Sennheiser MD420-2

Huh. A talkback mic which comes highly recommended for “beat groups and on stage for public address” according to the Sennheiser Mikro-Revue, Sennheisers very own info zine?

The Sennheiser MD420 is not, as the proximity of the serial numbers might suggest, a smaller sibling of the MD421, but rather an improved version of the MD4-T, Sennheisers first topseller used and loved by marketenders, airline pilots and the police alike, and a rather interesting microphone. Like its predecessor it is highly directional and cancels out most of the noise of its surroundings. Unlike the MD4, which has to be used at close range – and this means really close, like 1 cm – it is a little more forgiving and will also accept input from a hand’s length away.

So, what’s with the beat band? I guess Sennheiser were thinking of the fiendish inferno of noise generated by aspiring musicians with electric guitars in the 1960s and found it very clever to offer them a supercardiod, noise-cancelling microphone with effective anti-feedback design. If it’s good enough for a subway driver, it should suffice for those anti-establishment rebels, and doubly so!

The Sennheiser MD420-2 has been the go-to solo vocal mic for the famous Hamburg subway driver shanty choir since 1971.

There are various versions of the mic, but all of them have large tuchel connectors. All versions with an added -T have a noiseless on-off switch (such as the MD420-2T), as has the Telefunken MD 420-4T (same mic as the Sennheiser). There’s also the MD420-9 which is intended for use with a large tuchel gooseneck and has a shorter body of only 8cm total, essentially the bus driver and ice hockey stadium version of the mic.

It is very lightweight with only a little over 100g, which makes it a rather nice handheld mic and easy to mount in difficult positions where there might be a lot of strain on your mic stands, such as under the snare drum, and probably still rugged enough to withstand live use after 40 years.

As for the sound – it is surprisingly pleasant! Even though it has a bass rolloff starting at 200Hz (or maybe because of that) it is perfectly usable even in the studio, for background vocals or guitar amps and carries the typical Sennheiser sound with a slight “HiFi” presence boost. If you are recording bass-heavy sources and were planning on rolling off some low-end, you might as well use this microphone, even if its frequency response is somewhat limited.

Specs!

  • Frequency range: 200 – 10,000 Hz
  • Impedance 200 Ohms
  • Pins 1 + 2: Signal, Pin 3 + body ground
Style: (4.0 / 5)
Sound: (3.0 / 5)
Uniqueness: (4.0 / 5)
Usefulness: (3.0 / 5)

Trash:Gold ratio – 1:2

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