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sE Electronics RNT

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone
By Neil Rogers

This premium studio microphone is the result of a long-standing collaboration between mic-makers sE and legendary studio equipment designer Rupert Neve.

The latest product to come out of the ongoing partnership between sE Electronics and Rupert Neve Designs is also the new flagship of the sE range: a multi-pattern valve capacitor microphone called the RNT. The partnership has previously yielded a small–diaphragm capacitor mic, the RN17, and the RNR1 active ribbon microphone, but a quick look at the sE website makes clear that they're going 'all in' with this product. As a result, it comes with a price tag that is much higher than you would typically associate with sE, who are probably best known for producing a wide range of respected but affordable microphones. Teaming up with perhaps the most revered audio electronics engineer of all time certainly helps credibility–wise, and I was interested to see how the mic performed in the studio, and whether it deserves to be taken seriously as a new high-end large-diaphragm tube mic option.

Who Did What?

sE Electronics RNT large diaphragm condenser valve microphone.The RNT is described as a direct collaboration not only between both companies' engineering teams, but between sE Electronics' owner Siwei Zou and Rupert Neve himself. On paper it would seem that such a partnership makes sense, with each company being able to bring specific areas of expertise to the party, so to speak. Electronics–wise, the RNT incorporates two Class–A active stages: a valve preamp and impedance converter within the microphone itself, and a solid-state circuit in the external 'floor box' which supplies the power to the microphone as well as controlling the polar patterns, gain staging and filter options.

The microphone itself is based around a custom hand–crafted, gold-sputtered, large-diaphragm capsule which sE say is the finest they have ever produced, with particular care taken at the listening stage of the development process. The valve stage employs a hand-selected, low-noise ECC82 valve, which feeds a custom–built Rupert Neve transformer and, as mentioned, the mains–powered floor box is doing a bit more than just powering the microphone. This 'second stage' of the electronics includes another custom–made transformer along with the same op-amps used in Rupert Neve Designs' large–format 5088 consoles.

Case On Point

As well as providing power to the microphone and housing the polar-pattern, filter and pad controls, the floor box also incorporates an active solid-state gain stage.As well as providing power to the microphone and housing the polar-pattern, filter and pad...

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Published July 2019