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MKH20 v MKH8020

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MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Chris Poulter » Wed Oct 08, 2008 12:44 pm

Has anyone compared them directly?

The MKH20 are my goto mics for anything in a nice acoustic, and unfortunately I'm in a situation where I can't hire them for a recording, as apparently there are none available for hire in Amsterdam! While buying a pair of MKH20 is pretty hefty (although obviously worth the price tag) a pair of MKH8020 can be had for about 40% less - so I was wondering what the differences are in terms of sound, and whether I'd still get that wonderful immersive sound or not...
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Jeraldo » Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:47 pm

Not your answer, but: Have you checked actual selling prices?

Here, at least, the price difference is much narrower. More like 15%.
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby John Willett » Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:23 pm

Chris Poulter wrote:The MKH20 are my goto mics for anything in a nice acoustic, and unfortunately I'm in a situation where I can't hire them for a recording, as apparently there are none available for hire in Amsterdam! While buying a pair of MKH20 is pretty hefty (although obviously worth the price tag) a pair of MKH8020 can be had for about 40% less - so I was wondering what the differences are in terms of sound, and whether I'd still get that wonderful immersive sound or not...

Same here, the MKH 20 have been my No.1 omni for the last 22 years.

I have the 8040 but have not got the 8020 yet (but definitely will shortly).

The MKH 20 is ruler flat from 12Hz to 20kHz.

The MKH 8020 goes from 10Hz to 60kHz but is not quite as flat. The 8000 series was extensively tested on live recordings as well as in the anechoic chamber, so I think you will still get that wonderful immersive sound.

The diaphragms are the same size, despite the 8020 being much smaller.

The 8020 stereosets are matched to within 1dB for both frequency response and sensitivity.

When I get my own 8020s I will probably do a side-by-side comparison, but I haven't got them yet; unfortunately.

The retail in the UK is £2,353.22 +VAT for the MKH 20 and £1,422.90 +VAT for the 8020 stereoset - that's about £1,000 cheaper! Street price is likely to be discounted on teh 20s but not much on the 8020s I would have thought. Quality is the same, though; there was no quality compromise in the 8000 series.

I hope this is helpful.
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby matt keen » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:09 pm

Hugh just reviewed the 8040 - so should help with a general sense

Hughs review 8040
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Jeraldo » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:10 pm

A few recordings that I've heard of both the MKH40 and MKH8040 suggests these are two very different mic's. Not in the high end (though there are differences here as well), but rather in the tenor and baritone range, and the difference seems to be much more apparent than the documentation indicates.

Which is to say, if you're thinking of buying the 8020 without a direct comparison to the 20's, which seem to be your reference, you may be in for a disappointing surprise.

OTH, you might be pleasantly surprised. Or not surprised. ;)
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:16 am

The 8040s are definitely a little warmer and fuller at the bottom end than the 40s, and I found the top end was fractionally lighter and more airy -- although it is subtle. In most ways, I actually preferred them.

However, a friend of mine bought some 8020s and although hge loves the bottom adn midrange, he finds the top end less attractive and harsher if anything than his other omnis (MHBO and Earthworks). I've not made the comparison yet to my 20s, but I'll be disappointed if they aren't as good if not better...

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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Jeraldo » Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:21 am

On the basis of recorded examples of stereo mic pairs in wave format that I did not record:

When a MKH40, a Schoeps cardioid, and the 8040 were in the same position mic'ing a piano:

The range on the piano from tenor "a" to "C" about 1 1/2 octaves lower sounded bloated and unclear with the 8040. Not natural at all. (This recording would require corrective EQ.) The MKH40 and the Schoeps delivered an almost identical sound and image, with the Schoeps being slightly hard and having slightly less bottom end.

On a recording with 1 female voice and 1 male voice with piano made with a TLM193, a Schoeps wide cardioid, and an 8040:

The TLM193 sounded just dead on, no strangeness with sibilants, etc. It was the most natural. However, compared to the other two mic's, the TLM193 had almost no room.

The Schoeps sounded round (I don't usually find Schoeps round!) with no exaggeration of sibilant sounds. A very good image of the room.

The 8040 gave perhaps an even greater sense of the room, but it wasn't quite natural and the program source wandered. The sibilant sounds were only slightly exaggerated and were fine to my ears. However, the surprise was that the female voice, particularly, despite OK sibilant and other HF sounds, had a distinctly hard cast.

On a third example of an organ recording made with an 8040, again-the upper bass was uneven and out of control. A big caveat here: there was no comparison file to listen to, and hearing an unknown organ in an unknown room does not lead to accurate observations. But I've heard hundreds of bad organs in bad rooms, and it is not impossible to draw general conclusions.

This listening test with the two singers and piano was done blind.

I haven't heard the 8020 at all.

The point is that the 8040 it is a very different microphone than the MKH40, and perhaps the other mic's are not so similar to their lineage, either.

I don't understand what seems to be an unbridled love fest going on with the new MKH mic's. (BTW, I am in no way referencing Hugh's review, which I found both helpful, informative, and accurate as they always are.)

Perhaps some of this is unfounded optimism. Or perhaps they really are the greatest thing next to sliced bread. Perhaps better than sliced bread.

None of this will keep me from hearing the other mic's in the series, though. Perhaps I'll find them better suited to my own work.
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Chris Poulter » Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:33 am

I can't really afford to take any risks with unknown mics on a large-scale paid recording - and there genuinely aren't any MKH20 for hire around Amsterdam. Looks like I'll be hiring some 4006's instead - sorry John! :x
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 16, 2008 10:58 am

Jeraldo wrote:The range on the piano from tenor "a" to "C" about 1 1/2 octaves lower sounded bloated and unclear with the 8040. Not natural at all. (This recording would require corrective EQ.)

The 8040 frequency response shows quite clearly a modest low-mid / upper-bass 'bloom', which accounts for the 'bloated' character you mention. But rather than stating this recording would require corective EQ, what it actually required was a more appropriate mic placement.

It never fails to dismay me that people make these kinds of absurd and utterly pointless comparisons. Different mics have different frequency and polar repsonses, and that demands they be placed in different positions to get the most appropriately balanced sound.

There is no denying that the 8040 sounds different to the MKH40, or to the Schoeps. What is important is whether it is possible to make a great recording with any of them if placed optimally. The test described above doesn't answer that question.

I don't understand what seems to be an unbridled love fest going on with the new MKH mic's.

There's always a lot of hype from the Sennheiser marketing machine when there is a new mic launch, and there are always plenty of people who can be found to say nice things when they use the new mics on special projects. I've not tried the 8020s yet, but my brief play with the 8040s was encouraging -- but the sound was quite different (warmer, definitely, the top is different too) which means they must be used in a slightly differnt way. I liked what I was able to get out of them...

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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby John Willett » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:16 pm

I don't understand what seems to be an unbridled love fest going on with the new MKH mic's.

The only "lovefest" I have seen is on some American website where people have bought the mics., used them, and say they like them.
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John, lets be honest here

Postby Jeraldo » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:26 am

John Willett wrote:
The only "lovefest" I have seen is on some American website where people have bought the mics., used them, and say they like them.


I think that site is not American, John. And your statement is absolutely absurd as *you* have written by far the most comments on these mics in "that" forum. And more than a few people there have taken issue with your constant push of Sennheiser products on anyone asking any question. You have also been criticized repeatedly on that forum for not being open about your Sennheiser affiliation.

True, this is a different forum. But *you* are the one who brought it up.
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The Sennheiser buzz

Postby Jeraldo » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:37 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Jeraldo wrote:The range on the piano from tenor "a" to "C" about 1 1/2 octaves lower sounded bloated and unclear with the 8040. Not natural at all. (This recording would require corrective EQ.)


The 8040 frequency response shows quite clearly a modest low-mid / upper-bass 'bloom', which accounts for the 'bloated' character you mention. But rather than stating this recording would require corective EQ, what it actually required was a more appropriate mic placement.

It never fails to dismay me that people make these kinds of absurd and utterly pointless comparisons. Different mics have different frequency and polar repsonses, and that demands they be placed in different positions to get the most appropriately balanced sound.

There is no denying that the 8040 sounds different to the MKH40, or to the Schoeps. What is important is whether it is possible to make a great recording with any of them if placed optimally. The test described above doesn't answer that question.

I don't understand what seems to be an unbridled love fest going on with the new MKH mic's.


There's always a lot of hype from the Sennheiser marketing machine when there is a new mic launch, and there are always plenty of people who can be found to say nice things when they use the new mics on special projects. I've not tried the 8020s yet, but my brief play with the 8040s was encouraging -- but the sound was quite different (warmer, definitely, the top is different too) which means they must be used in a slightly differnt way. I liked what I was able to get out of them...

Hugh


The point was that the other mic's, including the MKH40, were balanced. And if moving the 8040 was required, then both the timbre and balance of the rest of the range of the piano would be altered, as well ambience levels. So it's not just moving the mic. No matter where the mic was placed, that portion of the piano and the room would not presented in the context of the rest of the range of the piano. Even if it occurred in a roll off, that range would still be out of proportion. It's not just too much lower end, it's too much of a portion of the low end.

As for these being "accurate," you have clearly said that they are not-and for good reason. Both the specifications and listening bear this out.

So why does John Willet, a long time Sennheiser employee, write on and on about them being accurate, when they are clearly not?

This doesn't make them bad mic's at all. But they are coloured mic's, no matter what John says. And so far, the old series has proven to be a lot more accurate-not that accuracy is the be all and end all. But we are repeatedly being told that the mic are the "best" and "most accurate," and those remarks have gone completely unchallenged.

Of course mic's need to be put in different places. But such a test is still informative. And it did, in fact, demonstrate that the frequency response chart indications are clearly audible. And as I said before, while moving the mic to fix the bloat, it would then alter things elsewhere. Also, examples in large rooms with mic's more distant from the source have still provided an over emphasized bloat in the "mud range." No matter where the mic is put, it will have "the bloat."

After all of that, you might be surprised to know that I'm still considering getting a pair-although that plan is dimming a bit. I just think that the writing in these forums (not your review-again, *that* seems accurate to me, anyway), has been very one sided and has largely been driven by a person with a very long employment history with Sennheiser.
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Re: John, lets be honest here

Postby John Willett » Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:41 pm

Jeraldo wrote:
John Willett wrote:
The only "lovefest" I have seen is on some American website where people have bought the mics., used them, and say they like them.

I think that site is not American, John.

As far as I know TapersSection is American and they have not criticised me at all.
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Re: The Sennheiser buzz

Postby John Willett » Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:57 pm

Jeraldo wrote:
So why does John Willett, a long time Sennheiser employee, write on and on about them being accurate, when they are clearly not?

Because I have spoken to the designer.

In an interview with a German Magazine he is quoted as saying:- "Earlier Sennheiser took the view that microphones should be as neutral as possible. All the parameters of a microphone should be the same except for the individual pick-up pattern. That was the concept behind the MKH 20 through to the MKH 50. But microphones are never totally neutral. With the MKH 800 and the MKH 800 TWIN and with all the 8000 series the individual colouration was reduced still further so that the microphones change the character of the recorded performance even less. Since this is particularly noticeable in musical recordings it is possible to talk about the microphones having a certain “musical” quality."

Notice he said "...colouration was reduced still further".

There is a lot more in the article that explains the design, it will be in two parts (I have only seen the first part) - the original is in German and it's being translated into English.
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:33 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:.........Different mics have different frequency and polar repsonses, and that demands they be placed in different positions to get the most appropriately balanced sound............ What is important is whether it is possible to make a great recording with any of them if placed optimally.........
Hugh

Sorry to censor your quote Hugh, but I think these are very wise words that could be applied to just about any post in this forum!

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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:30 pm

I must say I don't understand the Sennheiser designer's claim that the 8000 series has lower colouration than the previous MKH range. If he means harmonic distortion, then he may well be right, but if he is referring to frequency response coloration, Sennheiser's own charts clearly show the 8040 to have a less linear response than the MKH40 -- particularly through the lower mid range where it is slightly raised.

That is undoubtedly a form of coloration, and while I completely accept that in some cases, and with appropriate positioning, it can be complementary to the sound source, as Jeraldo points out at length, such a character may not always be appropriate or appreciated.

As for John's championing of these mics, we have travelled this road before.

I have the advantage and pleasure of knowing John personally, and while he is a Technical Manager at Sennheiser UK, I know his opinions on sound quality are based on personal experience of using the mics -- which he buys -- on real high quality paying projects. His classical piano recordings are highly rated by many. He also has the advantage, of course, of having access to the technical brains in Sennheiser and knowing the products inside out -- which enables him to offer qualified technical as well as subjective comments.

I am aware of sensitivities of his posts given his Sennheiser connection, but there are good reasons why he can't promote that link in his own posts, and personally I feel the usefulness of his contributions are more than worth the potential concerns. Where there is doubt I try to highlight the connection to make his interest as clear as possible to those who don't already know it.

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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby spatial » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:56 pm

Let me ask the 11 years old question again:
'Has anyone compared them directly?'
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Arpangel » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:05 am

John Willett wrote:The retail in the UK is £2,353.22 +VAT for the MKH 20

I think you're mistaken John, the street price for a single MKH 20 is "around" £1,500 your price is way too much for a single mic, and not enough for a pair, I take it you did mean for one mic?
The price below is typical, and not the cheapest.

https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/92-122_SENNHEISER-MKH-20-MICROPHONE-RF-condenser-omni-studio-and-live-instrument
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Wonks » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:14 am

Arpangel wrote:
John Willett wrote:The retail in the UK is £2,353.22 +VAT for the MKH 20

I think you're mistaken John, the street price for a single MKH 20 is "around" £1,500 your price is way too much for a single mic, and not enough for a pair, I take it you did mean for one mic?
The price below is typical, and not the cheapest.

https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/92-122_SENNHEISER-MKH-20-MICROPHONE-RF-condenser-omni-studio-and-live-instrument

This is a resurrected thread and those are 11 year old prices, and as John Willett was UK technical director for Sennheiser at the time, he would know exactly what the list prices were (in 2008).

A lot of Sennheiser prices gave come down since then, so you have to take John's technical comments comments but then use today's street pricing.
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Re: MKH20 v MKH8020

Postby Arpangel » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:31 am

Wonks wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
John Willett wrote:The retail in the UK is £2,353.22 +VAT for the MKH 20

I think you're mistaken John, the street price for a single MKH 20 is "around" £1,500 your price is way too much for a single mic, and not enough for a pair, I take it you did mean for one mic?
The price below is typical, and not the cheapest.

https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/92-122_SENNHEISER-MKH-20-MICROPHONE-RF-condenser-omni-studio-and-live-instrument

This is a resurrected thread and those are 11 year old prices, and as John Willett was UK technical director for Sennheiser at the time, he would know exactly what the list prices were (in 2008).

A lot of Sennheiser prices gave come down since then, so you have to take John's technical comments comments but then use today's street pricing.

Sorry Wonks, got caught up in an interesting thread and missed the date! And thought maybe John had a slip,of a finger, no disrespect, if anyone should know about these mic's it's John.

:blush:
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