Choosing a mic in this mid-price bracket opens up yet more tempting choices..
sE Electronics 2200A II
Price £280 Contact Sonic Distribution 0845 500 2500
The 2200 has gradually evolved from a simple, no-frills fixed-cardioid condenser to this multi-pattern version with added 10dB attenuation pad and switchable bass roll-off. This model has won several awards and was most famously used to record Amy Winehouse’s vocals for the Back To Black album. The package includes a shockmount and pop shield.
Cardioid provides a bold sound with detail, some high-frequency sparkle and just enough midrange-enhancing colouration. Omni sounds open and deep, but figure-8 has slightly lower output, more colouration and thinner mids.
Price £444 Contact SCV London 020 8418 1470
With a transformer-balanced output and a 12AX7 valve, the CV12 trumps HST-11A-derived mics with its 10dB pad and 80Hz bass roll-off. Nine polar patterns are selectable and it ships in a metal case with a power supply, shockmount and wood microphone box.
Delivering what you might hope from a large-capsule valve condenser, it’s round and smooth with nicely weighted mids and an impressively detailed treble response. The CV12 distinguishes itself on vocals, generating a full-bodied sound with plenty of low-mid girth and clearly defined consonants. Suitable for any recording scenario where a little softening and smoothing is required.
Price £405 Contact M-Audio 01923 204010
With its distinctive looks and chrome finish, the Sputnik does have a space-age vibe. Inside it’s just as interesting, with a military 6025M valve and a JFET biasing arrangement to maximise headroom and dynamic range. Features include a 10dB pad and switchable 80Hz HPF. It ships with a dedicated power supply and seven-pin cable, shockmount, soft bag and custom flight case.
Some contemporary valve mics are heavily ‘vintage-voiced’ but the Sputnik produces clean, natural-sounding recordings without obvious colouration. Cardioid sounds best, but omni and figure-8 are excellent too.
JZ Mics V11
Price £327 Contact JZ Microphones +37 167 246 648
The body has a wide and flat oval shape, which obviates the need for side support pillars and allows sound waves to reach the edge-terminated 27mm capsule unobstructed. JZ also uses Golden Drop technology to make diaphragms that are faster to respond, resulting in low coloration/distortion.
Bass is full and vibrant, but stops just short of boominess. The midrange is natural and there’s no discernible treble hype. The V11 has a wide sweet spot so is ideal for vocalists who can’t keep still.
Price £425 Contact Sold at Maplin, PMT, Dawsons stores
The capsule is based on the B6 capsule used in BLUE’s flagship Bottle and the housing rotates 90 degrees to refine the aim of the three patterns. A discrete Class-A preamp feeds a transformerless output stage and the Reactor ships with an aluminium flight case and a wire mesh pop filter.
Cardioid is bright and sparkly without being harsh, capturing complex harmonic overtones. The quick transient response provides a sense of detail and realism. This brightness makes the bass seem a little light and sibilance may become an issue. Omni is more coloured but the bass integrates better , while figure-8 sounds fatter, with rolled-off highs.