Review: Ehrlund EHR-M Condenser Microphone

Producer/engineer Rob Tavaglione tests the triangular-diaphragmed Ehrlund EHR-M Condenser Microphone.
Author:
Publish date:
Ehrlund EHR-M condenser microphone

Ehrlund EHR-M Condenser Microphone

I’m not sure why I was so surprised to learn of Ehrlund Microphones’ signature use of triangular diaphragms in their microphones; after all, rectangular ones are quite popular these days and a ribbon mic’s ribbon is indeed a rectangular strip. We know that circular diaphragms have the most resonant properties (i.e. a drum head), so it stands to reason that a triangular one would have less resonance and therefore a different response. In my tests with the Ehrlund EHR-M, I found the mic to perform just a little differently than the norm for a cardioid LDC; a difference that was minimal in some cases and impactful in others.

Swedish manufacturer Ehrlund has a line of six mics and a number of transducer contact pickups, all with a triangular form-factor that reportedly harnesses the fine detail that is captured by a smaller area of pickup (towards the points of the triangle), as well as the fullness and high-output/low-noise of a larger area (think the center of the triangle).

This capsule design and its associated electronics (transformerless and a low phantom-power draw of only 2 mA) makes for some impressive specs: Frequency response from 7 Hz to 87 kHz (!); self-noise less than 7 dBA; max SPL of 125 dB; and reportedly exhibiting the same frequency response at any operating impedance. The mic’s body is aircraft-grade aluminum (fairly lightweight at 340 grams), with a nickel-plated, stainless-steel mesh windscreen, but there is no pad, filter or pattern switch of any kind.

The EHR-M does not come with a shockmount, but has a stand-mount that utilizes a lever for positioning. No windscreen or storage case is provided, although a protective sock is included.

I first threw the EHR-M into a session on drum room and then a thin male vocalist later that day. The drum room response was nicely articulated, with fast and exacting high-end response coupled with a lack of “slow decay” or fullness in the bottom end—more of a quick, natural and reference kind-of-thing. The vocalist was similar, with an emphasis on clean and accurate transients and no additional fullness or chesty thickness added, except for a little proximity effect which was easily controllable. Although those qualities remained with other applications, the deeper I dug in with the EHR-M, the more surprises I found.

While I was expecting the EHR-M to offer a tighter-than-cardioid pattern, it was indeed truly cardioid (with a little bump of sensitivity on the butt-end not unlike a typical hypercardioid pattern), but a little smoother off-axis than to be expected. I also found the mic to be insensitive to distance—that is to say, it was consistent whether in-close or across the room. Get close enough with a vocalist and some very usable proximity effect was there, too (I found this cutting VOs with a deep voiced, baritone, male voice actor who can get too thick).

Innovations: Ehrlund EHR Microphone Line

Ehrlund EHR-H Handheld Mic Ships

I’ve had a rash of non-traditional drummers coming in with cajons, snares and cymbals as of late, and I found the EHR-M to be quite useful with such kits. I got wonderfully natural snare sounds from a position about 16” away and really nice cajon slaps, too, with super-sweet transients and a complete lack of hype or harshness. That said, the 125 dB SPL handling was not enough for a loud rock drummer; the mic’s response blew out and was unusable in this case (same thing in my attempts as center overhead, right over a banging drummer).

However, tests with acoustic guitar, vocals and hand percussion (tambo, agogo, maracas, vibraslap, claps) were all winners. I always got great results with acoustic guitar that seemed to mitigate my constant inner-debate over LDC vs SDCs. I got accurate, realistic and un-colored results in both the body and neck-meets-body positions. Percussion tracks with agogo, tambo and shaker showed off the EHR-M’s crisp top-end, which doesn’t distort, grabs transients with ease and both cuts and sits in a crowded mix quite well. Vocals seemed to be a mixed bag with the EHR-M, as it doesn’t provide any fullness to weak or thin voices, but boy does it capture truth and detail on full and powerful voices. In fact, I was stuck replacing a single bad vocal line cut with a conventional LDC with an EHR-M replacement line and I got them to (almost) match, but only after considerable EQ to the EHR-M tone.

Conversely, I found the EHR-M to be a perfect choice for baritone sax. As part of a four-piece group horn-tracking session, I found ample rejection of the other horns at 90 and 270 degrees off-axis (and with a pleasant tone to the bleed), fantastic capture of all the honky and “brappy” detail and a “deep and full, yet lean” bass response that was much more accurate and resonance-free than typical LDCs.

Once I got used to its strengths and limitations, I did not find anything not to like about the EHR-M. In fact, I was wishing for a pair for drum overhead (with moderate drummers), orchestral and piano applications where I think the EHR-M could excel. I was also wishing for multiple patterns, too, but those uses would be ideally served but Ehrlund’s EHR-T, a “double-M” with two capsules and two outputs (which allows you to create any polar pattern you desire in post).

Want more information like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.

The EHR-M is not inexpensive at a cost of about $1,699 street and that doesn’t include a foam windscreen, shockmount, storage case or much of any accessories. However, it is a mic with a uniquely pure, transparent and accurate response that is hard to achieve with any other mic I’ve ever tried. If you’re looking for a microphone that behaves quite the opposite of your typical slow/transient-taming/bottom-end-making/top-end-coloring passive ribbon mic, then this EHR-M might just become your secret weapon transducer.

Ehrlund Microphones • https://ehrlund.se