Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone
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- Generating element: Copper-wound dynamic with neodymium magnet structure
- Body: Steel body with zinc die-cast bottom ring
- Frequency response: 28Hz to 18kHz
- Impedance: 600 ohms balanced
- Output level: -53.9dB @ 1,000 Hz
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The Heil PR 40 represents completely new dynamic microphone technology designed for a wide range of professional applications such as sophisticated recording, live sound, and commercial broadcast. Producing the widest frequency range available in a dynamic microphone, the PR 40 outperforms most condenser microphones, and can withstand huge amounts of SPL. At the same time, it maintains the 25 year Heil Sound tradition of superbly natural voice articulation.
Top Customer Reviews
Since then I've used several other kinds of mics for singing and voiceover, including some Russian-made Oktava condensers (the MK-219 and 319) and a ribbon (an ML-52), a Neumann broadcast mic (the BCM-705), and some miscellaneous dynamic microphones. I run them into an Apogee Ensemble with its prosumer-level preamps. All of them have aggravated me slightly.
The 219s sound "boinky," where you can hear a lot of tinny reflections from the microphone housing, and the tone is a little abrasive. The 319 is better, but it's awkward mounting a front-address condenser in such a way that you can get your face into the mic and still be able to look at papers on my desk. And even with acoustic foam and rock wool sound-absorbing panels on my studio wall, and an sE Reflexion filter, and a home-made foam isolation box around my computer, it picks up a lot of background computer noise, even when the computer is in the "null point" directly behind the microphone. I've had to use a noise-reduction application routinely, Izotope's RX, and that works well but it is a little tedious.
The Neumann, which should have sounded excellent for broadcast applications, was really "spitty," with no "balls" -- the bass response on male voices isn't beefy, and I had to mess with EQ a lot; I just didn't like it. The expensive Neumann condensers have a great reputation but their dynamic broadcast mic just wasn't worth the money at around $700.
The ribbon is interesting but it has a lot of self-noise, and needs a huge amount of gain -- I think ribbons can be used to good effect for voiceover, especially if you are looking for a vintage effect, but they are a bit tricky to use.
Anyway, I bought a used PR-40 to try out. This mic sounds great. I haven't tried it for singing or recording any instruments, but if you're looking for a real broadcast-ready voice sound, this thing with a good preamp and about 58 dB of gain ought to do it for you. I'm using it with the Izotope Alloy channel strip plugin and the combination sounds great. For the Bloodthirsty Vegetarians podcast I record my side and my friend Rich does the post-processing and that sounds great too! Google "Bloodthirsty Vegeterians" -- I am using this mic for my side starting in episode 184.
Keep in mind that you will need a high-quality preamp capable of putting out maybe 55-60 dB of clean gain. Without a good preamp, no mic is going to sound good. I don't mean some made-in-China M-Audio thing... use that stuff if you _really_ must, if price is your absolute most important consideration, but realize that your _preamplifier_ is probably the point in your signal chain where the dollars spent are most effective. I'd much rather use a high-quality preamp and cheap microphone and A/D converters than vice-versa.
You will need compression to get a consistent level. If you don't know what that is and how to use it, you aren't ready to get good results with this mic, although it would be a good mic to learn with; just realize you won't have a "professional" sound until you have a properly configured compressor, either a hardware compressor or a software plug-in, on the signal. This is true whether you're trying to sound like a big boomy FM DJ or just get a clean level that can be heard well on earbuds or a car stereo for, say, reading an audio book.
This mic does not need phantom power -- this is a true dynamic mic.
Oh, and unlike condensers that are often side-address, you talk into the end of this one, like the broadcast-standard Electro Voice RE-20.
Note that while the mic itself is only in the $300 range -- a real bargain, and they are assembled in the USA! -- the price is a little deceptive, because to use it as a proper broadcast mic and get the best use out of it you will probably want the Heil broadcast boom and mounting piece, and the suspended shock mount, and definitely a pop filter, preferably one that fits the shock mount like the Popless VAC-PR40. All that mounting gear together will probably exceed the price of the mic itself. You don't need exactly this configuration -- I don't have an overhead boom yet and I'm using a standard mic stand -- but you will want some kind of pop filter, and most ordinary pop filters aren't really made to fit over the end of an end-address microphone.
And of course although this mic is not _extremely_ sensitive to background noise you will still want acoustic treatment in your studio, and you'll want to keep your computer as quiet as possible.
Anyway, that's about it -- honestly, if you've taken care of all the other variables: the acoustics of your studio room, a pop filter, computer noise, a clean preamp, good outboard or in-box compression, and decent analog-to-digital conversion and you can't get a professional radio-voice sound with this mic, then I strongly suspect the problem is you!
Run it flat into the board and see how rich this mic makes you sound. It has long been thought that if you want richness and detail, you have to use a condenser mic. The PR40 tosses this rule to the curbside.
Bright and rich like a condenser, but controlled and soft like a dynamic. One of this mic's biggest selling points is the end-fire pattern. It has incredible side and rear rejection. This goes a long way to make you sound better, especially if you're operating in a multiple-mic environment as it allows you to null out room noises and isolate each voice to a single microphone.
I use this microphone for both amateur radio and other voice work.
The PR40's end-address capsule has great off-axis noise reduction. I often do recording sitting right in front of my computer, rather than requiring a sound-proof booth. And, being a diaphragm mic rather than a condenser, it is able to take higher SPLs. The salesman who sold me the PR40 uses his as a vocal mic in live stage performances. Large diaphragm dynamic mics are a fairly unusual breed of mic, so you have to know a little about them before you start using them in every situation. The large diaphragm picks up a lot of nuance and depth that you wouldn't find in, say, a Shure SM57. But it isn't a studio condenser.
In terms of quality, the mic is well-built--Heil usually puts out great products. It comes with a hard case and a mount, but not a shock mount. The built-in pop filters are pretty pathetic (i.e., they don't work at all...you'll pop just thinking about the letter 'P') so if you're going to close mic this for vocals, you're going to want to invest in a decent pop filter. The mic is designed for close mic'ing, but in my experience, if male voices get too close, the bass can get slightly overwhelming.
Overall, however, the Heil PR40 is a fantastic mic. Just do your research and make sure you understand what it can and can't do. If you're looking for an all-around studio microphone for recording music, this probably isn't the mic for you. But, if you're looking for something with which to record voiceovers, chances are you won't beat the PR40 without spending a whole lot more money.