Hands-On Review:Handheld Condenser


Sennheiser e865: Handheld Condenser


Overview / Condensers Onstage / Up Close and Personal


Sennheiser's Evolution Series e865 Handheld Live Condenser Microphone Overview

The e865 is a great new condenser microphone designed for live performance. Its top-notch sound make it a good choice for the quieter and more subtle singer/performer yet its 150dB SPL capability and rugged construction make it perfectly suitable for any workout on the stage.


Ease of Use: 5
Value: 4
Functionality: 4


Condenser Mics on the Stage
Traditionally, condenser microphones have been used almost exclusively in studios due to their fragile nature, large size and high cost. Studio condensers also (if they have tubes inside) require delicate handling and an external power supply requiring special cables. Furthermore, studio condensers are designed to be shock-mounted, not held in a singer's hand. But aside from costs, fragility and size, there are no technical reasons why condenser microphones have not been used more in live sound work. Many performers have faced the risks when recording in a live setting to recreate the sound they achieve in the recording studio.


Condenser microphones, which have a full frequency response, are warmer and fuller sounding than other mic types. Condensers are able to capture the nuances and subtle details that dynamic microphones often miss. This extra sensitivity is valuable especially for quiet to medium-loud vocals and softer acoustic instruments. Extra sensitivity also can mean a greater propensity to feedback, though newer live sound processor designs, greater use of in-ear monitoring and a decreased number of stage monitor speakers have allowed more gain before feedback on stage. These emerging trends make for a natural progression to using condensers in live sound.


Up Close and Personal
The e865 is the first condenser microphone in the Sennheiser "evolution" series. The entire evolution series is aimed at live sound work, though many of the evolution drum mics have become popular in the recording studio as well. The e865 uses a pre-polarized electret condenser element that handles very loud sound levels up to 150dB SPL. The pickup pattern is super cardioid, with greater than 25dB rejection of sounds coming from the back of the microphone. Frequency response is rated at 40Hz to 20kHz and free-field sensitivity is a very low 3mV/PA. The microphone weighs 311 grams (11 ounces), is a little more than seven inches long, of all-metal construction and comes with a carrying pouch and mic holding clip. The microphone's impedance is a nominal 200 ohms and, being a condenser, requires phantom powering of 12-48 volts.