It’s always seemed strange to me that the company who own Newmann in Germany, and have a big reputation in the headphone and live microphone market, have always seemed a bit under represented in the lower priced studio microphone marketplace. The MK4 should help to correct this misconception, especially as it sells for under £200 in the UK, which makes it a very strong German manufactured contender against a lot of the competitors manufactured in China or manufactured using Chinese sourced capsules.
The Sennheiser MK4 is a condenser microphone for professional studio recording with a large 24-carat gold-plated diaphragm and, importantly, the diaphragm is manufactured in the same clean room as all high-end Sennheiser and Neumann condenser capsules.
At 485 grams in weight, the MK4 felt weighty and solid when unpacked and has a really nice retained screw holder when used without the optional elastic shock mount.
The MK4 has a fixed cardioid pattern and the on-axis frequency response is substantially flat with a very mild presence rise between 3 and 10kHz.
As always, the first test I did was with the spoken word which is a great guide to the ability of a microphone to transcribe naturally.
I found that the ideal distance between the microphone and speaker was around 5” to 6” (130 to 150cm) which gave an extremely natural recording. There is some proximity effect, which of course has its uses, but even so I would avoid close mik’ing of vocalists with the MK4. The low self noise figure makes this practical to do.
Moving on to acoustic guitar the results were favourable, with the full frequency response of the guitar evenly reproduced, especially in the low mids where muddiness in inferior microphones is often evident.
And finally, for this first part of the test, on to electric guitar. In this case my Gibson Les Paul Standard playing though a VOX combo. The first thing to say, is that this microphone can deal with very high levels of input, certainly beyond my own limits of endurance when we pushed the VOX combo hard in a small room. The MK 4 is a real gem with electric guitar capturing both the body of the sound and the full harmonics that (for me) only the Gibson can produce. For close cabinet mik’ing, it’s important to point the MK4 directly at the centre of the speaker if you want to get that raw excited sound. Things dull down quite a bit if you mike off centre.
So after I’d had my fun, it was off to Alex Eden at his superb Factory Street Studio complex where the MK4 got the chance to feature in some of his recording sessions. Here’s what Alex had to say.
Reading back through my notes written at the time of the review, I notice me remembering that this is a sub £200 microphone with a high end German build quality and a detailed uncoloured sound. It is not going to give you that larger than life tube sound but that makes the MK4 just fine for most applications, and for the project and home studio : you are getting an awful lot, for very little money; and, just like German automobiles, the MK4 is going to go on working for a very long time!