Updated on Apr 16, 2021
The Electro-Voice RE20 is one of the most popular microphones in the broadcasting industry. This microphone was first debuted in 1969 to oppose the rising popularity of condenser microphones. It was originally designed to be used for film audio & recording applications, but for reasons we'll dive into shortly, it quickly gained popularity on the broadcasting scene.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is one of the pricier microphones we've had the chance to work with. Oftentimes, we only see studio microphones go up into the higher price ranges, so it will be a pivotal factor in our review today. You may just as well be wondering if it's going to be worth it to you to shell out the extra cost to add the Electro-Voice RE20 to your toolbox. By the end of this review, you should have a clear answer for that.
We're going to start by talking about why it's such a great microphone. We'll get into what it's best used for, and then dive into some of the downsides (if any). From there we're going to mention a few popular alternatives for you to consider and you should have a clear idea of what to do next.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is a really unqiue and powerful dynamic cardioid microphone that offers studio-condenser like sound. As mentioned, it was originally developed to compete with the rising number of condensers being found within every recording studio, and the level of performance is outstanding.
The Electro-Voice RE20 has a powerful & smooth sound thanks to the voice tailored frequency response. It uses a large diaphragm for higher accuracy with a humbucking coil. I've noticed whether you have a higher or lower voice matter very little with this microphone. You're going to sound brilliant with a really strong vocal presence. Theres a bass roll off switch as well which is great for cutting low frequencies on really deep vocals or instruments.
If you've ever had an issue with Proximity Effect, then let me tell you about one of the best features on the Electro-Voice RE20. It offers a unique feature known as Variable-D, which allows you to move around the microphone (to a degree) without noticeable changes in the microphone output levels. What I mean is, if you lean in and out a lot, your voice won't vary from loud to quiet.
As we often see with broadcast microphones, the Electro-Voice RE20 utilizes a true cardioid pickup pattern. Tests have shown it to have zero colorings at 180-degrees off-axis, which really shows you the strength of the cardioid. This means you'll be picking up audio from the front of the capsule while blocking out any noise coming from the rear.
Another impressive feature to bring up is the heavy-duty internal pop filter. I seldom say that internally built pop filters work well, but with the Electro-Voice RE20, I was really surprised. After many tests, I didn't feel much of a need to go out and buy my own external filter. There's also an internal shock mounting system, and while it works equally as well, I would always recommend getting either a proper microphone boom stand or an external mount.
The Electro-Voice RE20 was first developed for film & studio recording. But nowadays, the microphone is best known for its application in the world of broadcast. It's very well tailored for the human voice, so it's going to be best for those who are doing anything spoken. First and foremost, I would highly recommend it if you're doing a podcast or radio series. One of my personal favorite podcasts has a member who uses this microphone as their primary choice, and they sound great.
It'll also be a great microphone for YouTube or even streaming for that matter. If you want a lot of vocal presence, and to sound crystal clear to your audience without a lot of background noise, you'll love the Electro-Voice RE20. The Variable-D we mentioned earlier is going to give you that extra wiggle room to move around while you do your work, with your audience hearing you at consistent levels.
But that's not all! Not by a long shot! The Electro-Voice RE20 has a really high SPL (Sound Pressure Level), allowing you to record loud sound sources without distortion. The detailed frequency response will record anything from bassy kick drums to high tone saxophones with incredible clarity. There's also a bass roll-off switch so if you find your audio sounds too muddy on things like kick drums or bass instruments, this feature will be really useful for you. As you can see, it's one seriously versatile microphone.
The only real downside with the Electro-Voice RE20 is the cost. Many people use microphones that cost $100 to $200 for their podcasts or videos, so the Electro-Voice RE20 is certainly on the high-end. What you have to consider is, how worth it will it be to get the best out of your audio, and would your money go further investing in other equipment. Whether that's better audio editing software or an awesome microphone preamplifier.
If the cost is not going to break the bank, however, then it's well worth it.
The only other potential con is the weight and size. I believe that more weight is often a good sign, but for some people, it means less portability. Also, with a heavier microphone, you will not get away with a cheap microphone boom stand.
Best Used For
The Rode Procaster is of course a very similar microphone to the Electro-Voice RE20. From the design to the application, we're looking at a large & powerful broadcasting microphone for podcasts. We chose it as our first (and best) alternative for those looking to save a little bit of cash while still gaining massive quality.
The Rode Procaster features a tight polar pattern designed for vocals, allowing you to capture your own voice while blocking out your background. It uses a detailed frequency response that's specifically tailored for vocals. You're going to get a full shape from your audio, with warm lows & crisp highs, while maintaining a strong vocal presence. This is essential for microphones like these.
Rode makes wonderful microphones, and their podcast line of mics are truly remarkable. You can save yourself almost half the cost of the Electro-Voice RE20 with this brilliant microphone.
The Shure SM7B, however, is not much cheaper. In fact, you'll likely find it at the same price point as our Electro-Voice RE20. Not only that, but one of my favorite podcasts features one person using the Electro, with the other using the Shure SM7B, and they both sound great. And I had to mention this one as an alternative because it's my personal favorite microphone that I use.
The Shure SM7B is one of the most famous microphones in the world. It works for everything, from podcasting, YouTube, and streaming, to rapping & rock vocals. The Breakfast Club uses it for their guests to rap into, and Michael Jackson used it to record the Thriller album. Talk about versatility. The reason it's so popular across these different applications is because of how well it's tailored to the human voice.
It's really hard for me to say one is better than the other. The Electro-Voice RE20 is super famous in the world of broadcast. You see it at sports venues and radio shows all the time. But the Shure SM7B is just as amazing, and well worth looking into.
With all being said, the Electro-Voice RE20 is by far one of the best microphones for podcasting, broadcast, and YouTube that I've ever had the chance to work with. It comes with a hefty price tag, but the quality certainly meets the mark. It shouldn't be a surprise that a microphone found at many sports & news venues is one of the best microphones on the market.
In the world of music, you have Neumann microphones. They sound absolutely stunning and are found in every professional studio. They also cost thousands of dollars, I should mention. But speech & broadcast can be a totally different world. The Electro-Voice RE20, just like I would say about the Shure SM7B, is one of the Neumanns of the podcast world.
So let us know if you decide to purchase one for yourself, and what your honest opinion is. Is it working great, or did you have some issues we didn't consider? If you create any content that you would like to share, post it in the comments below! We love seeing how you use our recommendations out in the real world.
Posted on Apr 13, 2021
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