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Sennheiser MD 441-U, or a pair of Beyer M-160...help me choose!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Sennheiser MD 441-U, or a pair of Beyer M-160...help me choose!

Hi folks,
After exhausting myself searching for information on the Sennheiser MD 441-U and Beyer M-160, help me decide, haha!
For starters, I have about $1200 in the budget to spend for some kind of micing scheme that will enlighten my ears.
I’m thinking either one 441 or two M-160.
Here is my background:
So it’s just me in my average sounding untreated living living room, recording acoustic guitar, percussion, electric guitar, vocals, and other miscellaneous stuff.
Current gear (don’t laugh):
Shure Beta 58 (x2)
Elecrovoice 635a (x2)
2 channel Cloudlifter
Hamptone tube preamp (I built the kit)
SteinbergUR242
iPad
Nothing serious here, but still want to make it worth my while when recording. I used to have a Gefell UMT70s, but sold it. Great mic, but couldn’t justify having at at the time.
I lean towards late 50’s to early 70’s sounds. So basically like a more warm sound with some character. So what would you suggest to add to my current mic stable? Anything else?
Also, has anyone used the 441 in a stereo pair before? Maybe a bit over my budget though...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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gravyface's Avatar
Late 50s... early 70s... pretty wide gamut of sounds there.

You have a lot of dynamics. Is there a reason why you want more? M160 is a really cool mic, but more of an effects mic as it has a really distinct sound. And not as ribbon-like as you'd think. I love it on mono room, mono drum overhead, guitar cab, etc.

The MD441 doesn't get used as much (I have a pair), but I like them on vocals, snare top for brushes, snare under, toms. It has a more hi-fi sound, more condenser like.

For you, with what you're doing, I'd recommend getting a good workhorse pair of large diaphragm condensers if you need to do stereo recording, or an LDC and an SDC, to give you some flexibility.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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I'd plump for 2 (i.e. stereo) M-160s over a single 441. I have 2 and they are great but I like stereo; Stereo Room, Stereo OHs, Stereo Acoustics add something in sparse arrangements that work for me.

Tony
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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cheu78's Avatar
These are very different mics..
Both could be great indeed.. although I do feel that the 441 is more versatile (for me).. it can do basically anything.. from percussion, or snare top and bottom, ac gtrs, el gtrs, vocals (with a nice pop filter and angled a bit), used as a “faux” stereo for leslie cabinet on top, really good..

The 160 is a different beast.. very nice on el gtrs.. those funk 70ies disco strato glassy sounds.. perfect, some great engineers used them with success on OH as well as HH, probably you could even do ac gtrs..

What I’d do in your situation is try to find sone places and try them out.. and experience them yourself

If you can’t test them out or if you want them both, that’s what I’d do:

- get 1 of each and test them out.. they should come below your budget (especially if you get the 441 used, which what I’d do, from a reputable seller).

Then with the rest of that budget you can get a pair of Line Audio CM4, for some stereo sdc tasks.. great for the 12th fret on ac gtrs or OH.. or just about anything.

After that you can decide to keep them both or sell one of them to find another one or a nice LDC for vocal duties.

Another thing I’ll point out is: treat your space the best you could.. every mic will benefit from it!! It makes a huge difference!

I hope this helps,



Cheu
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by garytube View Post
I have about $1200 in the budget... I’m thinking either one 441 or two M-160.
I'm slightly confused as to how you've concluded this has to be an 'either/or' situation?

The approved Gearslutz solution is of course to get both anyway, but joking aside I think that should be quite feasible with your budget in this case.

I don't know how prices are in the USA but with €1,200 I'm fairly confident you could score all three of those mics on Reverb if you wait for some good deals, and still have some change left over. My vintage MD441-U cost me about $360 and I recently sold an M160 for somewhat less than that.

+1 on a pair of Line Audio CM4s as well for your acoustic guitar.

Last edited by James Lehmann; 2 weeks ago at 04:47 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I suppose the main reason for thinking about these mics, was that they are hypercardiod, and they seem to be good at minimizing room sound from what I have been reading. Great suggestions with Line Audio CM4, was reading about those.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann View Post

I don't know how prices are in the USA but with €1,200 I'm fairly confident you could score all three of those mics on Reverb if you wait for some good deals, and still have some change left over. My vintage MD441-U cost me about $360 and I recently sold an M160 for somewhat less than that.
For some reason, I am apprehensive on getting these used. Knowing my luck, I would get some duds. A long time ago, I rented an RE 20 that sounded awful. I swear it had to have been dropped in a mud puddle...maybe that has clouded my thinking.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by garytube View Post
For some reason, I am apprehensive on getting these used. Knowing my luck, I would get some duds. A long time ago, I rented an RE 20 that sounded awful. I swear it had to have been dropped in a mud puddle...maybe that has clouded my thinking.
Well, I grant you one might wish to be a tad more circumspect about buying specifically ribbon mics second-hand, as if they've been stored incorrectly by some muppet who doesn't know which way up to place them, then OK.

For the most part, used gear sites these days offer a fair degree of recourse if there's obvious dud in the system. Not like the 'good' old days pre-internet where you met some dodgy dude in a car park/train station and handed over a brown envelope full of loot and then quickly found their phone was disconnected when you call later to say the mic no work!

But this is a whole other discussion really.

Line Audio mics are cheap enough that you really just ought to buy a pair anyway!
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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IMHO another good path, would be a pair of Roswell Mini K47's for some vintage vibe, then spend the re$t on room treatment.
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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toledo3's Avatar
 

441 is in the top 5 greatest mics of all time, to me. It is just arguably best in its class (moving coil dynamics), aside from maybe some obscure stuff...but the 441 has been on so many records that it is instantly familiar.

The one thing in regards to the original post, is that it would not be something I would think of for drum overhead because of the tight pattern, though it might be fine to really nice. It makes for one of the absolute best close drum mics though.

I LOVE it on many vocals, any type of guitar, percussion, etc. Have used a couple on piano once and it sounded killer... tight pattern did not hurt it at all, and great overall frequency response.

When I read clone mic threads around here I often think of classic dynamics like this - old studio standards - and feel like many would be way less frustrated if they started there. Though it does depend on what is in your head as a sonic target, for sure.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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An EV 635a will be an excellent/vibey Overhead drum mic.
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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andychamp's Avatar
Both great mics.
Both hypercardioid.
Both very smooth, with the M160 slightly edgier.
The MD441 offers a bit more versatility with its switches.
If you have the possibility, do the same, whole production with each of them and then decide which mix you like better.

Last edited by andychamp; 1 week ago at 11:10 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Another option is to skip the 441 and get a Beyer M201 instead. It´s hypercardioid, too, smaller and sounds as good if not better to me than 441s. The good thing is that if it breaks it doesn´t cost you an arm and a leg to have it repaired. Beyer service is very customer friendly, the opposite of Sennheiser.
Then there´s still enough money left for a pair of M160s.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jensenmann View Post
Another option is to skip the 441 and get a Beyer M201 instead. It´s hypercardioid, too, smaller and sounds as good if not better to me than 441s. The good thing is that if it breaks it doesn´t cost you an arm and a leg to have it repaired. Beyer service is very customer friendly, the opposite of Sennheiser.
Then there´s still enough money left for a pair of M160s.
I respectfully disagree. This is obviously a matter a taste and if you prefer M201's to 441's that's good for your wallet. But as a devout 441 fanboy I have to chime in to defend it against such claims

Well, they're both great dynamics, both German, both classics, both have a narrow pick up pattern and with both mics you can be 99,9 % sure that if your snare or electric guitar doesn't sound good, it's the engineering, snare or drummer that is to blame, not the mic. Despite all that they just sound so different to my ears that they ain't that easy to compare-

Vocals being the obvious one; I never once had a 441 sound bad on a voice, while I absolutely hated the M201 TG for this the few times I tried it. Even a 57 works better for me on vocals. But are you talking about the TG or the old 201? I know my TG really well, but only had the old one in as a rental and I liked it even better than the TG on snare and electric guitar. More high mid/treble definition without being harsh.

Could imagine the 441 are good for drum OH's in XY, never tried it since I only have one.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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andychamp's Avatar
Re. 2nd-hand 441s: they rarely ever have seen any stage action, and their steep entry price usually means they‘ve been treated well by their owners.
All of my six 441/541 I bought used, and all of them were in excellent condition.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Sort of leaning toward the 441. Listening to some samples, I like the seemingly unhyped (or subdued) higher frequencies compared to a lot of the sdc sparkly, snappy top end sounds. Also when hearing samples, I hear more low mids compared to other mics. Maybe proximity effect?
Is noise an issue with these mics with quiet sources? Nothing a cloudlifter couldn’t fix?
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by garytube View Post
Sort of leaning toward the 441. Listening to some samples, I like the seemingly unhyped (or subdued) higher frequencies compared to a lot of the sdc sparkly, snappy top end sounds. Also when hearing samples, I hear more low mids compared to other mics. Maybe proximity effect?
Is noise an issue with these mics with quiet sources? Nothing a cloudlifter couldn’t fix?
Personally, I don‘t mind noise (I started out on tape), but yes, they do need more gain than the average dynamic.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Hmm, I think when I plug in a 441 into the same channel an RE20 has been in, that it is a little hotter. I don’t want to bet my life on it, but pretty sure.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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gravyface's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3 View Post
Hmm, I think when I plug in a 441 into the same channel an RE20 has been in, that it is a little hotter. I don’t want to bet my life on it, but pretty sure.
Same. I've never really noticed a gain/noise issue with the MD441.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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The Beyer ribbon mics are pretty robust, I wouldn't worry too much about buying second hand. Having said that I personally don't feel the M160 is a particularly versatile mic. It's GREAT on electric guitars, but I've never found anything else I particularly like it on. For many things and especially drums I actually prefer the M260, which was a cheaper single-ribbon mic (but be aware that some M260s have a built-in high-pass filter that can't be bypassed).
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