Samson S11

Dynamic Microphone

Published in SOS September 1995
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Reviews : Microphone

PAUL WHITE puts his exotic mic collection back in the cupboard to try out Samson's budget dynamic vocal model.

 

Samson are perhaps best known for their radio mic systems, and more latterly, their very competitive, high-quality mixers, but the S11 is a conventional wired vocal microphone aimed unashamedly at the budget marketplace. Like most vocal dynamic mics, the S11 has a very 'familiar' look to it, with its spherical basket and tapering handle. Packed in a foam-lined, semi-rigid plastic carry box, the mic comes complete with a stand clip, but as with most mics, you still have to buy your own XLR lead. There are no switches, and other than the legend printed around the band below the basket, the mic is as black and featureless as a Stealth bomber.

Since the S11 is primarily designed for hand-held vocal applications, its frequency response rolls off gradually below 500Hz to compensate for the bass boost caused by the proximity effect. Used close up, the mic has plenty of warmth and body, but when used further away, the sound can lack weight. While this characteristic is a deliberate feature of the design, allowing the mic to be used literally touching the singer's mouth, in some studio applications, this low-frequency 'thinning out' at a distance can be advantageous -- for example, recording the acoustic guitar fairly close to the body without picking up too much boom.

At the top end, a broad presence peak extends from around 1kHz to 15kHz or so, and the overall frequency response of the mic is quoted as being from 60Hz to 18kHz. However, on the graph provided, this corresponds to around -8dB, so not too much should be inferred from this figure.

To summarise, I'd say that the S11 was well suited to either live or studio vocal applications where the singer works close to the mic, and due to the LF tailoring, working further from the mic may help to clarify muddy- or stifled-sounding vocalists. The HF response is reasonably well extended for a budget dynamic mic, resulting in a bright, almost airy tone, and because the presence peak is wide, there's no obvious HF coloration, just an overall impression of clarity.

You could make a passable stab at recording an acoustic guitar with this mic, though sensitivity might be a problem unless you work fairly close up. By the same token, the S11 is well suited to transient and percussive sounds, though the bass roll-off may mean it sounds rather thin when used on toms and bass drums, for example.

The S11 is a neat, affordable mic with no obvious tonal vices, and might be especially attractive to those who both gig and record. On the other hand, if you want a mic specifically for recording, you may be better off choosing a model with less of an LF roll-off.

 

SAMSON VS SHURE

When compared to the trusty Shure SM58 benchmark, the S11 sounded less weighty, but otherwise quite neutral and uncoloured.

Working closer to the mic restored a much more balanced tone underlining the fact that this mic is voiced specifically for close-up vocal applications. The S11 was several dB less sensitive than the SM58, but again it is adequately sensitive for close-up vocal work. Off axis, the mic retains a surprisingly even polar pattern, with the mid range being the most strongly suppressed.

 

SAMSON S11 £89

PROS
• Low cost.
• Clear, detailed sound.

CONS
• Rather low sensitivity.
• May sound bass light when used at a distance.

SUMMARY
One of the better budget mics, providing you are
aware of its 'close vocals' response tailoring.

 

info

£ £89 inc VAT.

A Sound Technology plc, Letchworth Point, Letchworth, Herts, SG6 1ND.

T 01462 480000.

F 01462 480800.

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