Sometimes old wine in a new bottle can be sweet indeed. The release of the CAD Equitek 100 (2) marks the return of an old friend.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, live sound
Key Features: Cardioid pattern; electret condenser element; high-pass filter; ships with shockmount
Contact: CAD Professional Microphones at 800-762-9266, Web Site.
CAD has manufactured the Equitek 100 since the early 1990s. Since then technology (both microphone and general) has moved forward. Changed as well is the marketplace in which the Equitek must compete. As such, production (though not engineering and testing) has migrated to China, the shockmount has been improved, (and is now included) and a host of other minor (but notable) improvements have been applied to make this familiar face more appealing than ever. Oh, and the price is lower too!
The CAD Equitek E100 (2) is a mid-sized diaphragm (1/2-inch), single-pattern electret condenser microphone. It retains the overall rectangular shape of its predecessor, but adds a nifty black urethane finish and a distinctive bulging grille that is somewhat reminiscent of 1970’s Op-Art. Though unusual in appearance, the bowed out grille protects the capsule from any unintended collisions with the grille in cases of extreme shock.
The included shockmount screws very securely into the microphone. In addition to being well-designed from an isolation standpoint, I can’t imagine any way that the microphone could ever fall out no matter what angle or position it is suspended. The microphone comes in a hard plastic case that can accommodate the microphone whilst secured into its shockmount.
Unlike any other microphone (other than other Equiteks) in popular use, the E100 (2) contains a novel circuit designed both to smooth out phantom powering issues, as well as to allow the microphone to operate in the absence of phantom power! As shipped the E100 contains a rechargeable battery which charges via phantom power and isolates the circuitry of the microphone from the actual phantom power source.
The E100 (2) features a switchable 20 dB pad and high-pass filter (80 Hz). The manufacturer’s stated specifications for the E100 (2) include frequency response from 10 Hz to 18 kHz (deviation unspecified) and a sensitivity of 14mV/Pa. (1 kohm at 1 kHz). Signal-to-noise ratio is 75 dB, maximum SPL is rated at 145 dB (with pad engaged) and the mics impedance is specified at nominal 200 ohms.
For this review, I received a single E100 (2) microphone, so stereo (and sample to sample comparisons) usage was, of course impossible. I did however have a 10-year old Equitek E200 on hand to compare the E100 (2) to. I know what you’re thinking… apples and oranges. Yes and no. Fact is, the original E100 and E200 shared electronics and diaphragms, though the cases (and availability of additional polar patterns) were wildly different. Still it was interesting to see how the comparison played out. Saving you the suspense, the new E100 (2) sounded much better than my old E200.
I like the sound of a single condenser microphone when miking jazz drums. At a recent concert I mixed at the Southern Vermont Art Center I had the good fortune to try the E100 (2) out on David Brubeck’s drummer Randy Jones. Miked from behind, the E100 (2) provided a good sounding rendition of the essence of the kit. Cymbals were bright, but not harsh and the E100 (2) provided enough low-end to beef the sound of the drums up without sounding muddy. I would venture that a pair of E100 (2)s would make a very nice pair of overhead drum microphones at a reasonable price point.
Back in the studio, I put the E100 (2) to good use in a 22-inch maple GMS kick drum. Though not expressly intended for kick drum, the E100 (2) nevertheless sounded good, providing a nice present sound similar to a Sennheiser 421 but with faster transient response. It’s not the “idealized” sound of a kick drum optimized mic such as an Audix D6, but it’s a true sounding rendition of the drum.
On vocal use, the E100 (2) easily outshined several similarly-priced microphones, delivering a tightly focused sound that cut right through a mix. Most of the time (on male vocals) I elected not to use the low-pass filter, as I found the microphone to be reasonably free of proximity effect until you got exceedingly close to the grille.
Similar to my venerable E200, the E100 (2) sounded good on dark sounding instruments (when using it for close-miking duties) brightening them up, and adding a bit of sparkle to the sound. Acoustic guitars (both steel and nylon stringed) sounded nice and present when miked with the E100 (2). When miking electric guitars (Tom Anderson Strat through a silverface Fender Vibrolux), I found that I liked the E100 (2) much better when used as a secondary (ambient) microphone, than as the primary (close) mic.
I really liked the E100 (2) when miking an LP djembe. Unlike some other small diaphragm microphones I have used, the E100 (2) seems to shine in recording this difficult to record instrument. The E100 (2) provided a nice mix of slap, thump, and ring when placed approximately 8 inches away from the head of the drum.
If you liked the old E100, you’ll love the new E100 (2)! If you’re new to the E100 (2) there’s much to like, not the least of which is the ability to use a high quality condenser microphone to places where phantom power is unavailable. All in all, the E100 (2) is an excellent performer with quality construction and accessories, and a great value at its new price.