The new sE Electronics sE2200a II is more than an update to the company’s low-cost, large-diaphragm condenser, the sE2200a. For only $100 more, version II adds multipattern capabilities (omnidirectional, figure-8, and condenser), increasing the value of the microphone substantially. In addition, it now has two pad levels (–10 and –20dB), along with the switchable highpass filter from before, which is set at 80Hz.
Based around a 1-inch, gold-sputtered diaphragm, the dual-capsule sE2200a II is tuned to sound like the previous model. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, with +4 to –6dB variance depending on the polar pattern. (Frequency charts are available on the company’s website.) Unfortunately, the sE2200a II does not come in a flight case as the sE2200a does. The new model is packaged in a cardboard box fitted with high-density foam.
Until August 2012, the sE2200a II will come packaged with a sturdy spider-style shockmount designed specifically for this mic. It features a small plastic sleeve that you place over the mic’s XLR connector before putting the assembly into the shockmount. A thumbscrew on the side of the mount pushes into the plastic sleeve and holds the microphone tightly in place. The connection is solid enough that you can hang the sE2200a II upside down—my preferred way of using it on vocals—without worrying about it dropping out. sE Electronics includes an extra band for the shockmount, should the installed one wear out.
The package also includes a small version of the company’s metal pop filter. A hole at the front of the shockmount accepts the pop filter’s stem, which is held fast by a thumbscrew.
On the Job The sE2200a II has a very pleasing sound that is suitable for a number of sources—voice, acoustic guitar, piano, drum overheads—and the detail it captures belies its relatively modest price. On vocals, the sE2200a II is flattering in the mid and low registers while it keeps the highs articulate but not overly bright. I enjoyed the mic’s smooth frequency response; it never sounded muddy or harsh, even as a room mic for drums. I tested a pair of sE2200a IIs and was pleased at the consistency in sound between them.
The tone of the omni and figure-8 patterns differ from the cardioid, as you would expect. Cardioid has a wide presence boost between 8 and 15kHz, while omni yields a richer sound overall despite its lack of the proximity effect. Figure-8 has a smooth sound, with a presence boost at 4kHz. The pattern’s front and rear lobes match each other remarkably well.
The directional patterns seem narrow and sounded best when the sources stayed on-axis. The cardioid pattern is focused enough that it allowed me to record a singer/songwriter’s acoustic guitar separately as she sang; by aiming the mic down toward the guitar, I was able to capture the rich timbre of her Martin while keeping her voice in the null point of the pattern and out of the track. The sE2200a II handled a brighter, punchier Taylor acoustic equally well, doing justice to the transients and not compressing the sound. Unlike other mics I’ve heard in this price range, the sE2200a II doesn’t sound hyped in the extreme registers.
Together with its accessories at this price, the sE2200a II makes a fine all-around large-diaphragm condenser mic for the personal studio.
Gino Robair is a former editor of Electronic Musician magazine.
STRENGTHS: Multipattern capability adds to mic value. Two pad settings. Lowcut filter.
LIMITATIONS: Comes in a paper box rather than a flight case. Accessories included for a limited time.
$499 MSRP/$399 MAP