Viva La Microphone Evolution


TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
Download PDF
Download PDF

2018 marked the twentieth year of Sennheiser Evolution microphones - a range of wired and wireless live performance microphones and wireless systems that took Sennheiser from relatively small-volume broadcast manufacturing to a prime position on stages around the world. Last November, Sennheiser UK marked this auspicious occasion by holding an evening of storytelling, hosted by Jamie Gosney and featuring Michael Polten, Martin Fischer and Andrew Lillywhite, all key members of the Sennheiser Evolution team, as well as Pete Malandrone (guitar tech to Dr Brian May), Joe Campbell (monitor engineer for artists include Chris Rea, Placebo and Adele) and Chris Denman (producer of the live sessions at Global Radio) who have all used, and loved, Evolution microphones for many years.

Evolution started as a wired microphone line, conceived as a great leap forward for a company that needed to shake things up in an increasingly competitive market place. Dated manufacturing processes left Sennheiser with a stark choice - evolve or lose the edge. The solution was two-pronged: A new, progressive approach to product design, and major investment in modern automated production facilities.

Customer First
Sennheiser Evolution was the first of the company's product lines to start life with the customer. Before any R&D Engineers were allowed near the project, an international team of sales and marketing specialists were tasked with finding out exactly what musicians, guitar and drum techs, Front of House engineers, and monitor engineers wanted.

Michael Polten, now retired, was Director, Customer Relationship Management at Sennheiser during the design of the Evolution Series, and was a key part in its success: "The focus was on the user and what was required by them," he says. "We could have developed another microphone that followed what the competition was doing, but that was not the Sennheiser way. We wanted to differentiate ourselves completely and introduce a range that would be synonymous with the Sennheiser brand."

The Evolution Series was launched in 1998, with the introduction of the e825, e835 and e845 vocal microphones, and the e602, e604, e608 and e609 instrument mics. The company managed to ramp production up to 200,000 units a year, and - with a little bit of help from high-profile Evolutionist, Sir Elton John - by the second year a smaller than one percent share of the MI market had gone into double figures, an upward trend that was to continue...

"This was the first range that was completely focussed on what the customer, the dealer, our own sales force and our marketing team wanted," says Polten. "These were the main points that made the range so successful."

Reinventing RF
The next step for Evolution was the wireless space. Martin Fischer is a Senior Product Manager for Sennheiser’s professional division and has been with the company for nearly 32 years. His knowledge and experience were crucial in developing Evolution Wireless, and he recalls the all-important initial design criteria: "It needed to be stage proof, so it should have a rugged metal housing for receivers and transmitters. Transmission reliability, superior sound with exchangeable mic capsules from the Evolution line, ease of use, flexibility, and fulfilling our quality standards were also vital. And last but not least, it should be affordable for musicians."

The new Evolution Wireless systems were previewed at the PLASA Show, London, in 1999, with the 100, 300, and 500 series lines. "We also defined the ENG line and the IEM line," notes Fischer. "We managed to bring five Evolution lines to market in a very short time frame."

Since that initial offering, Evolution Wireless has gone from strength to strength. G2 - the second generation - brought improved audio and RF properties, new user interfaces and a scan function, along with smaller bodypacks. Then the third generation, G3 (launched 2009), brought IR synchronization, Soundcheck mode, frequency coordination via the Wireless Systems Manager, wider frequency response, and interchangeable microphone heads for the hand-held transmitters.

The D1 wireless system joined the party in 2015, expanding Evolution Wireless into the license-free 2.4GHz digital transmission range. And last year saw the launch of G4, with new ENG and film sets in the 500 Series, new Base sets in the 300 series, and upgraded vocal sets in the 100 Series.

900, and Counting
In parallel with that, the Evolution wired microphones continued to progress. In 2000 the e 865 - the first condenser microphone in the series, was launched. After that came the 900-series, starting with the e 935 and e 945 vocal microphones - another step up in quality, with new, great-sounding capsules, widely praised, and widely used.

Andrew Lillywhite, currently part of Sennheiser's European Development and Application Engineers team, was previously Chief Engineer for Sennheiser UK. Six weeks after starting at the company, he was thrown into a very practical development session: "My boss at the time, Dave Hawker - who is sadly no longer with us - said 'we’re doing this thing on Sunday and we need you to be there'."

Lillywhite found himself in a North London rehearsal studio with around 20 monitor and Front of House engineers that were already familiar with the existing 800 Series. "The idea of that day was to get feedback from these engineers on what they liked and what they didn’t like about the existing mics, and there were samples of some new secret mics for them to try... That was really the start of the development of the Evolution 900 series... The idea was to take it to the next level."

Since those early development days, the 900 Series has continued to expand with a number of models, including the flagship e 965 - Sennheiser’s first true large-diaphragm condenser microphone, with selectable polar patterns. That, along with the e 901, e 902, e 904, e 905, e 906, e 908, and e 914 instrument microphones were launched in 2004.

To this day, the Sennheiser Evolution Series continues to, well, evolve. Since the day the decision was made to consult the customer before the R&D team, it has become a true phenomenon, with a wide range of features and budgets to suit a wide range of applications. Something that is well worth celebrating.

Viva la Evolution.


Tags: iss135 | sennheiser | evolution | microphone | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Download PDF
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Sennheiser iPhone Microphones at IBC 2107

    Sennheiser iPhone Microphones at IBC 2107

  • Sennheiser VR at IBC 2016

    Sennheiser VR at IBC 2016

  • Sennheiser at BVE North 2011

    Sennheiser at BVE North 2011

  • Memory Mic from Sennheiser shown at IBC 2018

    Memory Mic from Sennheiser shown at IBC 2018

  • Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

    Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

  • Sennheiser HDM Pro at BVE 2014

    Sennheiser HDM Pro at BVE 2014

  • Sennheiser at BVE 2012

    Sennheiser at BVE 2012

  • The KitPlus NAB kit overview video

    The KitPlus NAB kit overview video

  • KitPlus filming rig used at NAB 2017

    KitPlus filming rig used at NAB 2017

  • KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

    KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

  • Kit Overview from IBC 2015

    Kit Overview from IBC 2015

  • Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2014

    Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2014

  • Quantel Enterprise sQ at NAB 2014

    Quantel Enterprise sQ at NAB 2014

  • Quantel QTube at NAB 2014

    Quantel QTube at NAB 2014

  • Quantel Pablo Rio at IBC 2013

    Quantel Pablo Rio at IBC 2013

  • Quantels Stream-based Workflows at IBC 2013

    Quantels Stream-based Workflows at IBC 2013

  • DPA Microphones at NAB 2015

    DPA Microphones at NAB 2015

  • DPA Microphones at NAB 2014

    DPA Microphones at NAB 2014

  • Sony Wireless Microphones at BVE 2014

    Sony Wireless Microphones at BVE 2014

  • DPA Microphones and Bubblebee Industries at BVE 2014

    DPA Microphones and Bubblebee Industries at BVE 2014

  • DPA Microphones at IBC 2013

    DPA Microphones at IBC 2013

  • DPA Microphones at NAB 2013

    DPA Microphones at NAB 2013

  • DPA Microphones at NAB 2012

    DPA Microphones at NAB 2012

  • Thear Technology at BVE 2013

    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

  • Editors Keys at BVE North 2012

    Editors Keys at BVE North 2012

  • Soundfield at BVE 2012

    Soundfield at BVE 2012

  • Shure at ProVideo2011

    Shure at ProVideo2011

  • Editors Keys at ProVideo2011

    Editors Keys at ProVideo2011

  • The Mic Store at BVE North 2011

    The Mic Store at BVE North 2011

  • Shure at BVE North 2011

    Shure at BVE North 2011

  • Source Distribution and Rode at BVE North 2011

    Source Distribution and Rode at BVE North 2011


Related Shows
  • Show 19 - June 19th 2013

    Show 19 - June 19th 2013


Articles
Capturing Haute Couture
KitPlus As the fashion world returned to the French capital for the most prestigious of the 'Big Four’ fashion weeks, historical venues such as the Carrousel du Louvre and the Grand Palais played host to famous emblematic brands such as Chanel, Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Stella McCartney, showcasing their autumn/winter 2019 collections.
Tags: iss137 | blackmagic design | ursa mini | freecaster | atem | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
The Latest Trend in Cloud Ingest Portals
Megan Cater The unique demands of the media industry have created an equally unique ecosystem. With high-resolution video constantly moving over the Internet during production, post production, and multi-device, multi-channel distribution, as well as the need for flexible storage and security at every stage — all under impossibly tight timelines — there isn’t another industry like it. It’s not surprising then that technologies that work for some industries often don’t work the same in media, and cloud ingest is a great example.
Tags: iss137 | signiant | saas | ftp | dropbox | file transfer | media shuttle | Megan Cater
Contributing Author Megan Cater Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation - If Winter Comes
Dick Hobbs - new Here’s an important fact that might get lost in all the noise of the moment. HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is relentlessly covered in the press as well as being talked about by its fans, is not actually terribly popular. The opener of the current (and last, thank goodness) series attracted a consolidated audience of about 3.5 million – that includes 2.7 million who watched the first showing at 2am, plus those who watched it at a more civilised hour, or who recorded it. Informed comment seems to be that those who watch on catch-up at some time in the following week or so might add a million more.
Tags: iss137 | gof | games of thrones | 8k | hdr | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Digital Video Tech Innovation - The Game Changer for Live Sports
Lorna Garrett Since the first live television sports event in 1936, when the Olympics was broadcast from Berlin, the sports industry has been an early adopter of the latest technology. The goal continues to be to deliver compelling content around the globe, now to multiple viewing platforms. It’s become a must-have that’s embedded in fan expectations and broadcasters’ marketing strategies.
Tags: iss137 | garland | gpl | liveU | sports | lu600 | hevc | lu300-hevc | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
Post Production on Tour
Alex Macleod I’m writing this article after finally settling back into my office after a busy few days on the Kitplus Tour 2019. The tour saw me travelling from Manchester to Glasgow then onto Bristol, then finally returning back to Manchester. Quite a few miles travelled. But totally worth it.
Tags: iss137 | mediacity training | adobe | premiere pro | kitplus show | glasgow | bristol | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF