Sennheiser MD421

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Mustang Martigan
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Sennheiser MD421

Post by Mustang Martigan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:48 pm

I'm in the market for a kick mic for hard/heavy rock. I originally was looking at the vintage Sennheiser MD 421 U4/U5; it's always my favorite sounding in those YouTube kick mic shootouts. However, I've never heard it in person. A local rental store has one of the new models (U-mkII), but I've read that these newer ones are brighter than the vintage ones. Is it true that the only difference between the U4 and U5 is that one came with a clip. Speaking of the clip, I've read some concerning info on this clip. Most notably that it is barely functional. Is there a workaround for this clip (to make it more functional)?

There was a '70s U4 on reverb.com recently, for around $240-300, but I waited too long and it sold. I was hesitant to buy it because I read an article with a Sennheiser who talked about vintage parts becoming hard to find these days. This, along with the fave that I've never heard one of the vintage models with my own ears was disconcerting to me. I also have trust issues when buying a mic online from someone I've never met...especially when he didn't accept refunds.

I've been doing a ton of research on the MD421 and a reoccurring topic that comes up is the Ty Ford review. After searching for quite a while, I finally found the link to his review, but it's a ftp site with a password:
ftp://ftp.jagunet.com/pub/users/tford/A ... 21_II.txt . Would anyone be willing to share it with me so I can read what he has to say; I'm extremely interested.

I've noticed a decent amount of newer kick mics that are fairly cheap and sound decent in those YouTube shootouts. Most notably the PG58, ATM 25/LE and the Heil PR40. Some of these cheaper newer mics are EQ'd for a top heavy metal sound, which is a complete turn off to me. I used to own a D112 a while back, but it was too boomy for my taste, even though it's an industry standard...maybe I was just inexperienced at the time.

I'm creating this thread to get some suggestions on kick mics I might like based on the criteria mentioned above. Looking forward to hearing your opinions.


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-Adam

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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:47 pm

Swapped out my D112 for Senn e602 a while back and was just floored by the difference. Super flexible placement-wise, takes eq really well. I feel like you can get a lot of different kick drum sounds out of it and they all sound good.

Liking the D112 better for bass cab now.
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Post by jimjazzdad » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:43 am

The MD421 is a very versatile mic. I am not a drummer but I purchased mine from a drummer and he used it for years. Great on kick and toms. Also works very well on brass, even on voice. Mine is the original U5 version but I believe that the MK II was the result of a change in manufacturing methods and is very subtly different - no reason to avoid it if you find one for a good price. I paid CDN $300 for mine and I have seen them on CL, Kijiji, etc for less. Hang in there.
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Post by Mustang Martigan » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:33 am

Snarl 12/8 wrote:Swapped out my D112 for Senn e602 a while back and was just floored by the difference. Super flexible placement-wise, takes eq really well. I feel like you can get a lot of different kick drum sounds out of it and they all sound good.

Liking the D112 better for bass cab now.
Over on Gearslutz one of the posters was saying how the:

"421's don't go very low, but that can be a boon with metal, especially on fast kick drum runs where too much sub can end up mushy."

I'm still waiting to hear back from him, cuz I was wondering if he was talking about double bass, which I'm not a fan of and barely play. I do play fast punk rock stuff occasionally, but I'm not sure if that's what he was talking about. I'm also not sure if he's referring to the newer 421's which have a reputation for being brighter than the vintage models.

I wish the rental place by me had the e602 so I could try it out. They only have the e609, which I believe is a guitar cab mic. That does me no good. I like the idea of the e602 because it's not pre-Eq'd for the kick.

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Post by Mustang Martigan » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:35 am

jimjazzdad wrote:The MD421 is a very versatile mic. I am not a drummer but I purchased mine from a drummer and he used it for years. Great on kick and toms. Also works very well on brass, even on voice. Mine is the original U5 version but I believe that the MK II was the result of a change in manufacturing methods and is very subtly different - no reason to avoid it if you find one for a good price. I paid CDN $300 for mine and I have seen them on CL, Kijiji, etc for less. Hang in there.
Snarl 12/8 wrote:Swapped out my D112 for Senn e602 a while back and was just floored by the difference. Super flexible placement-wise, takes eq really well. I feel like you can get a lot of different kick drum sounds out of it and they all sound good.

Liking the D112 better for bass cab now.
Over on Gearslutz one of the posters was saying how the:

"421's don't go very low, but that can be a boon with metal, especially on fast kick drum runs where too much sub can end up mushy."

I'm not sure if he's referring to the new or original model. Do you find this to be true

I'm still waiting to hear back from him, cuz I was wondering if he was talking about double bass, which I'm not a fan of and barely play. I do play fast punk rock stuff occasionally, but I'm not sure if that's what he was talking about.

I wish the rental place by me had the e602 so I could try it out. They only have the e609, which I believe is a guitar cab mic. That does me no good. I like the idea of the e602 because it's not pre-Eq'd for the kick.

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Post by Mustang Martigan » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:57 am

Oh ya, one more question about the Sennheiser e602. Is the e602 OOP? Everytime I search for it all I find is the e602 II. What's the difference? From what I've read the original e602 is superior. Do you have to buy it used these days?

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Post by vvv » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:02 am

On Snarl's and others' reco I bought the E602 and haven't looked back - it really is quite good and altho' it is pre-EQ'd, it is not as much so as the D112 and can be adjusted. I use it in the drum or at the hole, and prefer it to the D112, also. Prior to using those I was using Chinese LDC's, but after finding the E602 I haven't felt the need to change it, altho' I occasionally put an FOK (I like the Sputnik, especially) or a crotch mic in place.

I can't pass on what difference exists between the current E602 "II" and the used-only original, but I suspect not much. I should add we have two broken D112's which are newer than my 602. And also that, after his D112's broke, my drummer replaced 'em with s E602 II of his own.

I use the MD421n and the MD421 II frequently on vocals and gtr. amps. It is my understand the II is transformerless, and it sounds like it, being noticeable quicker and brighter. I find I like the "II" by itself on amps, and on BV's. I use the "n" with other mices ('57-type) on amps, but especially value it on lead vocals. It does particularly well with strong male voices and is never sibilant, where the "II" can be.

I use the 421"II" on toms, typically rack (RE320 on floor). The clips are a PITA, altho' you can cut a paper-clip so you have a "C" and place it in the slide to lock that and it works well (sometimes I'll paper-tape the mic to the mount, also). The real issue is the size and balance of the mic, but that's integral to the sound (much like the RE20-type, and certain large-ribbon mic's).

Also, see here and here for some short reviews.
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Post by joninc » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:54 am

I've tried a lot of different mics on kick and currently own

ATM 25 - nice thick full tone - i use this a lot

421 - lots of snap and attack as a "inside mic" - good for punchy stuff but you'll want an outside mic for more lows

RE20 - very flat and true - but kind of boring. it's good - just needs some eq to make me smile.

D12 - vibey and round for old school thump tones

E602 - more modern and sculpted - attack and lows.

I have also used a SM7 a few times and it's in the ballpark of the 421 and surprisingly awesome. can be really nice and punchy.

For what I do - I tend to use the ATM25 and D12 just outside the kick most of the time. If i was doing fast punk or metal i would likely opt more for 421 or sm7 inside with something outside for added lows.
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Post by vvv » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:18 pm

ATM 25, or ATM 250?

I'm curious to try the ATM 250DE ...
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Post by joninc » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:30 pm

ATM 25 - it's like a thicker sounding version of an RE20 (great on bass cabs and floor toms too)
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Post by vvv » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:37 pm

I checked it on E-Bay, only from Japan there, right now, no less than US$235 o.b.o. ...

I think I'll go Senn E902 if I need a new one.

BTW, "E602 - more modern and sculpted - attack and lows." = Exactly!
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:40 am

There's a good hack for the 421 clip that involves putting a paper clip or (better) a short length of zip tie in between the release button and the body of the mic clip. I use a zip tie and taped it to the body of the mic clip so it stays put. Basically you just want to keep the release button from being pushed or slipping (as they all seem to do at random). Jamming something between the button and the body of the clip disables the release function and the mic stays on the clip. Mine has been in place for years and it's rock solid.

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Post by eh91311 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:16 pm

If you want to hear a good kick mic demo recording, check out TapeOp'er Jesse Gimbel's kick drum mic shootout here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki3UtgNR4C0.

I thought the Sennheiser e602 had a similar amount of treble snap like the 421, but a lot more low end. If you must have a 421, you'll just have to wait and get one. The current mkII models don't have a transformer, which is probably the main reason for the change in sound between original and new. People know what the older 421's are worth, you'll have to pay a premium to get one. Main problem with vintage mics like the original 421 (and Beyer M380) is that there are no spare parts available; if it breaks, you can't get it repaired. Personally I like the e602 (original, not II) and the D112. YMMV.

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Post by jimjazzdad » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:36 am

eh91311 wrote:...If you must have a 421, you'll just have to wait and get one. The current mkII models don't have a transformer, which is probably the main reason for the change in sound between original and new. People know what the older 421's are worth, you'll have to pay a premium to get one. Main problem with vintage mics like the original 421 (and Beyer M380) is that there are no spare parts available; if it breaks, you can't get it repaired. Personally I like the e602 (original, not II) and the D112. YMMV.
I believe the transformer was only used in a few of the early MD421s that offered high or low impedance output selections (HN or HL). Most of the "MK 1" mics had no transformer, with the capsule routed directly to the output connector (M/S switch is part of the circuit) as is the case with the newer MK IIs. Of course any time you have a transformer in the path, the sound changes, but impedance matching was the intent. Sennheiser change the capsule manufacturing process for the MK II (for cost reasons) and also made some changes to the structure of the body, both of which change the sound...for better or for worse.
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Post by eh91311 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:18 am

jimjazzdad wrote:
eh91311 wrote:...If you must have a 421, you'll just have to wait and get one. The current mkII models don't have a transformer, which is probably the main reason for the change in sound between original and new. People know what the older 421's are worth, you'll have to pay a premium to get one. Main problem with vintage mics like the original 421 (and Beyer M380) is that there are no spare parts available; if it breaks, you can't get it repaired. Personally I like the e602 (original, not II) and the D112. YMMV.
I believe the transformer was only used in a few of the early MD421s that offered high or low impedance output selections (HN or HL). Most of the "MK 1" mics had no transformer, with the capsule routed directly to the output connector (M/S switch is part of the circuit) as is the case with the newer MK IIs. Of course any time you have a transformer in the path, the sound changes, but impedance matching was the intent. Sennheiser change the capsule manufacturing process for the MK II (for cost reasons) and also made some changes to the structure of the body, both of which change the sound...for better or for worse.
Thanks for the updated info on the 421.

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