evolution microphones are designed specifically to withstand the rigours of live stage performance, excelling at meeting a range of specialised needs in this demanding market. For example, at the 55th Grammy Awards ceremony in 2013, 80 evolution microphones were in use, from the e 935 for vocals to the e 602-II for kick drums.
At Prolight + Sound
2013 in Frankfurt, Sennheiser’s most successful microphone series celebrated its 15th anniversary. In 1998, Sennheiser unveiled evolution microphones providing bands with a complete microphone solution for flawless and rich sound for both vocals and instruments. So far, the company has sold some 10 million wired and wireless evolution microphones.
Before the introduction of the evolution microphone range, Sennheiser’s professional microphone offering was dominated by classics such as the MD 441, MD 421 and the MD 409, as well as microphones based on these models. “The company’s focus was clearly on the TV area, on high-quality microphones for use in broadcasting and TV studios,” says Michael Polten, Director of Customer Relationship Management at Sennheiser, “and not every microphone that has been optimised for broadcasting can be so easily transferred to the live stage.”
Sennheiser was faced with a complex problem: the company knew that if it wanted to be more successful in the music industry, certain price limits could not be exceeded. At the same time, the company wanted to continue to focus on quality, with microphones that were made in Germany. Eventually, the solution was the domestic manufacture of high-quality microphones through a fully-automated production process. This represented a major financial and technical challenge because such a production line had never been built before. Together with an engineering company specialised in precision engineering, the Sennheiser’s manufacturing engineers and product specialists started to develop a production line for manufacturing dynamic microphones and capsules.
1998 and one year later: the first microphones rolled out the assembly line and the evolution range was launched. The company’s willingness to take a risk paid off through a comeback in the music microphone industry. The original models of the evolution series included the wired vocal microphones e 825, e 835 and e 845, as well as instrument microphones e 602, e 604, e 608 and e 609, with more models added over time.
In 2003, the first premium evolution 900 models were added to the evolution microphone series. Sennheiser’s tonmeister and International Recording Applications Manager, Gregor Zielinsky, fine-tuned the sound design for the new series: “With the microphones of the 900 series, we started a new tradition of testing the microphones from the outset in the environment in which they are actually used. We took the first prototypes straight to a music club we know well, where they were put through their paces by musicians and the developers. Once there, we could hear directly where changes needed to be made to the sound, or where more presence or brilliance was needed. Our developers – with their design and music expertise – then usually knew which refinements and tweaks were required to achieve the sound quality they were after.”
In record time, the 900 series became a well-known brand among bands, artists and sound engineers. The sound of the vocal capsules and, in particular, the sound of the 935 capsule is very popular – it even lent its sound signature to the MD 5235 capsule, which was designed for the top-end wireless SKM 5200 microphone.