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Sennheiser Contractor Mic Kit - Sound & Video Contractor

Sennheiser Contractor Mic Kit

Sennheiser is a name that always comes up on the short list of manufacturers of high-quality podium microphones. There's a reason why you'll often see
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Sennheiser is a name that always comes up on the short list of manufacturers of high-quality podium microphones. There's a reason why you'll often see Sennheiser microphones on the podiums of government officials, business speakers, and lots of other places. Those mics are quality products, and Sennheiser's latest offering, the Contractor Mic Kit, is no exception.

THE KIT

This is a kit comprising three MZH-series goosenecks, an MZQ-100 microphone clip, and three heads, namely the ME 34, ME 35, and ME 36. Each gooseneck is a reed-slender 6 mm in diameter and is coated with Sennheiser's matte black antireflection coating, rendering it as black as night and as thin as possible to all cameras and the audience. One end of the gooseneck flares out to a standard 3-pin XLR with standard polarity, and at the other is Sennheiser's proprietary screw-on connector where the included mic heads are attached. The MZH-3015 is 15 cm in length and is gooseneck articulated along its entire length, yielding maximum flexibility. The MZH-3040 measures 40 cm long and has gooseneck articulation only at the XLR end, with a solid black tube comprising most of its length. Finally, the MZH-3042 is also 40 cm in length and has gooseneck articulation at both ends of a solid black tube. Those three goosenecks provide tremendous flexibility and should meet nearly any need you may have. It's difficult to imagine a placement scenario that cannot be accomplished with these goosenecks, the included mic clip, and your mic stand.

THE MICS

The microphone elements themselves are typical of Sennheiser's usual high level of quality. All three are small-diaphragm condenser microphones that require phantom power rated at 12V to 48V. They ship with a nice foam windscreen (which is a good idea for most applications, considering the low-end response of all three microphones.) The ME 34 exhibits a cardioid pickup pattern, a frequency bandwidth from 40 Hz to 20 kHz, and a nice quiet equivalent noise level of 26 dBA. The frequency curve slopes gently upward from 5 to 10 kHz by roughly 5 dBV. This boost happens a bit above the range of maximum intelligibility from about 2 to 4 kHz, but it still lends a nice crispness in the high mids of human speech. The polar response is a generally consistent cardioid across the spectrum with the exception of a few minor lobes in the mids and highs. This microphone exhibits an impedance of 50ž.

The ME 35 yields a tighter cardioid pattern than the ME 34 and, according to Sennheiser's specifications, a bandwidth from 50 Hz to 20 kHz. Otherwise it is essentially identical to the ME 34 in all attributes, including the gentle slope of 5 dBV from 5 to 10 kHz. As expected, the polar pattern of this supercardioid microphone indicates few minor lobes in the mids and highs. Basically, the ME 35 is a tighter version of the ME 34, but it is otherwise very similar.

The ME 36 is a tight supercardioid (as Sennheiser says, a “supercardioid/lobar” microphone). One look at the physical shape of this microphone immediately calls to mind the shotgun microphones for which Sennheiser is so famous. The elongated tube yields plenty of phase cancellation to achieve a focused pattern. The mic's flat frequency response has a subtle bump of approximately 2 dBV between 4 and 10 kHz. Among the three microphones in the kit, this one exhibits the lowest self-noise rating at 23 dBA. This microphone is highly directional — almost too much for certain applications.

THE REAL WORLD

In use all three of these microphones live up to their listed specifications. As you might expect based upon the published spectral curves, there is indeed a nice crispness in the high end. As a matter of fact, the high end may need to be tamed down a bit in the monitors or any other speakers in proximity to these mics. The cardioid ME 34 is probably the best choice for an animated speaker who moves around a lot. The pickup pattern will capture all but the most wildly gesticulating speakers. If you don't require a pattern that large, the ME 35 will help avoid feedback by virtue of its tighter pattern. Even at that, the ME 35 has a pattern that is suitable to moderately lively speakers. The ME 36 is going to be useful to you only if you need a significantly focused pattern. If you have a stoic speaker who rarely gestures or moves, this mic would be potentially useful. As you know, there are going to be any number of esoteric, specialized applications in which the only solution is a highly directional mic mounted on a flexible gooseneck.

These microphones sound good, and that's no surprise coming from Sennheiser. The rise from 5 to 10 kHz yields a nice crispness without overemphasizing sibilance. When I test-drove these mics, I had an air-conditioning system to contend with that required the insertion of a highpass rumble filter, and I would bet a paycheck that even with the included foam windscreen, highpass filtering would be a necessity in any outdoor application. If it can be avoided, however, it's nice to take advantage of the extended low-frequency response, particularly with a male speaker with great pipes.

FLEXIBILITY

This kit of microphones from Sennheiser is particularly nice for its flexibility, both figuratively and literally. The three included goosenecks enable virtually any kind of mic placement you may need. The ability to couple the right mic with the right gooseneck yields a high level of adaptability that audio professionals will welcome. Moreover, the quality of the audio is at the level you'd expect from Sennheiser. A bit of EQ tweaking may be necessary, but not much. This kit should be central to the collection of any professional who requires flexibility and quality vis-à-vis mics for public speakers.

John McJunkinis the principal of Avalon Audio Services in Phoenix. For more than 20 years, he has engaged in studio recording, live sound, and broadcast, and he consults in design and commission for numerous studios and artists.

SPECIFICATIONSME 34ME 35ME 36

Pickup Pattern cardioid

Acoustic Operating Principle pressure gradient transducer

Frequency Response 40 Hz-20 kHz

Sensitivity (Free-Field, No Load) 10 mV/Pa

Electrical Impedance 50ž

Minimum Terminating Impedance

Equivalent Noise Level 26 dBA, 37 dB (CCIR)

Power Supply P12-P48

Dimensions (H×L) 12 mm × 18 mm

Weight (Without MZH) about 0.19 lb.

Pickup Pattern supercardioid

Acoustic Operating Principle pressure gradient transducer

Frequency Response 50 Hz-20 kHz

Sensitivity (Free-Field, No Load) 10 mV/Pa

Electrical Impedance 50ž

Minimum Terminating Impedance

Equivalent Noise Level 26 dBA, 37 dB (CCIR)

Power Supply P12-P48

Dimensions (H×L) 12 mm × 18 mm

Weight (Without MZH) about 0.19 lb.

Pickup Pattern supercardioid/lobar

Acoustic Operating Principle pressure gradient transducer/interference tube transducer

Frequency Response 40 Hz-20 kHz

Sensitivity (Free-Field, No Load) 18 mV/Pa

Electrical Impedance 50ž

Minimum Terminating Impedance

Equivalent Noise Level 23 dBA, 34 dB (CCIR)

Power Supply P12-P48

Dimensions (H×L) 8.2 mm × 96 mm

Weight (Without MZH) about 0.34 lb.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

Company: Sennheiser Electronic Corp., www.sennheiserusa.com

Product: Contractor Mic Kit

Pros: Flexible, good sound, crisp high end.

Cons: ME 36 has somewhat limited use.

Applications: Public speaking

Price: $1,075

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