I've hung a Sennheiser 416 with a Stedman blast screen in my studio and trying to learn how to use it. Attempts to really work the mic like I would other mics have been unsatisfactory. It's nothing like my U87, RE20, or 441.

With it placed a 5 finger spread away, above my nose and pointing down to my mouth I get satisfactory results. Direct on, it seems to overload at that distance. BTW - This has been all straight read stuff I've been practicing with so far; no high energy, yet.

Any suggestions?

While probably not relevant, I'm testing with a Fearn VT1 and a Daking Mic Pre One.

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The best technique you can do with the Sennheiser 416?

Burn it.


I read that before I bought the 416 and have to say it's not a U87. It certain does have value for reproducibility and minimizing the influence of the recording room on the audio quality. YUP! In some cases a U87 can suck! because it hears so well.

That said, many in the industry are in love with the 416, so even with 40+ years behind the microphone - who am I to argue?

Thanks for the response, but I'd really appreciate tips on how to work this tool.

Though I am no authority on the 416, However, it is my mic of choice. "The Ramblings of Some Audio Guy" blogged about a few times... maybe you can find your answer here.
Thanks Zurek, I'd already read that blog before I bought the 416. It doesn't have the information I'm looking for.

Actually, I don't know how this thread landed in the beginner's forum when I would have sworn that I put it in the Studio Sessions area. Ahhhh, the Internet gremlins are at work again. :)

The sort of information I'm looking is something like: "I get best results at 12 inches and slightly off axis. When voicing plosives I wave my hand rapidly in front of my face;" or "The mic works best for me when positioned low and pointing up to my chest cavity," or "That mic commonly overloads unless you are at least 24 inches away from it." I've tried variations of all three of those positions without the sort of success I'm looking for. Maybe the mic works better with a pantyhose pop filter rather than a Stedman blast screen. ???
The best results usually come from more than 5 fingers away (or even 5 fingers tequila!) and "dead on". You basically have to be locked in front of the 416. Any "off axis" affects it. You may also want to adjust your gain if you want to get closer to the 416 and whisper or grumble or whatever effect you need! The Rhode NG-3 to me sounds better and you have a wider "off axis" and doesn't make you feel strapped to the face of the mic as much.

I hope this helps!
Thanks Jay. My very first attempts were dead on with a 5 finger spread which sounded overloaded, but I'll give it another shot when I get back to the studio on Saturday. Perhaps I need bigger fingers for a better spread. ;)

If I want it to sound better, fuller, richer, more complete ... I'll just hang my U87. :)

Dead on! Is there no technique for working for intimacy or imaging/ type VO effects?
Thanks Mike, I'm back in the studio today so I'll give the 416 a workout with an extra 6 to 8 inches of breathing room. Based on what you and Jay say there is no working the 416 for effect; as easily as it overloads it makes sense.
I agree with everything Mike Harrison has said about the 416. It is a great mic, one of the best; but it doesn't have a large capsule and needs to be treated differently than most of the other mics we are used to using.

The 416 needs to be at least 12 inches away. This is disconcerting. First, we aren't used to that, especially if you came from radio where you are used to snuggling up close. Second, moving in and out, closer or further away to change your sound doesn't work with the 416. Even if you work the mic closer than 12 inches the proximity effect is much less than a conventional mic. I sometimes feel this takes away one of the tools I use in a session - to be able to move around for different effects. But that doesn't mean you can't do a low volume read at 14 inches and not get the effect you want. This mic just requires slightly different rules. Since most of my sessions are at home I sometime goose the level on the 416 at those times when I would usually move in a bit.

I wave my hands and move around a lot when I read, especially if I am standing. The pattern on the 416 is narrow enough that it is easy to step outside the cone of perfection. Another change to make.

And pull out a different mic for those ultra hard-sell car spots. This mic gets hard and brittle sounding with loud sound pressure levels.

Are all these differences worth it. Absolutely. This is a great mic that adds just a touch of color without muddying things up. I feel it actually has a wee bit of built in compression that narrows the dynamic range a tiny amount, giving it a slightly punchier sound that is perfect for broadcast. It also leaves everything there for the post engineer to play with. For the lower register male voice, this could be the perfect mic. I run mine through a DW Fearn tube pre-amp and get lots of compliments on it. A U47 sits next to it for those other times.
Thanks Steve, I learned most of what I know about microphones from years and years of nothing but years and years in radio. I've been using the 416 through my Daking pre and put the U87 through my Fearn; I'll try the 416 through the Fearn based on your recommendation. The Daking is a bit edgy which is why I figured it to be a good match for the 416. My RE20 hasn't been hanging since I got the 416.

BTW - I don't remember you moving around a lot in sessions, Steve. Are you still flying a Mooney? Now you're probably wondering who the hell I am. :)
Who the hell are you? LOL. So you've been in my sessions. Were you a client? Did we work together? What city? This is a hoot. My little brain is scanning all the Steve's in my past.

Gee, I wish I still had the Mooney. That was a great airplane. I still have a plane, but I am in the middle of rebuilding it. No need to fly to sessions anymore (love that ISDN). Who the hell ARE you?? :)
I'll take this off line, Steve...but it was more than 25 years ago and we did quite a few session together. :)

I do a lot of Radio imaging and often hear about how clean everything sounds. I utilize the windscreen that comes standard with the 416 right up against a Windtech pop screen (two pop screens in close proximity) and I can get close and keep it clean. I am using an Avalon 737 tube pre with only 3db compression and NO eq and it sounds great. This setup also sounded good with the Presonus Eureka mic pre I used before the Avalon upgrade. Good luck to you!



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