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XIX Pure 1 & Pure Valve

Microphones By Paul White
Published August 2001

XIX Pure 1 & Pure Valve

Paul White tests two new models which make large‑diaphragm capacitor and valve microphone sounds more affordable than ever.

Uk manufacturer and distributor Pure Distribution have added two microphone models to their XIX (pronounced 'nineteen') product range — a solid‑state design, the Pure 1, and a tube model, the Pure Valve. The units are built by a major Chinese microphone manufacturer and because of the lower cost of overseas manufacturing, Pure have been able to set very attractive prices for the two mics. The solid state model sells for under £130, with shockmount, flightcase and cable, while the tube model comes in at under £400, with case, shockmount, power supply and two cables.

Both mics are based around the same large‑diaphragm cardioid capsule, which has a nominally flat response between 20Hz and 18kHz, with a moderate 3dB presence peak centred at around 8kHz. The roll‑off at the high end is gentle rather than sudden, and the bass response rises below 30Hz until the graph finishes at 20Hz. Empirical tests show the cardioid pattern to be reasonably tight with a healthy degree of rear rejection. However, off‑axis the presence peak moves down to 5kHz and increases by almost 10dB.

The shockmounts secure to the bodies of both mics using a circular lock nut, and the adjustable stand connector is stiff enough to resist drooping. Having shockmounts like these included at this price is certainly an asset, given the extended bass response of both mics.

XIX Pure Valve

Housed in a chunky cylindrical body of machined brass, the Pure Valve is based around a modern dual triode, soldered directly to the circuit board. The tube feeds a balanced transformer output stage, with workmanlike engineering that gives no cause for concern.

The capsule sits in its own shielded compartment, topped with a tough basket arrangement comprising a perforated metal outer layer and a fine mesh inner layer. A small cardioid logo denotes the 'hot' side of the capsule. There are no filters or pads, and a seven‑pin XLR cable links the mic directly to the power supply. The PSU has only mains inlet and power switch, a seven‑pin socket for the feed from the mic, and a balanced XLR audio output socket. The absence of a low‑cut filter isn't unusual at his price, though the lack of a pad may not make the Pure Valve suitable for close miking very loud instruments, given that the maximum SPL which the mic can handle is 128dB. However, many potential users want a valve mic such as this primarily for vocals, which easily fall within its SPL capability.

With a sensitivity of 32mV/Pa, the mic compares well with its peers, while the equivalent noise figure of 18dBA is also typical for such an affordable tube microphone. What these figures mean in practice is that there's plenty of level for recording vocals and close‑miked acoustic instruments without noise ever becoming a problem, though it might be a different matter if you're recording tree frogs at 500 metres...

XIX Pure 1

The design of the Pure 1 also has the benefit of an output transformer, which some audiophiles feel produces a more musical sound. As with the Pure Valve, there are no pad or filter switches on the casing. However, peeking inside the Pure 1's body revealed a 100Hz low‑cut switch fixed directly to the circuit board (something I didn't find in the tube model). This isn't the most accessible place for a low cut switch, I'll grant you, but at least it gives you the option to decide how you'd like to use the mic.

This model is slightly less sensitive than the tube model at just 14mV/Pa, but it still compares well with other large‑diaphragm cardioid mics. The equivalent noise level is some 4dB higher than for the tube model, at 22dBA, though noise still won't be an issue in normal usage.

In The Studio

If anything, the flattish frequency response of these mics gives the impression of a lack of specific character, but that means they generate more consistently useful results with different sources. Because the presence peak is gentle, the high end is smooth and natural rather than being artificially airy.

The Pure Valve acquitted itself particularly well. It exhibits the warmth and solidarity of image characteristic of tube mics, but doesn't take the art of flattery as far as some. The Pure 1, on the other hand, while tonally similar, is somehow less solid sounding. One thing I did discover was that both mics are prone to popping quite badly unless used with a pop shield, though this is common to many capacitor microphones.

In all, these mics are capable of extremely good results and they provide a way for the recording enthusiast on a budget to experience the quality of capacitor mics. In fact, the UK pricing is lower than I've seen even for directly equivalent models, and you still get a shockmount and a case thrown in, which looks like great value for money.

Second Opinion

To check out the two XIX mics, I recorded four vocal performances of the same song, via a digital recording system, using similar settings and no compression: one with the XIX Pure Valve; one with my new Rode NTK valve mic, for comparison; one with the XIX Pure 1; and one with my large‑diaphragm AKG C3000. I also recorded two passes of the same strummed acoustic guitar part, one with the C3000 (which I often use for acoustic guitar) and one with the Pure 1.

Both XIX mics came out very well from the test. I found the Pure Valve model had a nice open sound with a punchy edge, and was easy and enjoyable to sing with. It's got a breathy quality when you want it, but is capable of being solidly up‑front when you sing with more conviction. I'm a sucker for that ego‑boosting valve magic, and this XIX mic has it. Compared to my NTK, I thought it a little more brash and rocky in character, where the more expensive NTK sounds smoother and more sophisticated in tonality to me, but it strikes me that the XIX is therefore likely to be well‑suited to more aggressive vocals — not at all a bad thing.

I actually preferred the sound of the XIX Pure 1 to that of my C3000, which came out sounding a bit harsh and middly by comparison. The XIX mic has a quality of smoothness and delicacy, yet it seems quite honest. It's clear and transparent in tone, with no fizz or hardness, and it captured the HF detail in the acoustic guitar noticeably better than the C3000. I had to watch my plosives when singing through this one, though. If I didn't already have my studio mics pretty much sorted, and was looking for a nice vocal and general‑purpose mic to start off with, I'd be very tempted by this one, especially in view of its price and bundled extras. My only niggle would be with the rather basic nature of the cosmetics of both mics, but, to be realistic, this probably won't deter anyone from checking out what are two impressive and extremely good‑value new contenders. Debbie Poyser


  • Inexpensive.
  • Good range of included accessories.
  • Both mics sound a lot more expensive than they really are.


  • No external pad and filter switches.


A pair of studio capacitor mics at a very low price point, which are capable of producing a professional sound.