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Really old Sennheiser kit (eg 805T, 415T ...)

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Does anyone have any info relating to the older Sennheiser mics, stuff like the 805T and 415T? Google pretty much throws a blank. I did get hold of an 805T service manual, but it was about spares/repairs rather than what I am specifically looking for which is the usual frequency response and mv/Pa measurements etc. Are these still considered "reasonable" mics? Or would their age imply that, even when new, they'd be a whole lot noisier and colder than their more modern day equivilents? Just wondering out loud ....

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I've owned two 415T's and an 815T for a while now, and love all of them. They are comparable to 416s and 816s in performance.  I'm sure some more learned folks could speak to the intricate details, but I've never had a complaint from production. As always, if you're buying from eBay, be sure to get them checked out at LSC. If needed, you can re-capsule them for a few hundred through Sennheiser USA.

Tom

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I've owned two 415T's and an 815T for a while now, and love all of them. They are comparable to 416s and 816s in performance.  I'm sure some more learned folks could speak to the intricate details, but I've never had a complaint from production. As always, if you're buying from eBay, be sure to get them checked out at LSC. If needed, you can re-capsule them for a few hundred through Sennheiser USA.

Tom

They are comparable but don't sound the same. 

Philip Perkins

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For all practicle purposes, the 415 sounds just like the 416, and the 815 sounds just like the 816. The primary differences are that the 415 and 815 were T-power only, while the 416 and 816 could be ordered T or 48P. The noise spec improved just a little bit with the x16 series, but not enough to choose one over the other.

Glen Trew

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For all practicle purposes, the 415 sounds just like the 416, and the 815 sounds just like the 816. The primary differences are that the 415 and 815 were T-power only, while the 416 and 816 could be ordered T or 48P. The noise spec improved just a little bit with the x16 series, but not enough to choose one over the other.

Glen Trew

I don't mean to be arguementitive, but in my experiences with 815s and 816s they did not sound the same.  The 816 sounds like it has a high frequency boost to extend its reach, the 815 sounded flatter to me.  The 815 sounded pretty similar to the Neumann KMR82, but the 816 allways sounded "peakier" in the upper mid and high frequencies.  I did do a "shootout" at my shop w/ 816, 815, KMR82 and Sanken CS3 about a year ago, and this difference between the 815 and 816 was confirmed for me again.  (The Sennheisers were not mics I had used previously.)  I guess it could just be the particular mics I used....

We had a 405 for a long time as a backup mic, I recall it sounded fine, though not as directional feeling as the 415.  We had an 804 too which I thought sounded terrible.

Philip Perkins

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I have owned an 805T but gave it to the film school for their projects. It doesn't compare to the modern day mics performance in any way.It is a lot noisier,its frequency response is fairly limited in the top end and has a boomy bass end.It is an interesting relic along the path to the development of what we have today.

Brian

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Ah!! memories of old. I grew up with the 405T and the 805T. In fact I still own one of Pinewoods old 805T. It hasn't been used in a long time though. You can buy it off me and do your own comparison. Its a lot more directional than the newer mics more noisey and very top end. A great bird recording mic in fact. The 405 was better than the schoeps for recording FX tracks. During Greystoke the mixer turned down using a schoeps and used a 405 because of the sound it produced. He did agree that the schoeps sounded better for dialogue. At times (last time was aout 10 years ago) I will use the 805 just to show the boom op how lucky they are now adays with the lighter mics, but also show them the great side rejection of the old beast. Boy is it toppy though.

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As I recall, the 805 and the 415 were electrically identical in design to the 815 and 416 that replaced them. The difference was in the size and spacing of the slots in the interference tube. Sennheiser claimed that the new design was more effective but would produce a very similar sound. In other words, a 415 and a 416 could be used together in the same scene with no apparent shift in sound although the 416 might be very slighly more effective at off-axis rejection. Circuit board components were interchangeable between the designs.

Of course, over a period of many years circuit designs are updated and a 1970s 805 will not be identical to a 1990s 816. But if people notice a considerable difference between the older and newer mics it may have more to do with the need of a tune-up service than with improvements in design.

There is also the matter of Sennheiser offering a "flat" series of mikes as an alternate to the presence boost that was built into most of the MKH 805/815/816 and 415/416 series.

David Waelder

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Does anyone have any info relating to the older Sennheiser mics, stuff like the 805T and 415T? Google pretty much throws a blank. I did get hold of an 805T service manual, but it was about spares/repairs rather than what I am specifically looking for which is the usual frequency response and mv/Pa measurements etc. Are these still considered "reasonable" mics? Or would their age imply that, even when new, they'd be a whole lot noisier and colder than their more modern day equivilents? Just wondering out loud ....

I can't comment on the 405T, but I used the 415T for years in tandem with a 416P48 until a couple of weeks ago and was completely unable to distinguish a difference.  When I called Sennheiser to ask them what the difference was years ago, they told me, "The 416 has a black matte finish, and the 415 doesn't."  It was also my experience for many years -- whether it was an A/B test or matching two mics in a room on two poles, their sound was indistinguishable.  There is no reason to think that the 415Ts would be noisier by design, unless they have been mistreated or something has crapped out.

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The difference noticed between an 816 and 815 was probably not due to design. I've heard 816's that sounded different from each other. Keep in mind that the quietness of a T-powered mic can be directly related to the noise/lack of noise of the T-power supply because it puts + and - voltage directly on the audio conductors (pins 2 & 3). Conversely, phantom voltage that may be noisy is not likely to increase the noise of a phantom powered mic. This is why, for example, T-power mics are nearly unuseable with the Cameo mixer, while 48V phantom mics are fine on the same mixer.

Glen Trew

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Well, I need to wonder no more. Got a matched pair of 415T from ebay for a very good price (about half the cost of a new K6/ME66 for the pair), and they do sound every bit as good as my 416T (yeah, not exactly the newest mic out there either). If I listen hard I can tell the difference, but I'd never know in a blind test. There's some minor corrosion on one mic XLR where it looks like damp got in, but other than that they are in great condition. So now I have one mic for each channel of my 302 ;-)

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I can't comment on the 405T, but I used the 415T for years in tandem with a 416P48 until a couple of weeks ago and was completely unable to distinguish a difference.  When I called Sennheiser to ask them what the difference was years ago, they told me, "The 416 has a black matte finish, and the 415 doesn't."  It was also my experience for many years -- whether it was an A/B test or matching two mics in a room on two poles, their sound was indistinguishable.  There is no reason to think that the 415Ts would be noisier by design, unless they have been mistreated or something has crapped out.

Well, as I recall when the 816 and 416 came out I purchased new ones (both 12 v T powered) and found the x16 T models to have a lower output level and thereby higher noise floor (about 6 db) than the average 815 or 415.  I complained to Sennheiser and they stated that there was no difference in specifications between the x15 and x16 models.  I went to Audio Services (now LSC) and put up 5  815s, 1 from me and 4 from the rental dept. and measured the output levels and frequency response on their test rig.  Then measured 3 or so new 816s off the sales shelf.  The 815s all were about 5 to 7 db hotter and had a lower noise floor.  Although Sennheiser will never admit it, I inspected the circuit boards of each mic and found they changed the transistors and coupling caps in the new designs.  I think they modified the circuitry so they could use the same boards and most parts for 48v phantom version that was also coming out in the 816 line.  However when used with 12 V T power the noise figures were higher.   

To this day I like the sound of my 415s over my 416s.  So if you can find a good 415 or 815 there is still some life left in those old workhorses.

-----Courtney

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Well, as I recall when the 816 and 416 came out I purchased new ones (both 12 v T powered) and found the x16 T models to have a lower output level and thereby higher noise floor (about 6 db) than the average 815 or 415.  I complained to Sennheiser and they stated that there was no difference in specifications between the x15 and x16 models.  I went to Audio Services (now LSC) and put up 5  815s, 1 from me and 4 from the rental dept. and measured the output levels and frequency response on their test rig.  Then measured 3 or so new 816s off the sales shelf.   The 815s all were about 5 to 7 db hotter and had a lower noise floor.  Although Sennheiser will never admit it, I inspected the circuit boards of each mic and found they changed the transistors and coupling caps in the new designs.  I think they modified the circuitry so they could use the same boards and most parts for 48v phantom version that was also coming out in the 816 line.  However when used with 12 V T power the noise figures were higher.     

To this day I like the sound of my 415s over my 416s.  So if you can find a good 415 or 815 there is still some life left in those old workhorses.

-----Courtney

Seems I wasn't imagining it then. The first thing I thought when I listened to the 416/415 one after the other was that the 415 was marginally hotter. I recorded my voice, with 416 left and 415 right, same gain and fader settings. Looked at the waveform and spectral view of the resulting file and sure enough the 415 shows a definite stronger signal. Tonally I can't tell them apart. Not bad for a 30+ year old mic!

416vs415wav_1.png

416vs415spec.png

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Because of the noise floor difference when using T power?  Or do you hear a tonal difference?

I think there was some difference in tonal characteristics especially in the low end.  The 415 had a richer low end. probably because the DC voltage blocking coupling caps  in the DC supply could be 15 v instead of 50 V.  More energy on the low end and  could account for the increased level as well.

-----Courtney

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