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Why is the MD421 so great for toms?

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  • Why is the MD421 so great for toms?

    Pretty much anywhere in print or online everyone says the ultimate (or simply ubiquitous) choice for tom mics is the sennheiser md421. While they are also widely used for electric guitars, it's almost always in conjunction with a 57, and many people even say the sound of the sennheiser is not that great by itself.

    So my question is are they really all they are cracked up to be? I can get great sounds from my snare and kick, and my overheads, but my toms are not so great. Do I really need to drop $900-1000 to get three of these mics? Or is there some alternative the can get the job done just as well?

    I'd like to know the forums opinion on this classic microphone.

  • #2

    I'd like to read a few more opinions before I offer my opinions on the 421.


     


     


     

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    • #3
      While I've not used the MD421's, I do have a mic I love on toms and it won't break the bank. The CAD M179. Put in hyper-cardioid, with the pad engaged. Spend a little time placing it and set back and enjoy. You can pick up a 3-pack for around $400 if you shop around. Maybe a little less used.

      Another plus is, it's just a really versatile good sounding mic. I won't say it's the greatest mic ever, but I've yet to hear it sound bad on anything.
      ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ Metric Halo 2882 Expanded +DSP, Event 20/20 bas, Etymotic ER4-PT and HF3, MacBook Pro 15" (early 2011 w/2.2 ghz i7 quad, 8GB Ram, 480 GB SSD), Pro Tools 11, Harrison Mixbus, and Reaper. Godin Progression, Godin LGSP-90 (NAMM ed.), Godin LGX-SA into an 11 Rack controlled by a FCB1010 with an Eureka Prom. A bunch of other stuff lying around.

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      • Lee Knight
        Lee Knight commented
        Editing a comment

        The 421 is a tank. It records toms cleanly. It will have to be eq'd like crazy, just like a lot of other mics on toms. It is the old standard because it works and won't fail if hit by a drunk punk drummer. I actually love it on some vocals. It has a dryish sound that's quite appealing in certain circumstances.

         

        But it is by no means the standard anymore. There are plenty of mics tat do as well or better. But if you were running a studio and needed a mic that isn't going to fail, that keeps ticking, won't break the bank comparatively and you've got numbers of guest engineers... well... the 421 looks pretty good. Now, hell, a U87 sound GREAT on toms. And there's a pretty good reason it isn't the standard for toms. They're kinda spendy if you have an accident.

         

        I like that Senn clip-on for toms. What is it? The 604? Those sound better to my ears out of the box, no eq than a 421. So given my take above, I'd use a 421 in heartbeat, but I wouldn't buy one given their cost when today there are plenty of attractive rivals at a lower cost.


    • #4

       Something to do with how it reproduces low-mids, I'll hazard.

      A 421 just will not introduce low mid smear/wool in a close-mic situation. It's very 'dry' in that respect, as Lee points out above.

      Try one on vocals - you may need to cut some harsh 'throat' in the 1k-2k range, but it will need no EQ below that, save some bass rolloff/hpf (if you don't have the bass rolloff switched U5 version). The aforementioned dryness makes it play well with compression and saturation.

      Also, that bar across the grill probably softens the stick attack in a very um, 'musical' way! It stops the real explosive stuff from bothering the diaphragm too much.

      Great mic, not just for toms.

      flip the phase

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      • #5
        I'd almost forgot about the sennheiser clip-ons. I may have to see if our drummer still has his and see how they sound these days. But on second thought, I think he sold them with his last kit he sold. Oh well. They are pretty solid mics.
        ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ Metric Halo 2882 Expanded +DSP, Event 20/20 bas, Etymotic ER4-PT and HF3, MacBook Pro 15" (early 2011 w/2.2 ghz i7 quad, 8GB Ram, 480 GB SSD), Pro Tools 11, Harrison Mixbus, and Reaper. Godin Progression, Godin LGSP-90 (NAMM ed.), Godin LGX-SA into an 11 Rack controlled by a FCB1010 with an Eureka Prom. A bunch of other stuff lying around.

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        • #6
          You will need gaffa tape.

          But you should have plenty of that around already.
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