Just when we thought large-diaphragm capacitor mics couldn't get any more affordable, along come these fiercely competitive models, with a shockmount and aluminium case thrown in just for good measure!
These two capacitor mics — the cardioid RV8 and the multi-pattern RV10 — both incorporate one-inch capsules with gold-evaporated diaphragms. The preamps are transformer-balanced FET designs and the inclusion of the shockmount and hard case makes these the most affordable of the Far Eastern mics I've come across so far.
Outwardly, the RV8 looks very much like the Superlux CMH8A we reviewed recently, although the internal design uses different components and circuit board layouts (even though the circuitry seems very similar). The RV8 also has external toggle switches for low-frequency cut and a 10dB pad, which the Superlux equivalent does not.
The frequency response of the mic is claimed as 20Hz to 20kHz, but with no further detail and no response graph this figure alone means very little. Sensitivity is quoted as -35dB relative to 1V/Pa and the self noise is quoted at 16dBA, which is not atypical of this style of mic. Maximum SPL is specified as 135dB with the pad out and 145dB with the pad switched in. As is customary for capacitor microphones, 48V phantom powering is necessary.
Both models are nicely engineered, both cosmetically and electrically. The lower half of the bulbous body can be removed after unscrewing a locking ring with the tool provided, whilst, on the upper section, a two-layer mesh basket covers the capsule. When used with the shockmount, the mic screws securely to the base of the mount enabling it to be used at any angle without fear of accidents, and a couple of spare elastic suspension rings are provided in case one should get damaged. The shockmount is actually very nicely designed, though I'd have liked a larger wing nut on the swivel joint to make it easier to tighten.
The multi-pattern RV10 utilises the usual back-to-back dual-diaphragm capsule construction and is outwardly similar to the RV8 except that a third toggle switch is fitted for selecting figure-of-eight, cardioid or omni polar patterns.
In my tests, the RV8 turned in a subjective performance similar to other low-cost capacitor mics we've reviewed, though it seemed just a hint less sensitive in a direct comparison with the almost identical-looking Superlux CMH8A. It has a relatively uncoloured character and should suit a wide range of male and female vocal styles without imposing too much of its own character on the sound. Even so, it still manages to exude a little of that old large-diaphragm flattery and airiness.
It's also fine on acoustic guitars and percussion with no obvious vices — certainly nothing anyone could complain about for the price, though use with a pop shield is almost essential for close-up vocals. Because the mic is reasonably sensitive, noise is not an issue in any reasonably close-miked studio recording application and the off-axis rejection seems comparable with the other large-diaphragm models I had available for comparison at the time of the review.
The RV10 sounds broadly similar to the RV8, with a fairly even off-axis response in omni mode, where I felt it sounded a hint more open than in cardioid mode. If anything, the cardioid mode of the RV10 has a slightly 'harder' sound than the RV8. It's also hugely useful to have the figure-of-eight option, as you can exploit the 90 degrees off-axis 'deafness' to advantage when trying to minimise spill in awkward environments.
A high-end capacitor mic does offer both technical and tonal benefits compared to the entry-level Far Eastern mics that are now flooding the market, but that doesn't detract from the fact that these mics sound far better than they have any right to at anything like this price. I can't say that the Red5 Audio models sound better or worse than their obvious competition, though there are small tonal and sensitivity differences between all these variations on a theme. Used with a modicum of care, these mics can produce truly excellent results in the project studio, which is amazing when you think you'd be hard pushed to buy a decent dynamic mic for the same UK price. So, nothing really new on the performance front, but when you take the price into account too, it's hard to see how the deal could be bettered without Red5 Audio actually paying you to take them away!
- Ridiculously affordable
- Shockmount and case included.
- Very respectable sound quality.
- At this price? Don't be silly!
In a 'me too' world, sometimes you end up having to decide on the basis of price and, when you consider the bundled goodies, this deal is hard to beat.
Red5 Audio +44 (0)1475 630050.