Electro-Voice RE500, August 1998 - Mixonline

Electro-Voice RE500, August 1998

CARDIOID TRUE CONDENSER MICROPHONE
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The Electro-Voice RE500 is a cardioid, true condenser microphone. Designed for live stage
vocal performance, the mic may also be used in broadcast and home
recording applications.

On the technical side, the RE500 is an externally biased true
condenser microphone with a frequency response of 80 to 18k Hz. The
diaphragm is ultrathin, gold-sputtered, environmentally stabilized and
ultralow mass. The electrode is a precision-cut, single-piece ceramic
disc, layered with gold. The mic operates from 12 to 52VDC phantom power and retails for $375.

The RE500 incorporates useful live performance design features such
as a warm grip handle and a black, nonreflective, micromatte finish.
The 8-ounce, 6.5-inch mic handles comfortably, especially for
first-time performances when sweaty palms may be an uncontrollable
factor.

To minimize wind and breath noises, the RE500 offers a three-stage
wind and pop filter and incorporates a fixed lowcut filter set at 80
Hz. The mic also incorporates a shock-mounted transducer, which, combined with the low-cut
filter, esults in extremely low handling noise.

In home recording and broadcast situations, the mic’s wide
dynamic range and low self-noise will be best appreciated. The RE500
also features a “presence rise,” a frequency lift above 1
kHz. According to EV, this is designed to “...enhance the sound
quality (and) lend an open, transparent detail to the recorded
sound.” Unfortunately, this little boost makes for some tough
times in monitor-land, but more on that later.

IN THE FIELD
When I received the RE500, I took it home, plugged it into a mixer and
listened to it through Sony MDR-V600 headphones. From the first word, I
detected some sort of high-frequency boost. To confirm this, I grabbed
my old standby, a Shure SM58 (the industry standard for stage vocal
microphones) and A/B’d the two mics. Relative to the 58, the
RE500 had a bump around 4 to 5 kHz, and another between 10 and 12 kHz,
with a noticeable high-frequency boost throughout the higher register
of the spectrum.

The microphone sounded clear and defined through headphones. But I
was curious to see how the RE500 would respond in a more demanding
environment, so I went to JK Sound, a San Francisco-based rental
company, and ran it through some of JK’s standard PAS SW1.2 floor
monitors, a coaxial design offering a natural sound with a flat
frequency response. The microphone that sounded clear and defined
through headphones now sounded harsh and bright and resulted in some
excruciatingly painful feedback when the microphone was opened up. It
took quite a bit of equalizing to get the RE500 to respond at a
real-world volume without feeding back. Once I had finished hacking
away at the equalizer, I proceeded to test the microphone. The RE500
lacked body and a solid, well-defined low end. I have a low-end-heavy
voice, and the RE500 didn’t capture the “body” I am
used to hearing. My results were similar through various other speaker
systems.

Next I took the RE500 home to conduct some extensive tests in a more
controlled (and less demanding) environment. My first reaction to the
microphone had been positive, and I was pleased with the overall sound
of the RE500. But headphones are not the ideal monitoring system for
microphone testing, so I recorded some vocal passages to analog tape.
The RE500 responded well and vocals were clear and present. With the
built-in high-frequency boost, there was no need to add any EQ to get
“air” into the vocal mix. However, the RE500 may accentuate
sibilance more than other microphones. Apart from that, the RE500
performed quite nicely in a home studio environment, and I have no
doubt that it would do the same in a broadcast environment.

CONCLUSION
The RE500’s design and construction are solid and
well-thought-out, and the mic is comfortable to hold and well-balanced.
But in the live setting, for which it was designed, the RE500 falls
short. The gain before feedback was only fair, and the mic lacks body
in the lower frequencies, which are important when trying to get vocals
to cut through in a monitor mix. However, the RE500’s low noise
and clear, crisp response are well-suited to studio recording. In its
goal to create a live performance condenser microphone with a
“studio sound,” Electro-Voice may have missed the mark, yet
at $375, the RE500 provides an alternative for anyone seeking an
affordable, versatile condenser microphone for the studio.

Electro-Voice Inc., www.electrovoice.com