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sE Electronics sE X1 USB
- Type: CondenserDirectional pattern: CardioidFrequency range: 20Hz - 20kHzSensitivity: -27dBV (mV/Pa)Equivalent noise level: 19.8 dBDynamic Range: 135dBConnection: USB 2.0
- Directional pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency range: 2Hz - 2kHz
- Sensitivity: -27dBV (mV/Pa)
- Equivalent noise level: 19.8 dB
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So you want the convenience of a USB microphone, but still want big studio sound? Normally you'd have to pick one or the other, but the sE Electronics sE X1 USB gives you both. It's based on the ultra-popular sE X1 condenser mic, which shocked the recording world with its rich sound and affordable price tag. With the sE X1 USB, you get the same handcrafted, gold-sputtered diaphragm that serves up detailed, dynamic, vibrant sound - it's perfect for vocals and acoustic instruments. And with the USB output, you can record direct to your computer whenever inspiration strikes. You'll be amazed at the recording quality of the sE Electronics sE X1 USB.
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For $300, this mic is competing with a selection of very high-quality mics, so how does it hold up?
They do have 3 different diaphragm types on their site - titanium-sputtered (X1 D), Ribbon Mic (X1 R) and then the gold-sputtered diaphragm, this one.
This is a side-address condenser mic. It’s got a nice, wide grill to talk into the diagragm. Comes with a mic stand or arm mount and the USB connection is at the bottom - standard A-B USB.
Between these is the fun part - a -10db switch and a low-bass cut filter for flexibility in a variety of environments.
Being a USB mic, this mic also acts as a USB sound card for your computer - and as such, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the side for both monitoring your live audio and being able to play back from your software, with a headphone volume adjustment in the middle of the mic, above the SE logo and X1 USB model identifier.
I never thought I’d say this about a USB mic - but this mic is really good. Despite running strictly via USB - even from a USB hub at times - the mic sounds great - it sounds natural while still carrying plenty of oomph. In fact, this is one microphone I could use as my main mic without doing much processing to it, if my environment was more conducive to a condenser microphone.
Fun fact that long-term subscribers of the channel will know - I actually used a condenser mic - the AT2020 as my main microphone for a long time. This makes me almost miss it.
My “Esses” get picked up on this mic quite strongly. When processing the audio sample for what you’ll hear in a moment, I even added a De-Esser to my processing chain and it didn’t seem to help much. So if you’re using a Hard Limiter in your audio processing - be very careful, as you might just rip someone’s ears out.
Would I recommend this mic to others? YES - as long as you can compensate for background noise. Recording in a proper studio, utilizing low computer fan speeds and sound foam or hanging blankets around your recording area, etc. This mic sounds fantastic, even without post-processing, but loud environments will let your listeners hear everything going on around you.
You will, of course, also need a pop filter for this mic, as well, or your plosives will leave someone deaf - as with most condensers.
For $300, this mic is a little on the pricey side - as the $200 price range for the XLR version is a little more ideal for this, but they do have to price up for the additional sound card and USB hardware. If you have an XLR interface and pre-amp already, consider picking up the XLR mic.