Choosing the Best Microphone

Finding the right microphone for your needs is a little like shopping for a car. Some people go for looks, others for what is under the bonnet and then there are those who want it simply to drive well on the local roads. We have been fortunate to be able to put our hands on 3 very good dynamic microphones from Heil Sound. Heil has been popularised in the podcasting communities thanks to PR40 mic – often perceived as the top of the shelf solution for podcast recording studios.

Testing Heil Microphones

We have put to the test the following microphones:

  • Heil PR40 – wonderful quality of sound, comes with a price tag of $328.

The Heil PR 40 microphone boasts the widest frequency range of any dynamic mic in the Heil PR series. The PR 40 incorporates Heil’s sage-like understanding of phasing plug placement, along with the use of a very large (1″), low mass diaphragm, and custom magnet metals housed in a specially designed microphone body.

The PR 40 diaphragm is shock mounted such that it is completely de-coupled from the anodized Champagne matte-finished steel body. In addition to dual mesh screens, each made with different diameter screen apertures, there is an internal breath blast filter on the diaphragm element itself, providing superb response for the human voice across the entire vocal range, without “popping” noises. In fact, the PR 40 will provide flawless, smooth, flat response from 28 Hz all the way up to the 18k Hz, making this a great microphone for everything from vocals, to bass drums and tom drums, to guitar and bass cabinet mic’ing and more.

  • Heil PR30 – another professional studio mic with a price tag of $253. A little harder to get in the UK in a good price though (at the time of writing)

The HEIL PR 30 microphone steps up the professional audio game by adding a hum bucking coil in addition to the shock-mounted large 1.5″ low mass diaphragm to virtually run noise-free in most any situation. When working in close proximity to PC monitors in the studio, or near neon lights, or other electrical sources on stage, the PR 30 is the microphone to use for quiet, flawless operation on drums, guitar cabinets and vocals.

The PR 30 is often compared to high priced ribbon microphones for its wide frequency response and immaculate sound quality. The difference is the PR 30 is able to withstand sound pressure levels that would decimate ribbon microphones.

  • Heil PR77D – one of the latest additions to the Heil family. Again a little harder to get in the UK, comes at a price tag of $249 and unique ability to switch between music and voice mode.

The Heil PR 77D is a professional quality dynamic microphone for use in commercial broadcast, podcasting, and studio or home recording. It is perfect for any application that requires a smooth, flat response over a wide frequency range, excellent transient response, great speech articulation, and low intermodulation distortion (IMD).

Unique to the PR 77D is a two-position switch allowing the user to select optimal response frequency characteristics between Voice and Music applications. The Voice position rolls the audio off at 120 Hz at -6 dB per octave, whereas the Music position removes the filter and uses the entire audio spectrum of 60 Hz to 16 kHz.

Our Heil Test

Here is our test of all three mics in three very different locations. We have used our sound treated room, the great outdoors and a room full of echo. Which mic did the best?

Verdict?

All 3 mics did exceptionally well in all environments. A very positive surprise was how well they deal with a room which has a lot of echo (this is the pain point of many podcasters out there!). This is precisely the quality of the microphone to look for, especially if your recording environment changes from recording to recording and you would like the quality to remain the same. I am personally drawn towards the PR77D for it’s amazing looks and the switch from music to voice which rolls off the base from the voice and makes you sound like a radio broadcaster from the 80s. But them I am a person who likes the cars for the way they look 🙂  Thankfully with Heil I think the bonnet content will be equally good in all 3 choices.