Tiny Desk and Sennheiser MKH-418s - why does it sound so good?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by jwnjy, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. jwnjy

    jwnjy Junior Member

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    Hi

    Very new here. I don't own a Les Paul, nor do i record...

    I came here due to the post by "yeti" in this mylespaul forum thread.
    I've been listening to a lot of Tiny Desk stuff recently and interested as to why it sounds so good.
    In fact, according to "yeti" it actually doesn't sound as good as it could due to the sound signature of the microphone used (Sennheiser MKH-418)

    Does anyone have examples of what the sound signature of the MKH-416 / 418s is actually like (or what it's cutting out/modulating) vs a "good" voice recording mic?

    Because to me, this mic produces some of the most involving vocal i've heard... - e.g. in this Lianne LaHavas Tiny Desk

    Fyi details on Tiny Desk recording setup here
     
  2. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I use 418's and 416s every day.They are a decades old design The operating principle is different from other condenser mic due to it's RF circuit. They have a thunderous bass response and a very edgy aggressive upper midrange but in a good way. Problems are high self noise and strong off axis coloration as well as a very pronounced bass lobe in the rear of the mic. having said that, there's nothing better than a 416/ 418 in many situations, I just think that for music a different mic would give better results. An MKH 50 and 30 would sound way more natural , so would a schoeps shotgun and figure 8(Now those are amazing mics) That's all. And, as you noted, the performance usually transends all that anyway. In her case it certainly does, what a great performance, thanks for posting. Also important to note is that TDCs are usually listened to on computer speakers so the inherent signature of that mic might make it sound better through the web.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  3. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    For sake of discussion I'll only talk about the 416, the 418 is a 416 with additional figure 8 capsule. Here's a few links for you. This video touches on the appeal of the 416 to Voice over artists. You get to hear it's off axis response a bit.


    Sennheiser RF shotgun mics (415, 416, 815, 816) have a reputation for "lifting" the sound source out of any environment, the 816 is still being used by most discerning location guys , even those who have long replaced their 416s for newer and better designs. What VO actors love about the 416 is that reach and rejection of unwanted sounds plus, when used up close it exhibits a character tailor-made for promotional radio and feature film trailer work, cuts through everything and has enormous heft. You asked for examples of the characteristics of a 416? Most movie trailer voice overs recorded in Hollywood over the last 30 years plus a good portion of radio promotional material fits the bill.
    What many VO actors (the emphasis is on actors here) hate about it is that it superimposes it's own character on every recording at the cost of nuances in the delivery, Just like a beta 52 or AKG D112 makes every kick drum sound similar the 416 will mess with subtleties in the delivery of a character voice.
    In a recording environment like the Tiny desk office other disadvantages become more obvious to my ears, mainly the awful off axis coloration, although the Side signal may actually help mitigate that a bit. Listen to the video you posted @ 3:41 when she talks off mic, you can hear the coloration and it's not pretty. That's how colored it picks up all off axis sounds.
    Here's a link to the Schoeps virtual showroom .
    http://www.schoeps.de/en/applications/showroom
    Go check it out and listen to what may be the best state of the art shotgun mic in use today, the Schoeps CMIT, that mic sounds so unbelievably natural at distances that greatly exceed the range of conventional studio miss with no compromise in sound quality whatsoever, and the off axis response is ruler flat.
    Neumann's RMS 191 would also be a much better choice , but remember, that's only my opinion, yours may differ.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  4. jwnjy

    jwnjy Junior Member

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    Holy Cow Yeti thanks so much!!!
    amazing exactly the education i was looking for. thanks for the detail on the coloration and on the schoeps showroom - handly little tool.
    strange choice of mic then for them... maybe will try to contact them one day to see why they chose/persisted with this mic
     
  5. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I think they chose the 418 because they had access to them, being a broadcaster and such. NPR uses Neumann U 87 Ai for their voices regardless of the voice talent. It's their sound and everybody in the network just does it, regardless of whether it's the best mic for a particular situation. I think the 418 was chosen the same way, it's a Sennheiser, it's stereo, done!
     

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