(click thumbnail)sE Electronics is one of the few companies that manage to make great sounding microphones at reasonable prices. From the beginning, SE founder Siwei Zou has been determined not to fall into the common practice of re-branding cheap Chinese microphones. Unlike most Chinese microphone companies, sE Electronics has its own factory and manufactures only its own products; the sE mic capsules are built entirely by hand.
Since launching its condenser mic line in Europe in 2003, sE has become the number one microphone brand in the UK and the fastest growing brand in all of Europe. I reviewed the sE R1 ribbon mic a couple of years ago and found it to be a respectable mic worthy of attention, so I was happy to put the Titan to the test and see how I felt about sE’s condensers.
The sE Titan is a beautifully designed, multi-pattern, transformerless, Class A FET condenser microphone (According to the manufacturer, the transformerless design enhances low end and assures no low frequency distortion. — Ed.). The $1,499 mic (special discounts forecoming) uses a center-terminated titanium diaphragm that does a wonderful job of capturing clarity, detail and transient response. Like gold, titanium doesn’t tarnish. It is a lighter and stiffer metal than gold, so it is able to move faster and provide a superior transient response. This translates into clear high frequencies with less distortion and a tighter low frequency response. The Titan is equipped with a -10 dB pad and a low frequency roll off, which are both activated by a switch on the mic. The mic includes a shock-mount, a wooden storage box, an XLR cable and an aluminum flight case.
The Titan has a frequency response of 20 Hz - 20 kHz and a sensitivity of 40 mV/Pa - 34 ± 2dB (0dB=1V/Pa 1000Hz). The mic’s selectable polar patterns include cardioid, omni and figure-eight. The microphone’s impedance = 200 ohms and the equivalent noise level is 16 dB (A weighted). Max SPL for 0.5-percent THD@1000 Hz is 128 dB. The mic uses a standard 3-pin XLR connector and it requires 48 volts phantom power for operation.
I have had the opportunity to use the Titan in a wide variety of circumstances and have been very pleased with the results. Although the mic arguably has a sound of its own, I found it to somewhat resemble the Neumann FET 47 in its overall performance characteristics. The mic can handle a high SPL and it works exceptionally well on percussion, especially on kick drum.
Studio, project studio, broadcast, postproduction
Titanium diaphragm; transformerless; -10 dB pad and 100 Hz roll off switches; cardioid, omni & figure-eight polar patterns
Sonic Distribution | 617-623-5581 | www.sonic-distribution.comDuring a tracking session, I placed an AKG D112 inside the kick drum slightly off center but pointed at the beater. I placed the Titan outside the kick drum about three inches from the back head. I blended the two mics about 50/50 and ended up with a wonderful kick sound. I usually use a Yamaha SubKick in addition to the two mics and, surprisingly, I was able to get enough bottom end from the Titan where this wasn’t necessary. I had good results using the mic on the bottom of a djembe, and it also worked well on an 18-inch floor tom.
As a vocal microphone, the Titan works well in most situations, though overall I tended to have better results using it with male vocals than with female vocals. I found that using minimal or no equalization in most circumstances resulted in a full and rich vocal sound. The microphone has very little proximity effect making it a great contender for the broadcast market.
I had the opportunity to use the Titan to record viola and cello, and in both instances had good results. The mic tended to get a bit harsh when it was closer than 24 inches, but as long as it was 2 - 3 feet away from the sound source it sounded smooth and present without getting brittle or edgy. I also had good results using the Titan to record bass guitar (on an SVT cabinet), plus acoustic and electric guitars, and in each of these instances had nice results.
The SE Titan is a versatile microphone that isn’t necessarily a bargain, but is easily worth its price tag. The mic has a smooth and natural sound with nice top end sheen.
Apple Macintosh 2 GHz Dual Processor G5 w/2 GB RAM; Digidesign ProTools 7.3; Lynx Aurora Converters; Lucid Gen-X-96 Clock; PMC AML-1 monitor