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I have these mics on my mind as tom mics because I'm going to record a funk drummer in the near future and we're probably going to go for a more modern sound than my usual style.

My basic question is about the difference between the MD 421 II and the older MD 421s. What are the other incarnations of this mic? Are some more desirable than others? I see the older models on eBay listed at more than the 421 II. (Some with a Telefunfen logo for much more.)

I've never used these, so I'd also like anyone to comment on the kind of quirky design. It sort of looks like a side address mic - kind of strange to have a metal strip acroos the middle of the business end of the mic. And the mounting clip looks like it works only for 421. Is that a problem? Is it sturdy?

Thanks in advance. Bob

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dvdhawk Sat, 08/15/2009 - 21:42

The vintage units probably used a thinner diapgragm material. On the newer models they probably traded a little sensitivity for more durabllity on an already rugged mic. The mark II should also have better internal suspension.

The MZA421 stand adaptor is very specific for the MD421. It should withstand normal studio use without much trouble, but I've seen road drummers break them. If you ever need a new one they run about $30. The shockmount (MZS421) is something to the tune of $80.

soapfloats Sun, 08/16/2009 - 21:29


I own 2 of the newer models and LOVE them. I have never had the chance to use an older one except in a workshop.. let's just say my exposure was limited and it wasn't a fair shake - it was in one of the nicer places in town, and the pros did most of the legwork.

If you check out my vocal test posts, you'll see it's popular as a male vocal mic. I've also really enjoyed using it on Fl Toms, and gui & bass cabs.
Comparing it to a 57, I'd say it has a much better bottom end (bass and male vox), and has enough bite/presence to work well on guitars. Probably nice on a rack tom too.
Also enough of a color variance to make it a complement to a 57.

I know that multiple mics aren't all the rage, but given my lack of long-term experimentation w/ different amps and mics, I like to put 3 close mics on a gui amp for color if possible: 57, 421, and Fathead.

moonbaby Mon, 08/17/2009 - 10:23

I used to have a couple of the older ones, made around '75. They were not nearly as robust, they were a tad larger (making them harder to deal in drum kits). And, yeah, they have that metal strip around the front end, but they ARE front-address. My issue with them was if they got dropped or smacked by a stick, it was relatively easy to render the mic dead-actually, it would sound real nasally, like it was out of phase...
Also, it doesn't seem like Sennheiser is supporting the original with re-building support like they used to.

Davedog Mon, 08/17/2009 - 11:22

I used to own an old grey early 60's model. It didnt have a connector on the mic body and thus the cord was attached. It was a weird sounding mic. I really dont think it ever worked right but I didnt know and it came with an old Wollensak recorded I was tinkering with. Yes, it was a 421. Perhaps a model that came with that recorder??? Heck, I was only 17 so that was way last century.....

I had three 421's later when they first became black in color so they werent the II's. The tone selection ring was incredibly innovative as the points they chose were exactly what was needed for m=music....s=speech etcetc...These were great sounding but the trust factor with that silly mount drove me crazy. They are awkward beautiful things to behold.

The Audio Technica 37 will get you that 'modern' drum sound but also a drum set thats set up and tuned as a 'modern' drum sound will be most essential to acheiving this no matter what mic you use.

EDIT: Its been bugging me all day now because I really couldnt quite remember whether the old grey one was REALLY a 421 or not. Turns out it was a 21 and was made by Sennheiser for Grundig.....or vice-versa. It coulda been a 411 also but I simply dont remember the Sennheiser on the screen, just a little tag by the cable entrance.

Funny how things get hazy after years of thinkin....."Hey Mo....I keep thinkin and nothins happenin...."

soapfloats Thu, 08/20/2009 - 00:53

The new 421s have the tone selection ring, btw.

Never had many issues w/ the clip/mount from drummers. More often then not it was me grabbing to adjust the mic and hitting the release. Sturdy mics on that note.

Finally, I say get one of each. I often wonder how the predecessors to my newer 414s, 421s, etc compare... maybe someday?

rmburrow Mon, 07/22/2013 - 19:56

I liked the 1970's vintage MD421's...they were good mics for broadcast, and radio station announcers liked them. The drawback was the plastic slide-in clip which broke often when the announcers positioned the mic for on-air or production work. The 421 and the 441 both sounded good both on digital storage media, and on the air.


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