Sennheiser Evolution 900 Series Microphones
By Barry Rudolph
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The Sennheiser Evolution 900 Series microphones are like a new palette of colors for an engineer--10 exquisitely designed tools to enable vivid live sound reinforcement and truer-to-the-source studio recordings. Apart from a large diaphragm condenser model, a well-stocked microphone cabinet is represented with good choices covering all miking applications for stage and studio--some with purpose-built variants. The mics have matching black-painted die-cast metal bodies (brass for the e914) and gold-plated XLR connectors, and come with holder/clamps or integral mounts, windshields, carrying pouches and multilanguage instruction manuals.
The Evolution 900 series consists of: the e904 ($279) and e905 ($299) are, by virtue of their compact size, designated for tight drum kit placement or unobtrusive instrument miking. The e906 ($349), with its flatten shape and unique three-position presence filter switch is for electric guitar that, in addition to using its holder, can be hung (by its XLR cable) over the front of a cabinet. The e935 ($279) and e945 ($299) are handheld vocal mics and the e908B for brass and e908D for drums are small electret condensers with flexible goosenecks and spring-loaded mounting clips ($399 each). Finally the subject of this review, the e901 ($379) wide cardioid boundary layer condenser mic, e902 ($349) bass/kick drum dynamic mic and the general purpose e914 ($649) cardioid small diaphragm condenser microphone.
PERFECT FOR DRUMS
I placed two e914s without any roll-off or attenuation at about two feet above the cymbals, pointing straight down at the toms and snare, using only the preamp sections of two Manley EQ-500 tube mic pre's without EQ. The other mics included Shure SM57s on top and bottom snare, Milab DC-96B on hat, MD-421 on rack tom and a Shure B52 on floor tom. I used Focusrite ISA-215 and Neve 1084 modules.
I placed the e901 boundary-layer condenser inside the kick, right on the bottom and directly on the wood drum shell; the rubber backing kept it from sliding around all session long. I placed the e902 right into the hole on the front WeatherKing PowerStroke 3 head. For this session, I placed the entire mic inside the drum slightly off-center, aimed at the beater and directly above the e901.
Without any tweaking, this simple setup produced a good rock drum sound with no phasiness, well-balanced overheads with clear and not overly bright crash cymbals, a present snare drum and good low-frequency energy content from the toms and kick. Of special interest was the e901 inside the kick. This mic produces an extremely sharp, percussive attack that is natural-sounding because it is real and not contrived by EQ'ing and compressing a main kick mic. However, you must use another mic to get the rest of the kick's sound to complete the sonic picture.
The e902 ended up being my main mic in the kick drum submix--it could stand alone with plenty of high-end crispness and solid low end. I quickly found the sweet spot, and I liked that the XLR connector and integrated holder worked well together at the end of my short boom stand.
The e901 was a great choice for handclaps when I taped it to the studio's window. Similar to using a PZM, my hand clappers didn't have to gather around a central mic and concern themselves with being balanced--they just stood in front of the window and the e901 picked up everything with a very percussive, sharp and consistent sound.
The 901 also worked well right outside the bass drum; I just placed it on the wood floor in front of the kick. This created a more ambient sound without the delay and phase issues caused by mixing through distant room mics. This position also works well for loud guitar cabinets, especially as an added mixing element to a main mic. If you mount the 901 on a large sheet of plywood, you can aim it at a source with better isolation and the extra surface area will increase the low-frequency response.
Finally, I tried the e914 on an acoustic guitar with great results. I could move in close and, to get rid of most of the proximity effect, use one of the filter settings for a very present, in-your-face percussive sound or move back out for a smoother overall acoustic body sound heard on many country ballads. Either way, the high frequencies were smooth with the overall spectral balance even.
SOLID CHOICES FOR STUDIO OR LIVE
Sennheiser, 860/434-9190, www.sennheiserusa.com.
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