from Ken Stone
The Sennheiser MKH-60 is a very popular supercardioid patterned shotgun microphone. It has a robust and clear sound with a nice bass response and excellent off-axis rejection. The Sennheiser has a different sound than the other high-end microphones tested, although the basic sound quality is similar to the MKH-50, which I quite liked. The MKH-60 presents with less bass and slightly more mid-range emphasis than the MKH-50.
Test #1 Male Voice, Interior, on-axis, interview setup
Listen to test #1 recording sample
As I listened to the MKH-60, I sensed a lot of balance in the sound. Just as in the Schoeps CMIT5u, the MKH-60 sounded surprisingly good in a small room with lots of reflective surfaces. I would characterize the sound of the MKH-60 as mid-range emphasized whereas the MKH-50 seemed to be much more bass focused overall. The MKH-60 is a favorite for newer boom operators as it’s pickup pattern is pretty forgiving yet has good rejection of off-axis noise. Like the MKH-50, the overall sound quality of the MKH-60 is darker than many of the other mics tested, one more reason why it is important to have more than one microphone in your sound kit. Sometimes your talent can sound kind of high frequency or even chirpy. Recording that sort of voice through a mic that emphasizes high frequencies can be a mistake. A microphone like the MKH-60 can do very good things for thinner sounding and female/kid voices, as it lends then some richness. I would say that overall the sound of the MKH-60 leans toward the mids.
Test #3 Microphone handling noise, Interior, narrative setup
Listen to test #3 recording sample
The MKH-60 exhibited even slightly lower handling noise levels than the MKH-50. I used the same Sennheiser mic mount and obtained very impressive results. I would say that this would be a great mic to consider if you are an amateur boom pole operator and need a forgiving mic. The MKH-60 isolates you from the boom pole in a way that is very appealing. I felt confident that with this mic, I could actually boom operate and get decent results. That’s saying a lot.
Test #5. Male Voice, Exterior, on-axis, narrative setup
Listen to test #5 recording sample
The MKH-60 was an outstanding performer on the exterior test. I heard very little off-axis sound but I never got a sense being in a VO booth that I had with the Schoeps CMIT5u and the Neumann KMR-81i. I would say overall, the MKH-60 shared a lot of similar qualities with the Sanken CS-3e. They both sound very natural on exteriors with the Sanken leaning slightly toward the mids and the Sennheiser leaning slightly toward the lows. Interestingly, the MKH-60 presents with a lot less of a bass feel than the MK-50 on exteriors. I really like the sound quality of this mic and I am told that the MKH-60 makes an excellent mic for hand booming by less experienced boom operators. It has some latitude and forgiveness in it’s pickup pattern which makes it a natural for a beginning boom operator.
Final Evaluation and Recommendations
Unlike it’s sibling, the MKH-50, the Sennheiser MKH-60 had a slightly more balanced sound overall. It produced less bass coloration on exteriors, had excellent off-axis rejection and did extremely well in the mic handling tests. In exteriors, the MKH-60 seemed to compare more to the Sanken CS-3e than the other German microphones. After reviewing both of these Sennheisers, I could see that teaming the two of them together would result in a very complimentary microphone package, if not an inexpensive one.
I have shot many hundreds of interviews with the MKH-60 over the years and it presents a very well balanced sound picture with a slight mid-range emphasis. Personally, I find that I really enjoy using the MKH-60 although it becomes rather transparent, like the Schoeps CMC641. After a while, you just don’t notice the microphone’s characteristics at all, you just notice the sound it recorded. I feel that the Schoeps is less colored than the Sennheiser but both of them present a very realistic sound.