by Mike Sessler, Coast Hills Community Church
The ElectroVoice RE20 has been from it's introduction a favorite of broadcasters and announcers. Somewhere along the line, someone stuck it in front of a bass cabinet and discovered it rocks as a bass mic. Then someone else put it in a kick drum and found it works wonders there, too. In fact, the RE20 is great on a lot of things. And while it's not super-expensive (at least by premium microphone standards), at $400-ish, it's not a budget mic either.
EV realized there was a market for a more cost-conscious version of the RE20. In January, 2011 at NAMM in Anaheim, they introduced the RE320. Priced at $299.
When I saw it at NAMM, I knew I had to try it. I've used the RE20 in the past, and always liked it. But I have a hard time justifying the price tag when I have so many other things that need attention.
The week before Easter, a box arrived; it was my demo RE320. We were re-setting the stage anyway, so I pulled the PR-48 out of the kick and stuck the RE320 in. I think it was the second or third kick during line check that I knew this mic was not going back.
I've tried a lot of different mics in the kick, and have only really ever been happy with one; the Heil PR-40. I'd love a PR-40, but at $329, it's a tougher sell. The PR-48 was okay, but I never felt we could get it positioned to give us both the punch and the clarity I wanted from the kick. We could get one or the other, but not both.
When I arrived at Coast, we had the "classic" combination of a Beta 91 inside and a Beta 52 in the hole. I know a lot of guys who like the dual mic technique in the kick, and I respect that. My preference however, is to use one. There are a lot of reasons for that which I won't detail here. But know that it's preference thing and I don't think dual mic'ing is wrong. I'd just rather not.
So I'm always looking for a single mic that can give me what I want (and costs less than a PR-40 or RE20). At long last, I've found it. The RE320 sounds really, really good. It's tight, punchy, has good articulation and gives me the low end oomph that I've been after; all without sounding muddy.
The RE320 is a "dual voice design" (EV's words), meaning there is a switch that tailors the response to either work well on a kick drum, or for announcing. I've not had occasion to use it for voice-overs, but if it performs that task anywhere near as well as it does on the kick, it will be a winner.
The RE320 is a long, heavy mic. It requires a good stand to stay in place, and may take some tweaking to get it in the right spot. We have ours way inside the kick, about 3-4" away from the beater head, slightly off-axis and pointed at the beater. That gives us the best sound in both the PA and the ears for the musicians. My friend Van just demo'd one (that is not going back either) and he has it about 3-4" inside the front hole. Of course, your mileage may vary.
At $299, it was a no-brainer for me, especially since I essentially got two mics for the price of one. That's right, don't think that PR-48 was relegated to the bench. When I spoke with Bob Heil some time back, he told me the killer mic combination for the B3 is two PR-30s on top and a PR-48 on the bottom. I've yet to acquire the PR-30s, but the PR-48 is in fact, killer.
So now that I've saved some money on my new kick mic, I have almost enough to buy one of the two needed PR-30s. So it's really a win-win. If you're in the market for a kick mic, I think you should definitely give the RE-320 a try. It's head and shoulders above what we ever got out of the Beta 91/52 package; at least that's our experience.