Do you also think that dynamic microphones are sexy? Me neither, mate. Most of them are pretty boring at first look, second look and the following hundreds of looks, but who cares, they work, they do their job. They usually have a slightly higher output level than ribbon microphones, sometimes just barely though. Nothing that a good preamp and some healthy amount of gain couldn’t cure, so don’t get freaked out. These two classic dynamic mics however… I wouldn’t call ’em boring.
Sennheiser MD421: This weird looking guy is probably Sennheiser’s most popular dynamic microphone. It kind of looks like it’s a side address mic, but it’s actually front address. It was introduced in 1960, so it went through some minor design changes. Unfortunately, the badly designed clip remained the same, so just watch out and don’t break it. Anyway. The rotary thing at the end of the mic is a bass roll-off switch. The letter M and S stands for music and speech, so you get no roll-off in the M position, and gradually more and more roll-off going towards the S one. The frequency response is pretty flat between 100Hz and 2000Hz, but then it’s got quite a big presence boost with the peak at about 5kHz. This boost is big enough that it can make or break your relationship with this mic, depending on what you want to use it on, which can really be anything from all kinds of drums and speaker cabs to mosquito buzzing. And yep, even vocals. Inevitable, hey? You’ll need quite a lot of gain for this guy.
Shure SM7: The black dildo meets the Browning machine gun. That sums the looks of this mic up pretty quick (unless the windscreen is on of course), but we don’t judge a mic by its looks, right? The first version came out in 1976, you would have guessed it’s much older, right? Me too, bro. If you go up to any audio related internet forum and ask around what mic you should use on this and that, most of the suggestions will point to this microphone. Part of this phenomenon is because the recording engineer of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, Bruce Swedien let it slip that Jacko used this mic for vocals on that record. The other part is that a lot of people happen to like this thing, with its smooth, ribbon-like top end. No harshness here. The response is fairly flat from about 100Hz to 4kHz, then it has gentle roller coaster ups and downs in the presence range before it rolls off starting at about 12kHz. On top of that, it’s got a High-pass filter switch and a Presence boost switch as well. This mic also needs plenty of gain, but hey. You have it, you use it, no problem there.