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Studiomaster Primo Mikes


A new range gets a polish from Jimbo's moustache

Strange how in their search for commercial domination of the world the Japanese have managed to produce such a high level of western sophistication on so many levels, yet when it comes to image projection, they so often completely miss the target. Witness a range of microphones brought in from those far Eastern shores by Studiomaster going by the particularly unnecessary name of 'Primo'. It's all too easy to feel a sense of instant dismissal based on the premis that anyone who is capable of making a high quality anything would surely not call it Primo. Resist it.

The fact is that this range of mikes contain some very good, and some very affordable models and indeed the Studiomaster press release states that, 'Many of the major microphones currently available, retailing under their own tradenames, are actually manufactured by Primo'. Can names be named? It seems that there is a slight reticence in that department, but suffice it to say that you would be foolish to be put off by the name alone.

The specifications given at the end of each microphone description are taken from those shown on the manufacturer's information sheet. There are some inconsistencies concerning what information is given, and so we have reproduced what was made available to us. It can be very difficult to ascertain certain facts and figures when not dealing with the original manufacturers.

UD-320 II


Although it was apparently originally designed for "live 'voice-overs' on pre-recorded material during live performance/sound reinforcement", the 320 is undoubtedly a contender in the less-moneyed person's Shure SM58 market. Hence it has the customary, and not unattractive, bulbous appearance with a heavy-duty, black wire mesh pop shield. The body has a smooth, black shiny finish which you may or may not find preferable to the more standard silk, anodised-type of finish. The fact is, however, that such a finish is more prone to noticeable scratching, and the review model actually had some obvious grazes on it when it arrived.

It has a simple on/off switch on the body which unfortunately doesn't lock in the 'on' position – possibly a drawback of its original design concept. This may seem like a small point until you're the engineer stuck behind the console at the back of the auditorium, and the artist is having an emotional breakdown on stage having not realised that he/she has inadvertently turned the mike off. If a mike intended for hand-held stage use is to have a switch it really should have a locking facility. Its performance isn't up to that of the SM58, but for the price it's very good and usable in stage and home studio.

Type: Dynamic
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 600ohms +/-20% (1kHz)
Sensitivity: -76dB +/-3dB (1kHz)
Wind Noise: 39dB SPL or less
Weight: 280g
Output Connector: XLR type
Accessories: Six metres of high quality screened audio cable terminating in 0.25" jack plug. An optional holder is available.



With its maroon ID band the relatively new 352 has the lushest appearance of all mikes though still with a tough, workman-like feel to it. The body is finished in a plush, matt grey and has an on/off switch, again without a locking facility. Fora little extra you can get the same mike in a polished gold or silver finish. Its diminutive proportions (compared to the UD-320) give it more the look of a Shure SM78 than an SM58, but the small body makes it rather top-heavy for use as a hand-held mike. It has a good wide frequency response with a presence boost around 5kHz, although for the price I would personally prefer the sound of the 323.

Type: Dynamic
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 250ohms
Sensitivity: -73dB +/-2dB (1 kHz)
Tone Switch: Four position roll-off
Weight: 590g
Output Connector: XLR



P-78 stick grenade plus UD-33

This has the solid, rugged feel of an Electro-Voice or a German hand grenade and the fact that it was designed primarily for handheld applications is reflected in the way it fits the hand and in its well balanced feel. It also lays claim to an especially effective shock mount, and although it is better than the rest of the range, it didn't appear to me to be particularly outstanding as compared to other high quality vocal mikes. A removable pop shield removes pops and gives access to the capsule.

Type: Dynamic
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 250ohms
Sensitivity: -76dB +/-2dB
Weight: 270g
Output Connector: XLR
Accessories: A carrying case is available at extra cost for either two or five microphones.



This is a generally sleeker looking item with a more standard grey satin finish to the body and a slightly more elliptical silver wire pop shield giving it more the feel of an Electro-Voice model than a Shure. There was no information available on this model and hence I have no idea what the lads at Primo were thinking of when they coined this little beauty. It is certainly more sensitive than the 320 and has a much warmer silkier sound to suit its larger price tag.

Type: Dynamic
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 250ohms
Output Connector: XLR
Accessories: Six metres of high quality screened audio cable terminating in 0.25" jack plug.

EMU 4520


Emu to left, 324 for right

Along,thin, silver pencil mike containing its own 9.45V battery and a switch to select either the 'Off' position or one of two responses: Music – which is very wide very flat curve, or Voice – which brings in a fairly steep bass roll-off at 200Hz. A push-on metal mesh pop shield is supplied for vocal use. The 'voice' position gives a very thin sound appropriate for spoken work, but the 'Music' response really is very smooth and generally pleasing.

Type: Electret condenser
Directivity: Cardioid
Output Impedance: 600ohms
Sensitivity: -71dB/microbar (1kHz)
Signal to Noise: 55dB
Max Input Sound Level: 120dB without pad
Pad: -10dB
LF Attenuation: -6dB at 100Hz (V position)
Output Connector: XLR
Cable: Six metres of high quality screened audio cable terminating in 0.25" jack plug.



Just to prove that there's no logic in the model number series (whether in price or intended application), the 324 has been shaped to give it a definitely 'serious' look. The information sheet tells us that it's been 'especially developed for recording studio use, broadcast stations and live sound reinforcement applications'. Hardly a case of overspecialisation, I would have thought. Acoustically, it has been designed for sensitivity and to provide solid bass response with crisp, clear mid-range, and thus is suitable to pick up low frequencies and especially drums. A mechanical switch gives for degrees of bass roll-off, and particularly tight directional response should ensure a high resistance to acoustical feedback.

Type: Dynamic
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 250ohms
Sensitivity: -73dB +/-2dB (1kHz)
Weight: 590g
Output Connector: XLR

The CMU503 comes with more than a power supply

CMU 503


The 503 comes complete with a PS-510 power supply unit which is powered, not from the mains, but from a 9.45V battery (even though the spec stats it required as being 8.4V to 9.1 V). This has the obvious advantage of making it usable where there is no phantom powering available. Also, keeping the power supply separate (as opposed to the 4520 which has an identical battery housed in its body) allows the size of the microphone itself to be kept to a compact minimum. Thus it can be seen as being in competition with the likes of the AKG451.

The PS-510 box provides more than simply power, it also offers a -10dB pad plus a three-position bass roll-off switch, and thus gives the engineer a degree of remote control over the mike's characteristic. With a -65dB sensitivity, the 503 can provide a very high output whilst also being able to withstand a very high input SPL level. A smooth, pleasing and flexible response capable of faithfully reproducing any type of input. Like the 4520, a push-on metal pop shield is available for vocal applications.

Type: FET condenser
Directivity: Unidirectional
Output Impedance: 600ohms
Sensitivity: -65dB +/-1.5dB
Self Noise: 24dB SPL or less
Max Input SPL: 139dB
Output Connector: XLR
Battery Life: Typically 200-250 hours continuous.

All the mikes have balanced three-pin XLR outputs, they are well constructed with a good standard of finish and come with six metres of high quality twin and screen cable (suitable for balanced connection). In each case, with the exception of the CMU-503, only one end of this cable is terminated in a three-pin XLR connector (for connection to the microphone) whilst the other disappears into a mono (unbalanced) ¼" jack plug wherein the negative phase side of the balanced line is shorted to earth thus unbalancing it. This immediately points all the models at an inappropriately down-market buyer – even relatively inexpensive mixers nowadays tend to have balanced mike inputs, and all of these mikes are worthy of professional usage.

In terms of maintenance, I am told that it should be possible to unscrew the windshields of all these models to lay bare the capsule and suspension assembly. However, in the cases of the UD-320, UD-323 and the UD-352 all the heft I was able to muster fell short of the task. The problem with a test such as this is that it is impossible to anticipate how the units would stand up to life on the road over a sustained period but I must say that all the models seem to be very well built and generally capable of good performances.

Previous Article in this issue

BC Rich Eagle Bass & NJ Series ST Six String

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H/H L100 Guitar Combo

International Musician & Recording World - Copyright: Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


International Musician - Jan 1986

Review by Jim Betteridge

Previous article in this issue:

> BC Rich Eagle Bass & NJ Seri...

Next article in this issue:

> H/H L100 Guitar Combo

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