Sennheiser MK 4 and MK 8 Review

With a price tag of $699.00, the Sennheiser MK8 is among the more impressive of Sennheiser’s less expensive range of microphones. Sort of a “pro-sumer” solution, this microphone is perfect for project studios right along with professional studios. It’s versatile, clean, pretty darn neutral for the most part and it fared very well with more expensive competitors and counterparts.

The MK8 is a truly accessible and versatile solution for both professional users, as well as those with personal and project studios. Like most of Sennheiser’s gear, the MK 8 is designed and built in Germany. The handsomely designed MK8 offers five pattern choices: super cardioid, cardioid, figure 8, wide cardioid, and omnidirectional. All of which perform as should be expected. It also offers two levels of input padding at -10dB and -20dB, as well as two choices of low-cut filtering at 60Hz / 18dB per octave or 100Hz / 6dB per octave.

Sennheiser MK8With a dual large diaphragm (two 24-karat gold-plated 1-inch diaphragms) and a 20 Hz-20 kHz frequency response, the MK8 picks up all the frequencies that a human is capable of hearing. The detail is impressive at all frequencies with clean, tight, focused lows, mids, and highs. And while it remains a very neutral microphone, it possesses a slight boost at around 10 kHz which I find extremely pleasing and useful. The MK8 is clear. The boost at 10 kHz is just enough to brighten the vocal or instrument, without becoming obnoxious and jarring, but rather pleasantly soothing. I used it to record vocal, acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, mandolin and percussion.

Recording vocals on the MK8 was a blast. I recorded both male and female voices. Vocals sounded neutral, warm, with an emphasis on the high-mid frequencies. I ran it through an Avalon VT-737 channel strip, but basically left the signal alone as it sat into the mix pretty much perfectly on it’s own. Crisp, yet warm and full-bodied. Other than rolling off the bottom at 60Hz I left it alone. I love it when that happens.

Recording acoustic guitars, I found myself more than delighted. It handled everything I needed to handle with mic placement. I noted a little proximity effect, but instantly solved it by moving the mic to a nearby placement. I played with the different patterns and enjoyed the full range of dimensions offered by each. I liked it so much it inspired me to bust out my 12-string.  I wanted to see if it would get all of what the 12-string has to offer, and how it handles this complex sound. I love the way this sounded and mixed. One of my clients scheduled a musician visit my studio to overdub mandolin on to a track we were working on. We all loved the result and that track made the mix.  I fell in love with this mic, right there. I like it better than my frequently used and significantly more expensive AKG 414.

I really do.

I can see the MK8 becoming my new “go to” multi-pattern, multi-purpose microphone.

The MK4 (also available in USB) is the cardioid pattern-only version of the more equipped dashboard of the MK8. Aside from the pattern choices and pad selectors available on the MK8, it has all the same great features and construction. At a very affordable $299.00, this mic is a “must-have mic” for project studios. It sure does a lot. I used this microphone in conjunction with its big brother (MK8) to record some of the acoustic instruments in my sessions—the MK4 at the lower bout behind the bridge, and the MK8 at the 12th fret, where I auditioned the effects of the different available patterns. This proved to be a wonderful solution, producing an extremely pleasing result. I used it for percussions including kit (room mic), metallic bright percussions, as well as instruments with low-mid-high tones and overtones. Occasionally, I found myself—maybe—notching attenuations in the lower mids, but, again,  most of the job could be done simply through mic placement. It proved to be a super-cool vocal mic, too.

Both of these microphones are outstanding values and a sheer treat to play and work with.

Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, producer, editorialist, artist, activist and music fan. He still plays every day.

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