Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2023

In Review: Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set

By Mark Foley, Technology Editor, ProductionHUB

Setting a New Standard for Audio Excellence

It’s always fun to start off with a few questions for our ProductionHUB readers. So I ask…when you are doing a live production what do you need or want in a mic? Is it how good it sounds? Or maybe it’s reliability? How about the initial cost versus performance? These are all common questions to answer because all of those things matter to production professionals don’t they? That brings me to the topic at hand — we had the opportunity to put the Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set from Sennheiser to the test, and the results were exactly what you would expect (spoiler alert: it’s great!)

From the Beginning

I’ve been using Sennheiser mics in a variety of live and recorded applications for years, so the positive impressions started way back when I saw a Sennheiser Shotgun get run over by a car and still work as though nothing had happened. And no, it wasn’t me. Fast forward to today - let’s start with this set up right out of the box. Each of the larger components were nicely wrapped in an elegant black paper as though they were an early Christmas present. It was so typical of how Sennheiser goes about their business and as professional as it gets. Oh, and the mic and receiver are built for a lot of daily and extended production.

In the Box

The box contained additional cables, batteries, hardware, and easy, eco-friendly directions. Of the two sets of batteries included, one was rechargeable. That battery pack had a 28% charge out of the box, so I decided to follow the directions and charge it all the way up in the EW-DP EK receiver using my Mac Mini and supplied cable before turning the receiver on. I’ll wait to install the other set of disposable batteries in the handheld unit EW-D SKM-S which, as usual, is milled to absolute perfection. This attention to detail is what really matters to audio and production professionals. Any that you or I buy has to be built to last.

It’s not just the physical attributes of the product that Sennheiser has incredible grip on, but also the keeping up with the here and now when it comes to product design.

Another perk? Sennheiser has this amazing app you put on your smartphone that helps audio pros and non-audio pros fine tune their wireless set ups and make changes on the fly.How cool is that?

EW-D Smart Assist

So naturally, I downloaded the Sennheiser EW-D Smart Assist app on my Android smartphone. This app has features such as auto set up and monitoring, access to all the system settings, and frequency allocations and wireless channel naming. There are lots of presets and helpful info that will make this wireless setup go quickly. For example, if you are a local production group or if you and your crew end up working in a nearby venue or stadium, having the frequency presets means you can feel pretty confident that your guys can get out there and get your live shot or pre recorded segment done with a minimum of hassle and supervision.

Once you’re set up and connected, your wireless system automatically monitors for issues. If the system detects any problems, it will send you a Smart Notification. These notifications are triggered by things like clipping audio, low batteries, or blocked frequencies.

EW-DP EK Compact Digital Receiver

At the heart of EW-DP is a compact digital receiver that provides an intuitive user experience. As mentioned, Bluetooth synchronization and system control via our Smart Assist app helps the set up and your shoot go smoothly. The EW-DP EK's wide 56 MHz bandwidth also provides intelligent switching reception with two antennas and auto-scan with 2240 frequencies to provide continuous wireless performance, even in challenging RF environments. A front-facing OLED display allows for easy menu navigation and at-a-glance system status at any angle, in any light.

To ensure uninterrupted power on set, the EW-DP EK can be powered via two AA batteries or the BA 70 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack (all included). Power can also be supplied through the USB port, allowing it to run on a USB power pack or all day, if you have access to wall power.

So how do you attach the receiver to the camera? In addition to the cold shoe mount with a 1/4"-20 thread on the bottom, the receiver comes with this very cool and well thought out magnetic cheese plate that provides flexible mounting options for camera cages and accessory arms. Additionally, the magnetic mounting system also lets you securely stack a second transmitter right on top when you’re shooting two on-camera personalities. Sennheiser also offers a combiner cable that will allow you to record both receivers to a camera’s single 3.5mm input.

Sennheiser EW-DP Takeaways

Unlike most shoots these days, I had some assistance that day from my crack production assistant and granddaughter Lisa Jean. (Thanks Lisa Jean!) This is important to note because normally if you mostly work solo you need the set up to be quick and easy especially if audio may not be your strong suite. I was glad to have some help that day.

Here are a few things I really liked about the microphone and the receiver:

Recorded multiple takes with simple stand ups at distance did not require any changes or adjustments to the receiver, which was easy to read from a distance outside even in some pretty bright sunlight. Clear and crisp with little to no distortion and almost no wind noise to speak of, even though it had been quite a windy day. Professional results and were pretty much what I would normally expect from Sennheiser.

Release of EW-DP Firmware 1.9.0 Update

Sennheiser just released the firmware 1.9.0 for the EW-DP receiver. This update solves the scan issue (known as the "scan bug") in which sometimes the autoscan did select a more crowded channel, resulting in a low range performance of the system. The auto scan now performs a complete spectrum scan (in only 3 seconds!!!) and gives you the very BEST available frequency. If for any reason the environment is too crowded at all, the EK will still give you the best frequency but inform the user that there might be a reduced range performance due to a crowded environment. The firmware update is, as always, rolled out via a smart assist update. You just need to update your smart assist app to the latest version and it will push the FW 1.9.0 to the connected EW-DP EKs.

Closing Thoughts

The Sennheiser EW-DP 835 Wireless Handheld Microphone System would be a great addition to almost any new or experienced professional’s audio kit. It is built to exacting physical and operating specifications. Even with little audio experience, the set up was easy and with built in troubleshooting and the Smart Assist App the results were flawless. In addition to the handheld model tested, Sennheiser also offers just a lav or combo version as well. If you are serious about getting good audio on your shoots you should look (and listen) to this set up. You will not be disappointed.

Sennheiser EW-DP 835 Wireless Handheld Microphone System Key Features:

  • Streamlined digital audio system for video and content creation
  • SKM-S handheld transmitter offers clear and stable transmission
  • MMD 835 cardioid dynamic microphone module captures your voice in high definition
  • Magnetically stackable EW-DP EK receiver enables quick and versatile mounting
  • Bluetooth connectivity offers seamless system synchronization and control
  • Smart Notifications as to guesswork out of troubleshooting
  • Smart Assist app allows you to control and monitor the system on your smart device
  • 134dB dynamic range offers distortion-free transmission
  • OLED display enables optimal visibility
  • Receiver can also be powered via the USB-C connection