Suzuki Dynamic Cardioid Microphones
There certainly seems to be an increasing number of new microphone range imports into the UK. Here is a range with a name associated with an entirely different field. Suzuki microphones are imported and distributed by Craftmaster and there are eight models in the range; we have three here. Price is very much an initial consideration; the Suzuki range are listed as retailing from £35 to £60 incl. VAT, so on this point they are immediately interesting.
When being advised of their imminent arrival I was intrigued that the importer had requested comparison with the well known Shure SM58. My usual procedure is to set up all the mics on a bar, and at a mixer set their channels for equal levels. Then I record a series of tests including on axis, off axis, distant, close, normal level, high level, P-blast popping and handling. The three models set up alongside a borrowed Shure SM58 — incidentally one frequently used by Cleo Laine — were the models PDM 5810, PDM 5850 and PDM 5880. The comparison recordings were made on the rather superb Sony PCM F1 digital recording system via the mixer already mentioned.
Suzuki PDM 5810. This is listed at £34.95 and is high impedance with integral lead of decent length with tip and sleeve ¼" jack plug. Intriguingly this has a clear plastic cover so that one can inspect the state of the soldered connections! This model is as heavy as the others and has the same general tapered shape with an on/off switch. The ball mesh head unscrews and an additional external foam windshield is provided in a rich Burgundy red colour. No mic clip is supplied.
Suzuki PDM 5850. The fifth mic in terms of numbering in the range, this is labelled as 400 Ohms, so can be classed as low impedance. More on this later. It is supplied with XLR to XLR equipped lead and the slip on foam P-blast shield common to the other mics in the range. An on/off switch is also provided. There is no mic clip, but the body is the 'standard' tapered type. The PDM 5850 is listed at £49.95.
Suzuki PDM 5880. The highest priced Suzuki at £59.95. This has the same style and fittings as the one above. Additionally though, there is a foam lined plastic carrying case. The other mics come in cardboard boxes. The whole style of the three Suzuki mics matches that of the Shure SM58, especially the screw on mesh head, albeit with a differing screw thread diameter.
The requested comparison with the Shure SM58 shows the esteem in which that particular mic is held! It is curious actually how, in their particular fields of use, certain mics hold sway. It is as a vocalists mic that the SM58's reputation has been made and so with similar appearances these Suzukis can be similarly associated. In practice the two higher priced ones have characteristics very much like the 'reference'. There is less low frequency output in all three with a 'sharper' upper presence area generally evident, which combine with very close use to suit my particular monitors. Working close produces the usual proximity bass rise effect and I reckon the Suzukis' responses are nicely tailored in this respect. The SM58 seems plummy in direct comparison. This needs qualifying, as the characteristics of the PA cabinets to be used can dramatically change the judgement. Also, in my case I was operating with 'flat' amplification.
The cardioid directional characteristics were all very creditable with similar ratios as the 'reference' and without apparent polar irregularities which would cause acoustic feedback interaction with loudspeakers. On this subject, if readers are testing and making judgements, it is essential first to accurately match levels between the two mics under assessment. The PDM 5850 seemed to howl much more easily than the SM58 — but correcting the level unbalance on the mixers pre-sets soon showed this not to be so. Feedback onset aspects are very complex involving mic, speaker and room polar frequency responses.
The P-blast popping performances of the Suzuki is less than the SM58. All three models are similar and the additional foam over the mesh further assists, as does the small bass roll off in the Suzukis. Handling noise is also a little less than the 'reference', again its basic nature being altered by the low frequency response differences.
I find these microphones to be excellent value for money, having performances with no real vices and thus up for comparison with the reputation of an established model. They are well made and look and feel purposeful. Definitely worthy of audition in the increasingly competitive field of specialist tailored response mics.
I do hope readers are clear on this matter of microphone impedances. Low, refers to nominal 200 Ohm to 600 Ohm source impedances. Long leads are possible without high frequency losses. High impedance mics will suffer high frequency losses with leads more than a few metres long due to the shunt capacitance of the lead.
In the case of 200 Ohm to 600 Ohm mics it is usual to connect to impedances some five to ten times greater than those figures. In practice, as 'accurate' impedance matching is not being attempted, it is somewhat academic what the true source impedance is. It will of course not be equal at all frequencies.
A given input will probably be described as 'low' and hence quite suitable for 200 Ohm to 600 Ohm mics. It is where the actual input impedances are up around 10K Ohm and above that there is sufficient mismatch to reduce to pre-amp's apparent sensitivity.
The labelling of two of the Suzuki mics as 400 and 600 and the Shure as dual 50 Ohm and 150 Ohm prompted the measurement of their DC resistance and their impedance (resistance to AC) at 1KHz. I present the table without comment!
|Microphone||Stated Spec.||DC Resist||Imped. at 1 KHz|
|Shure SM58||50 & 150||24||295|
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Review by Mike Skeet
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