As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the exterior of a fake 416 has the ability to fool almost anyone. A common finding with the fake 416 is the serial number located at the XLR end of the microphone. In the packaging section, the serial number was listed as 00111505 on the box and the serial number at the end of this microphone is 111505. Some users have said that other serial numbers being put on counterfeits are leading with 11150 plus a random digit. Remember, the number between the box label and the microphone should always match.
Another difference with the exterior is the set screw. A gold set screw is used on the fake 416, and a genuine 416 uses a black or unpolished brass screw.
Inside the Shell
The fake Sennheiser MKH 416 is on the left, and the genuine Sennheiser MKH 416 is on the right. No explanation needed.
We personally haven’t done a direct audio comparison, but some people have said the audio quality between the fake and the genuine MKH 416s is only discernible when listened to with trained ears. That being said, the common person would probably fail to notice the difference until issues came up. One of those issues is the lack of RF robustness. In fact, by a colleague’s account, the fake Sennheiser MKH 416 picked up all sorts of radio signals while he was booming. At one point he heard interference from putting the microphone close to a kitchen stoves LCD screen!
The cliche you get what you pay for still holds true. Many people don’t mind getting their microphones secondhand, and I certainly don’t blame them with the current prices and exchange rates these days. We hope this post will help you with purchasing a Sennheiser MKH 416, and maybe help get your payment back if you’ve already made the purchase. Please be aware this post cannot be used for finding every fake Sennheiser MKH 416 out there. Counterfeit tactics are always changing. As with any purchase, be thorough, ask questions, and if its to good to be true it probably is.
Special thanks to Stuart Torrance of locationsoundcables.com for the help compiling information.
Images courtesy of SeeKai and angelpgrandi @ JWSoundGroup