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sennheiser 421 Old vs New (u-5 vs MkII) Dynamic Microphones
Old 21st January 2003
  #1
Gear Head
 

sennheiser 421 Old vs New (u-5 vs MkII)

Ok, lets cut to the chase, is their a difference between the two? Some people say one sounds better than the other. What do you think?




john
Old 21st January 2003
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

The new ones are brighter and perhaps a bit harsh as a result. I prefer the new ones. If I put one up on something and it seems bright I just roll it off.
Old 21st January 2003
  #3
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
The original MD421 gets my vote.
It has a richer; fuller sound to my ears.
I own quite a few MD421s and one MD421MKII.
I never reach for the MD421MKII first.
And I never pair up the MKII with any of the older models,
they don't sonically match.
Old 21st January 2003
  #4
Gear Addict
 
Curious G's Avatar
 

My u5's (1989 era) have the 5 position switch... can anyone elaborate on the variable position switch? Is this on any particular models, like the old grey versions? Have the clips always sucked? LOL
Old 21st January 2003
  #5
Gear Head
 

Wait, whats the difference between Grey and Black u5?

What is the difference between the grey 421's and the Black u-5s? Are all the u-5's black? Im very lost. Thanks



john
Old 21st January 2003
  #6
Han
Lives for gear
 

""Have the clips always sucked? LOL""

Yes, and they still suck!
I make my own clips, all you need is an old Radio Shack (SM type) clip, a saw and a file.
Old 21st January 2003
  #7
I love the new MD421 II. After countless hours of experimentation and access to a ton of gear I use it in three places.

1) Close guitar amps. This is my preference, and usually combined with a Royer 121 or 122 pulled a little further back.

2) Close kick drum. Combined with a Soundelux U195 in fat mode on the outside of the drum.

3) Vocals. I combine it with any variation of LD condensers. The 421 gets sent to a distressor on an extreme dist setting. When combined with the regular LD condenser which usually goes to a CS Trakker (at the same distance from the singer) it creates a whole new sound...can't describe it really, but it's spot on with the tone.

So it's always combined with something else, but it fills in the 'sonic gaps' like nothing else can.
Old 22nd January 2003
  #8
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

On a bright sounding singer like myself, the MKII really brings
out the sssibilance...
Presently using the copycat-like (sleeper) Beyer Soundstar X1N.
Warmer and fatter than the lo-fat MKII.
Hadn't had the chance yet to A/B it directly with "non-MKII's",
although the Soundstar has a narrower cardiod pattern than any of the 421's.

Chris
Old 22nd January 2003
  #9
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by slipperman
Original grey 421's stomp all over anything else in this range. Newer black 421's are close but no cigar. 421 MKII is proof that if you let people screw with stuff they will eventually find a way to foul it up. They have an irritating 'mosquito' quality to them that drives me up the wall on distorted guitars. Fine for toms in most cases.
Just outta curiousity, which vintage of 421 are being used on the toms at your place right now? They sounded mighty fat last night, then again the 9098 EQ ain't hurtin' things either...

I've got a pair of 421-U5's and wish I had two more. If I can't find one's that aren't beat to **** I'll probably get a pair of the MkII's.
Old 22nd January 2003
  #10
Quote:
Originally posted by slipperman
421 MKII is proof that if you let people screw with stuff they will eventually find a way to foul it up. They have an irritating 'mosquito' quality to them that drives me up the wall on distorted guitars.
The 421 II sounds like instant Social D circa 1996....I haven't heard the originals, but it sounds like it may be best to expect them as a different mic all together. Anybody know what changed in the circuitry between the old and the new?
Old 22nd January 2003
  #11
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

Yes, the changes include the following;

1) Coils are now aluminum instead of copper.
2) The magnet is neodynium.
3) Narrower humbucking coil.
4) Lead slug attached to capsule to reduce handling noise.

Chris
Old 27th January 2003
  #12
Gear Nut
 
jagarinec's Avatar
 

there are a lot of different types of the grey MDs.

MD421
MD421-N
MD421-2 (NOT the MkII)
MD421/2 (NOT the MkII)
MD421-HN

i´m not shure if the dash/slash has any importance. perhaps its only a different label for the same thing.

some of them differ slightly in dimension, so some of them are a little bit longer, some shorter with same diameter.

some of them have a switch for tone ajustment (bass roll off) by 5 steps. some have only 1 step and other no switch at all.

there are models with 3-pole tuchel connector big and 3-pole tuchel connector small and 5-pole connector small. i´ve got only one with XLR. guess it´s a newer one, but still grey. could be it was altered by the preowner.

they are all grey and have all the same ****ty clip. in lack of time don´t really know the difference in sounding. didn´t test it yet but will check it this week.

if you like i can post some pics of all different types i have. and anytime some hints to sounding. i remember i´ve got a brochure with all types and their specs. hope i´ll find it.

i think the MD421 with no further extension is the most vintage sounding. not that "crisp" as the MkII.

bye

sini

Old 27th January 2003
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by slipperman
Hello Jay. We finished drums for the record on this past thursday night, thank God.

Glad you were digging the input sounds, high praise from a tough judge. Here's what we were using(I think).
The two on the 'Slingerland' kit were standard black 421's to Chandler TG2 pre's with Massive Passive. The 2 on the 'Sonor' kit(near the glass) were MKII to Pheonix Audio with 9098Eq. I really like both the Black 421 series for toms. MKII are great on 'wet' kits like the 'Sonor'.

Best to ya buddy. See ya soon.
Hah. I got ya fooled. I'm pretty sucky as an AE. I guess what really suprised me was hearing you touch up the tuning on the Sonor kit while 'F' swapped out the snare head and then hearing the toms in control B. Damn, they didn't sound that great in the room (IMHO) lots of splat and no-tone but after the mics and EQ, Whew. Nice.

Yeah, the Sonor was very wet sounding. Personally I've never been a huge fan of pinstripe heads except in those cases where we want lots of attack and very little ring. Still, I prefer using something with a bit more tone like an Ambassador or my new favs, the Aquarian Satin Texture Coated and putting moongel on when we need less ring. Still, I realized how much my sounds suck. Now I've got a freakin' cold again and I'm tracking a new project tomorrow. Nuts. Maybe next time.

C-ya soon,
Old 29th January 2003
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
radiovoiceone's Avatar
 

I have one of the old black ones with the five position switch used as an on-air mic in the 90's at a major station.
We used these on AM and re20's on FM.
The recording rooms always used Neumanns.
I like the old 421 on my voice.
The new one sounds crispier and not as ballsy.
Yes, the clips were and still are crap.
We always had a box of extras on hand as the DJ's would grab the mic and snap 'em off regularly.
Not quite as ****ty as the clip for the 441 but pretty awful.
Some of those universal suspension mounts also work well.
Old 29th January 2003
  #15
Gear Addict
 
CrazyBeast's Avatar
 

I have a real old white one (that used to have a Telefunken badge on it) and a couple new black ones. The white one I use a lot - snare, vox, electric guit, sax, etc- the black ones I use as I would a 57 - filling in the gaps. Hard to describe the differences - just used them both a few times and they are very different.
Old 4th March 2003
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Ouch! The clips are also expensive. I picked up a 2nd-hand u5 the other week, a little bit knocked about but no serious damage (ie. the capsule) and no clip. It's costing me just under AU$100 which is roughly US$50 equivalent for a new clip.

By the way, does anyone know how to take one of these things apart? I wouldn't mind getting that ding out of the grille. Or are the contents "spring-loaded"?
Old 5th March 2003
  #17
Han
Lives for gear
 

You can make your own clips from an old SM58 type clip, like I said on page 1 of this thread. You only need a small saw and a file.

If memory serves me well, you can keep the 421 apart by removing the segir ring inside the XLR at the back. Inside the body are a couple of screws to get the head from the body.

I'm not absolutely sure, it was a long time ago.
Old 5th March 2003
  #18
Here for the gear
 

My black ones sound punchier on toms than my nice looking Telefunkens. Don't know, why this is.
Old 22nd October 2003
  #19
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andre tchmil's Avatar
 

oh yes Jagarinec.
the Brochure !
Old 22nd October 2003
  #20
Lives for gear
 
AudioGaff's Avatar
Greg Beebe at Sennheiser wrote a while ago in response to this question. He said:

"There are four significant differences between the MD421-U and MD421 II.

Easier positioning:
-The metal inner chassis has better distribution of weight.
-The bass roll-off is contour fitted to the housing making the mic shorter and more "stylish"

More durable:
-Housing is made of polyacetals: a glass composite
-Basket is hardened stainless steel

More immune to the elements:
-The acoustic components are enclosed in the inner chassis making the mic less sensitive to dusts and humidity.

Easier Servicing:
-Individual components can easily be replaced
-Self-sealing acoustic connections: no adhesive or sealing compounds.

The MD421 II does sound different. It has improved transparency, thus a more natural sound. We changed because of improved technologies. New materials and production techniques which enable us to manufacture at even closer tolerances.

Coincidentally, this was not the first time we changed the MD421. We are constantly striving to improve our products. Over the years, the MD421 has seen upgrades in the housing, output connector, basket and capsule assembly.

In my personal opinion, the MD421 II has been accepted, for the most part, as the replacement for the original. However, as you know, there are die hards who swear by the original. Interesting enough, the biggest complaint on the original was the clip. I've not receive one complaint about the clip since the redesign. I attribute this to the mic being more balanced. Now the clip pivots on the mic's fulcrum point."
Old 22nd October 2003
  #21
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littledog's Avatar
 

Sounds to me like the sonic differences between the old and new 421's are very similar to how I perceive the differences between the RE-20 and RE-27. Does that seem right to anyone else?

It certainly does seem like there is a trend to release updated versions of stuff that fall short of the original: C12, Aphex Expressor, 421, RE20/27, etc.
Old 23rd October 2003
  #22
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

The pre-MKII versions are smoother on vocals.
MKII is not a good pick for sibilant singers.

Chris
Old 23rd October 2003
  #23
Lives for gear
 
littledog's Avatar
 

What would be really funny is if Alesis started making the 3630 MkII and a bunch of people started posting that it wasn't nearly as good as the original!
Old 23rd October 2003
  #24
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andre tchmil's Avatar
 

Sounds to me as Marketing.
Of course they don't have the original model in stock anymore.
Newer is always better for a manufacturer.heh
Old 23rd October 2003
  #25
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

Like a U87 MKII-oops U87ai?
It's a Sennheiser too. heh heh

Chris
Old 26th October 2003
  #26
1484
Guest
Thanks for the info from Sennheiser themselves. Kinda like the SM 58 and Beta SM 58A. They improved the mic with hotter signal, stronger grill and improved freq response, and people still prefer the sound of the old one. I personally did not care for the SM 58 and choose a EV 257 when I did a A/B comparison. It just sounded more fuller and more acurate to what the singer sounded like.
Old 27th October 2003
  #27
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I have a gray one that I bought around 1970. The last time I compared it with a black one was around 1978. At that time they sounded pretty similar. I wonder if they lose high-end over time.
Old 27th October 2003
  #28
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

I've read that older 441's have an issue with
aging of the tantalus connections sometimes,
especially when over 10 years old.

Bob, IIRC you generally prefer SM57's, or EV 635a's, on vocals over the 421.

Is that correct?

Chris
Old 27th October 2003
  #29
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dave-G's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson
I have a gray one that I bought around 1970. The last time I compared it with a black one was around 1978. At that time they sounded pretty similar. I wonder if they lose high-end over time.
I think that may be the case. Sometime in the early 90s, I used a pair of old gray ones that they had at the Mills College CCM studio, and brought in a pair of my own black ones (U5). The difference was mostly in the high-end, where the U5s just seemed a little less rolled-off.

I wonder if over the years, the capsules may just be accumulating junk like saliva, dust and other goock that could be impeding their performance.

Perhaps in some instances that can be a pleasant effect.

-dave
Old 27th October 2003
  #30
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by chessparov
Bob, IIRC you generally prefer SM57's, or EV 635a's, on vocals over the 421.

Is that correct?

Chris
I've actually done some great vocals with a 421 but it wouldn't be my first choice because of the risk of sibilance.
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