Gearslutz (
-   Reviews (
-   -   iSK Pearl SDC (

TurboJets 26th September 2015 12:48 AM

iSK Pearl SDC
I received iSK's Pearl SDC last week and have had some time to give it a critical listen and really like what I hear. The mic has a great capsule housing design that is side vented to allow capture of early reflections and give the mic a nice open sound.

To give me (and you) a common reference I set it up side by side to my stock Oktava MK-012 I bought in 2001 to track a Martin OM-16GT, vocals and wind chimes in three separate tests.

I never realized how colored the 012 is until I compared it to the Pearl. One of the first things I notice listening to the playback was the high output. The signal was consistently at least 9dB higher than that of the MK-012; it literally stomped the 012 with regard to output. The second thing I notice was how clean and flat the response was. I haven't heard a flat response like this since the Advance Audio modified Apex 460. The 460 is a different animal of course but it's one of those mics where you get exactly what you hear, and that's how I feel about the Pearl.

I placed the two mics 14 inches in front of the 12th fret, aimed straight at the fretboard. The Pear offers a tight response across the whole spectrum with smooth mids that don't crunch, clear highs that didn't get harsh or brittle, and lows that aren't the least bit hyped or boomy. The premium electronics are certainly responsible for putting out a clean signal and it responds well to transients offering up great detail with an open sound. All the qualities of the Martin were there, just with none of the color or distortion you typically find in the 500Hz-750Hz range. IMO this would be a great mic also for dreadnoughts with a boomy projection. Having more clarity in the low mids is hard to find.

When tracking vocals I notice the MK-012 sounded more compressed. I don't know how to explain that but perhaps it has something to do with the Pearl's larger diaphram, coming in at 25mm compared to the 012's 23mm. Again, the lows weren't hyped so I didn't find a need to use the low frequency roll off switch. The highs were nice and clear without seeming airy and it noticeably lower self noise allowed me to hear the highs nice and clear with the Gain on my 2i2 turned up almost to 3 o'clock. I wouldn't normally use an SDC with a cardioid capsule for vocals but the Pearl would definitely do in a pinch.

I've found a great way to test a microphones transient response is to put it in front of wind chimes. This allows you to hear how well is handles the difficult upper mids and high frequencies and the Pearl did very well here. In fact it handled the chimes better than the 012 with regard to transient response and low color. The capture was extremely usable with nice detail all across the spectrum and a better capture of the modulating harmonics that can get too colored with most microphones in this price range.

If you're looking for color this is not your mic, but if you're looking for smooth, clear detail with enough output to hang in there to capture the modulating harmonics that make your instrument special you should own an iSK Pearl.

You've probably noticed I haven't used descriptive words like "crisp" and again I feel this is probably attributed to premium components and electronics. The word "crisp" to me indicates a certain level of harshness or distortion. "Airy" is another word you won't associate with the Pearl SDC because there doesn't seem to be the usual bump at around 5kHz-7kHz.

If you prefer to use a quality mic with a flat response and let your preamp do the coloring or maybe color ITB with some choice plugin's the $29 you pay for this mic will provide excellent returns time and time again. Predictability in response to multiple applications is what you can expect with iSK's Pearl SDC.

dwpthe3rd 25th July 2018 01:51 AM

Alright already. Started speaking regularly into microphones in the early '70s scratching out a living as radio DJ. This included voicing local commercials using broadcast standard dynamics of the day (Sennheiser md421 and Shure sm7). Getting deeper into voice production, along the line I realized mics are not created equal - all provide different sound signatures. Thus began my never ending search for audio nirvana with the best, budget friendly inexpensive mic "out there". This review addresses my speech only aspect of the cardioid patterned iSK Pearl. I purchased this mic based on low cost and mostly favorable reviews.

I have a somewhat muddy baritone voice, and focus on creating voice product with minimal processing that sits well in a music bed and punches through on car audio. I've bought perhaps a dozen mics over the years. For comparison, my recent iSK Pearl purchase joins my Sony C48, Neumann tlm102, AT4033/CL, Blue Reactor, Sennheiser ME66, original Rode NT1, made in China AKG, and others of lesser known quantity.

Primary preamp is a FMR RNP. I also have and use at different times dbx 286a and Symetrix 528e channel strips. All in all, pretty basic low and low-mid level mics and pres fed line level into MOTU Audio Express. Firm believer here the person is as important as the equipment.

Stay with me as I hammer out notes on my keyboard to say the Pearl is an impressive eye opener. Shaped like a pencil mic with a 25mm end address capsule on the business end, the Pearl behaves more like a large diaphragm condenser. Requiring 9-52V phantom power, it's bright and detailed on upper mids but not what I'd call sizzle, with a slight bit of leanness on the bottom that's easily addressed with proximity effect. Again, I'm recording voice only, where a low noise floor is critical, and for me this thing just flat out sounds great.

At $30 USD (closer to $50 with shipping), there's no bias confirmation involved to justify the expense. Fit and finish is not great but good enough. Recessed switches for high pass and -10 pad feel a bit flimsy as has been reported elsewhere. I did flick the switches to verify settings - mic came set to flat positions and I have no reason to change this so it isn't a concern for me. It was the reason to pull one star off review features above however. Packaging is basic.. mic, foam pop filter, "leatherette" type carrying case, functional mic clip, and 1-sheet on performance details all enclosed in a small cardboard box. (Helps keep cost down I'm sure).

iSK says they test each microphone and this one certainly passes my test. I can't say the Pearl sounds as good as **insert your favorite expensive condenser here** but I can't imagine another mic at this level of quality working as well for my vocal applications anywhere near this price. $50 USD including shipping? You're kidding me, right? Thank you iSP Pro Audio