sE Electronics sE7 Microphone Review

Adam takes an in depth look at the new small diaphragm condenser microphone from sE Electronics:

Script notes:

  1. You came to watch this video to hear whether the sE7 microphone is worth buying. The quick answer is yes and I could continue to talk about the microphone but it’s best that you listen to some samples first.

    *insert RHR Logo*

2. Full disclosure, sE Electronics are letting me keep both microphones. My opinion is not swayed, however. All recordings that you are about to listen to were not modified in any way except volume level matching. Youlean Loudness Meter Pro 2.1 and Airwindows PurestGain were used.

These audio clips are available at their original native sample rate as FLAC files. They will not be level matched. Links are in the video description box.

For the first test, let’s hear how the sE7 sounds on drums compared to my prized $300 Ultimate OktavaMod/Michael Joly modified MXL 603S. It supposedly sounds close to a vintage Neumann KM84. Apologies in advance…I tried to  find a good drummer with a better drum set than mine but I couldn’t make it happen.

3. Now, a couple acoustic guitars.

4. I also recorded a voice over track while hand holding the modified 603S and sE7.

5. Next up here are some stereo acoustic guitar recordings because sE sent a matched pair for this review.

6. For gits and shiggles I even recorded a harmonica.

7. Keys jangle test. Does either microphone sound like aluminum foil being crumpled up or do they sound like keys?

8. I almost forgot…here is the sE7 next to a Shure SM57 on snare drum.

10. On snare drum vs. an SM57, I think the 7 is the clear winner. Pun intended. Finally, I tested the 20 decibels attenuation pad with some pink noise and used Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst Multi to compare frequency response differences.

Does the sE7 sound as good as my modified MXL 603S? No. And I didn’t expect it to. There is a $200 price difference, after all. With some EQ and noise reduction the differences can be made up to a degree.

That’s not to say the sE7 is noisy…it’s not. The modded 603S is just less so.

The sE7 features an 80 Hz high pass filter at 6 dB/octave and a 20 dB gain attenuation pad. It can handle up to 156 dB of sound pressure level with the pad switched on, which is very impressive!

Both switches require use of a paper clip or thumb tack so that they aren’t accidentally turned on or off. This is a good thing.

It has low self noise and doesn’t sound very harsh compared to a lot of sub $100 microphones . The sE7 also comes packed with a stand clip, a metal ⅝” thread adapter and windscreen. sE logo stickers and a small printed user manual are also included.

Like the other sE Electronics microphones I have tried, It looks classy and doesn’t feel cheap. It has weight to it.

The front grille is solid protection. It and the rest of the microphone’s exterior could probably take many drumstick smacks without breaking but I wouldn’t slam it down on a stage. It could probably take a mic stand fall and if it breaks or someone steals it you’re out $100 instead of $300 or more.

A 2-years transferrable limited warranty is included. 3 years if you register it.

I think the sE7 sounded great with everything I tested it on. It should also work well on Piano, clean electric guitar, violin and maybe even close tom drums.

If you have $150 more to spend (or $300 for the matched pair) the big brother sE8 may be worth investigating. The main differences between the 7 and the 8 are shown on screen.

A more consistent off-axis frequency response.
Has a flat frequency response from 30 Hz to 4 kHz. the sE7 begins to roll off slightly around 400 Hz.
A smaller high frequency bump.
Has two roll off options
Has two attenuation options.
Has a higher max SPL rating (159 dB vs 156 dB) than the sE7
Is 3 dB quieter than the sE7
The matched pair comes with a precision stereo bar and metal road case.
Costs $150 more.

The only negatives are that the capsule is very susceptible to plosives. If you are using it for vocal recordings then the 80 Hz filter and windscreen plus an additional pop filter are musts. Record singers like a boom microphone above their head for best results.

The mic clip is very tight…but at least you know that it’s not going to fall out of the clip once it’s in! Also, the XLR connector doesn’t accept cables as easily as my other microphones. You need to give the connectors a good shove before it clicks. Unless you hold the XLR cable connector switch down first. Then again, it may just need some breaking in.

I would feel comfortable having only two sE7s to record music with. It’s an affordable desert island microphone. In other words, they are the perfect microphones to start off with if you are building a new home studio. They are detailed without being too harsh and cost $200 for the matched pair or $100 for just one. The 3 years warranty seals the deal for me.

The sE7 is the first microphone that I’ll be recommending to low budget home recording studio engineers going forward. That’s about the biggest compliment I can give. sE’s research and development team did an amazing job on this one.

JoeCo Cello Review

Adam from Real Home Recording takes an in-depth look at JoeCo Limited’s first ever desktop audio interface. Here are script notes (there are definitely duplicate notes):

I have been using the JoeCo Cello audio interface for nearly two months. I used it to record many different audio sources and put it through a bunch of tests. In this two part video, you’ll hear many audio samples and my honest opinion on whether you should consider buying this interface.

This video is a two parter. In this one, I’ll give you a quick run down of the Cello’s benefits, some of its flaws and whether I’d recommend it or not. The second part goes more in depth with audio clips, gear shootouts, test graphs and brief tutorials.

The Standout Features for me are

– Two channels of simultaneous raw/processed recording, before the signal hits the converter. That way, you can maintain the purity of an analog processed signal but if you mess up there is a safety net.

– 78 dB preamp gain. With the 20 dB pad, it can handle virtually any microphone you throw at it.

– True mastering grade converters with five analog inputs. Quality was onfirmed with loopback tests. Even the front panel line inputs are super clean/transparent.

– Converter filtering settings. I haven’t seen a feature like this on a desktop interface before.

– Can be USB powered if your computer can handle it. Wall power is recommended, however.

– 1 Million Ohm instrument input

– Up to 384 kHz sample rate in a small desktop form factor.

– Super loud headphone output, so drum recording isn’t a problem.

– Built-in talkback/slate microphone that can be recorded.

– Mid-side AKA sum and difference matrix during recording setting

– Scalable control panel GUI. Hopefully one day they will make it 4K ready.

– Can be used as a standalone device with user controllable startup state settings.

– LCD Status indicator, which actually does come in handy.

– Latency figures are solid. It’s not the fastest interface out there but I had zero issues recording with a MIDI keyboard or a bass guitar. If you need processing during voice recordings, you’ll need to look at interfaces with onboard DSP options.

– Manufactured in the U.K.

– Finally, I saved the best for last. Cello stays out of the way and rarely lets you down. It shocked me when I had over 80% CPU usage on a big mix and was still able to record a track without glitches. On other audio interfaces that I’ve used, there would have been pops and clicks every 10-20 seconds.

When I used it on a Dell laptop, it did not fare as well. There were about four pops per song when recording 5 tracks at 96 kHz. Every time I recorded with my Lenovo desktop computer there were zero issues. So certainly your mileage will vary in this department.

So, would I recommend the Cello?

Unfortunately it comes up short for a full recommendation. If you need an interface with more inputs and outputs, faster latency, a longer warranty than one year, included software or are on a tight budget then look elsewhere.

However, if you need its stand out features then I 100% recommend it. For some, myself included, the processed signal safety net, transparent preamps and mastering grade converters alone are worth the price.

The Cello has nuances that audio engineers care about. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles compared to the competition but the ones it does have work very well.

Go to part 2 for an in depth look at the Cello.

Up to 13 inputs at 96 kHz not including the talkback mic or 23 inputs up to 48 kHz.

Ins and outs aren’t smashed together. Evenly dispersed between the front, back and one side panel.

Up to 8 monitor mix outputs, including one for SPDIF and pre-fader listen mode.

Buffer settings aren’t restricted. You can even uncheck Safe Mode for faster latency if you are feeling dangerous! I’m glad that they give you the options instead of assuming your system can’t handle it. JoeCo didn’t put on the kid gloves.

Switch seamlessly from ASIO to Windows sound as long as the sample rate is the same. If you want you can even have sound playing while recording with ASIO.

Reverse stereo is a nice feature.

Top plus isn’t analog so it’s nice to have but gimmicky.

ADAT output would have been nice instead of 2 channel SPDIF.

With 384 kHz, performance does go down in terms of in/outs and noise/frequency response.

I can’t fully recommend it because of the price and because a second set of line outputs, so that one could easily process mix elements through hardware while monitoring through speakers is something that the more affordable competition has had for years.

Pan knob on the Stem outputs would be a nice finishing touch.

Audient iD14 vs. Cello

Acoustic guitar
Voice over

DI bass and electric

Cello Review

Sound samples right up front

Marketing vs. experience with it

Cello Positives:

Simultaneous unprocessed + processed recording

78 dB of gain (80 dB may be possible on some microphones)

Very reliable. Was able to record with a ton of plugins on and zero glitches.

Ruler flat frequency response at Maximally flat.

Converter options for a smoother high end roll off and slightly better latency.

On my computer rig the roundtrip latency figures were better than what’s listed on JoeCo’s web site.

Can be USB powered if your computer’s port supports 1,000 mA output.

“125 dB of dynamic range” confirmed on the instrument and line inputs at 192 kHz. Noise is in the upper frequency range.

1MOhm inpedance instrument input.

MIDI in/out

Made in the U.K. instead of China.


Gain bunching

A longer warranty would be better. Even if it is an optional upgrade. Some stores give you two.

A second set of line outs and ADAT output may have helped.

Converter filter tests along with clipping tests.

Test Top + with pink noise

Record silence. Gain all the way down and all the way up. Pads and no pads. 441, 48, 96 and 192.

Try the Slate button (it enables recording of the talkback mic)

Sample rate usage scenarios

RightMark Audio Analyzer Tests and Latency Tests from the other program. (re-do 384 kHz through the line inputs with the DC filter on)

YouTube + ASIO in REAPER (as long as the sample rate is 44.1 kHz) playback at the same time? Not a problem

Line input volume control down to 1/2 decibel.

Use with the Direct Box tests.

Fully scalable GUI, once you click the orange arrow. Works best on 720p or 1080p monitors.

Apparently in the 384kHz mode there is a DC filter option under the ADC control. Calibrate!

I didn’t like the GUI at first but it grew on me. Contrast is good and although it’s plain looking it’s not a huge deal.

Monitor mix matrix is intuitive. Three tiered volume level setting (software + hardware)

Up to 22 inputs at 44.1/48 kHz, 16 at 96 kHz, 8 at 192 or 4 at 384 kHz.

USB power vs. wall power performance test including phantom power, low buffer MIDI and line out (to EX1 line in) JoeCo does warn that conversion quality may take a hit and not all  

computers can handle powering the interface properly.

“Cello can be bus powered from hosts able to supply 1500mA.” Mac computers can handle it and some Windows machines. Not mine.

Class compliant USB 2.0…it worked on my smartphone and would have worked on my tablet with an accessory!

Separate stereo DAW mixes for each output (main, headphones and digital)

I see the cello like I see my Galaxy s9. Some people will look at it and they’ll see an audio interface in a silver box. But what is going on under the hood is what counts. Not everybody will need a Cello or can appreciate all of its features but is it worth the money yes. It is properly priced for its capabilities.

You’re getting a mastering grade converter, word clock, two transparent preamps, the ability to record two raw microphone signals along with two processed ones simultaneously, midi in and out, and finally a great quality instrument input.

It can be a USB powered or wall powered. It can be operated in standalone mode. It is a reliable/stable son-of-a-b****.

ADC/DAC Filter options: At flat settings, the cut off frequency is sharp. Some will find this unmusical. There is also slightly more latency with flat settings.
Where would a more musical filter response sound better? Instruments like triangles or tambourines. Best thing to do? Use your ears and run some RMAA tests to see if you like the trade off.

Core Audio as well

Converter clipping was relatively graceful with a voice over. Lots of analog headroom!

Preamp converter clipping at different settings

Cables/controls are not crammed together. Microphone/instrument/headphone connectors are all on the front panel.

Round Trip Latency (already done but do 96 kHz at 32 samples and 192 kHz at 32, 64 and 128 samples) compared to marketing. Marketing figures are actually higher! (44.1 at < 9.8 mS, 384 kHz at < 3.6 mS)

Low buffer stability including MIDI at 384 kHz

Weak power button…I am afraid it will snap off.

Mixing stability (done)

I like the way the iD14’s DAC converters sound over the Cello when not recording/mixing. But the Cello’s sound closer to what I here when Sonarworks Reference is turned on.

Alerts are a nice, professional feature

Headphone amp volume (done)

Locking Neutrik XLR inputs

Top + digital effect on input

MIDI inputs aren’t just for keyboards. Lots of controllers on the market.

Test MIDI recording/stability with 384 kHz.

384 kHz vs. 96 kHz vs. 48 kHz

I think what happened is when this product was designed, the Babyface Pro, UAD Apollo win, Audient iD22 were its closest competitors. I don’t believe the others offer USB power only. They also do not offer 80 dB of gain.

No extra software included.

The status indicator is cool but I am concerned about it and the JoeCo logo LED lights adding noise to the signal. Or at the very least they will eventually burn out. The option to turn them off would be nice, if possible.

The DAC alone may be worth the price to some. It truly is mastering grade.