Sennheiser MK4 Mic Review

Today we're looking at the Sennheiser MK4 XLR Condenser Microphone, which is a great way to get into the Sennheiser / Neumann condenser mic ecosystem. 

For this review, I have the mic connected directly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen, with the gain set at 11:00. I have done no post processing on the audio, it is all raw, but the audio was slightly boosted in final cut pro X to simply make the audio easier to listen to.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $300.00 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Carrying/Storage Pouch
  2. Microphone
  3. Microphone Mount (5/8" & 3/8" threading)
  4. Documentation

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  3. Sensitivity: ~-32dB
  4. Self Noise: 10dBA
  5. Impedance: 50-ohms

Performance / Features

The build quality of this mic is good. I'm legitimately running out of things to say about all these mics. Most of them have an all metal body and a metal grill. This mic is no different. It has no switches for a padding or high pass / low pass, but on the bottom you'll find an XLR port. 

The frequency response is listed as 20Hz - 20kHz. This has a minor roll off beginning at 150Hz, and a much more drastic roll off beginning at 50Hz. The low-mids are flat until you hit 1kHz and it boosts 1dB with the peak at 1.5kHz which then returns to flat at 2.5kHz where it begins it's presence/treble/air boost beginning at 2.75kHz and ranging all the way up to 10kHz, where it gradually rolls off the air, where it is neutral at ~14kHz.

The overall performance of this mic is great for the price. On electric guitar, this mic sounds a bit dull because it's not over boosted anywhere, but I think fo that as a good thing when recording. On acoustic it sounded stellar with a good body and plenty of shimmer on the top. For singing it had a nice and airy tone, and on spoken word it had plenty of clarity that could be offset beautifully while utilizing the proximity effect. Additionally the off axis coloration around 90-degrees is not unpleasant like many cheaper condensers, which will yield a much better sounding recording if you're in a reverberant room. 

Pros

  • Nice, fairly subtle coloration
  • Good off axis coloration
  • Pretty hot output signal
  • Decent job at background noise rejection
  • Respectable 10dBA self noise
  • Good built quality

Cons

  • I personally don't like the look of it.
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Conclusion

This seems to be a great all purpose microphone as it worked well on everything I tested it on. I think where it really shines is on voice over. The thing I have loved about the Neumann condensers I have tested is the proximity effect. This microphone offers that buttery smooth low end that helps off set the boosts to the presence/treble/air, and it sounds stellar for that considering the price. 

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the Sennheiser MK4
US: https://amzn.to/2Jz9ims
UK: https://amzn.to/2t0Iv7k
CA: https://amzn.to/2HGDuWL
DE: https://amzn.to/2HFmBMh

Buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)
US: http://amzn.to/2vDFbzK 
UK: http://amzn.to/2w8O2f6 
CA: http://amzn.to/2wKGKfG 
DE: http://amzn.to/2hbtxsV

Razer Seiren Elite Dynamic USB Mic Review

Today we're looking at the brand new Dynamic USB Streaming Microphone from Razer, the Seiren Elite.

For the majority of this review, I was connected to my Mac, which did not have gain controls on my computer, but the gain on the microphone was set to 100%. On the windows machine, I set the computer gain to 77%, and the microphones gain to around 25%. The audio was then boosted in post, which is notated in the lower third on the video.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $200.00 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Microphone
  2. Desktop Stand
  3. Windscreen
  4. 3m Braided Cable
  5. Documentation

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  3. Max SPL: 120dB
  4. Features: Analog/Digital Limiter
  5. Bit-Depth: 16-Bit
  6. Sample Rate: 48kHz

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone is good for the most part. It has a metal body coated in a rubbery paint, it has a metal grill, and the desktop stand is metal with a good amount of weight and a foam bottom to keep it from sliding around your desk. On the downside, the dials are a bit wobbly, and they have no markings to assist in determining your gain setting or headphone volume. 

The frequency response is listed as 20Hz - 20kHz. They do not provide a graph, but honestly, I don't think the graph would even help. The limiter is set so extreme that it sounds as though the audio is being overly compressed, which would affect the frequency response anyways. 

The polar pattern of this mic is standard cardioid, and did a surprisingly good job at side and rear rejection which is exactly what you want out of a microphone that will be used in a noisy environment like a gaming room. 

The overall performance of this device was a huge let down. First off, the noise floor on this thing was excessive, making all the audio sound dirty. The limiter also sounded as though the threshold was set too low, meaning it was activated too frequently, causing the recording to sound overly compressed. This mic also did not do a good job at rejecting shocks, so if you bump your desk at all, this mic picks it up, which is the last thing you'd want in a gaming microphone. Additionally, my unit had so much hiss in the headphone amp that it was almost deafening (I will be replacing this mic to determine if the headphone amp in another device is better). 

Pros

  • Plug and play
  • Good job at background noise rejection
  • Has zero latency monitoring
  • Offers a limiter

Cons

  • Expensive for what you're getting
  • Unable to turn off or adjust the limiter
  • Can't turn off or adjust the mix of the 0 latency monitoring
  • The noise floor on this thing is too loud
  • Little to no shock absorption
  • The headphone amp (in my unit) was insanely noisy

Conclusion

I do not recommend this microphone at all. On paper, it's a nearly perfect streaming microphone, but in practice or execution it did not meet any expectations. So although I do not think you should buy this, I will be keeping my eye on Razer for the next iteration of this microphone to see if they improve this.

If Razer is reading this, I will give some suggestions. Please add software functions to this device to allow people to adjust the limiter's settings or turn it off. Please allow users to shut off zero latency monitoring, or at least mix between computer playback and 0 latency monitoring. Please add some kind of internal shockmount for the capsule to assist in shock absorption. Please put in a better preamp so the noise floor is not so loud in this device. However, I think you're on the right track here. I can't wait for the next iteration.  

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the Razer Seiren Elite (but are you sure?)
US: https://amzn.to/2K33ld7
UK: https://amzn.to/2jEGXLV
CA: https://amzn.to/2wlTYmP
DE: https://amzn.to/2rxGKOn

Neumann TLM 103 Review

Today we're not looking at a budget microphone, we're looking at a high end mic from Neumann, the TLM-103.

For this review, I have the mic connected directly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen), with the input gain set at approximately 10:00. I have done no post processing on the audio, it is all raw, but the audio was slightly boosted in final cut pro X to simply make the audio easier to listen to. In the review I also include a test on the Audient ID4 to see how the mic sounds through a Class A Mic Pre.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back around $1,100 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Wooden Storage Box
  2. Microphone
  3. Microphone Mount
  4. 5/8" to 3/8" Stand Adapter
  5. Documentation

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  3. Sensitivity: ~ -33dB
  4. Impedance: 50-ohms
  5. Max SPL: 138dB
  6. Self Noise: 7dBA

Performance / Features

The build quality of this microphone is what you'd expect out of a mic that exceeds $1,000. It has an all metal body that feels meticulously machined. It has a metal mesh grill that does feel a little bit weak (but it's not like this will be on stage taking abuse) and this thing has a good amount of weight coming in at 450g.

The frequency response is listed as 20Hz - 20kHz. It begins to roll off the bass frequencies at around 65 or 75Hz, and then remains flat all the way up through around 3.5kHz at which point it builds to a 4dB boost from 6kHz to 15kHz at which point it rolls off the remainder of the air hitting around -6dB at 20kHz. 

The polar pattern of this mic is cardioid. At 2kHz and 4kHz it has a fairly wide response that is almost omnidirectional but slightly quieter at 180-degreed. As a whole this thing picks up a large amount of ambient noise. 

The overall performance of this mic is excellent. The mic offers a very smooth tone, even though it has a broad boost from 4kHz - 15kHz. Additionally, this microphone has an excellent proximity effect that you can use to your benefit to beef up your voice or offset some of the boost in the presence/treble/air. The self noise of this mic is also only 7dBA, so it is quiet. This means it offers a dynamic range of 131dB which is more than you could ever need, but it's nice to have. However, it does tend to pick up a lot of ambient noise, so if you're in an untreated room, this may have a negative impact on your recordings.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 8.38.02 PM.png

Pros

  • Very smooth frequency response
  • Great proximity effect
  • Low self noise of 7dBA
  • Dynamic range of 131dB
  • Great build quality
  • Handles processing very well

Cons

  • Picks up a lot of ambient room noise
  • Very expensive

Conclusion

I was very impressed with this microphone. On the electric guitar it provided a fairly accurate representation of the guitar amp, but it added more bite and attack due to the presence & treble boost. The acoustic guitar accomplished a sound I am always looking for, a nice full body without sounding muddy or boomy with a nice shimmer on the high end and good attack from the guitar pick. For singing, this thing sounded amazing. It really cut through the mix and sat forward without sounding shrill or harsh and the smooth tone made it sound very pleasing. For spoken word the presence/treble/air boost offer great clarity, while remaining clean sounding, and then if you need a bit more bass you have the buttery proximity effect to use. 

If you're a voice over artist or a musician and you're looking for a brighter microphone that is very pleasing to listen to, this is a great option if it fits within your budget, and I'd 100% recommend it.

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the Neumann TLM103
US: https://amzn.to/2IT9gSa
UK: https://amzn.to/2upKG8m
CA: https://amzn.to/2I8Raur
DE: N/A

Buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)
US: http://amzn.to/2vDFbzK 
UK: http://amzn.to/2w8O2f6 
CA: http://amzn.to/2wKGKfG 
DE: http://amzn.to/2hbtxsV

Telefunken M81 Dynamic Mic Review

Today we're looking an awesome microphone from Telefunken, the M81.

For this review, I have the mic connected directly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen, with the gain set at 3:00. I have done no post processing on the audio, it is all raw, but the audio was slightly boosted in final cut pro X to simply make the audio easier to listen to.

If you are interested in this microphone, it will set you back $250.00 on Amazon

What's In the Box

  1. Microphone
  2. Carrying Pouch

Specifications

  1. Frequency Response: 30Hz - 18kHz
  2. Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  3. Sensitivity: ~-60dB
  4. Impedance: 250-ohms
  5. Max SPL: 140dB

Performance / Features

The build quality of this mic is outstanding. It has a great feeling machined metal body that has a really good amount of weight to it, which feels nice in the hand. It has a shiny metal mesh grill on the top which seems sturdy enough to handle the abuse of stage use. Inside the grill there is a substantial amount of foam, as well as an additional piece of foam to attempt to curb plosives.

The frequency response is listed as 30Hz - 18kHz. The frequency response on this mic has a slightly recessed mid section that helps with clarity, but avoids having a v-sound or scooped mid sound. The presence boost on this mic helps you cut through a mix, but immediately after the boost, the air frequencies are rolled off drastically to help battle shrill higher frequencies. Lastly, the low end is controlled well. It allows for some decent proximity effect without getting overly boomy or muddying up your mix.

The polar pattern of this mic is cardioid. The off axis coloration on this thing is incredible. At 90-degrees the tone is almost the exact same as at 0-degrees, just quieter. At 180-degrees the rejection is impressive as well. In my tests there was minimal keyboard noise from my Cherry MX blues, and I think would translate great to a live venue. 

The overall performance of this mic is excellent. On spoken word you're getting great clarity with a nice warm sound even with the slight mid-cut while the low end allows you to utilize the proximity effect without ruining a recording. One draw back to this mic is that it did not handle plosives well at all. Therefore if you plan on using this mic on a singer, you may want to add an additional windscreen. The company states that this mic is a great option for taming brighter vocals and guitar tones and for fattening up percussion, horns, and thinner sounding sources. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.41.19 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.41.27 PM.png

Pros

  • Amazing off-axis coloration
  • Great rear-rejection
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Decent job with handling noise

Cons

  • Did not handle plosives that well
  • A bit expensive in comparison to other handheld dynamics

Conclusion

I think this is a great mic to have in your live mic locker. When comparing this to the industry standard SM58, the slight mid cut and the less prominent low end makes for better clarity in singing/guitar, as well as offering a more forgiving sound for performers with less than optimal microphone technique. The presence boost will also help stick through a mix, and the air roll off will keep the harshness from overwhelming your mix. If you're just looking for a new tone to add to your live sound, I think this would be a great option.

If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP. 

Buy the Telefunken M81
US: http://amzn.to/2FE7Tcj
UK: http://amzn.to/2FYio9G
CA: http://amzn.to/2FD6YIQ
DE: http://amzn.to/2IufmZd

Buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)
US: http://amzn.to/2vDFbzK 
UK: http://amzn.to/2w8O2f6 
CA: http://amzn.to/2wKGKfG 
DE: http://amzn.to/2hbtxsV