SENNHEISER e614 SUPERCARDIOD CONDENSER MICROPHONE
Recommend this product?
The name Sennheiser is one that is familiar to many people in the professional recording industry. Sennheiser also makes some microphones that are available to entry level home recording enthusiasts as well. The microphone that I will be reviewing today is sort of in the mid-price range, but that being said, for all that this microphone can do, it is relatively inexpensively priced, and although it is professional quality, it is something that serious home recording enthusiasts might consider purchasing as well. The microphone that I will be reviewing today is the Sennheiser e614 Supercardioid Condenser Microphone. This microphone has a retail price tag of $330.00, but it can be readily found selling for as little as $219.95 from most of the large national musical instrument chain stores, as well as from some of thee better Internet dealers. Read on and see if the Sennheiser e614 sounds like it has some of the qualities that you might be interested in the next time you are considering a microphone, and are visiting your local musical instrument store or better electronics store.
Because many of the readers of this review are going to be relatively new to the world of microphones and recording, some readers may not be familiar with some of the technical terms and jargon that is typically thrown about in technical descriptions of the specifications regarding a particular microphone. Bearing this in mind, I shall try to avoid using any technical jargon in this review, and whenever I need to use a technical term or descriptor, I am going to explain what it means in plain and simple English. To those of you who are more experienced, and know what these technical terms mean, please bear with me.
The Sennheiser e614 Supercardioid Condenser Microphone is a "pressure gradient," "supercardioid," "condenser microphone." Before we go further, I think that it would be important to define some of these terms, so that all of the potential readers will have an enhanced understanding of the attributes of this microphone as it is being discussed in this review. This will make it easier to make a purchasing decision.
Every microphone functions by sensing the sound pressure difference on either side of their diaphragm. Omnidirectional microphones are "pressure operated" and directional microphones are "pressure gradient" microphones. The Sennheiser e614 is a "pressure gradient" microphone. The term "pressure gradient" means that this is a microphone that responds to the difference in pressure that exists between the two sides of the microphone diaphragm, and this difference in pressure, is the direct result of the effect of passing sound waves. The "gradient" is the difference in pressure between both sides of the membrane of the diaphragm.
The Sennheiser e614 is a "supercardioid" microphone. The term "cardioid" is sometimes used synonymously with the term unidirectional, as it indicates that the microphone's sound pickup pattern focuses on the sound source that it is being pointed at, and it minimizes sounds coming from the sides or back of the microphone. A "supercardiod" microphone is even more sensitive to picking up sounds from directly in front of the microphone than a cardioid, and as such it is even more directional than a cardioid microphone.
The Sennheiser e614 is a "condenser," microphone. The term "condenser" is used to describe a microphone that is based on a very simple design with very few moving parts. There is a thin conductive diaphragm which is situated close to a metal disc, which is called a back plate. Together they form a simple capacitor, with one part moving in response to sound waves. When sound waves hit the diaphragm, it vibrates or moves. This movement changes the capacitance of the capacitor. These changes in the capacitance result in a variance or change in the output voltage. The resulting electrical output signal carries all of the information about the sounds, which caused the diaphragm to vibrate or move in the first place. This electrical information travels along the cable that the microphone is attached to, and is retranslated into something that duplicates the acoustical properties of the original sound that started the whole process in the first place. In short, acoustic or sonic energy is transferred into electrical energy, and then back into acoustical energy or sound, which can then be amplified and heard over a speaker system. Unlike a simple dynamic microphone, a condenser microphone requires an external power source for it to operate correctly. This external power source is referred to as “phantom power,” and it us usually supplied by plugging a condenser microphone, such as the Sennheiser e614 into a professional mixing board. These days, even most inexpensive home mixing boards or recording interfaces are capable of providing phantom power for a microphone such as the Sennheiser e614.
The Sennheiser e614 is a “small diaphragm” microphone. Most individuals who are familiar with microphones would probably agree that any microphone with a diaphragm that is 5/8 of an inch or smaller would be considered to be a small diaphragm microphone. Microphones that have a large diaphragm tend to be more sensitive than small diaphragm microphones, and in general they are preferred for vocals, as they often give a warm color to the sound. Small diaphragm microphones, such as the Sennheiser e614, are excellent at capturing high frequency sounds and transients, and they tend to add less coloration to the sound. Small diaphragm microphones are more responsive to transients because the smaller mass of the diaphragm is more responsive to subtle changes in pressure that are the result of the air vibrations caused by sounds, and thus a good small diaphragm microphone is more apt to be accurate across a broad spectrum of sounds, from high to low end. This makes it a great choice for recording a number of stringed instruments.
The Sennheiser e614 is a "partial frequency" microphone with a frequency range of 40 Hz. to 20,000 Hz. A microphone that is designated as being a "full frequency" microphone has a frequency range of 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz., and it is known as a full frequency microphone because it is able to reproduce the full frequency of sounds that a normal healthy young adult can hear, which also happens to be 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz. Although the Sennheiser e614 is not a true full frequency microphone, it is certainly very close to being one, but then again close only counts when playing Horseshoes. That being said, the Sennheiser e614 can handle just about any recording or sound reinforcement job that you ask of it. The frequency response of the Sennheiser e614 is relatively flat, with the exception of a slight accentuation which occurs at about 6000 Hz. This permits a slightly increase presence in this range, which can result in less need for EQ. Although I always prefer to make a recording using as little EQ as possible, there are those who may prefer a microphone that has a totally, or close to it, uncolored sound, and then they can apply the desired EQ during the mix. To each his own. Because the Sennheiser e614 has a frequency response that goes all the way up to 20,000 Hz., some of the higher frequency overtones that might not be picked up by other microphones are represented in a recording, and thus the sonic qualities can fool the uninformed into thinking that there is a even more of a high frequency boost when this is not actually the case, especially when compared to other popular dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM57 for example, which has a frequency range of 40 Hz. to 15,000 Hz., or a Shure SM58 which has a frequency response of 50 Hz. To 15,000 Hz. This makes the Sennheiser e614 a very good choice for a number of vocal and instrumental recording or sound reinforcement applications.
The Sennheiser e614 has a "Sound Pressure Level" or SPL of 139dB, which is relatively high, especially for a condenser microphone. The Sound Pressure Level of a microphone is the cut off point at which the microphone may begin to clip or distort. A microphone with a high SPL, such as the Sennheiser e614, is potentially useful in situations where high sound pressure levels are being generated, such as for close micing of guitar amps, bass amps, snare drums, and various brass instruments such as a trumpet. That’s right, even though many people prefer a dynamic microphone for recording instruments that are relatively loud, the Sennheiser e614 can handle the high sound pressure levels generated by horns, guitar cabs, and drums. Because of its extended frequency response of up to 20,000 Hz., the Sennheiser e614 is also capable of giving a very bright sound to midrange instruments, because the higher overtones of the instruments are able to be picked up. Because of this, I have on occasion used this microphone when recording guitar amps, as compared to the more popular choice of using a Shure SM57, which has a range of 40 Hz. to 15,000 Hz. I must confess, that for recording guitar amps, either of these microphones would do an adequate job, and most listeners would probably not be able to tell the difference when the guitar track would be embedded in an overall mix along with other instruments. While I am in the process of confessing, I should also confess that my preference for recording loud guitar amps is a dynamic microphone, specifically an ElectroVoice RE20. But that being said, for certain cases I have used both, with the Sennheiser e614 being positioned about 3 to 4 feet back from the front of the speaker cabinet, and the second microphone being about 2 to 3 inches away from the speaker cabinet and positioned towards the edge of the speaker. Of course I should clarify that is crucial to make sure that each microphone is making a great sounding recording by itself. When the two different sounds are put together, with just the right blend between them, and they are panned at about 3 O’clock and 9 O’clock, the result will be a guitar that sounds meaty, massive, and powerful. Please bear in mind that this is just a suggestion, as the best microphone placement will vary depending on the microphone being used, the speaker cabinet in question, the acoustic properties of the room, and of course most importantly, the sound that you ultimately want to achieve.
The Sennheiser e614 is also an excellent microphone for recording stringed instruments. I recently made a recording using this microphone to capture the sound of a Martin acoustic guitar, and I literally did not need to use any EQ at mix down time. The sound was just fine as it was. However, the Sennheiser e614 is possibly best for use to record percussion, drums, or cymbals. Although it is great as an overhead mic for recording a drum set and cymbals, I have also found it to be very good at recording a conga, bongo’s, and the hi-hat. Because the Sennheiser e614 has a very directional pickup pattern, it is a great choice for recording either a snare or a hi-hat, as it is very good at rejecting sounds coming from the back of the microphone, and especially good at rejecting sounds from the side of the microphone.
The bottom line on the Sennheiser e614 is that I feel this is a very good microphone for a wide variety of different applications. I can recommend this microphone for serious home studio recording applications as well as for professional use.
Well, I thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.
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