Sennheiser K6 by Arthur Stone
Background: Sennheiser (GmbH & Co.) is a German company founded in 1945 which designs and produces a wide range of consumer, business, and pro-audio products including mics, headphones and headsets. Subsidiaries include: Georg Neumann and K+H. The company has branches worldwide and sales are 100's of millions (Euros) a year.
This review is based on components in the K-series of professional microphones - the K-series power module to which various capsules can be attached: omni-directional, cardiod, super-cardiod, super-cardiod/lobar, and, lobar/long gun.
Hardware: The review unit is the K6 powering module which can run from battery or 48v phantom power; the ME66 microphone head which has a super-cardiod/lobar pattern. The units come supplied with a mic stand adapter and hard plastic case. The microphone head is a 'short-shotgun' type and well-engineered and finished with a anodised matt-black coating as is the power module. The head simply screws into the power module and the fit is sealed with perfect tolerance. Sennheiser describe the unit as appropriate for: reporting, film, broadcast and picking up quiet signals in noisy backgrounds - it 'discriminates' against sound outside the pick-up field. The response is flat over the 40-20,000Hz range and has low self-noise. Includes a battery on switch and an 80Hz high-pass filter.
Two recordings made with the ME66 into a Sound Devices 702 recorder:
In Use: It took me quite a while to get the hang of this - sure, it's plug in, point and record but the pattern and design can lead to phase interference if the target sound is also present outside the field. An example of this would be recording indoors (reflections from walls, or when the source has a wide-dispersion particularly with lower frequency sources. This can lead to severe phasing and it can sound crap so care must be taken with placement; but once it's in the zone the results are very good.
In the field the mic can pick-up wind noise easily so I use a Rycote Softy which improves things but really a blimp is needed for serious outdoor use (although this will cost more than the microphone!). The battery on and HPF switches are fiddly and difficult to access with cold hands or with gloves on.
I use a pistol-grip mount for the K6/ME66 and this makes it very versatile particularly for point-and-shoot stuff like recording spoken-word interviews or natural sounds with single-point sources e.g. individual insects or animals...it's not too bad for recording 'sound vistas' with many different sources. The mic is more problematic when recording e.g. waves on the beach or a river as there are many similar sources of sound which creates phase interference on the recording.
It would be fair to describe the ME66 as quite specialist but great at what it does well particularly with quite low self-noise and a large dynamic range.
Conclusion: This is the budget range of Sennheisers pro microphones and although costly this is mitigated by the ability to swap capsules and I intend to do this thus increasing the K-series value and versatility. Not sure I'd recommend it for an only mic for field applications as the design is reasonably dated now and the technology and competition offer greater flexibility in terms of cost and application. I haven't really found a good use for it in the studio but it can produce some interesting effects.
Sennheiser UK - ME 66
Sennheiser UK - K 6
Sennheiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Tapers Section - Microphone FAQ