Pull Out The Old Mics: Rethinking Audio Engineering Ruts

Brandon Drury —  October 2, 2007

On the music production forum today we were having a discussion about the Best Vocal Mics For $300. and in particular we were talking abou the EV RE-20. I have an Electro Voice (EV) PL-20 which I snagged off of Ebay for a cheap price years ago. For whatever reason, I never liked the mic. It ended up on the “don’t use” portion of my mic shelf with my Audio Technica AT 4033 and both broken MXL V69s.

My memory of the PL-20 was that it sounded like a megaphone. I remember absolutely no low end in the mic even in the flat position. Based on the way that so many experienced audio engineers spoke of the mic, I decided that mine was broken. That was the end of it.

Well, after the forum discussion today, I decided that it was stupid of me to keep on with my prejudice. I decided that I needed to try it out again. I put the mic up side by side with my Shure SM7 (another great dynamic mic) to see the difference. IMMEDIATELY it was clear that the RE-20 / PL-20 was definitely in the same league as the Shure SM7. The SM7 was a little bit more “hifi” through my Trident S20 preamp. This may sound like a good thing to the layman, but with vocals “hifi” can be the path to disaster in the world of thin vocals and sibilance. Then again, it just might be more “hifi”.

Dynamic Mic Shootout On The Way
So, I put together a super tiny little shootout between my EV PL-20, Shure SM7, Shure SM 58, and my Sennheiser MD 421. I’ll be posting it soon. I must say that it was an eye opening experience to say the least. The EV PL-20 was NOTHING like I had remembered. NOT EVEN CLOSE! In fact, I was looking for a mic that was more neutral than the Shure SM7 not long ago. I was looking for a mic that didn’t quite as bitey in the upper midrange. I would have been MUCH happier using the RE-20 / PL-20 in this case. Oh well. Now I know.

The Lesson Learned
The lesson from this is not to get too set in your ways with this audio recording business. Shake things up a bit. Do things wrong. You could be missing out on some exciting tools because you were too stubborn to give them another try. Hell, I paid for the damn mic. Why haven’t I been using it???

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.