The studio realm of pro audio product marketing tends to nurture ���champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Microphone-wise, the multi-pattern large diaphragm condenser (LDC) is often a focus in aspirational studio glamour shots— mostly because it’s a key, useful tool and partly because it’s generally one of the priciest items in a pro’s kit. Recognizing both the needs and desires of both savvy self-financed recordists and budget-minded pros, Sennheiser’s MK Series has recently expanded to two models, offering the taste, vibe and features of high-end LDCs at very reasonable prices.
Sennheiser MK 8 Having previously reviewed the excellent MK 4—a Sennheiser cardioid LDC made at the company’s HQ in Germany for $299 street—I jumped at the opportunity to try its multi-pattern sibling, the MK 8 ($699 street) that is also made in Germany. It’s a super useful workhorse for many potential users and applications. And, like the MK 4, the MK 8 isn’t a budget mic; it’s just a bargain.
Key features include a 24-carat gold-plated 1-inch dual diaphragm transducer; omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, super-cardioid and figure eight polar patterns; -10 dB and -20 dB pads; -6 dB/octave at 100 Hz and -18 dB/octave at 60 Hz high-pass filters; and a 142 dB SPL maximum (with 0 attenuation setting). It comes with the functional yet spartan MZQ 4 microphone clamp, pouch and instruction manual. From its front, the MK 8 is nearly identical to the MK 4; on the reverse are HPF, pattern and attenuation, respectively. The MK Series is pretty; for reference, its silver metal body and black accents looks nearly identical to the Mac Book Pro. It feels sturdy, strong and refined in the hand too.
Response-wise, the MK 8 is remarkably flat across the 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range with between 2 to 3 dB of added high-end emphasis between 5 and 14 kHz, depending on the pattern (omni and wide cardioid emphasis is nearer to 10 kHz while supercardioid and figure eight rises and falls between 3 to 10 kHz).
Overall the MK 8 offers an open, efficient and clean interpretation. In order of usefulness, I applied it in lead vocal, multiple vocal, acoustic guitar, drum room, room overhead, acoustic ensemble, electric bass guitar cabinet, and other jobs. Tracks were eminently usable, and vocal, acoustic instrument and room/overhead sound sources were remarkably good; for $1,400 street, a pair of these would work well most everywhere multi-pattern LDCs are used. I doubt many would ever know they weren’t a far more expensive German microphone.
I love the niche Sennheiser has carved out for the MK Series. The brand already inspires confidence, and now it offers a largely uncolored LDC Series made alongside Neumann models at an amazingly good price. Knowing that, I’d say that the MK 8 practically sells itself.
Strother Bullins is NewBay Media’s Reviews Editor, AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist and club-level sound reinforcement wrangler. email@example.com