REVIEW: Sennheiser MD 435 Microphone

Sennheiser brings its well-respected MD 9235 capsule to a new price point and in wired format.

What is it?
The Sennheiser MD 435 is a cardioid pattern dynamic microphone designed for live use,

What’s great?
Robust build, great sound, practical immunity from most of the annoyances that maefest themselves at a live concert.

What’s not?
At this price, nothing at all.

The bottom line:
A great value, super-high quality live microphone.

The verdict: The Sennheiser MD 435 is a cardioid polar pattern dynamic microphone designed specifically for live applications. The microphone utilises Sennheiser’s excellent MD 9235 capsule, but in a wired format—though you can buy a MD 435 capsule for use with wireless bodies. It features a one-inch diaphragm, an aluminium-copper voice coil and the specifications are impressive—the quoted maximum SPL of 163dB at 1kHz should prove adequate for those unexpected screams, as will the 146 dB(A) dynamic range. Sennheiser supply plots for polar patterns and frequency range and the latter displays a flat curve from 100Hz to about 2KHz, with a gentle slope at the low end and a ‘lift’ of several dB around the 5kHz mark, clearly demonstrating the application to which Sennheiser expect the microphone to be put.

Sennheiser MD 435 Build quality
It’s a cliché to say something is built like a tank, but in this case it’s perfectly justified. The MD 435 is finished in a satin black, which should help it ‘melt in’ on stage and it’s weighty enough at 350g to feel good in the hand. I’ve found that a microphone that inspires confidence can really help a singer perform at their best and the Sennheiser certainly does that. I’m sure that it will survive the rigors of the road. The microphones come with a stand clip, a soft padded bag, a specification document and a pop/spit cover in a cardboard box—but most serious engineers will drop it into their microphone flight case anyway.

Sennheiser MD 435: Sound/daily use
The microphone I normally use for vocalists in a live setting is the Shure KSM9 and I was quite surprised how similar the Sennheiser sounded considering it’s a dynamic. As with most microphones, the results with different vocalists can vary, but I felt that, on my voice, the MD 435 had the edge over the Shure. The MD 435 also has the advantage of not requiring phantom power, which can bring its own challenges in venues with dodgy electrics. Compared with that old workhorse, the Shure SM58, the Sennheiser has a brighter, more full-bodied sound and is less susceptible to feedback and other unwanted noise. Here, the spring-mounted capsule helps with handling noise, while a ‘hum-compensation’ coil suppresses electromagnetic interference—I placed it next to a few of the dodgy transformers I have in the studio and it shrugged off any induction noise with ease. I took the microphone to the big orchestral concert hall at the University and ran some feedback tests—the results satisfied me that I’d have no issues with the microphone in a real concert application. As expected, the microphone displays a nice proximity boost that gets less and less pronounced as you back off on the mouth-capsule distance. Because live gigs are a bit thin on the ground just now, I used the MD 435 alongside a Korg MW-2408 hybrid mixer to broadcast a small acoustic set from a local band over Facebook live, which resulted in some nice comments about the sound from listeners. However, the MD 435 really shone when matched with my Neve 1073 preamplifier, and you could easily find a use for the Sennheiser in a studio setting if you are after the kind of mojo that something like a Shure SM7B dynamic microphone brings. The MD 435 took equalisation well, but the high frequency lift meant that all was needed was a (very) little low cut and the usual 300Hz cut for to get the voice to sit nicely amongst other instruments.

The MD 435 kicks sand in the face of feeble studio-based microphones, bringing the robustness and audio quality of Sennheiser’s high-end microphones to a new sector of users. You can buy the MD 435 capsule separately for use on one of their wireless bodies and Sennheiser say it will eventually effectively replace the MD 9235. The company also supplied a MD 445 microphone for evaluation. It’s similar in specification to the MD 435 and just as well built, but the main difference is that it is a super-cardioid design—meaning that the suppression of noise (or ‘guitarists’, as we call them) and feedback is even more pronounced than on the MD 435. It’s quite impressive how the sound drops off when moving away from on-axis—this is the microphone you’ll want for heavy metal concerts. It could also be useful when using the out-of-phase studio monitor trick with vocalists that don’t like headphones. The MD 445 capsule is also available as a separate unit for dropping on to Sennheiser’s wireless bodies.

Sennheiser MD 435/MM MD 435 microphone head
Available now – £450, $600

Sennheiser 445/MM 445 microphone head
Available now – £450, $600