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SE Electronics SE X1D

Capacitor Instrument Microphone By Paul White
Published March 2015

With its titanium-sputtered diaphragm, this mic is supposed to respond better to fast transients. We put that theory to the test.

The SE X1 series of microphones falls at the more affordable end of the SE Electronics price spectrum, but they are still hand built in the company’s own factory and come with a three-year replacement warranty. Joining the existing capacitor and ribbon models is the SE X1D, a capacitor microphone developed for use on instruments, with kick drum being its main application.

sE Electronics sE X1DVisually similar to the rest of the range, the SE X1D is built around a cardioid-pattern capsule that’s equipped with a large-diameter titanium-sputtered diaphragm. According to the designers, this produces a stiffer diaphragm that’s better able to react to fast transients that are routinely encountered when working with drums and percussion. However, the SE X1D isn’t a one-trick pony: it’s capable of handling very high SPLs, and is also intended for miking the likes of piano and bass.

An internal rubber capsule-mount provides a degree of isolation, and the mic’s fitted with a side-mounted stand adapter for fixing to a mic stand. I’d always use a shockmount given the choice, though, especially if the kick drum is on a wooden floor. The mic is equipped with a -10dB pad switch and an 80Hz low-cut switch. There’s no fancy case, but you do get a soft protective pouch and, being realistic, these take up far less space.

On the tech front, the mic claims a 20Hz to 20kHz response and a maximum SPL of 170dB, and it operates from standard 48V Phantom Power. Its sensitivity is quoted as -49dB mV/Pa, and the Equivalent Noise Level or EIN is 28dB (A-weighted). At first glance that seems to be quite a high noise figure and a fairly low sensitivity, but when you’re dealing with things like kick drums that’s no bad thing: a sensitive mic is too easy to overload, whereas the residual noise is still very low in comparison with the typical SPLs the mic is designed to deal with. In other words, the signal-to-noise ratio is still well within the bounds of acceptability when close-miking loud sources. It would be the same story when close-miking a piano or when hanging the mic over something like a djembe or a pair of congas, but it does mean that the SE X1D wouldn’t be the best choice for quieter instruments or for more distant miking applications.

During a recent session, I also tried placing the mic at the back of a cajon, and in this role it worked really well, capturing a nice solid thump but also plenty of transient detail. The mid-range doesn’t seem to be so scooped as it is on many dedicated kick-drum mics, so you may find that you need a little low-mid cut to tighten things up, but that’s really not a problem. When we think of kick mics, dynamic models usually come to mind first (or very exotic tube capacitor models) but the SE X1D gives a great balance of lows and detail at around the price you might expect to pay for a dynamic kick mic. Paul White

Published March 2015