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Old April 15th, 2011, 12:08 PM   #1
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Electro-Voice RE20, RE27 & RE320

At NAB, I spoke with the product manager for EV's mics and did a back to back comparison of their front address mics that are designed for radio announcers, voiceovers, and more.

First, the RE20. It's a classic. If you've listened to any high-profile talk radio hosts over the years, you've almost certainly heard this mic. Speaking into this mic, my voice sounded as good as it ever has. The pop filter is perfect. You can nearly eat the mic without plosives, yet the bottom end is full and rich. It's easy to work the mic as the proximity effect is well controlled. For those of us who aren't EQ masters, this mic delivers straight out of the box. You can tune the bass response for your voice with the variable bass "tilt down" control on the mic.

The RE27 tells a slightly different story. It has a more efficient magnet structure in order to deliver a hotter signal. This could make sense if you are announcing in the middle of a loud crowd as it will help cut through the noise. It was developed for use with cameras that have weak preamps. Unfortunately, the mic sounds much thinner than the RE20. The RE27 is really best for field work. I wouldn't choose it for the studio.

The RE320 is the new, lower-cost nephew of the RE20. The body is similar to the other mics, but it's a lower-cost offering that was developed to be used for music production. Compared to the RE20, it has a wider frequency response. It also has a switch that lets you scoop the response for use with kick drums. Here's a tip for guitar mic'ing: Put the RE320 in scoop mode and set it right next to a (midrange heavy) Shure 57. Mix to taste.

So, how is the RE320 for voice? It's nearly as good as the RE20. It has a bit more rumble and a bit too much air due to it's development for musical instrument mic'ing, but between 80 and 8000 Hz it sounded VERY similar to the RE20. With some shelfing down of the extreme frequencies, I'd expect the mic to sound nearly identical to the RE20. You lose the bass "tilt down" control on the mic, but this effect is just as easily done in post.

These are dynamic mics, so you'll want to use them with a strong preamp. Then again, you don't need phantom power or a battery to run them. For voiceover, you're more likely to use them with a computer soundcard than a camcorder input, so getting low-noise shouldn't be a problem.

If budget is an issue, I'd have no regrets getting the RE320. Even without any EQ to tame the frequency extremes, it will deliver a strong voiceover sound. And if you record musical instruments, the versatility of the mic could be a real plus. But if you have the cash and are a voiceover purist, the RE20 is still the king. The mic really delivers that "it" sound without needing a single tweak.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 02:45 PM   #2
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Re: Electro-Voice RE20, RE27 & RE320

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, the RE20 was also a 'popular' studio kick drum mic. More than likely heard on many hit records. In addition to kick drum, I also used many times on tracking sessions, where the singer would be in the main room (with the other players) or doing a scratch track in from the control room. (which more than once turned out to be the 'keeper' track) . The proximity effect (or lack there of) enabled a singer to 'eat the mic', thus minimizing leakage from the CR monitors or instruments. Long live the RE20.
However, I always preferred a LD condenser for narration, since most VO artists I've run across are not comfortable working a mic that close.
My two cents
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Old April 16th, 2011, 06:39 PM   #3
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Re: Electro-Voice RE20, RE27 & RE320

Good point. I've used Rode LD condenser mics for VO and haven't had the budget for the higher end stuff. The Rodes sound nice and neutral, but I need to EQ the output quite a bit to get close to the "announcer" sound. The RE20 had an instantly recognizable sound. But it really is a different experience using an end address dynamic, compared to a side address condenser.

I think the RE20 (or RE320 for about $300) would make sense for a home studio person who isn't yet skilled with audio processing. The only downside is that you need a really clean preamp to make good use of it. People who already own a juicedLink for video shooting could use that to feed a mid-level sound card and be able to keep the noise low at a reasonable cost.

On the other hand, similarly priced LD condensers like the Rodes don't have the same character. It would be interesting to know what condensers can deliver a similar, big voice right out of the box. Even for people who are comfortable with EQ, it's nice when things are already close.

Of course, different voices respond differently with different mics. But I've got to say, the RE20 tuning was "as advertised" on my voice. After just a few words, I found myself reporting the weather and reading traffic reports. Seriously. :)
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Old April 16th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #4
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Re: Electro-Voice RE20, RE27 & RE320

The RE20 has been a long time standard for acoustic bass.

They're pretty indestructible mics, found in most studios because of their versatility.

I heard the RE320 and was glad I owned an RE20. I think the only reason it exists is to meet a price point. Much like the entire RODE brand. B quality, but seen as a good value.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 11:46 PM   #5
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Re: Electro-Voice RE20, RE27 & RE320

The RE320 is definitely intended to hit a price point. As I mentioned above, I think with some simple EQ at the extremes one could get a convincing RE20 sound, but out of the box, the RE20 just nails it.
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