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Classic mics are classic for a reason, and the Sennheiser 421 has done enough in its long history to warrant an entry into the Hall of Fame. Since its first release in 1960, the MD421 has been a fixture onstage and in professional studios all around the world. But despite its popularity, the past decades have seen several changes to the 421 mic, including to housing, connectors, and capsule assembly.
The Sennheiser MD 421-II is the latest iteration of the MD 421, continuing the model’s long and legendary tradition. It’s a large diaphragm dynamic microphone with a full-bodied cardioid pattern and a five-position bass roll-off switch on the base. The Sennheiser MD 421 is a dynamic end address microphone, meaning it needs to be aimed at the sound source in order to get the most out of its performance.
Well known for its versatility and incredible performance both in the studio and onstage, the 421 microphone is a welcome addition to any microphone cabinet. For more information on how the Sennheiser MD421 II performs, check out the review below for specs, favorite uses, and best deals.
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Min. Terminating Impedance
Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz)
2 mV/Pa +- 3 dB
The Sennheiser MD421 mic has a long and storied history in professional recording, and it’s no wonder that this mic has made such a mark on the industry. Continuing this long tradition, he Mk. II edition was released in 2002, with the intention of producing the same original sound but for a much cheaper price point.
While the affordability has certainly improved, the MD421 II does have a significant pressure boost that sets it apart from earlier editions. Many users however, have found that this presence boost is to their benefit. The MD421 II produces a more detailed sound when compared with other dynamic microphones, and offsetting the higher boost is as simple as moving a little closer to the mic.
The Sennheiser MD421 II has a distinct sound with plenty of clarity that’ll allow any instrument to cut easily through the mix. Despite its plastic casing, it’s an incredibly durable mic, and the full metal grille makes it hefty enough to survive life on the road. It’s a classic microphone for a reason, and can achieve fantastic detail with most vocals and instruments.
The Sennheiser MD421 II is designed for versatility, and performs admirably in a number of recording situations. Its five-way high pass switch allows it to offset boosts in treble and air frequencies, depending on the application. Thanks to its cardioid polar pattern, it has no problem rejecting most background noise, and it can hold its own recording vocals, voiceovers, or instruments.
Perhaps the one thing that sets the MD421 II apart from other microphones and makes it such a favorite for the live stage is the fact that it functionally has no maximum SPL. This is a common feature in many dynamic microphones, but for the MD421 II in particular it’s especially notable.
The MD421 II has been used to record sounds at 150 dB, and Sennheiser only cautions use for sound sources at 160 dB as it may cause some mechanical problems. However, 160 dB is unlikely in real world situations, meaning musicians can go as hard as they want with the MD421 II and still come away with fantastic sound and minimal distortion.
The MD421 II comes with its own microphone clip, which can be attached to an appropriate mic stand. The clip can be easily connected and disconnected by pressing a small button and sliding it in and out of an indentation on the bottom side of the microphone. However, many users have found that the clip detaches perhaps too easily, and its plastic make means that it’s not likely to hold up to rough handling.
The Sennheiser MD421 II has a five-position bass roll off switch located at the base of the microphone, right where the XLR connector plugs in. The first position is labeled ‘M’ for Music, and is the standard position with the bass roll off disengaged. You can use this to record fuller sound sources like bass guitars or floor toms. The next three settings progressively increase the bass roll off, with the fifth position (‘S’) producing the most bass roll off overall.
While Sennheiser has marketed the MD421 II as a studio microphone, where it truly shines is during live performances. It has a robustness that’s perfect for acoustic guitars, and can handle most vocal performances with plenty of detail, depth, and richness. The mic is fantastic with floor toms, picking up the bass with incredible clarity, and works equally as well on the snares, rack toms, and kick drums.
The Sennheiser MD421 II’s versatility have made it a favorite for performers in both the studio and onstage. Its clarity allows high-mids to come through perfectly, and it has no problem rejecting background stage noise, allowing for a perfect performance without distractions.
Over half a million units of the MD421 and MD421 II have been sold over the past few decades, so you can be confident that this mic is going to hold its own. The MD421 II is a Swiss Army knife of a mic, and its performance, versatility, and durability onstage and out of the studio will make it a favorite for any sound engineer. Find the best deals for the Sennheiser MD421 II Microphone here.