AES08: Sennheiser Mics go Digital

Roadies: 'One...Two' now has to be 'One...Zero'      29/05/08

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3:42 mins
Microphone colossus Sennheiser was showing a couple of new items - you may have already caught wind of the MKH800-Twin microphone [see the video here] but also on the stand, still warm from the design lab, was the MZD8000, a nifty module which allows existing MKH 8020, MKH 8040 and MKH 8050 models to be 'digified'.

Sennheiser reckon that the future of mics is digital, and along with Neumann and Schoeps have implemented the AES42 protocol in their new digital mic designs, allowing them to play nicely with digital mic interfaces such as the DNC-842 from RME, which we saw at the previous AES show in New York [watch it here].

Here's a bit of blurb from them...
"The fantastic sound of the MKH 8000 series can now be converted to digital directly at the microphone head, ensuring a natural sound without any loss of quality.
The compact digital module is simply screwed onto the microphone head in place of the XLR module, turning the audio signal of the MKH 8020 (omni-directional), MKH 8040 (cardioid) and MKH 8050 (super-cardioid) into a digital one. The new digital module ensures that the warm, natural, yet fantastically clear and powerful sound of the MKH 8000 series is maintained in full quality along the entire signal chain. In contrast to conventional digitization, which uses a separate analogue/digital converter at some stage in the chain, the Sennheiser MZD 8000 digital module eliminates cable losses and, most importantly, features a converter and surrounding circuitry that have been optimally matched to the microphone.
Like all signal-carrying components in the 8000 series, the module is designed with two channels and converts the microphone signal according to the AES 42 standard. The microphones can be synchronized by any digital system. In addition to the A/D converter (24-bit, sampling rate up to 192 kHz), the digital module contains a highly integrated DSP unit. With the aid of dedicated PC control software and an AES 42 interface, the microphone allows settings such as the low-cut filter, attenuation and limiter to be remote-controlled. The required phantom power for microphones is provided by an AES 42 interface, e.g. Neumann’s DMI."

We asked Claus Menke what it was all about...

Andy McCreeth


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