Sennheiser e935 Review
Sound Quality – 4.5
Build / Durability – 5
Value – 4.5
Design – 5
- Detailed lovely highs and mids for a dynamic mic
- 10-year warranty
- sturdy build, solid in the hand
- resistant to feedback
- boomy, requires good mic technique
Sennheiser e935 Microphone
Better than the SM58. A vocal mic at its best in live situations with warmth in the bottom and more details in the middle and highs without brittle harshness. A great feel and build with a 10-year warranty to back it up.
Sennheiser E935 Review: The Sound
We all have different voices, different ways of playing instruments, and different tastes. Sometimes we want a microphone to accurately pick up the sound and sometimes we want it to give us some love, or warmth, or color. This is a very subjective business. Therefore, I want to be clear about what I want from this microphone…
With this mic, I was looking for a durable live vocal mic that would sound great. Basically, I was looking for a better SM58. (If you’re not familiar with the Shure SM58, it is the industry standard for vocal mics.) I wasn’t specifically looking for something that I could use in the studio for recording but I also wasn’t ruling that out. I wanted to see how versatile it could be.
In live situations, I want a mic that makes me sound rad. Detail is good but if certain details in the voice are overly enhanced, it doesn’t sound so great. So this mic helps me If you’re accustomed to the sound of a live SM58, as most of us are, this mic is a breath of fresh air. Literally, there is more air at the top, but generally just more detail from the middle up.
Sennheiser e935 Review: The Test
We used a Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 powered Interface recorded with Logic Pro X. There is no EQ or compression applied to any of the audio clips here. We adjusted the gain from the audio interface to taste. The guitars were a Martin steel-string acoustic guitar and Fender Strat plugged into 40 Watt Fender Champ.
Sennheiser e935 vs Shure SM58
Immediately upon testing, you notice how hot the mic is (how loud the output is). I was instinctively closer than one needs to be to get the best sound from this mic. If you handle it well, it gives a nice crisp, full sound. It catches more detail than an SM58 in a good way.
To get a general idea of this mic, we must compare it to the industry-standard SM58. (more on the SM58 and other mic, check this out) Compared to the SM58, the frequency response looks like this. But this doesn’t really tell you the full story.
The difference is in the details looking at the e935 vs SM58. This mic picks up details in my voice in the upper middle that are completely lost on an SM58.
Sennheiser e935 Frequency Response
E935 Review: Sung Vocals and Neighboring Noise
Like most dynamic mics using a cardioid pattern pickup, this mic effectively picks up only what’s in front of the microphone. This is ideal for live performance or in an untreated room in your home studio. We test how well this mic insulates from other sound sources below.
Notice on this sung vocal test how the acoustic guitar I’m playing is very quiet indeed.
Sibilance was naturally controlled by this mic. Without any EQ, I thought it handled quite nicely in this regard.
The only real downside we noticed in testing this mic is that it required careful mic technique. It’s very hot. If you’re too close it gets boomy and the plosives get over-emphasized. Notice this in the test below.
How versatile is this mic? Can you use it on drums or guitars?
If you’ve spent some time trying out microphones, you will discover that mics that are labeled “vocal” mics are often good for drums or guitars and mics labeled “instrumental” are often good for vocals. As always the rule is, “if it sounds good, it’s right.” So with this in mind, we tested this microphone on spoken vocals, sung vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar (directly on the amp).
I was quite pleased with the versatility of this little guy. I wouldn’t have thought to use it for recording acoustic guitars but after this test, I would. (see below) And, though not as nice for electric guitar as an SM57, I still quite like it in these examples. We didn’t test it on drums but after trying it out on cajon, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this on a snare drum as well.
Build / Durability
Upon unboxing, I liked the feel of this mic. It has a nice 355 gram weight. It’s heavy! It feels solid in the hand. I didn’t drop it on the floor but if I did, I had the feeling it would survive. It’s about the same size as the Shure SM58 with a similar grill.
The overall build is perfect for live use. The shock-mounted capsule has a low sensitivity to impact and handling noise. Along with the hum compensating coil, what more could you ask for?
What is a dynamic microphone?
And just for your information, this is a dynamic microphone. This means the machinery working inside includes a coil attached to a thin strip of metal called the diaphragm. More sound is required to make the coil and the diaphragm vibrate together. (Condenser mics only have a diaphragm) This means this type of mic:
- is preferred for live gigs because it can withstand louder noises and is less sensitive to room noise and neighbouring sound sources
- does not require phantom 48V power to function properly
The Sennheiser e935 uses a cardioid pick up pattern. This is the standard heart-shaped pattern used by microphones designed to insulate from other on-stage signals.
Who is this microphone for?
If you’re looking for a vocal mic for live gigs, this is a gem. It’s clearer and fuller than an SM58 or SM58 Beta. It feels like a nice step up from these standard workhorses. Its pick-up pattern is well insulated from other onstage sound. Despite being a hot mic, it’s very resistant to feedback. And, it’s built like a tank.
This would also be ideal for podcasting and spoken audio. The proximity effect adds depth and warmth to any voice which might be preferred over an honest condenser. You will need an audio interface with a pre-amp if you’re using this for podcasts.
If you want a dynamic mic for the studio, I would consider getting one of these over an SM58. I loved it on acoustic guitar. The proximity effect of the dynamic coil had a surprising warm quality that helped out the acoustic guitar. Again, my reservations on using this for vocals in the studio are how careful you have to be with the placement to avoid plosives and a boomy radio voice effect. I would also probably slightly prefer the SM57 for electric guitar. (to hear microphone tests on the SM57 see here. )
Who is this microphone NOT for?
If you’re looking for a nice studio mic for vocals, I would choose a condenser like the Neumann TLM 102 or on the budget side, the AKG P420 (all recording studio equipment reviews here) However, if you’re looking for a different color than what most condensers offer, or your vocal style could benefit from the proximity bass effect of dynamic microphones, you could make nice recordings with the e935.
Use a pop filter and careful mic placement. This is also not suited for you if you are looking for a sensitive mic to pick up the ambiance of the recording space.
One last thing to mention, this is not suited for you if you plan to record this with an interface that has an impedance equal to or lower than 350 Ohms. You can find this in the specs for your interface under ‘Input impedance’
What they say about the Sennheiser e935
We asked around the biz and got a few words from some pros who use this mic:
I’m in a family bluegrass band and we sing harmonies with all vocal ranges. We play fiddle, bass, banjo, guitars, and mandolin. We switched to using a few Sennheiser e935s after years with the Shure SM58 beta. We immediately noticed details in our blending, harmonies, and dynamics with these mics. We use the same EQ on all four mics and swap instruments and voices on them. Now I swear by them.
Mary Helprin, Folk Singer
I’ve been working as a sound engineer for over two decades. I own the SM58, SM57, Sennheiser e835, and Shure SM58 Beta. This is the only mic I give vocalists now. Brings out details, fights feedback, feels solid, and looks cooler. I will never look back.
George Maathai, Sound Engineer
Related or Mentioned Gear
Sennheiser e935 Dynamic Microphone – a step up from the SM58 in sound quality.
Sennheiser e945, the super-cardioid (more focussed, tighter pick up area) version of this mic.
Sennheiser e965, the condenser version of the 935, the big brother. One of our favourite mics.
Shure SM58 Microphone, the classic workhorse vocal microphone.
Shure SM58 beta, a different, super-cardioid take on the old classic
Shure SM57, the most popular utility dynamic microphone.
X2U XLR to USB signal adapter, affordable interface suitable for podcasters
Neumann TLM102, a great all-rounder condenser mic