Earthworks SR40V Handheld Condenser Vocal Mic

The SR40V ($1,499) is a transformerless, hyper-cardioid, prepolarized, small-diaphragm condenser that Earthworks calls, “The World’s First High-Definition Vocal Microphone.”
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The SR40V ($1,499) is a transformerless, hyper-cardioid, prepolarized, small-diaphragm condenser that Earthworks calls, “The World’s First High-Definition Vocal Microphone.” The frequency response is an ultra-wide 30 Hz to 40 kHz, with 22 dBA of selfnoise and a healthy peak input of 145 dB SPL.

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I first tried the SR40V in a standard nightclub setting, mixing FOH and monitors for Zoe Vette & the Revolvers (straight up rock ’n’ roll). In soundcheck, I first rolled off 3-4 dB at 10 kHz and got a pleasant balance with nice mids and clear definition; for this live gig, the SR40V gave a little too much top end, yet was sonically strong overall with appropriate sibilance. With one monitor wedge placed directly off-axis, Zoe received plenty of monitor gain, and even more than she needed was available before feedback.

At showtime, with the improved sonics that warm bodies provide, I was able to put almost all of the previously attenuated 10 kHz back into the mix and the monitors behaved well, too, not squealing even once. Zoe found the mic to be “nice and clear, not low and muddy.” Back in the studio, I ran some side-by-side tests with my usual “featured-vocalist live condenser,” a Shure Beta 87C via my super-clean Earthworks 1024 preamp (naturally). The SR40V was way hotter, needing about 10 dB less gain than the 87C. The SR40V demonstrated more proximity effect than the 87C and had a few more problems with plosives. On lead vocals, the SR40V sounded very similar to the 87C, both open and airy (at least for a handheld), but the SR40V has a slightly sweeter high-end response. I then ran the same studio tests with the SR40V and an AKG C 451; I found the two sounded rather similar.

The SR40V has the inherent quality and smooth top-end extension of a “studio” mic that is, by design, quite useful when placed a little closer to sources, taking advantage of some proximity effect, just as is often done in live sound reinforcement. I wouldn’t recommend the SR40V for mic “cuppers,” spitty vocalists or over the top yeller/screamers, yet for real singing, it’s just the ticket.

Earthworks

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