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Earthworks SR117

Vocal Microphone By Paul White
Published May 2024

Earthworks SR117

Earthworks’ latest stage mic punches way above its price tag!

Earthworks built their reputation on very accurate, small‑diaphragm studio capacitor microphones. They’ve since branched out into broadcast, podcasting and live circles, with the SR117 being their latest and most affordable stage vocal microphone. Outwardly, it looks like a typical dynamic stage mic, but it too is a capacitor model. Like most live mics, the SR117 has a foam lining in the basket that can be removed for cleaning, but here there’s also a removable internal fine‑mesh cylinder covering the capsule, which aids resistance to popping. The body, which is finished in black with a stainless steel ring just below the basket, has the familiar tapered shape with the XLR at the bottom end, and the mic feels reassuringly solid, weighing in at 380g. There’s no switch, which is fine by me, as vocalists always seem to mess with them! A soft case and a stand clip are included.

The capsule, which can be seen clearly after removing the basket and internal mesh screen, has an overall diameter of around 10mm and is quite rigidly supported, though handling noise didn’t seem to be at all problematic. The necessary porting to produce the mic’s supercardioid response is built into the capsule, which has a tall, narrow profile.

The polar pattern is remarkably consistent across the frequency range, and the mic’s response is virtually dead flat from 20Hz upwards other than a slight bump at 10kHz, before falling to ‑10dB at 20kHz. Having a consistent polar pattern no doubt aids resistance to feedback, as well as minimising tonal changes when the singer moves off‑axis, though some tonal changes at varying mic distances are inevitable due to the proximity effect. Because there’s no built‑in presence peak, the mic can be tailored to any voice type with EQ.

Being a capacitor microphone, phantom power (48V) is needed for operation, but the payoff is that you get the performance of a studio capacitor microphone, including a sensitivity of 5mV/Pa. A peak SPL handling of 140dB is quoted. The signal‑to‑noise ratio is 74dB, equating to a self‑noise of 20dB SPL A‑weighted. While this is not a particularly low noise figure for a general‑purpose studio microphone, in the intended application of close‑miking vocals, it is more than adequate. Having said that, the mic can also be used with instruments, either live or for recording, where its high SPL handling enables it to cope with the likes of drums and horns as well as more gentle sources such as acoustic guitar. Indeed, the SR117 is eminently suitable for studio as well as stage use, so it can easily do double duty for home studio owners who also play live.

It really did have the open, natural sound of a good studio mic!

Quiet Riot

On first listening the SR117 may seem less airy or ‘forward’‑sounding than some of the more common vocal mics, but I think this is a strength rather than a weakness, because mics with a distinct character usually work better with some voices and less well with others. If you need more presence or air, a hint of EQ will deliver it. Having said that, I used the SR117 with the desk EQ set flat for a live performance with a female vocalist and it sounded perfectly balanced just as it was. It really did have the open, natural sound of a good studio mic! Resistance to feedback was solid, handling noise very low and there was plenty of level, so I didn’t need too much by way of mixer preamp gain. With some vocalists you may need a low‑cut filter to avoid popping, given the extended low‑end response of this mic, but the internal pop screen seems to make a big difference, and I didn’t hear any mic popping at all during my live tests.

Leaving the best until last, this high level of performance comes at a surprisingly low price. While other Earthworks live vocal mics retail at several hundred poundsdollars, the SR117 is available for well under £250$200. Given the quality of engineering and of course the sound quality, that represents exceptional value, putting the SR117 within easy reach of semi‑professional performers. I expect to be seeing many more of these mics on stages, in clubs and in pubs before long.


A versatile live vocal mic that can also hold its own in the studio. Does double duty with instruments, too.


£229 including VAT.

Studiocare +44 (0)151 236 7800.

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