I have a newer 421mkII and an older u-5. The u-5 is a much smoother, nicer sounding mic. The mkII has a hyped high end that sounds tinny (is that how you spell that?) to my ears. I haven't found much use for the mkII. The u-5 is great.
I have several of both. The newer mics are "slightly" brighter and the older mics put out a slightly hotter signal. Not enough difference to worry about. Anyone who can use and EQ can use both types on the same kit and you'd never know the difference. Both great mics.
i've heard similar comments about the harshness in top end of the mkII's, i always figured maybe it was desired sound because they're often combined w/ other mics (i wanna get one primarily for mic'ing up cabs) but i hadn't heard of the u-5. thx for info so far and i'm definately going to look more into the u-5. anymore opinions would greatly be appreciated.
Here is the official word of the differences between the 421 and 421 II.....
Greg Beebe at Sennheiser wrote a while ago in response to this question. He said:
"There are four significant differences between the MD421-U and MD421 II.
-The metal inner chassis has better distribution of weight.
-The bass roll-off is contour fitted to the housing making the mic
shorter and more "stylish"
-Housing is made of polyacetals: a glass composite
-Basket is hardened stainless steel
More immune to the elements:
-The acoustic components are enclosed in the inner chassis making he
mic less sensitive to dusts and humidity.
-Individual components can easily be replaced
-Self-sealing acoustic connections: no adhesive or sealing compounds
The MD421 II does sound different. It has improved transparency,
thus a more natural sound. We changed it because of improved technologies.
New materials and production techniques which enable us to manufacture at
eve closer tolerance.
Coincidentally, this was not the first time we changed the MD421. We are
constantly striving to improve our products. Over the years, the MD421 has
seen upgrades in the housing, output connector, basket and capsule
In my personal opinion, the MD421 II has been accepted, for the most part,
as the replacement for the original. However, as you know, there are die
hards who swear by the original. Interesting enough, the biggest complaint
on the original was the clip. I've not receive one complaint about the
clip since the redesign. I attribute this to the mic being more balanced.
Now the clip pivots on the mic's fulcrum point."
Thanks for sharing !
I have the mkii, which can be either good or bad, as in any mic of course!
It matters in how you use it to the best advantage.
The new mkii may be silibant in the HF , but that's what I look for in certain situations- and it always provides. Don't know what the original model sounds like, maybe I'm missing something? I think not.
It 's how you use your tools.
for what it's worth, I did a 421 shoot-out the other day.
we had 12 of these suckers in my studio, black, grey, old and new - all kinds you can think of.
it is true that the old ones have a slightly smoother tone.
also, we found out that they all sounded different, sometimes in a very obvious way when it gets to the older ones.
some of the grey ones sucked big time - in other words, they were half broken.
then there is this one "golden" 421 with a super fat bottom and silky smooth trebles, perfect for crooner vocals and meaty guitars.
it's a beaten up grey 421 with sennheiser "script logo": the body has a large crack and the mic is missing one half ot the grill. :d:
in other words: try before you buy when you're in the market for grey 421's.
A pro AE whom I respect very much, Ty Ford, did a detailed review of the MKII vs. the "old" type on his website (sorry don't remember it offhand).
If you use one of the search engine websites like http://www.msn.com you'll find it easily.
The pre-MKII 421's have a thick sound.
The MKII's really bring out sibilance in many singers, and are thinner-definitely NOT natural.
Sennheiser saved money on the MKII by using a different manufacturing process.
They were unable to use it for the MD441, and
get a reasonably close quality of sound BTW.