ROAD TESTS Sennheiser MK8 Dual Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Sennheiser Australia | (02) 9910 6700 | www.sennheiser.com.au | RRP: $1069
One thing I love about my work is that I get to use some really great gear well before I often expect to. Not long ago I was looking at the Sennheiser website and reading about the new MK8 microphone and thinking about how popular the MK4 was to begin with. Not six hours later and I happened to have an MK8 sitting on my desk ready and waiting for me to test out. How good is that! Well, I’ll tell you how good it was. For those of you who own or used the popular MK4 microphone from Sennheiser, you will be glad to know that this one is a very good follow up and worthy of a product code that is twice that of the previous offering. Twice the microphone deserves twice the title.
What the MK8 brings to the table is a dual-diaphragm design that greatly broadens the range of options and polar patterns of the MK4. With five different patterns available, it works from
omni through to figure-of-eight with various degrees of cardioid shapes in between. Although not an infinitely variable selection, it doesn’t need to be. The MK8 offers users enough variety in polar pattern choices to use it
for any application that would suit a large diaphragm condenser microphone of this sort.
HEARING THE DIFFERENCE
The MK8 delivers a very clear and crisp response and sounds like a microphone of twice its price tag. A two-stage pad is in place for recording high sound pressure levels, although I didn’t
really get to make enough noise to put this to any great use. It will stand up in front of guitar amps with no worries, as up to 20 dB of gain can be reduced at this stage. A high pass filter also allows for the low-end to be rolled off at 100Hz or sharply taken out at 60Hz to further work along with the capsule’s suspension for isolating the microphone form unwanted lowend rumble. When all is said and done, this is a really nicely assembled microphone that will work in a range of applications. It is designed and built in Germany, being from Sennheiser, so you know it will last. There is never any question to their craftsmanship, that is for sure. As an all-rounder in any studio, this is a great microphone and
Audio Technica ATH-E40 In-Ear Monitor Headphones Audio-Technica | (02) 9519 0900 | www.audio-technica.com.au | RRP: $169
There has certainly been an increase in the use of wireless inear monitoring on stages just about everywhere in recent years. Improvements in technology have finally made it a more affordable option and there is little doubt to the improvement of audio quality the performer is offered compared to traditional fold back speaker setups. Enter the Audio-Technica ATH-E40 professional in-ear monitoring headphones, the latest offering from AT that delivers the goods in a number of ways.
Something that is often overlooked with in-ear solutions is the actual sound. So much emphasis is placed on look, feel and aesthetic design, that the real purpose is sometimes left to last. Remember, the purpose of this product is to allow you to hear both yourself and the rest of the band clearly on stage. So, what good is it if
the clarity isn’t there to begin with? That is where the ATHE40s start, with a pristine, clear audio reproduction. There is a definite bottom end that allows you to hear the rhythm section in its fullest, when the earbuds are correctly seated and sealed within the ear itself. This is backed by a perfectly precise mid-range and a sparkling high frequency response. At both
low levels and seriously high volumes, these buds deliver what you need to hear. As well as an on-stage option, it is easy to see how these could be an attractive option in a very different realm, as a high end solution to personal music listening from portable devices. After all, just because you are listening to music in your everyday routine, it doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable and hear with great clarity too.
FINDING YOUR FIT
Included in the package, along with the sturdy, zippered carry pouch is a selection of earbud endings in different sizes to suit each and every ear. Finding the right fit is essential to getting
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC Headphones Technical Audio Group | (02) 9519 0900 | www.audio-technica.com.au | RRP: $549
Thee MSR7NC headphones are Audio-Technica’s new active noise-cancelling variant of their MSR7 set of hi-res over-ear headphones. I’ve never had the opportunity to try headphones with active noise cancelling before – to be honest, the whole idea sounded kind of bogus to me. For those not aware of the marketing spiel, the idea is that the headphones use a microphone embedded in the ear cups to pick-up ambient noise and block it with an audio wave signal that is 180 degrees out of phase with the ambient noise. To me it sounds like one of those ideas that works in theory but in practice... not so much. wasn’t even consciously aware I HOLY MOLY… IT WORKS was hearing sounds before, but After charging the internal battery all of the low level ambient noise up for a few hours (via the included was suddenly silent. Turning active micro USB cable), I first tried mode off again, it’s like a slap in these while sitting in bed. I didn’t the face. How did I live with all think I’d be able to notice much this noise? The hum of the nearby difference between the active freeway, the sound of my own and passive modes in an already, breathing, neighbours squawking supposedly, silent environment. at their bratty kids, that faint However, the difference was akin sea shell-esque phenomenon of to someone turning off a light – I resonating frequencies rocking
PG.58 // MIXDOWN #266 // JUNE 2016
around in the cups over your ears; I turned it back on straight away.
OH YEAH, THEY MAKE SOUND TOO
Noise cancelling aside, with a frequency response of 5hz40,000hz, these cans cater for the audiophile hi-res crowd, so time
would be a great option for a home studio looking for one condenser microphone that can do it all. Seriously competitive. BY ROB GEE
HITS • Solid German build • Great range of polar patterns • Smooth low frequency roll-off
MISSES • If only for the sake of nitpicking, a better cradle could be supplied instead of the basic stand mount
tricky. Once they are in, you barely notice they are there. That said, for a pair of in-ear monitors that goes unnoticed when worn properly, these are a very good contender. They deliver plenty of volume and isolate stage noise quiet well, so all you need is a good fold back engineer to deliver a mix that is worthy of these buds and you are all set. BY ROB GEE
the fullest of the low frequency response and capturing the isolation that these in-ear monitors can offer. The E40s offer a lengthened adjustable hook to wrap over the ear, but finding the right seating for the buds to begin with is a little
to really get the most from those lossless audio files. Teaming that insane frequency response with noise cancelling makes sense really, without the intrusion of ambient noise, you can truly appreciate the rich tapestry of frequencies in a good quality recording. In my opinion one of the most intensely creative albums ever in terms of sound design is Amon Tobin’s ISAM. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times, but with the FLAC files and silence… it’s truly an experience. To my ears, the sub bass end of things could maybe do with a slight EQ bump to balance out the wealth of bright frequencies on hand, but really that’s personal preference, otherwise they sound fantastic. With an incredible battery life of ~30 hours and included airline headphone plug adapter, these cans are clearly aimed at the traveller who values good sound. I wish I had the opportunity to give these a try on a plane, I could imagine
HITS • Lightweight, unobtrusive styling • Excellent sound isolation • Big sound even at low listening levels
MISSES • A little awkward in fitting
myself just wearing them to escape the fatiguing whir of the plane and get some silence. They’re certainly on the pricier side of the headphones market, but these aren’t overpriced trendy plastic poseur cans, you get what you pay for, and sometimes it’s worth the investment. Or as Tom Haverford would say: “treat yo self.” BY MICHAEL CUSACK
HITS • Active noise cancelling..it works! • Battery life is bonkers good • Included airline adaptor, case & 2 x cords • Build quality • Balanced sound
MISSES • Fit might be a smidge tight for big heads/ears