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Sennheiser 418S, is it faulty or not?


amazingrolo
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Long time lurker first time poster (i think), hello! Also, I posted this on gearslutz too, apologies to anyone who read both forums.

I recently bought a Sennheiser 418S m/s microphone off eBay, since I’m doing a bunch of field recording projects at the moment but I liked the idea of retaining some possibility for stereo ambiences in my recordings. The 418S was recommended to me by a friend who I work with a lot, and I had been pretty impressed by the recordings he had made with it. It seemed like just what I needed. 

Anyway, when it arrived I was dismayed to plug it in and hear a pretty serious hiss on the mid channel. I compared it to my cheap ME66 and the comparison made it even more obvious. I even set them up and did a quick and dirty A/B test, which you can hear at this link

The result was the same both in my Sound Devices 552 and my RME Fireface interface. To me the mic is unusable. 

The eBay seller asked me to send it to his repair guy in Germany, who in turn has told me that he tested it and it does not have any faults. I'm inclined to disagree, but I thought I'd ask around to see what other people thought.

So my question is kind of in the description: am I crazy to think that this mic is faulty? I know it's a weird mic, but it would be pretty useful for what I'm doing at the moment. There is so much hiss in it, I can't possibly believe that it's supposed to be that way, even if it's pretty quirky.

Any help/tips would be great!

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Caveat- I do not own a 418, but I do have a couple 416's and I have used an ME66 once or twice in the distant past.

If you search the board, you will find reports of the 418 being a bit hissy - good enough for louder ambiences, but not good enough for a "snowfield ambience" (Ie, the sound of falling snow deep in the country)

I recall that the ME66 has quite a hot output and had a decent noise floor (the main issue with an ME66 is that it sounds terrible off-axis) so it's not surprising to me that you may find the 418 much hissier.  

Whether its at a "broken" level of hissiness is easily tested.  Find a Sennheiser 416 and A/B it with the 418 so you will have an apples to apples comparison.  A 416 generally does have a bit of a hiss to it - see if it's the same as the 418 and decide whether it's acceptable to you or not.

Cheers,

Brent Calkin

 

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Usually it's the side that is hissy not the mid.

Yes that's exactly my thinking - most reviews/discussions about the 418S mention that the side is relatively noisy, but I can't find any mention of the mid being noisy, and certainly with my tests I'm pretty sure everyone would notice that amount of hiss. unfortunately i don't have the mic with me now, it's with the repair guy in germany, so i'm mostly just trying to gather enough evidence to convince him that it is definitely faulty (or that i'm just totally wrong!). 

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I've attempted to use a 418s on a couple of occasions. The hiss, like you said, rendered it unusable.. especially for wild tracks and field recording.

oh interesting! do you have an example recording somewhere to hand? i really want to work out whether this hiss was specific to this mic or whether it is just a 'feature' of the model...

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Depends on how bad / much his we are talking about. Have you had a chance to listen to a 416? It should be the same for the mid

I don't have a 416 to hand unfortunately. You can listen to the hiss on my 418 here...if I listen to examples on youtube of the 416 it does not seem to have the level of hiss that I found on my 418.

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I don't have any examples to hand i'm afraid. If i remember correctly it was the figure of 8 side capsule with the hiss. The mid was good - probably on a par with the 416.. seeing as it's practically the same. I've spoken with a few other recordists who have said the same about the side hiss.

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