Neumann kmr81i vs Sennheiser mkh416 Battle

My Sound buddy Mike Moote and I totally geeked out one day at his pad and this is what we did; a comparison between his Sennheiser MKH416 and my Neumann kmr81i supercardioid shotgun microphones.

There's still much to be said about the two microphones. Make your own opinion on what you think about them.

My personal opinion after owning the Neumann kmr81i for the past 4-5 months and using the Sennheiser mkh416 on occasion is that I personally like the sound of Neumann much more. It makes outdoor scenes, especially, sound a bit more like a VO booth which is what drew me to it initially. Neumann is more known for their studio microphones and they have their sound. Sennheiser is more known for sounding natural, catching higher frequencies in the voice more than other microphones such as Neumann.

What I do like about the Neumann is even if the microphone is far from the speaker's mouth, it still sounds much closer than it is, catching the bass in their voice quite well. It doesn't pick up reflective reverb as much as most other supercardioid shotgun mics, and it doesn't pick up sounds like crickets much either. The downsides are that it picks up wind noise a lot and it's not as durable as a Sennheiser in situations involving humidity, intense heat or sand.

Sennheiser is known for sounding very natural and being an extremely durable and rugged brand in the field. The 416 is a supercardioid lobar pattern shotgun mic that has a longer reach than many of its counterparts, including the Neumann kmr81i, it seems. Longer reach, more isolation, but much more reverb pick up; it's not a microphone I would intend to use indoors as I could get away with the Neumann for some indoor locations. However, it is a microphone that has a strong presence in noisy outdoor locations such as a NYC street or documentary style walk through of a fleamarket.

The Neumann's lack of natural sound is not a deal breaker by any means; it sounds so good that it will be conceived as natural without question as long as its not mixed with a microphone like the 416.  I did mix a scene with the Neumann and a Sennheiser ME64 cardioid microphone as a stash mic. The two did not mix well together at all. They both picked up good sound, but you can really tell the Sennheiser picked up many more highs than the Neumann and that was distracting to me. I've been told that Sennheiser mixes well with Countryman microphones and that Neumann mixes with Schoeps microphones better than any other make. So if you can't stick to one brand, I hope that leads you in the right direction.

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