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Microphone Month

Sennheiser MD 421 II Reviews

4.5 stars based on 39 customer reviews
Questions about the Sennheiser MD 421 II?

Questions about the Sennheiser MD 421 II?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Nick Schenkel

    The MD 421 is THE mic for getting a professional sound out of tom toms. It is also at home delivering warm, rich tones on guitar and bass amps. The mic itself is built like a tank, and is more than capable of withstanding the tortures of energetic drummers and the distress of life on the road. The only downside is that once you own one MD-421 you will want to get a couple more.

  • Stuart Niven

    Listen to some of your favourite records, the MD 421 was probably there in the studio, helping the masters make history, on toms, guitar, and bass cabinets. Able to withstand the levels and pressures of nearly any musical source, in the studio and on the road they are built to perform. The MD 421 II is a go-to mic and one that you need in your collection if you are recording bands and instruments.

  • from Omaha, NE December 26, 2016

    Instant Improvement

    We'd been using SM57s to record the drum kit. These instantly changed the sound we were getting. Went from being a flat, somewhat dead sound to something with dimension and life.

  • from Denton, TX December 22, 2015

    Best all-around/desert island mic.

    This would be my desert island mic. It can record just about anything well.

  • from April 10, 2015

    Does exactly what it's meant to do

    Bought it to mic floor toms and it captures them the way they are meant to be captured. So happy with this addition to my inventory. Definately will be buying another.

  • from March 31, 2015

    The Best workhorse mic out there!

    It's the absolute best mic for toms ever. It sounds excellent as an additional guitar tracking mic (along with a SM57), it's great for mic'ing a bass, and it's even worked on some vocals for me.

    The mic clip is probably the worst mic clip in existence though.

  • from PA. March 28, 2015Music Background:
    34+ YEARS AS LIVE & RECORDING ENGINEER

    MD-421

    I'VE BEEN USING THE MD421 ON TOMS FOR AROUND 25 - 30 YRS. & I JUST SET THE GAIN IT IT IS READY TO GO ! I HAVE BEEN DOING AN 8 PEICE R&B BAND & ALWAYS USED THE 421 ON ALL TOMS & HORN SECTION & AGAIN WITH HORNS I JUST NEEDED TO SET THE GAIN & AFTER YRS OF ROAD USE I USE THEM IN THE STUDIO FOR TOMS & NEVER REALLY WENT FOR ANYTHING ELSE ! THE ONE WEAKNESS IS THE MIC CLIP AS SOMETIMES THE MIC COMES LOOSE ! I WILL ADD THAT WITH THE SERIES 2 IT DOES MOUNT WITH A TIGHTER FIT ! I MAKE SURE NOW I MOUNT ON STAND & NOT CLIPS & I HAVE SOME MD-441'S & THEY ORIGINALY SHIPPED WITH A POOR MIC CLIP THAT BECAME BRITTLE & I LOOKED & THEY CHANGED THE CLIP FOR THOSE TO A RUBBER CLIP & IT MOUNTS SECURELY ALTHOUGH I BELIEVE I PAID AROUND $60 FOR THE NEW IMPROVED CLIPS & I NEED TO CONTACT SENNHEISER & MAYBE THEY HAVE A NEW CLIP FOR THE MD-421 THE SERIES 2 IS A MUCH BETTER DESIGN THEN THE ORIGINAL VERSION ! I'M HONESTLY AFRAID TO TRY ANY OTHER TOM,HORN & GUITAR MIC ! LOVE THEM & USED THEM FOR MY WHOLE CAREER !
    JEFF KLINE

  • from February 12, 2014Music Background:
    Recording drummer

    Tom-tastic

    Just the best tom mic, period. Full, rich, crisp, everything you want. I used the Audix d series and then moved to these... Night and day. Worth the money.

  • from Conway, Arkansas April 13, 2013Music Background:
    Professor of Trombone, Recording Engineer

    Great for brass!

    I've spent most of my time using this mic for recording the trombone. It's a dynamic mic, but the output is not too low. I do however suggest something like a FetHead if you're not using a preamp with a fair amount of clean gain.

  • from January 17, 2013Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer

    BEST TOM MIC

    I can not tell you how many times we tried something new for our drums and every time we end up with a set of these in the booth. This may seem very old school but we have not found any mics that can out perform the 421's on toms.

  • from Santa Barbara, CA November 8, 2011Music Background:
    Local Pro Musician and recording hobbyist

    A tom to be reckoned with

    There is a reason these are the industry standard for tom drums in pro studios...they sound really darn amazing on toms....or for that matter, anything you might need a dynamic mic for. 5 stars all the way! I was trying to record with my live kit (Sennheiser e600 series) and the toms were just thin and dead. Swapped my e604 mics out for 5 MD421 II mics and was blown away So much depth...just amazing.

  • from Western MA August 4, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Studio Owner, Drummer, Producer

    Simply the best dynamic mic out there

    These mis are so fantastic (and well-loved) that they really shouldn't even need reviews at this point. This is THE mic for toms. It makes them sound very punchy in a very good way and really captures the depth thanks to its superb bass response. It also sounds absolutely perfect on guitar cabs, whether by itself or combined with a Shure SM57. Once you've used this mic just once, you'll know exactly why everyone loves this mic. If you can't make it sound good, then you probably forgot to plug it in. The ONLY minor disappointment with this mic is it's mic clip, which could be easily broken if a stand is knocked over. It's never happened to me, but it could so I figured I'd mention it. Besides, they do make shockmounts for it if you want one. Either way, it's no reason to not buy this mic. It simply rules above all other dynamics.

  • from Snellville, GA USA May 9, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Student, Hobbyist

    Fantastic Microphone!

    This is a great mic! i use it on toms and guitar cabs. I love its sound. they are built tough too. I have several dents in mine and it works flawlessly. the clip on it sucks, but that doesnt take away from the value of the mic.

  • from Missippi {that's how we say it} January 6, 2010Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    I love my 421!

    This is my first choice dynamic every time. It sounds great on anything you put it in front of. And, it's a tough trooper. I bought mine used, very used. It has dents in the grill, the black paint on the grill has almost completely flaked off, and part of the body is cracked to the point that I had to super-glue the mount to the mic (I recommend you just go ahead and glue the mount into place. The mounting method is the one thing that bothers me about this mic. Just ask anybody who has used one; they'll tell you the mount isn't very good). But even with all of that abuse, it sounds great. SM 57 letting you down? Use the 421. I still use 57's, but that's out of necessity, not choice.

    I have two complaints about this mic: the mount system, and that I only own one.

  • from Tulsa, OK October 11, 2009Music Background:
    Producer / Recording Engineer / Musician

    THE Tom Mic

    This has become my GO-TO tom mic. Seriously, it just sounds amazing. It's got the depth and punch of certain condensers, but is built like a 57--strong and durable! Now, it might confuse you that the body is made of plastic, but don't take this lightly...it's heavy duty and will last you a long time.

    Sounds great on toms, as well as guitar amps, bass amps, kick drum, and even vocals (usually screaming / intense / loud vocals).

  • from Cincinnati, OH October 9, 2009Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    A must have!

    I bought two of these for toms and guitar amps - It performs spectacularly on those sources as others have mentioned, especially on floor toms. A great alternative or complement (amps) to the 57. Don't get rid of your 57s, just have one of these handy in case you're looking for more body, or something different (better?).

    It also makes a great mic for male vocals and bass cabs. In fact, it regular wins as "the mic" in shootouts for male vocals.

    I just wish I had 3, or 4, or 5 of them.....

  • from Corpus Christi, TX November 18, 2008Music Background:
    Lab Tech Engineer

    Correcting a previous entry

    The 421 is the most amazing tom mic i've ever heard. Even better, they're durable, portable, and flexible ...but i wouldn't recommend using them for vocals. Cedric from the mars volta is an amazing vocalist, and i too noticed him using a sennheiser 421 lately, and it seemed really strange to me. upon delving into the subject a little more... i discovered it is actually a Audix om6 in the 421's casing.

  • from Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, New York. August 1, 2008Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Mixer, Sound Editor, Post Production ( foley ),Live Sound Engineer.

    A Exellent Mic, one of my favorites!!!

    Used in studios all around the globe. From tracking everything snare, toms, Guitars cabs ect.This baby can hold a good fair amount of SPL so figure out. Good for some foley work. Also great for wind instruments Sax, Trumpets etc. I highly recommend this Mic.

  • from September 8, 2007Music Background:
    drummer, hobbyist, student

    awesome mic

    This mic is awesome! It's great that it has a high SPL handling because I've been recording brass instruments with it. I compared the recordings of the brass instruments with this mic to recordings of brass with an AKG Perception 200 and an sm57. There was no comparison. The 421 brings any and every recording to life and gives it the brilliance you're looking for. Its also very versatile and can used to record many different kinds of instruments. If you're considering this mic, you shouldn't hesitate, just buy it!

  • from Portage, MI May 10, 2007Music Background:
    Guitarist, Live Sound and recording Engineer

    My go-to dynamic mic

    This is without a doubt my favorite dynamic mic. It sounds great on acoustics, electrics, vocals, toms, etc. The five way bass rolloff really lets you tailor the sound for your needs. It has a nice presence and articulation, and the ability to roll off the lows really helps get great tones out of normally boomy instruments. I have rarely found a dynamic that I like on acoustic guitar, but this one really shines in that capacity. You need to get this mic. You won't be disappointed.

  • from Lexington, Ky February 28, 2007Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, pro musician, and Independant producer.

    Best dynamic mic purchase I've made.

    I usually record with alot of condesers and ribbons, but after picking up the 421 and making the rounds with it.....wow. Most dynamic mics just sound to muddy and in need of eq(for my tastes). This mic makes the sm57 sound like a toy. I love the crisp highs that you get from it that normally aren't found in dynamics. Get yourself one or five of these....your recordings are asking for it.

  • from Prescott, AZ February 15, 2007Music Background:
    Studio owner, Engineer, Producer

    Believe it or not, kick drum.

    I replaced an audix D6 with a 421 for my kick IN track, then brought the D6 about 2 feet in front of the head for my kick OUT track. The 'clicky' sound I was hunting for in my kick (I record punk and hardcore) was instanly realized. Not only that, but a couple days later I talked to an assistant at The Blasting Room, and he said that Comeback Kid's 'Wake The Dead' album (engineered by Jason Livermore) used a 421 on their kick drum as well. Those drums sound amazing. This mic belongs in everyone's mic vault, and you can probably get rid of your SM57s and Audix i5s as well.

  • from West Jordan, Ut March 9, 2017

    Works Great

    I like using md421's in conjunction with my sm57's for mic'ing up guitar cabinets. Adjust faders to taste, and you don't really have to mess with EQ later

  • from Ohio June 8, 2016Music Background:
    Drums

    Great for recording

    I place this mic in front of the guitar can, and it delivers a clear, bright tone. Gets the job done without any problem.

  • from Shelby, MT June 28, 2015Music Background:
    Musician since 1974

    Sennheiser 421

    I've owned and used this mic since 1986. First on Kick and Floor toms, and my guitar players amp. It doesn't surprise me that it's been an industry standard mic since the 60's!

  • from DFW January 2, 2015Music Background:
    Semi Pro Musician

    Great mic

    I have been playing drums for 40 years, but only started home recording about 10 years back. With this said, I have never been able get a great sound out of my 16 inch floor tom. I have tried everything from tuning, different heads and multiple different mics(Audix, Shure, etc.). I decided to try the 421 and that is all it took. No wonder so many engineers have used it for years. I plan to purchase another for my rack Tom.

  • from Joplin, MO December 10, 2014Music Background:
    Air Personality, Session Guitarist

    Best all-around studio mic....ever

    Probably the most versatile studio mic you'll ever use. No studio setup is complete without one; from amp miking to, drums, voice overs....it even sounds good without a processor!

  • from August 8, 2014Music Background:
    Multi-instrumentalist, composer

    Makes Tenors sound like Tenors!

    For the money, this is the best live mic for Tenor Saxophone in my opinion. Some of us are out here fighting sound guys that want to throw a 57 or 58 on the tenor which can make it sound brash in the upper register and tinny and boxy down low, especially if you have a big sound. This mic is killing it! Your upper range and altissimo will sing and your low Bb's will be round a full of body but never blatty! Love this mic!

  • from Wisconsin November 20, 2012Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer, music composition student, gigging bassist/vocalist

    Strong mic

    I work on a University Event Producing crew as the resident sound junkie. We have 3 of these and somehow, everyone on the crew got it in their heads that "we use those mics for brass." They are great for brass, but they're also great for toms, snares, guitar cabs (particularly bright ones), bass cabs, ride cymbals, and as I recently discovered, kick. (I threw a BETA91 in the shell and put this at a 45 degree angle on the beater from inside the drum. 91 gave me the boom, 421 gave me the punch) really, just a quality piece of gear. The clip is different, but I actually kinda like it

  • from Fredericton, NB CAN March 22, 2011Music Background:
    Student

    Get some, you'll need them!!

    These mics are definitely handy for anything from guitar cabs, to bass cabs.. but where they really shine is in their standard position on a tom mic! They also work particularly well as a secondary kick drum mic..
    I've used these many times, and I keep coming back to them because the transient response is so superb!

  • from December 10, 2010

    Great mic, awful clip

    This mic is great. Amazing on toms and i usually pair it up with a sennheiser e602 on bass cabs. Just be warned, however, the mic clip on this is terrible. The mic comes off the clip with the touch of a button...which sounds cool until you just barely tap the button with your finger when your adjusting the mic and it goes crashing to the floor. Seriously, it takes almost nothing to disconnect it. I suggest if you buy one of these, do yourself a favor and tape the clip to the mic.

  • from Oxnard, CA March 29, 2007Music Background:
    Assistant Engineer, Drum Programmer, Pianist

    Sounds Nice Live

    I just saw The Mars Volta @ the Ventura Theater last night, and Cedric was using the 421 for lead vocals. You might want to experiment with placing a fan in front of the 421 while singing, like he did.

  • from From L.A. now, in Denver, Colorado October 16, 2011Music Background:
    29 year retired L.A. union musician now, voiceover artist and director.

    A Dynamic Mic That sounds close to a condensor mic

    I have used the 421 on drums when I was a drummer, then I became a radio announcer and used it at the station. Then a voice-over artist in L.A. This mic is absolutely fantastic for the price. On Toms, it's the king. For broadcasting, it's much crisper than the EV RE 20. For voice-overs, if you don't have a booth, it's the dynamic version of the industry standard VO mic Sennheiser 416. Very forgiving with outside noise. I use it when teaching voice-overs on location. Buy One! The clip? Oh well. Be careful with it or get the shock mount.

  • from seattle June 7, 2011Music Background:
    professional audio engineer

    Money well Spent.

    Its a very good mic in its own right, but its real value is in replacing the SM-57 as a second mic in a dual-mic recording setup. Paired with a royer 121, it gives a glorious tone to hard to capture metal guitar rigs. With a bass & DI, its a fine arrangement for getting your sound. The good thing is you won't need to spend too much for a slight return. The down side is that the case is PLASTIC! As is the mount! How lame is that! Also there isn't much too much info except a diagram to explain the 5-position bass roll -off switch. Even that matter what S or M stand for exactly. seemed best starting out in the middle position for guitars & Bass. Overall a great sound in a cheaply constructed unit. But the More expensive version with a metal case doesn't seem to be much of a deal. Still having said that, I will be buying a few more.....

  • from Ecuador December 3, 2010Music Background:
    Musician, Producer, Recording Engineer, Mixing Engineer, Live sound Engineer, Student

    Great?

    Great mic, amazing sound, great for everything from guitars to TOMS, horns, some woodwinds, really versatile. Only problem, the worst clip of all time in my opinion, it's not that safe, it breaks, it gets loose, in our university, one fell really bad, nothing happened to it besides damaging the shield, but, another one got it's clip broken, its, not so good, shame on such a great mic.

  • from Weatherford, Texas August 27, 2008Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    an old trick that still delivers

    Pair the 421 with an equally tough-as-nails SM-57 on guitar cabs. Both mic's can handle the SPL's. Their different sonic characteristics compliment each other. You'll be amazed at the ease of dialing in that 'just right' electric guitar sound.

  • from Cleveland, Ohio November 5, 2006Music Background:
    Engineer/Musician

    421>57

    If you want to put an sm57 on something, but you want it to sound good, get a 421.

  • from N.J. October 18, 2006Music Background:
    Engineer/editor

    Another workhorse

    The 421 is a workhorse in my studio and in tons of others. It's built like a tank, even with the 421 II's new plastic body rather than the older metal. It's 5 position bass roll-off is handy. The 421 can be great for toms, snares, guitar cabs and rotating speakers. Great on bass cabs along with a D112 (my preference). High SPL capacity so it can handle kicks and bass amps and close micing horns. I don't like the design of the mic clip, however. It is latching, and the release is just where most fingers land when grasping, so care must be taken when positioning the mic (dumb).

  • from Dallas January 1, 2005

    Great Mike

    I first used the MD 421 when I was an announcer for KVIL in Dallas in the 70's. I still use it for voiceover work. It is a real classic!

  • from Recording Studio Owner - Texas May 1, 2004

    Tried and True 421

    This mic has been around a while. I remember seeing it in a 'movie' (You know, before videos) from "the Who". It's been re-worked to eliminate more modern problems like proximity to your computer and monitor as the 421 II. Radio announcers still use it extensively for spoken word, and we use em' in the studio for guitar cabinets, tom, and kick drum.

  • from January 1, 2004

    Why the 421 is amazing

    This microphone blew my mind. If you're a electric guitarist looking for a dynamic microphone that gives sweet, warm, buttery sound (as opposed to bright and thin) this is the mic for you. I came to this conclusion while close micing a Fender Twin Reverb a few inches from the cone and slightly off axis. A/B'd against SM-57 and several high dollar microphones at various distances there was no comparison in terms of a single mic choice.

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