Electro-Voice PL95 & PL91A Mics
I have more than a sneaking regard for Electro-Voice microphones since first using a pair during multi-mic comparisons recently. These two USA-made moving coil vocal mics are from an extensive catalogue — there must be over 50 in the range, one way and another, with prices ranging from around £40 to £300 if you ignore the specialist 'gun' mics.
There are basically three ranges of moving coil mics in the EV catalogue. These are categorised as Professional Dynamic with the ubiquitous RE20 and other RE suffix models, General Purpose Dynamic and Proline ranges. This latter range, all with the PL suffix, are handled by Rosetti Ltd for music shop distribution.
The mics in this report are the PL95 (although listed in the price list as the PL95A) and the PL91A. The former is the equivalent of the 671A in the General Purpose Dynamic range whilst the latter is equivalent to the DS35 in the Professional Dynamic range!
Both have the fine Cannon connector fitting — male type on the mic following the convention of the pins pointing in the direction of the signal. Balanced floating connections are provided, but of course either balanced or unbalanced inputs at the pre-amp can be used. Zippered soft vinyl pouches are supplied as are Cannon connector fitted leads. Both mics have descriptive leaflets giving all the basic information needed. Another common physical aspect is the built-in anti-pop foam under the mesh grille.
In Electro-Voice parlance these are Single D cardioid designs, giving the usual cardioid proximity effect where the bass rises with close work. There are also Variable D cardioids in the EV range and these do offer a degree of reduction in the proximity effect. Being Cardioid as opposed to Super Cardioid (or Hypercardioid) the two mics looked at here have their response null at 180° Nowadays there is no problem in the impedance 'matching' of mics to their preamps. Most manufacturers produce mics between 150 and 600 ohms source impedances. They should not, however, 'see' these impedances when connected to the mic pre-amp — some five times or more is the usual situation. The only really important thing is that the source be low enough to avoid cable capacitance effects at high frequencies.
One physical difference in the microphones is the provision on the PL91A of an on/off switch which short-circuits the balanced feed. A novel screwdriver locking facility is also provided.
I find it necessary to relate any product under evaluation to others one is already familiar with. So four mics were lined up for comparison. As I often have used an AKG D202 for vocals in my recordings, one of these was brought in. That's a double moving coil unit. Also to hand was a vocal 'proper' capacitor mic, the Calrec CM 656D. Both are cardioids — the former not being specifically for vocals though. The channel presets of the custom built mixing desk were adjusted to give similar levels from all the mics. A Revox B77 at 15 IPS was used to record the sequences via Dolby A noise reduction.
I do not think that it is possible to be anything but delighted with the performance of the mic (and its brother)! Just the right amount of presence lift compared to a 'flat' response mic and a lighter bass at 2ft plus, giving a fine vocal sound. It's not an exaggerated sound — in fact still very natural. An opportunity arose to add some vocals to an already laid down backing track. This proved the need for a special vocal mic as there was a lot more ease in "cutting through" the backing, but definitely not harshly. I have always been wary of super boosted vocal mics. A very natural tailoring, and in comparison with the other two in the line up, showed the need to reduce the low frequency response on the PL91A a little.
Going closer to the PL91A thickened the lower frequencies as would be expected from the proximity effect. Interestingly, all the tests and comparisons seemed to bear out the supplied descriptive leaflet. One aspect of the PL91A which was striking was its 180° rejection. It sounded greater than the others and interestingly the single frequency curve in the leaflet shows a right royal 180° rejection!
Handling noises are relative to the abuse a soloist is giving a mic and to the level of the sound input. Also a sharp bass cut below some 60Hz might be employed in the mixer in practice. All this would reduce the effect of the handling noises which I feel are higher than I would have expected and also higher than the two 'reference' mics.
Now all the same things could be written about this model. In fact, one wonders why there are so many different vocal mics in the EV ranges. No doubt subtle differences would become apparent with extensive use, but they would be subtle. Possibly a particular singer's voice just suiting a nuance of one mic more than another. Again a fine vocal sound.
Slightly more expensive than its brother, but both bring out the point I cannot overstress. Buy the best microphone you can as there is really no short cut to quality in terms of price. Both mics verified this. A casual listener said 'those mics sound good 'uns'. And so they should, averaging around £85 incl. VAT. Some people might buck at paying £85 for a mic but cheerfully use a recorder costing £800 (if an open reel), and loudspeakers at over £300 a pair if they want reliable 'professional' standards. Decent mics go on and on and these two EVs will undoubtedly do so — thoroughly recommended.
Electro-Voice microphones are distributed by Rosetti Ltd, (Contact Details).
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Review by Mike Skeet
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