The Transom Handheld Mic Shootout: The Key

Mic Details Strengths Weaknesses
A Electrovoice RE-50

Electrovoice RE-50

Dynamic Omni

average street price $150

Easy to use, resistant to wind, plosives and handling noise. No phantom power required. Relatively low output, picks up more room noise than more directional mics.
B Rode NT-3

Rode NT-3

Condenser Hypercardioid

average street price $200

Big, vivid sound, inexpensive. Can use internal 9-volt battery for phantom power. Very succeptible to wind, plosives and handling noise.
C AKG C-900

AKG C-900

Condenser Cardioid

average street price $100-150

Warm, tight sound, durable. Hard to find, requires phantom power from recorder or external supply.
D Beyer MCE58

Beyer MCE58

Condenser Omni

average street price $250

Forgiving omni pick-up pattern, relatively resistant to wind, plosives and handling noise. Louder output than most dynamic omni mics. Long handle. Can sound thin and edgy on some sources.
E AKG C-1000

AKG C-1000

Condenser Hypercardioid

average street price $220

Big, vivid sound, inexpensive. Can use internal 9-volt battery for phantom power. Succeptible to wind, plosives and handling noise.
F Sennheiser K6/ME66

Sennheiser ME66

Condenser Shotgun (modular)

average street price $500 (for K6 and ME66 together)

Very directional, blocks extraneous sound well. Very light. Mic preamp and capsule are modular, so other capsules, providing different pick-up patterns, can be swapped-out for versatilty Succeptible to wind, plosives and handling noise.
G Shure SM58

Shure SM58

Dynamic Cardioid

average street price $100

Super-durable, no phantom power required, inexpensive. Can sound boomy or dull if not positioned correctly. Somewhat succeptible to plosives.
H Electro-Voice 635A

Electrovoice 635A

Dynamic Omni

average street price $100

Super-durable, resistant to wind plosives and handling noise (although not quite as much as the similar RE50) very affordable. Low output, can sound thin, not as isolated from wind or vibration as the RE50.

There are, of course, many more mics to choose from, and we’ll discuss those in Tools Talk.

Return to the Transom Handheld Mic Shootout.

Jeff Towne

About
Jeff Towne

Jeff Towne has been producing radio programs since he was a teenager, back then with a portable Marantz cassette deck and a Teac four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, and now with digital recorders and computer workstations. After honing his broadcasting skills at high school and college radio stations, Jeff has spent over two decades as the producer of the nationally-syndicated radio program Echoes. At Echoes, he has done extensive recording of interviews and musical performances, produced documentary features, and prepared daily programs for satellite and internet distribution. As Transom.org's Tools Editor, Jeff has reviewed dozens of audio recorders, editing software, and microphones, and written guides for recording, editing and mixing audio for radio and the web. Jeff has also taught classes and presented talks on various aspects of audio production. When not tweaking audio files, Jeff can probably be found eating (and compulsively taking pictures) at that little restaurant with the unpronounceable name that you always wondered about.

Comments

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  • Geoff

    11.12.14

    Reply

    I’ve been hearing pretty good things about the inexpensive Audio Technica AT2005/ATR2100 XLR/USB mic. Flexible outputs and good sound for a very low price.

  • Jon

    4.11.15

    Reply

    I’d like to add a note for Sennheiser MD 42. I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with handheld mics (as well as a Rode NTG-2 on a boom pole) … and I’ve used the EV RE50-B for about five years, the Sennheiser (dynamic cardioid) MD 46 for about a year, blah blah. Side by side, the MD 42 sounds better than the RE50-B — slightly higher output, but a much more natural vocal tone and a better feel in the hand (longer handle). I ended up buying the MD 42 for a reporter’s kit and am considering replacing my EV with one when money allows. Plus, it’s cheaper. (Street price of $250 Australian.)

    As a sideline, I was really disappointed after having visited several audio shops in hopes of trying (and buying) some of the microphones I’ve been researching, such as the AT 8010 omni condenser. Not only could none of the staff say anything beyond pushing the brands they had in stock (including the Rode Reporter, which I thought sounded pretty awful), but you couldn’t even try much else. You just had to take the plunge, pre-pay and order it from the distributor. This mightn’t be a problem in North American stores, but gosh, it makes you see why people just go online out here in Australia. (On the other hand, I totally understand that they’re probably tired of people coming in, trying things out and then buying them for cheap online.)

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