by Dave Horn
Best. Value. Period.
That's a pretty bold statement, and might make some of our other microphone manufacturers uncomfortable, but I think that it's true. At $117, the Heil PR 22 UT is the best value in vocal microphones, but what does that mean?
Is it the best microphone available? No. Is it the cheapest microphone available? Hardly.
Since its introduction over 40 years ago, the benchmark for vocal microphones has been the Shure SM58. It's still standard by which microphones are measured and for good reason. It sounds good and there are tens of thousands in use every day. We all know what to expect when we plug one in.
In comparison to the SM58 which costs $99.95, the Heil sounds better, but it should.
It costs $17 more. What we find is that the Heil PR 22 UT even sounds better than microphones that cost more than $117. That's where the value equation comes in.
When introduced, the Heil PR 22 came one way - in a fancy case and with a gold grille, a black grille, and the installed nickel-colored ("chrome") grille. It sounded great, you could customize it to suit yourself. Today, it costs $179.
So in short, the PR 22 UT is a $179 microphone for $119. You get the same PR 22, but in a vinyl pouch with only the nickel-colored grille and you save $60. I like that math.
So what makes the PR 22 and the PR 22 UT sound so good? Virtually all microphones would suffer handling noise, if the frequencies below 100Hz were not rolled off in the design of the microphone. A lot of the goodness of the PR22 has to do with the fact that Heil found a way to not roll off the last octave of the vocal range to get rid of the noise.
Bob Heil tells us that in removing the handling noise that they were able "to increase the mid-range vocal peak." What Heil won't tell us is whether the change is mechanical (suspension of the diaphragm) or otherwise, but what our ears tell us is that the PR 22 has more low end, without handling noise. The PR 22 also has a really nice, smooth presence boost which seems to be centered widely around 4-5k. What that gives you is great articulation and clarity that isn't typically found at this price point.
There are lots of other great microphones around $100. Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Audio Technica, and others - they all build one. All of those same companies build microphones that we sell for $150-200 each. They're all very nice and sound great. But at $119, the PR 22 UT compares very favorably to anything in the "under $200" price point, and at that price, there's nothing else that comes close. If you disagree, tell me what I'm missing.