Paul White studio tests EV's new capacitor model, designed for use both on stage and in the studio.
Electrovoice mics find their way into recording studios, live sound venues and broadcast studios around the world, but the company are hoping that the new RE500 will satisfy the requirements of all three. Though it looks like a dynamic mic, the RE500 is a true capacitor design, with a fixedcardioid polar pattern. It's designed for both hand‑held and stand‑mounted operation, and for the benefit of the live vocalist it has a rather unusual rubber coating, to help improve both grip and comfort. Live mics need all the help they can get to minimise popping, as there's no room for an external pop shield when you're on stage, so the RE500 includes a built‑in three‑stage wind and pop shield, augmented by an 80Hz low‑cut filter. The outer wire basket has a foam inner lining, and about halfway down the basket is a metal ring with what looks like a fine nylon mesh stretched across it. The mic comes complete with a stand clip and zip‑up vinyl case.
For the project studio owner, the RE500 offers a wide dynamic range, sensibly low noise, and a subtle presence characteristic to help add sparkle and projection to vocals. Because it has a far better transient response than a typical dynamic mic, the RE500 is also suitable for recording acoustic instruments and percussion. Its frequency response is quoted as extending from 80Hz to 18kHz, with a sensitivity of 10mV/Pa. Equivalent noise is quoted as 20dB SPL, A‑weighted, and the circuitry doesn't clip until the level exceeds 148dB SPL. This gives a usable dynamic range of 128dB.
The design of the mic is based on the existing RE2000 transducer and utilises a gold‑sputtered diaphragm that has been environmentally stabilised to minimise ageing effects. All capacitor mics have a moving diaphragm and a fixed electrode, and in the case of the RE500 the latter is a precision‑cut ceramic plate with a gold coating. Unusually, the biasing voltage is derived from an internal DC‑to‑DC converter, the idea being to isolate the capsule voltage from possible variations in phantom power voltage. This system allows power supplies between 12 and 52V DC to be used without compromising the performance of the mic. The RE500 has no on/off, filter or pad switches — you plug and play, literally.
It's difficult to evaluate microphones in isolation, so my usual review procedure is to compare new mics with models that I'm familiar with. I have to say that the RE500 stands up very well against most large‑diaphragm capacitor models when it comes to achieving a full, natural sound. In terms of sensitivity, the RE500 comes just a few dB below my Rode NT1, but when the levels are balanced the tonality is surprisingly similar on vocals, with perhaps just slightly less presence from the RE500. I particularly like the even, natural response of this microphone, and when it's used reasonably close up, the proximity effect lends it a pleasing, intimate warmth.
On a more practical level, the capsule shock‑mount system works extremely well in rejecting low‑frequency noise, though inevitably you get a bit of mid‑range noise if you rub your hands over the microphone body. The rubber‑coated body provides a comfortable grip, and the physical shape and size of the mic make it ideal for hand‑held use, though in the studio you'd be more likely to use it stand‑mounted.
Of course, a mic like this is more than just a vocal mic, and despite its slightly lower sensitivity when compared with most of my studio capacitor mics, it's still sensitive and quiet enough to use on acoustic instruments, where its gentle top‑lift lends it a natural, articulate quality. This would be a good mic to use on acoustic guitar, but it could also be pressed into service for most jobs, including drum overheads, hi‑hat miking, wind instruments and percussion. The LF roll‑off would make it less suitable for miking bass instruments (unless it's used close up), as the purpose of this roll‑off is to help counteract the proximity effect that might otherwise make the response too bass heavy in close‑miking situations.
This is a very nice‑sounding microphone that combines warmth and punch with a mild high‑end lift. Though the capsule size might best be described as medium, it has something of a large‑diameter capsule sound about it, and is quite flattering to vocals, without making them sound unnatural. The physical packaging of the microphone is both attractive and practical, and the handling noise is reasonably low, especially at low frequencies. This would be a good choice of microphone for someone who wants to be able to use the same mic live and in the studio, but there's also no reason not to use it as a dedicated studio mic. EV have done their best to provide a mic that's a good all‑rounder, and from what I've seen, they've succeeded.
- Warm, smooth sound.
- Gentle presence lift.
- Low handling noise.
- Fixed LF cut means miking bass instruments at a distance may result in a slightly bass‑light sound.
A good all‑round mic that sounds smooth and natural on vocals.