RCA 44BX by Paul Ryan
Purchased an almost unused RCA44BX last year. Having a 77DX for a few years, I had a general idea of how the 44 would sound, and what applications would be best (I do acoustic country music). For a number of years now I've been working toward achieving that nice soft but clear "vintage" sound and with these two and other mics, think I'm there now. I rated the features and bang for buck low for obvious reasons, and the sound at the high end. I have used it most with male vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and dobro. Still to figure out are classic and acoustic baritone guitars.
The 44 shines on banjo and acoustic guitar. On banjo, you simply cannot beat it-every note in the blizzard a banjo delivers is perfect, unharsh and even at 2 feet away on the pot. Listening to old pre-44 banjo tracks now its like ugh, how could I have ever thought that was good? Acoustic guitar, I mic'd maybe a foot on the neck and it is gorgeous, hard to describe in words. With my clone 47's and Neumann KM's and TLM,s that same guitar sounded nice and I thought "perfect" before the 44. But now with the 44, the lows were softer more present, and the overall personality, the even-ness of the notes just beautiful. Up the neck, same thing. Bass very nice and I alternate 44/77 low bout depending on the song. With both I always combine with a pencil on the neck for the high's.
The most interesting application and learning curve was my vocals. The 44 is all about positioning mastery. The 77 will sound similar on a vocal almost regardless of positioning. Not so the 44. If you move two inches either way , mine becomes a different mic. So if you have a song that is slower tempo, and you want intimate, by using the mic's proximity effect-close as 3 inches, it is impossible to beat. My 77 or condensers will win on most uptempo vocals, but when this guy is right for a song, man there's nothing even close. It is that good. Again the trick is manipulating proximity for soft, and distance shifting for loud passages. I'd add that it was a vocal that first gave me that "oh, that's what all the fuss is about" moment regarding the RCA 44BX. It really is amazing on the right tracks. Versus the 77, I'd say the 44 is used less-the 77 is a more all-rounder. But when right, no contest.... 44 hands down. The price of these is prohibitive these days, and they need a good mic stand and boom. But if you are on the fence, its worth saving up the coins and checking them out.