid polar pattern. Sennheiser is quick to spruik (and rightly so) it’s capabilities in the live arena — its polar pattern blocks out off-axis sound very effectively, meaning that the potential for feedback from wedges is greatly reduced.
But its sensitivity and directionality also make it handy around the studio. The drum kit is home to many classics from the dynamic family; this focused and robust mic can handle many duties around the kit. Part of the challenge of miking the kit is not only the sounds you intend to capture, but the ones you wish to avoid. This is where the MD 445 comes into its own.
One of these perennial challenges, for example, is capturing the snare without being completely washed out by an unruly hi-hat. With some finessing, the MD 445 handles not only the spill, but also the hefty task of capturing the complexity of the snare with its sharp transient and full-bodied sustain. On the toms, it performs equally as well, with enough sensitivity to ensure the full richness of the tom’s sustain is represented, without getting an earful of the rest of the kit.
With the MD 435 and MD 445, Sennheiser has done something different by building a pair of mics that are genuinely versatile and sophisticated both on the stage and in the studio. Yet, they also represent the finest traditions of the company — rugged, professional and understated. If they continue to provide products that allow musicians and engineers the opportunity to perform at the top of their game, no doubt future generations will be toasting Sennheiser in another 75 years’ time.