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Peavey PVM480

Back-electret Capacitor Mic
Published August 1995

Though not new, Peavey's PVM480 back‑electret mic is an ideal first capacitor mic. Sound Engineer Steve Brodie explains why.

Recent years have seen the Peavey product portfolio expanding into many areas, and the previously traditional range has been redefined by the introduction of such hi‑tech equipment as synths, samplers, and effects processors. Despite the expansion, however, Peavey's comprehensive range of microphones has not received the attention that it perhaps deserves, including as it does dynamic models for stage vocalists and instrument miking, Lavalier, and even boundary mics.

The model under review here, the PVM480, is not new, having been released back in 1992. Nevertheless, its relative age does not mean it's unworthy of consideration for purchase today — it's a modestly‑priced back‑electret capacitor mic, and should interest anyone desiring high sound quality for minimum outlay. The mic comes packaged in an impressive metal case finished in grey and silver, the styling of which falls somewhere between retro '50s chic and Jean‑Luc Picard's lunchbox. Peavey's description is of a 'flite‑type' case, which is perhaps a little generous, but it is certainly a very substantial case to be included in the price, and outstrips the usual plastic or vinyl offering.

Inside, the mic is packaged in rather sumptuous velvet‑covered foam alongside the usual mic clip and foam windshield. Also supplied is a 25‑foot balanced mic cable terminating in Neutrik XLR plugs. Including cables with microphones seems to be increasingly rare, but it is a practice which I think should be encouraged; you can never have too many mic cables!

The pretensions of the case belie the unassuming appearance of the PVM480 itself, which is a virtually featureless black tube, nearly 5.5 inches long and just wide enough to accept an XLR plug. The hard black finish over the machined casing has a smart and attractive appearance, and looks as though it would tolerate a reasonable amount of abuse. But enough of appearance — after all, we don't buy equipment on looks alone, do we...?

Testing Time

Being a capacitor mic, the PVM480 requires a power supply, and will accept phantom power rated at between 9 and 52 volts. I was disappointed by the absence of an option to power the mic from an internal battery; not only would this widen potential applications, it would also open up new markets for the PVM480 — multitrack owners who lack phantom power, for a start! Of course, this would undoubtedly have added to the cost.

The frequency response is said to be nominally flat between 40Hz and 20kHz. The supplied graph supports this, as well as revealing a slight 'lump' around 5kHz. This is a common characteristic in mics, and improves presence and clarity on vocals — but it's often far more pronounced than on the PVM480. According to Peavey, the hypercardioid pickup pattern is designed to limit the effect of the acoustic environment, and also, of course, to reduce the risk of feedback in a live situation.

I performed various tests on the PVM480, including an A/B comparison with an AKG C1000S, and as a reasonably‑priced capacitor mic, the PVM480 bore up well. I made recordings of the same source material onto DAT using the two mics in turn, and on playback, distinct characteristics were evident. The PVM480 has a fairly neutral sound which seems to produce an honest representation and a pleasing clarity, particularly at the top end; acoustic guitars seemed 'zingy' and fiddles lively. The C1000, in contrast, had a warmer sound.

These assessments are inevitably subjective, and I should say that the sound of the two mics is in many respects very similar, which is of great credit to the Peavey, retailing as it does for considerably less. If I were to find fault with the PVM480, I would say that it is less convincing in the lower octaves than the C1000. I would also like to have seen an integral windshield on the PVM480 (as with the C1000) in order to accommodate use as a live vocal mic. This would have added some flexibility, but then of course, this rarely comes in tandem with low cost. Who'd be a designer?

The PVM480 carried itself off with similar grace on stage, providing an accurate sound from which any desired polish could easily be added at the mixing stage. The mic's compact dimensions and black finish would make it very suitable for stage applications where discreet placement is required.


In short, the PVM480 is an excellent choice for anyone who needs a first capacitor mic suitable for the bulk of their miking requirements. The bottom line is that for the same price as a half‑decent dynamic microphone, you can buy the PVM480, and for those looking to make quality recordings, a capacitor mic will outperform a dynamic model in most situations. Those who overlook it in favour of more established brands do so at their (quite literal) cost. Well worth checking out!


  • Low price.
  • Good sound quality.
  • Quality case and cable included.


  • No battery power option.
  • Slightly lacking in bass response.
  • There's nothing else at this price!


A very competent mic, capable of high‑quality results at a very low price.