sE Electronics sE X1 by Arthur Stone
First I must declare that I won this microphone in the Gearslutz Gear Review; does this affect my review?...of course it does, but I wouldn't write a good review if it was a bad mic. I'm very grateful to sE Electronics (and Jules!) for the prize particularly as it is such a gem. sE Electronics have kept the costs down by keeping their profit margin down - commendable, great value and worthy of support.
Out the box my first impression is that it is solid and well-designed; as a trained mechanical engineer I'm quite picky about that. The mic is - dare I say it - sexy. It has a metal body, matt black stealth-coating and a smooth, rounded form (great for avoiding radar!). The switches are easy to operate and clearly marked; although there is a little play in the switch action, the functional parts seem of precise tolerance. It seems built to last which is reassuring and a credit to sE Electronics engineering standards.
Some specs from the sE Electronics website: sE Electronics X1 Microphone - sEX1
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
Sensitivity: -32 dBV/Pa (25.1mV/Pa)
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Impedance: ? 200 Ohms
Equivalent Noise Level: 16dB(A weighted)
Max SPL for 0.5% THD@1000Hz: 125dB
Power Requirement: Phantom power 48V±4V
From the chart and specs above it's worth noting the low self-noise and I did find it quiet in use. The HPF starts off from 500Hz with a 4dB/octave slope which should be interesting tonally and is handy for recording high-pitch percussion or backing vocals, for example. These features are discussed in greater detail here: SE Electronics X1 | RecordingHacks.com
What does it sound like? I've included some samples; also some Rode NT1A samples as a comparison. The vocal and guitar takes were recorded in parallel into two independent channels of a Sound Devices 702 using Klotz Starquad cables (no HPF, EQ or compression)...then dithered @ 44.1/16 bit in Reason. The samples will be subject to Soundcloud's streaming algorithm.
Sample1: sE X1 vocal
Sample2: sE X1 guitar
Sample3: Rode NTIA vocal
Sample4: RodeNT1A guitar
Not a scientific test by any means...but I like the full-bodied vibe, smoothness, and dimensionality of the sE X1 - the NT1A sound is nice too but is a bit thinner in the low-mids and has a slight rasp. On the guitar tracks the sEX1 seems to articulate the strings well in comparison, also the guitar tapping at the end is significantly more musical. The sEX1 seems a bit weightier - which I like. Both mics will compliment each other well in my collection. It's early days yet and I'm looking forward to getting to know the sEX1 and experimenting.
Initial thoughts are that it's a superb mic for it's price and thoroughly-recommended.
UPDATE: After using this mic for a while I love it more...it's great and I think it suits my voice well - I'm much more confident about singing using this mic and that's a good thing. I've been using it with a BAE preamp and obviously that makes a lot of difference, but still I'm a very happy owner.