Sennheiser Electronic is a privately held company founded by Dr. Fritz Sennheiser in 1945. With a long history of excellence in the manufacture and design of innovative audio solutions, it’s always a pleasure to review one of their products.
The Sennheiser MKH 416-P48 U3 is a state-of-the-art shotgun condenser microphone. This is one of the most popular microphones with many applications. It performs exceptionally well on film locations and anything with the spoken word. This is a classy, high-end, professional microphone with a price to match.
As an industry leading condenser microphone, does it still deserve its high price tag? Let’s take a closer look in our in-depth Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Review…
As mentioned earlier, this is a shotgun condenser microphone. It is 9.84 inches long with a metal body in matte black. This is the standard design you would expect from a shotgun microphone and weighs in at only 0.36 lbs. A rugged microphone built to be durable while excelling at on-site and field location work.
First of all, this is not a microphone for recording a singer. It performs best when recording for film work, outdoor location work, television, podcasting, or anything else that involves high-quality spoken word recordings. Therefore, it may be the best boom microphone on the market.
The MKH 416 has a hyper-Cardioid/super-Cardioid polar pattern. When dealing with frequency’s above 2Khz, it uses a lobar pattern which has the highest possible directivity. As a result, it is perfect for film location work because it picks up mainly from the position it is pointed at.
So, if you find yourself in a noisy location, external background noise will not be an issue on your recording. Conversely, you are unlikely to find the same levels of noise reduction on many other high-priced microphones.
It is worth repeating how precise the MKH 416 actually is. With its pressure-gradient receiver and short interference tube, this microphone truly does deliver super accurate directivity. Although it is pricey, if you want high-end professional quality on your film recording or podcast, it doesn’t come cheap.
It’s obvious why the Sennheiser MKH 416 is such a well-used asset in the film industry. This microphone delivers exceptional sound quality. The MKH 416 is well capable of capturing full-bodied tonal quality with a natural sound that does not feel colored in any way.
What about its narrow sensitivity field?
Yes, like all microphones with high directivity, it has a very narrow field. But, you can still comfortably move without getting an unbalanced or uneven result in your recording. Furthermore, this also helps to make the MKH 416 one of the best shotgun microphones out there.
This is truly an exceptional piece of hardware with a frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz. There is a small lift in the frequency range from 5 to 15kHz, which helps you to get more definition out of your dialog. Likewise, the MKH 416 has a natural bass roll-off which does a great job at eliminating rumble.
With its high sensitivity at -32dB and its low-zero noise floor at 13dBA, you will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of post-production trickery. Therefore, you won’t need to spend hours in the studio to achieve that high-end professional-quality sound.
Excellent feedback rejection…
The MKH 416 design and capsule help to greatly eliminate that unpleasant squeal of feedback or associated bleed. There is nothing worse than finding lots of unpleasant feedback on your finished work. It goes without saying that a certain amount of feedback is due to setup and technique, but you will find it greatly reduced by using the MKH 416.
Due to the exceptional sound quality and 3-pin XLR output of the MKH 416, you can use most handheld recording devices or field recorders, which have phantom power. So, you have greater flexibility when recording on location with one of the best location microphones.
Adverse Weather Conditions…
Humidity and condensation are often factors of concern in outdoor recordings. These unforeseen elements can often cause microphones to fail. The Sennheiser MKH 416 has an RF condenser design, which means it’s unaffected by moisture. This allows you the confidence to carry on recording even in adverse weather conditions.
RF condensers have a fairly loose diaphragm and a low capsule polarization voltage. The capsule’s low impedance audio signal will drive the polar transistor directly. This eliminates the field-effect transistor and the high noise generated by the electric field, which would control the flow of current.
To prevent vibrations from affecting your microphone while on film locations, it would be advisable to purchase the more robust Sennheiser MZS 20-1 combination shock-mount. Unfortunately, the included shock-mount will not shield the microphone from shaking boom stands in those pressure moments.
The MKH 416 microphone comes with the MZW 415 wind-shield. This is a very acceptable option for recording in less extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, if you are planning something more adventurous, try the Sennheiser MZH 60-1 wind-shield for maximum protection.
What’s in the Box?
- MKH 416 P 48 U 3 microphone.
- MZW 415 wind-shield.
- MZQ 100 microphone clamp.
- Frequency response: 40 – 20000Hz.
- Dimensions: 19 x 250mm.
- Nominal impedance: 25 ohms.
- Sensitivity in free field, no load(1kHz): 25 mV/Pa+ – 1dB.
- Equivalent noise level: 13dB.
- Maximum sound pressure level: 130dB.
- Current consumption: 2 mA.
- Voltage: 48+ – 4V Phantom.
- Hyper/super Cardioid at low and medium frequency.
- Approaches Lobar pattern above 2kHz.
- Pressure gradient receiver with short interference tube.
Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Review – Pros and Cons
- Exceptional sound quality.
- Very low noise.
- Hyper/Super Cardioid and Lobar polar patterns.
- Compact and portable.
- Immune to humidity.
- Price point.
- Needs a better shock-mount.
Looking for Something Else?
We have the right microphone for all your audio needs. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best XLR Microphones, the Best Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Interview Microphones, the Best Live Vocal Mics, and the Best Shure Microphones you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best XLR Microphones, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Condenser Microphones, the Best USB Microphones, and the Best Microphones for YouTube currently available.
Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Review – Final Thoughts
Sennheiser continues to impress with the delivery of the MKH 416-P48 U3 shotgun condenser microphone. Like any engineer looking for extremely low-noise and super-accurate directivity in their recording, you won’t find many better options for professional quality sound.
Being the go-to microphone for the film industry speaks for itself. However, the price point may put it out of the reach of low-budget filmmakers. That said, it’s worth squeezing a little more from your budget, so you don’t end up paying a fortune later to try to fix badly recorded audio.
I spent months fixing audio on an independent movie filmed in Thailand. Although the movie was beautifully filmed, the sound was recorded using sub-standard shotgun microphones.
All you could hear was night-time insects and background noise. These audio issues would not have occurred if at least one MKH 416 had been present during the recording. Don’t make that mistake.
The Sennheiser MKH 416-P48 U3 is not a cheap option for recording. If you want professional sound quality without issues, then pay that bit extra and come home from your film project with excellence being your standard. I highly recommend this product for professional film, television, or podcast sound recording.
So, until next time, feel free to speak up.