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Sennheiser MKH40 vs. MKH8040 (vs. Schoeps MK4) Condenser Microphones
Old 1st May 2015
  #1
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Sennheiser MKH40 vs. MKH8040 (vs. Schoeps MK4)

I am very interested in the MKH8040. I have a pair of MKH40, which I love, except for the slight harshness in the mids.

I often don't like what the Schoeps MK4 does with transients. While the mic sounds very clean, it softens or rounds off the transients in a way that sounds slightly strange to me.

From the samples and descriptions I have heard, it seems to me that the MKH8040 would fit me very well - more clarity than the MKH40, but without the midrange hardness.

My questions:
Is this assumption correct?
Are there situation where you prefer the MKH40 over the MKH8040?

I mainly record acoustic music (folk, jazz, and classical) in a studio setting.

Last edited by Rumi; 1st May 2015 at 09:07 AM..
Old 1st May 2015
  #2
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My feeling is (it's my feeling and thus highly unreliable ) that the 8040 sounds pleasant in a similar way the schoeps does but maybe a but more detailed.
Old 1st May 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
I often don't like what the Schoeps MK4 does with transients. While the mic sounds very clean, it softens or rounds off the transients in a way that sounds slightly strange to me.
Likely to be something else in your recording or playback chain. The MK4 extends flat to 20kHz so it isn't rounding off transients.
Old 1st May 2015
  #5
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Quote:
Sorry, should have remembered that thread... Anyway, if there's anything you would like to add, feel free!
Old 1st May 2015
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Likely to be something else in your recording or playback chain. The MK4 extends flat to 20kHz so it isn't rounding off transients.
I don't get that what I'm hearing can be shown in a frequency plot. And what I described is what I'm hearing, and not necessarily the correct technical description.
Old 1st May 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
I am very interested in the MKH8040. I have a pair of MKH40, which I love, except for the slight harshness in the mids.

I often don't like what the Schoeps MK4 does with transients. While the mic sounds very clean, it softens or rounds off the transients in a way that sounds slightly strange to me.

From the samples and descriptions I have heard, it seems to me that the MKH8040 would fit me very well - more clarity than the MKH40, but without the midrange hardness.

My questions:
Is this assumption correct?
Are there situation where you prefer the MKH40 over the MKH8040?

I mainly record acoustic music (folk, jazz, and classical) in a studio setting.
I have both the MKH 40 and 8040.

You may like to read THIS ARTICLE which is an interview with the designers of the MKH 8000 series.

The 8000 series was supposed to be more "organic" and "musical", but the designers still said it was the most uncoloured mic. Sennheiser had made.
Old 1st May 2015
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
I don't get that what I'm hearing can be shown in a frequency plot.
Anything to do with transient response can be defined from the frequency response.
Quote:
And what I described is what I'm hearing, and not necessarily the correct
technical description.
So its difficult to have a discussion about what your hearing if the terminology is not correct.

There is a lot of writing in GS and on the net to do with "transients" and "speed" of microphones that is quite incorrect. Nebulous words are better than incorrect technical terms.

Do you hear warmth or softness or texture or smoothness or sweetness ...?
Old 1st May 2015
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Anything to do with transient response can be defined from the frequency response.

So its difficult to have a discussion about what your hearing if the terminology is not correct.

There is a lot of writing in GS and on the net to do with "transients" and "speed" of microphones that is quite incorrect. Nebulous words are better than incorrect technical terms.

Do you hear warmth or softness or texture or smoothness or sweetness ...?
Yes, it's the usual "dance about architecture". And to some degree it's convention what you declare as a "technical term". I do hear transients, and I feel free to talk about how I hear them, even by using terms like speed. For example, the NPNG mic preamp sounds faster to me than any preamp I know. I don't know if you could show that with slew rate curves etc., and don't really care. What is important is that I can use that characteristic to get to a certain result.

(Apropos technical terms - I had discussions with a loudspeaker manufacturer who often uses the German term "Ortung", which is a military term that means detection. The correct term for audio is "Lokalisierbarkeit" (ability to localise), since loudspeakers are not known to be able to aim and shoot at something (thank God). His reply was that he will continue to use that term, since everyone is doing it. Unfortunately, he is almost correct with that - Sengpiel being one of the rare exceptions.)

I guess we do agree that a frequency plot doesn't tell you everything about a piece of equipment's sound. Waterfall plots are a little closer, but still don't tell you what people hear. And I don't have a problem with the statement that I might hear things differently than others. At least there are people who seem to rely on how I hear things.

So, totally subjective, what I hear in the Schoeps MK4 is a nice yet slightly strange sweetness, an openness, slight softness, and this strange thing in the transients or right after the transients.
To even top the subjectivity, it sounds a bit like the old Schoeps wooden boxes look like with those round edges and the old-fashioned lettering...

When I listen to Ben's samples of the MKH40, MKH8040 and CMC6 / MK4, I clearly hear that sound in the Schoeps sample, and it's not present in the Sennheiser samples.

And BTW, there is a remark of Plush in one of those threads that describes the Schoeps MK4 in a way that seems to concur with what I hear.

Last edited by Rumi; 1st May 2015 at 04:59 PM..
Old 1st May 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I have both the MKH 40 and 8040.

You may like to read THIS ARTICLE which is an interview with the designers of the MKH 8000 series.

The 8000 series was supposed to be more "organic" and "musical", but the designers still said it was the most uncoloured mic. Sennheiser had made.
Thank you! I guess I have read that some years ago.

My main question is: Do you find the MKH8040 to replace the MKH40, or are there applications where you would rather use the MKH40 instead of the MKH8040?
And related to this: What are the applications you prefer those mics over the other usual subjects, and why?

(And maybe I should have refrained from starting this thread, and simply bought a pair of MKH8040 to conduct my own tests.)
Old 1st May 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
Thank you! I guess I have read that some years ago.

My main question is: Do you find the MKH8040 to replace the MKH40, or are there applications where you would rather use the MKH40 instead of the MKH8040?
And related to this: What are the applications you prefer those mics over the other usual subjects, and why?

(And maybe I should have refrained from starting this thread, and simply bought a pair of MKH8040 to conduct my own tests.)
If I'm recording MS I tend to use the 40 with the 30.

If I'm recording ORTF I tend to use the 8040.
Old 1st May 2015
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
If I'm recording MS I tend to use the 40 with the 30.

If I'm recording ORTF I tend to use the 8040.
Interesting, thanks! Care to say why?
Old 1st May 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
Interesting, thanks! Care to say why?
Because the 40/30 are well matched and neutral.

The 8040 works well as ORTF and are more "musical" but still neutral. My ORTF pairs tend to be either the 8040 or the Gefell M300.
Old 1st May 2015
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Because the 40/30 are well matched and neutral.

The 8040 works well as ORTF and are more "musical" but still neutral. My ORTF pairs tend to be either the 8040 or the Gefell M300.
Thank you!
Old 1st May 2015
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I found the 8040 to be more detailed than the MK4. Which BTW, is not considered one of their better caps. However, there were some situations where the amount of detail was not flattering to the ensemble. In a good hall, the 8040's were spectacular, in other situations they were replaced with MK4's.
Old 1st May 2015
  #16
There is more to a microphone response than just the frequency range. Transient or impulse response is not always measured, or visible in the frequency response or polar pattern consistency, but can vary greatly depending on the type of diaphragm material, thickness, size, tension etc. Electronics can also smear things a bit. What we see on those charts is an averaged approximation which isn't very useful. Schoeps definitely has a character, more so than MKH8040s I would say. I chose my 8040s because it seemed like it would work the best on the most sources, even if Schoeps might sound more sweet and pleasing on a good deal of them. For brass and percussive sounds, as well as full range instruments like piano and organ, the Sennheiser 8040 beats the Schoeps mk4 IMO. The main difference between the MKH40s I would say can be described as a "neutral warmth," if that means anything. Never harsh, not brutally honest, but relaxed and dynamic.
Old 1st May 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
I found the 8040 to be more detailed than the MK4. Which BTW, is not considered one of their better caps. However, there were some situations where the amount of detail was not flattering to the ensemble. In a good hall, the 8040's were spectacular, in other situations they were replaced with MK4's.
Yeah, I seem to recall a statement like "the engineers chose the Sennheiser, the musicians chose the Schoeps". Schoeps has a sweetness that people seem to like. I myself am still undecided. It's a bit like the DAV mic pre sound. Sweet, but something is not accurate. I am currently looking for detail and transparency. That might change again.

And yes, people seem to be more fond of the omnis and wide cardioids from Schoeps, and even the hypercardioid.
Old 1st May 2015
  #18
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editing the post led to a double entry.

Last edited by Rumi; 1st May 2015 at 10:29 PM..
Old 1st May 2015
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
There is more to a microphone response than just the frequency range.
Yes, thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Schoeps definitely has a character, more so than MKH8040s I would say. I chose my 8040s because it seemed like it would work the best on the most sources, even if Schoeps might sound more sweet and pleasing on a good deal of them. For brass and percussive sounds, as well as full range instruments like piano and organ, the Sennheiser 8040 beats the Schoeps mk4 IMO. The main difference between the MKH40s I would say can be described as a "neutral warmth," if that means anything. Never harsh, not brutally honest, but relaxed and dynamic.
Thank you, that's very useful info!
I am not sure if I understand your last sentence - which mics are you comparing here? Which is never harsh, not brutally honest, but relaxed and dynamic?
I would call the MKH40 neutrally warm, but it can be a bit harsh in the mids. That is more or less the only thing I don't like about them (but my pair is older, maybe newer ones have this less?).
Old 1st May 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
I found the 8040 to be more detailed than the MK4. Which BTW, is not considered one of their better caps.
By who I wonder? It's their number one seller, the most popular of all their capsules.
Microphone capsule MK*4 - Overview - SCHOEPS.de

Schoeps SDC chosen by one of the world's leading mezzos, for the vocal spots!! She could have anything she wanted.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12Vog4TZRtE

Last edited by David Spearritt; 1st May 2015 at 10:56 PM..
Old 1st May 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
By who I wonder? It's their number one seller, the most popular of all their capsules.
Microphone capsule MK*4 - Overview - SCHOEPS.de
I've heard it from several people, always with the addition that the omnis are much better. If I remeber correctly, Ivo once called the MK4 "a bit bland".
Old 1st May 2015
  #22
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Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
There is more to a microphone response than just the frequency range. Transient or impulse response is not always measured, or visible in the frequency response or polar pattern consistency, but can vary greatly depending on the type of diaphragm material, thickness, size, tension etc. Electronics can also smear things a bit. What we see on those charts is an averaged approximation which isn't very useful.
A system end to end frequency response describes the transient response accurately. The world knows this, it is well researched, documented and published.

What isn't useful, is the use of misunderstood objective technical terms to describe subjective feelings about sound and equipment.
Old 1st May 2015
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
There is more to a microphone response than just the frequency range. Transient or impulse response is not always measured, or visible in the frequency response or polar pattern consistency, but can vary greatly depending on the type of diaphragm material, thickness, size, tension etc.
Transient or impulse response is seldom published and of course it can not bee seen in a FR graph or polar pattern.

That said the design details you mention will affect FR, PR and IR.

Quote:
Electronics can also smear things a bit.
How do you define smear in electronics?

Quote:
What we see on those charts is an averaged approximation which isn't very useful.
Sometimes, sometimes not. I measure to 1/48dB/oct resolution and quality mics are usually smooth and fine.
Old 1st May 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
A system end to end frequency response describes the transient response accurately. The world knows this, it is well researched, documented and published.

What isn't useful, is the use of misunderstood objective technical terms to describe subjective feelings about sound and equipment.
Agree, with the exception of significant nonlinearities (ie. compression, distortion).
Old 2nd May 2015
  #25
Quote:
Which is never harsh, not brutally honest, but relaxed and dynamic?
The MKH8040.

As for the witch hunt:

Quote:
A system end to end frequency response describes the transient response accurately. The world knows this, it is well researched, documented and published.
Of course it is, but it cannot be drawn on a single line graph only showing dB and frequency. You would need a much more detailed view to see a time overlap of frequencies to judge the impulse response of the capsule.
Old 2nd May 2015
  #26
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In the end it's a philosophical question whether science is a more or less successful and more or less complete attempt to describe reality, or if it has some sort of capacity to define reality. It is not a given fact that a list of attributes constitutes an object (to paraphrase Hegel's criticism of Aristotle).

May we stick to the questions I posed:

Do you find the MKH8040 to be able to simply replace the MKH40, or are there applications where you would rather use the MKH40 instead of the MKH8040?
And related to this: What are the applications you prefer those mics over the other usual subjects, and why?
Old 2nd May 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The MKH8040.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post

witch hunt
The slightly less philosophical response...
Old 2nd May 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Because the 40/30 are well matched and neutral.

The 8040 works well as ORTF and are more "musical" but still neutral. My ORTF pairs tend to be either the 8040 or the Gefell M300.
Hey John,

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but since you're an M300 user....could you offer any comments about how they compare with the 8040s, in terms of timbre and performance and all? I have a pair of the M300s and find a lot to like about them, but I wonder if the 8040s might provide some alternative nuances.
Old 2nd May 2015
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The MKH8040.

As for the witch hunt:



Of course it is, but it cannot be drawn on a single line graph only showing dB and frequency. You would need a much more detailed view to see a time overlap of frequencies to judge the impulse response of the capsule.
Rumley, you miss the point.

Phase and time domain behaviour follows frequency responce and vice versa in linear time invariant systems.

The quirk is that mic's and speakers (ie transducers) will sooner or later enter the region of significant non-linear behaviour. That said, for quality mic's and modest SPL one can basically (mostly... sort of :-) look on it as minimum phase.

This means that a mic or speaker (or analog electronic device) with sharp highpass and lowpass functions and in band peaks and dips will always have poor phase response/impulse response/transient response (basically different name on the same phenomena of time domain performance/behaviour).

A device with extended bandwith with softer highpass and lowpass functions (first order roll off instead off fourth order for example) and ruler flat in band frequency response will have the best behaviour in the time domain.

While it's hard to "see" the IR directly you will be able to understand the approximate transient response from the frequency response.

With frequency response and phase response you can calculate impulse response. With IR you can calculate FR and PR.
Old 3rd May 2015
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCtoDaylight View Post
Hey John,

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but since you're an M300 user....could you offer any comments about how they compare with the 8040s, in terms of timbre and performance and all? I have a pair of the M300s and find a lot to like about them, but I wonder if the 8040s might provide some alternative nuances.
They are very different in concept and construction.

The MKH 8040 is an RF condenser transistor mic. with internal EQ to get the extended response (they lightly damp the capsule and then put the converse of the capsule curve in the electronics).

The M 300 is an AF condenser fet mic - uniquely, it has a ceramic capsule and optical coupling of the phantom power.

The funny thing is, that although I have both, I have never done a direct comparison and choose by feel.

The 8040 has a very extended top end (up to 50kHz) - the M 300 is slightly brighter at around 10-12kHz (max +3dB) and then rolls off.

The sound is different and I appreciate them both and I'm glad I have them both. The slight boost in the M 300 does make them useful in the diffuse field.

I hope this helps.
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