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Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Microphones – A Real-World Review

Sennheiser's new dynamic MD 435 and MD 445 handheld vocal microphones get put through the paces in a real-world review.

Sennheiser's MD 435 and MD 445
Sennheiser’s MD 435 and MD 445

In November, Sennheiser introduced the new dynamic MD 435 and MD 445 handheld vocal microphones for use in live sound settings. The heads on these mics are based on the legendary Sennheiser MD 9235 wireless handheld microphone head, used on the biggest stages and artists in the world. Many of my friends that mix big hip-hop artists rely on 9235s for their ability to handle loudness and their cardioid rejection—great for avoiding feedback from the monitors.

Fela Davis
Fela Davis is a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee at Full Sail University. She also owns 23dB Productions and One of One Productions Studio, which specializes in podcasting, video, and music production. Clients include the Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams podcast, Sirius XM, Atlantic Records, iHeart Radio and numerous Grammy award-winning musicians.

Those features can be found in these two mics as well: The MD 445 is a high-rejection, super-cardioid microphone and the MD 435 is cardioid. Both microphones are great for loud sound pressure levels (163 dB) like a snare drum or guitar amps, but they can also handle a delicate human voice. They’re not as sensitive as a condenser mic, of course, but each one has a great natural sound in the higher frequencies. After checking out the frequency responses for each microphone, I noticed the MD 435 peaks at around the 5k-7k range in a way that reminded me of the Sennheiser 935, capturing very clean sound with a little help in the higher frequencies for vocals. Meanwhile, the MD 445 has a darker yet slightly fuller sound, because the frequency response has a smoother curve at those 5k-7K Hz frequencies. Both microphones needed a decent amount of gain from my mic pre to get a respectable signal, but there was little to no white noise created.

I’m a big fan of the super-cardioid polar pattern from my live-mixing days—and now in my studio, too, for getting for ultimate rear rejection—and in that respect, the MD 445 really knocks it out the park. The beautiful vocal response that it produces is second to none in dynamic handheld microphones, and I found I like this microphone on male vocals a little better for the darker lower frequencies.

In use, I found that handling noise for both the MD 445 and 435 handhelds was almost nonexistent, as you can hear for yourself on a special episode of The Art of Music Tech podcast that I recorded with my business partner, Denis. We recorded an entire podcast using the microphones, and at one point switched mics to hear them on female and male vocals. I was amazed at the silence of switching hands with the microphone and not getting those weird low-frequency thumps that are heard with all handheld microphones. That truly blew me away—and it’s exactly why I would use them for a live podcast setting: They sound excellent and reject the noise that’s happening behind the microphone.

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Out of the two, the MD 435 is my favorite for a female vocalist because of the sweetness around the 8 kHz range. I didn’t need to EQ frequencies as much as I would for the MD 445; I don’t like to tweak things if I don’t have to, so I would definitely have this in the audio toolbox for a female vocalist. As I mentioned earlier, the MD 435 sound reminds me of a richer toned Sennheiser 935, and they share similar frequency responses with the MD 435 at 40 Hz – 20 kHz, and the 935 topping out at 18k Hz. The MD 435 has a silky tone on the top end that’s not too harsh, but lets the vocals sit on top.

Overall, the MD 435 and MD 445 are amazing microphones. The bodies of the microphones are a slick, black finish and have that nice feel and shape that we’re used to seeing from the Sennheiser brand, along with a weight that is solid and but not heavy. Each microphone retails at $499, so it’s not a beginner’s microphone, but well worth it for a road warrior engineer or vocalist. I’d even suggest it to podcasters that record in a non-studio setting. Sennheiser has continued its legendary evolution in the microphone world.