By Michelle Loeb
As recently as 1998, one could be excused for not associating Sennheiser with MI-style microphones. Today, however, the two are quite synonymous, thanks in part to the launch of the company’s evolution 900 series, which hit the market in 2003 in an effort to “complete the Sennheiser wired microphone portfolio,” explained Robb Blumenreder, Regional Sales Manager for the Americas at Sennheiser.
“The evolution 900 series designs were based on the e 800 series, but with even tighter tolerances on the manufacturing line and a different customer focus,” Blumenreder said. “When the development process of the 900 series began, we asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to make this a tour-friendly, studio-friendly microphone?’”
Sennheiser is continuing its “evolution” in the MI microphone market with a concerted relaunch of the e 900 tseries—a result of feedback from artist relations, as well as the dealer network. The Music & Sound Retailer spoke with Blumenreder to learn about the key features of some of the evolution 900 series’ top models.
The e 935 cardioid and e 945 super-cardioid are both dynamic microphones. Each comes equipped with hum-compensating coils, a shock-mounted capsule and metal construction. They both also feature a neodymium ferrous magnet with boron, which keeps the microphone stable regardless of climate. Where the two differ, according to Blumenreder, is the application and user to which each is best suited.
“Depending on your vocal styling, how you sing and whether you have good vocal technique or not, you might choose the e 945 over the e 935, or vice versa,” said Blumenreder. “The e 945 is going to provide more isolation since it is a super-cardioid. It is also perhaps more suitable for use with stereo wedges, because you can put one on either side. If [you’re performing on] a really loud stage, I would choose the e 945 because it is more isolating.”
Compare that to the e 935 microphone, which Blumenreder said, “is less sensitive directly behind the capsule, so it might work better with a single wedge, depending on placement. The e 935 has a much more natural top end because it is designed to perform with larger-scale, professional PAs, where a smoother top end is preferred.
“For those playing larger clubs, performing in houses of worship or recording through a high-quality console,” added Blumenreder, “the e 935 would be more suitable and versatile.”
The e 935 carries an MSRP of $169.95, whereas the e 945 has an MSRP of $219.95.
One of the evolution series’ most versatile models is the e 965, a true one-inch condenser microphone with a switchable pattern between cardioid and super-cardioid. The microphone features a frequency response of 40-20,000Hz. It also has a switchable low-frequency rolloff and a 10dB pad, which, according to Blumenreder, “can be useful if a singer has a loud vocal technique.” The e 965 has an MSRP of $699.95.
“The e 965 might be a good choice for anyone from a breathy jazz singer to a pop singer with an extremely wide dynamic range in their voice,” Blumenreder said, adding that the microphone works extremely well in live recording environments. “It is for ‘good’ vocalists and, when you use it with in-ear monitors on a live stage, it will get you as close as possible to what a studio recording might sound like.”
All models in the e 900 series are designed for live and recording applications. These microphones are intended for touring professionals, not for amateurs. “[These microphones are] meant for vocalists and musicians who are well seasoned and have a solid understanding of their signal path,” said Blumenreder. “The ideal buyer for the e 900 series would be someone who is playing through a larger-scale PA, or performing with a band that is extremely well balanced and not fighting each other sonically.”
Every microphone in the e 900 series is designed to capture the timbre of the instrument that it is reproducing or recording, Blumenreder pointed out. “When you look at the transient response time on the e 900 series, it is faster; therefore, you get more of the instrument’s natural sound,” he said.
Helping the evolution 900 series microphones achieve their top-notch sound quality is something Sennheiser calls hi-res 3D sound.
“When we say that these microphones offer a hi-res 3D sound, they more accurately reflect the true sound of the actual vocal instrument,” Blumenreder explained. “We’ve taken things into account such as the frequency rolloff, which starts at around 90Hz on the e 935 and e 945. In a professional touring application, you really do need that rolloff, because a large-scale, professional PA system is more than capable of reproducing sound at 90Hz and below; it’s always preferred to eliminate these frequencies at the start of the signal chain instead of later on.”
The capsules, which are all compatible with Sennheiser’s G3 and 2000 series wireless products, are also designed to work well with the user’s in-ear monitors because, as Blumenreder noted, “there is a huge, audible difference with the e 900 series when an artist is using in-ear monitors; how an artist sounds through in-ear monitors is very critical, because they want to hear it like they are listening to a recording of themselves.”
For this reason, Blumenreder added, “The e 900 series is a very ‘true to life’ unit, even when you have it set with a flat EQ; it delivers a really good bearing of what you really sound like.”
With so many key features showing real dedication to, and precision regarding, users’ sound quality needs, Blumenreder considers the e 935, e 945 and e 965 the “unsung heroes in the touring world.” However, that does not mean Sennheiser rests on its laurels. The company is proud to back each model in the evolution 900 series with a 10-year warranty.
“The 10-year warranty is a huge differentiator, since most competitors only have two- or five-year warranties,” said Blumenreder. “We are more than happy to put our knowledge and experience to the test and stand behind our products.”