Electro Voice Microphone Review for Podcasters
A Review of the Electro-Voice RE20, RE320, and RE27ND
10.21.19 | Podcasting | By: Dayton Cole
Probably the most iconic microphone of all time, at least in the broadcast industry, is the Electro-Voice RE-20. This microphone has been a workhorse for radio personalities and Voice over artists for decades. This iconic mic utilizes Electro-Voice’s patented Variable-D technology, which linearizes the microphone’s proximity effect. This allows the talent to be very close to the microphone giving you that bigger-than-life radio DJ voice, while minimizing some of the undesirable effects of proximity such as boomy sounding up close and thin sounding when farther away.
Since the RE-20 was released in 1968, Electrovoice has added a few more models which use their Variable-D technology: The RE-320 and the RE-27N/D. All three of these microphones look and function very similarly, however there are a few differences. We get questions from podcasters all the time about which of these three mics is ‘the best.’ While sound quality can certainly be subjective, we are going to go through the differences of these mics and which one might be best for you depending on your voice and application.
As mentioned earlier, all three of these mics feature the Variable-D technology. They are also all dynamic cardioid microphones, which is why they are ideal for broadcast. One big difference in these microphones is their frequency response:
Just looking at the EQ curves of these microphones you can see that the RE-20 employs the flattest frequency response, while the RE-320 and RE-27N/D have more of a boost in the higher frequencies.
Unlike the classic RE-20, the RE-320 and RE-27N/D each have an extra resonator dome and a newer microphone diaphragm design, which attributes to a brighter and higher output. This can be especially advantageous if you are recording in a noisy environment or don’t have a high-quality preamp.
With the tests that we did, we had to increase the gain on the RE-20 to better match the 320 and 27N/D, which resulted in a little bit more room noise, but all three of these microphones have relatively low self-noise as opposed to other dynamic microphones. We do recommend getting something to help with the gain discrepancy like a Cloudlifter ($149) if you decide to get an RE-20.
All three microphones have switches with different filtering options. On the RE-20 with the filtering switch in the on position, it tilts the lower frequencies down by 4.5 dB from 400-100Hz.
The RE-320 is designed to not only record voice, but it also has a frequency contour switch that is engineered specifically for kick drum. While this makes the 320 more versatile, we find that feature doesn’t work well for the voice as it takes a little bit too much mid-range out.
The RE27N/D is by far the most versatile of the three mics as it employs 3 filtering options. It has 2 bass tilt switches and a high-frequency filter contour. The high-frequency filter decreases the high frequency by 3 dB, which can help with some of the harshness that this mic has. This can be especially useful if you are doing an interview with two people where one voice might sound just fine in the flat position, but the other voice may be a little brighter and more sibilant. Utilizing the high-frequency roll-off could help tame the brighter voice. The 27N/D and 320 both have a neodymium magnet, which gives them 6 dB more gain than the RE-20.
The difference between the 27N/D and the 320 is the mic diaphragm. The RE-320 diaphragm is designed for a faster transient response, which is why Electro-Voice advertises this mic as a kick drum mic as well.
So the most important element is the sound quality of the microphones. All 3 sound great, however, there are some subtle differences that depend on the sound you are trying to achieve.
The RE-20 is the flattest of the three microphones in terms of frequency response, which means it’s the most natural-sounding. The 320 and 27N/D are brighter than the Re-20, but the 27N/D is by far the brightest mic of the three. You often see the 27N/D on a lot of sports radio shows, so if you are going after an aggressive, in-your-face kind of tone, then the 27N/D could be for you.
If you are producing a story-driven narrative podcast, where you want a more natural/mellow sound, then the RE-20 would be our choice. The RE-320 is in between the RE-20 and RE-27N/D in terms of sound, but if you also imagine yourself wanting to record instruments as well, then the 320 is designed to handle that better than the other two mics.
In our blind listening test, our engineers chose the 27N/D over the other two mics, but that was just on one type of voice. Experimentation is the best thing you can do to try them out on your own voice to find which one gives you the character and tone you’re going for.
Last, but not least let’s talk about the price of these microphones. Right off the bat, your budget can determine which microphone you will buy. The least expensive of the three is the RE-320 ($299), followed by the RE-20 ($449), and lastly the most expensive of all of them is the RE-27N/D ($499).
The RE-320 is made overseas, while the RE-20 and RE-27N/D are made in Lincoln, NE, so the location of the manufacturing plays a huge role in the price, but the RE-320 is still made from high-quality components. The $200 difference between the RE-320 and the RE-27N/D for some people can be the deciding factor. If you’re on a tight budget and want to save a few hundred bucks, then go with the RE-320.
All three of these microphones sound great and can give you a professional sounding voice for your podcast. It all depends on the tone, style, and budget of your show. We hope this article helped to clarify the differences of these mics and if you have any questions about which mic may be best for your podcast, then you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Podcasting!
Resonate Recordings is a comprehensive podcast production company. Headquartered in Derby City–Louisville, Kentucky–we are committed to developing partnerships with our clients, not just performing transactions. Since 2014 it’s been our mission to make podcasting easy for businesses, brands, entrepreneurs, and individuals. We do this by providing support with podcast launch, podcast consulting, podcast editing, podcast production, and other creative podcasting services. If you have questions or are looking to start a podcast, our in-house team is available and ready to help! We would love to schedule a call with you and learn more about your podcast needs and answer any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
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By: Dayton Cole
As Lead Mixing Engineer at Resonate Recordings, Dayton oversees the audio editing and mixing process for many entertaining podcasts. When Dayton is not mixing and mastering audio he enjoys making tacos with his wife in their home in Louisville, KY.