(click thumbnail)Best known for the Peter Frampton talk box and live quadraphonic sound for The Who, Bob Heil is always coming up with innovative products for the music industry. One of Heil’s most recent products is the PR-22 dynamic microphone — essentially an improvement made to his PR-20 dynamic vocal microphone.
The PR-22 is very similar to the PR-20 in many ways, including the cardioid pick up pattern and precise phase plug. It has a very flat response with a slight boost in the midrange around 3.15kHz.
The flat response of the PR-22’s predecessor, the PR-20, led to its Achilles heel: handling noise. Handling noise is created when putting the mic into a mic clip, rubbing the outside, tapping the mic, etc. Other manufacturers solved this problem by rolling off the frequency response around 125 Hz and disregarding the lowest octave.
According to Heil, his company decided to keep that last octave, and looked hard to find a solution to this problem. They found it in foam used in ceiling fans called Sorbothane. This foam isolates the mic element from the body of the mic, reducing dreaded handling noise. This improvement created the PR-22.
Live, broadcast, and recording studio
Cardioid pattern, dynamic element, extra wind screens mount and carrying pouch
Heil Sound | 618-257-3000 | www.heilsound.comI opened up the large leatherette case. I found the mic, two additional metal windscreens in gold and black, a mic clip, and a foam windscreen. I questioned, “Why the extra metal windscreens? Did they change the pickup pattern? Were they just for show?”
An e-mail to Bob Heil and a prompt phone call back from Bob determined that they were indeed for the Easter Egg colorer in all of us. I quote Bob Heil when I say, ”When you’re in ‘Vegas, you use the gold one.”
The PR-22 was initially tested through headphones, a monitor wedge, and a speaker that was set up about 30 feet away. The mic was A/B tested against many microphones in our inventory. It was also tested at a couple of corporate shows with bands.
Overall, I was impressed with the sound of the microphone. It had a smoother low end than a Shure SM-58 and a clarity that I couldn’t get out of any of the mics in my shop’s wardrobe, especially in the low/mid range. The closest match in clarity came from an EV RE-20, which is much more expensive, and not very practical for live vocal use. The mighty SM-57 seemed to have a similar frequency response, except — once again — the clarity of the low/mid wasn’t there.
In the live shows, I found the vocals were clean and very natural sounding. The crew on the show was impressed by its intelligibility. I did find that the PR-22 had better feedback rejection if stage monitors were placed off axis from the mic. I also discovered the PR-22 tended to feedback in the monitor before most other mics did. It took considerably more work to EQ the wedge to get the vocal to a high SPL. Because of this I wouldn’t consider the mic for loud stage volumes. It would be better, in my opinion, for in-ear monitors.
- Frequency response
- Exceptional clarity
- Reduced proximity effect
- Gain before feedback
The PR-22 maintains the great clarity of the PR-20 with reduced handling noise.
I found that Heil Sound’s claim of reduced proximity effect was also true in comparison to other microphones. The PR-22 lost some low end, but did not get as thin and tinny sounding as other comparable mics. Not only that, but it was discovered that this microphone would be a good choice for artists who like to “cup” the mic. I found the response of the mic didn’t get honky like other mics — unless you covered the flat top of the windscreen.
Handling noise was a big issue with the PR-20, and I wanted to know how the PR-22 compared to other mics I had on hand. When I listened to the PR-22 in headphones, I heard more handling noise than in a Shure SM-58. In speakers, however, the difference between the two was barely audible. I can’t comment on the claims that PR-22 exhibited less handling noise since I did not have one in hand. But during one show, the PR-22 was passed from one person to another, and there was barely any handling noise — except when the mic was pulled from the stand.
The durability of the PR-22 was questioned because the grip of the mic seemed to slip through my hand, and the overly thick case made me question its ability to hold up to the rigors of the road. But in my own ‘drop durability test,’ the mic was dropped onto the cement floor several times from varying levels and positions, and the mic performed flawlessly after each drop. Seems durable to me.
Overall, I was impressed with the Heil PR22. Yes, this mic is a few dollars more than your industry standard live vocal mic, but for this price you get the improved performance and intelligibility of mics costing much more.