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