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SE4400a

sE Electronics sE4400a

4.55 4.55 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

Good mic for a variety of situations, including listening to pins drop.


12th December 2011

sE Electronics sE4400a by AnaLoGMunKy

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
SE4400a

This is a great Mic and I managed to get my hands on it a bit cheeper (like the budgie) than the stock price as Edinburgh's Reddog Music was selling this baby as ex-display. It was still in mint condition

This is a condenser so you will need Phantom power at 48v
It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which is good enough for anything your ear can hear.
For the more learned audio enthusiast there is an Impedance of ? 50 Ohms and a Noise floor of 17dB(A weighted). I know what these mean, but I have no idea what it means to me

There are various setting on this mic and these are changed by a series of switches.

First you have the padding setting which is a simple choice of -10dB, -20dB or no padding. This allows you to use this in a high SPL situation i.e. for micing up guitar amps, bass amps or inside the SPL heavy base drums.

Next we have two Bass cuts where you can choose a 60Hz or 120Hz cut, or of course, no cut at all. Very useful if you want to remove rumble or take out the unneeded frequencies while recording vocals.

Now we come to the main course of this great mic. The polar patterns.

We have four different patterns consisting of cardioid or hyper cardiod, which are selected by choosing cardioid patter and, via another switch, you choose your needed cardioid pattern. There is also the ever useful omni which, in my experience, gives you a great room sound that can be used in surround sound applications. Finally you have figure of 8 which is most usefull when you have 2 singers to record simultaneously or as part of a wider setup e.g. mid-side.

This variety of settings allow you to place this mic in almost any situation



And to top it all off it comes in a heavy duty carry case with shock mount that looks like it could survive a stadium sized amp stack falling on it

So overall I give this high marks and very good all round usability for the price.

4th January 2012

sE Electronics sE4400a by dsykut

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
SE4400a

Continuing my demo period with offerings from the SE line card, I had an opportunity to work with a stereo pair of 4400a's. A few things stood out...

1)Shockmount...I've fought for years against the shockmounts included with AKG's C414's, to which this design bears some resemblence. The shockmount on the SE caught my attention because it's just so darn flexible. Simple idea...the mic attaches in such a way that it can either sit inside our outside the suspension, which is C shaped. The mic can then be adjust fully to any degree of positioning between the in and out position. Picture being able go get up close to a grill cloth, or lay this down over a tom. No more shockmount in the way, BIG WIN. On the other hand, the tension knobs for holding the mic in those positions is typical plastic fare and like many other manufacturers didn't instill a sense of tightness. I would LOVE for somebody to make these out of metal.

2)If you're looking for a C414 clone....these aren't necessarily them. Yes, the physical design and feature set reminds you of that AKG. Recently, 414's have come across as a bit nasal and shrill in the high frequencies. I find when talking to other engineers, when the 414 is spoken of favorably it tends to be the older models, the famed version with brass in the capsule. The 4400's are DARK sounding, warm...not sharp at all, more like those earlier 414's. So i would say they actually out 414 the current 414's.

3)Pattern selectivity...kudos to SE for going with actual toggle switches instead of the electronic gismos that the rival 414's now use...those always seem to add noise in my opinion, just take a listen the next time you switch the pattern on a new 414...pop hiss....

4)Off axis rejection impressive in cardioid pattern....recorded a 5 piece band (banjo, acoustic guitar, trumpet, bass, cajon...think Cake meets bluegrass) in a live setting. Was truly surprised at how well the 4400's avoided bleed from the musicians other than the ones they were mic'ing.

5)Back to sound quality...quiet and clear.....would hesitate to make this my primary mic for acoustic, though excellent for doubling up. Lost a little of the zing in my opinion. You might consider it a great mic used near the bridge if you can pair it with something on the 12 fret that has excellen high frequncy pickup.

6)Deployed in stereo arrays....M/S, Blulein, and coincident or non coincident...the pairs performed well and seemed to be well matched. Used them on 12 ft boom stands over a choir and they performed very well in an application i tend to favor SDC's for.

Would I buy them? Absolutely...I stick by my earlier comment...they out 414 the 414's. Like other SE mic's i've tried you have to find the sweet spot before you love them, and they do seem to miss something in the HF range, but overall....nice product, deserves more press than it gets.

29th January 2012

sE Electronics sE4400a by andreaeffe

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
SE4400a

Anyone from the audio world looking at the sE 4400a microphone is bound to think “Oh – an AKG 414 derivative!”. The shape, albeit somewhat more rounded and modernly pleasing to the eye, and a bit smaller, along with the twin “4s” in the model name all ring a bell.
In fact, it has been suggested that this mic is named as it is because uses a twin pair of the capsules used in the older (and much loved for its' versatility) single pattern sE 2200a, an entirely differently and more conventionally shaped model. I would personally add that if sE thought of “cloning” something of the venerable AKG 414 in its' various versions (EB, ULS, B-TLII, XLS, etc), then it must have been cloning its' universality and ubiquity in studios around the world. Actually, the word would not be “cloning”, but rather... earning.
Because the sE 4400a seems to have more then a little of what it takes to enter the category of studio classics, and favourites.

The mic is finished with a matte black rubbery and rubberized covering, that I would call a “Batman” finish. It gives a very positive feel, of quality and ruggedness, and it seems to almost subliminally speak of non-slippage, and of non-reflectivity under the lights of a stage or theatre production environment.
There are switches for -10 or -20 dB pad, for very well chosen 60 and 120 Hz low cut filtering, and for polar pattern selection, from omni to figure of eight, through cardioid and hypercardioid.
Packed in a sturdy case, it comes with a truly fantastic shock mount – an sE invention, I imagine, that looks good, is a master class of versatility, and is a joy to use. C-shaped, it hugs the back side of the mic, with the elastic cords arranged and strung vertically instead of the usual horizontal star/spider pattern, thus not only leaving the front face of the mic entirely clear, but also enabling sE to pull off the additional trick of having a swiveling mic clip, so the actual bit that holds the bottom end of the microphone (where the XLR connector slides in) can be pivoted on the inside of the shockmount suspension cradle, or on the outside of it. In practice, it's more of a Columbus' egg and simpler than it might sound described here, and a lot more importantly, it allows one to place the mic in virtually any position, and achieve positioning well beyond what other shockmounts clumsily allow. Anyone who has ever struggled with traditional shockmounts in tight spots, or had to reinvent physics to place and angle a mic precisely as one intended, or had to fiddle with the skipping off elastic suspension bands will develop a fondness for the 4400a and its' shockmount instantly.

How it sounds

This microphone sounds wonderfully neutral, with a subtle and gentle sheen.
There, that's it.
Now what does this neutrality translate into, and what and where is the sheen, requires a couple of extra words and explanations. For starters, and to get back to the AKG 414 comparison, this mic is more neutral in character than any of the 414's incarnations and models. It has neither the meat nor the darkness nor the top end sizzle and excitement nor the characteristic frequency peaks that make one or another of the 414 models so loved, and even so hated by some.
It's flat, and non metallic, extended in its' frequency range and free of artifacts or anomalies all along, from bottom to top. The aforementioned sheen is like a very, very gentle high frequency lift, that somehow accurately avoids any peakiness in the obnoxious 3 or 4 kHz region, and any harshness in the 7 to 10 kHz region. It's more air than sizzle. And it's very subtle indeed, just enough to breathe some excitement into sounds being captured, some sort of expensiveness in the sound, but never enough to get in the way or to be hard to dial out with some very light handed eq, or an appropriate preamp and compressor choice.
I wrote a review of one of today's most excellent SSL inspired buss compressors, the Swedish TK Audio BC1, on this website not long ago – and I mentioned it having a modern sounding, non midrange aggressive and non gritty slight top end lift. Well, the sE 4400a sounds like it's the companion brother, the born twin that went on to become a microphone instead of a compressor. It's that same kind of effect, that same clean, transparent but slightly complimentary nature of sound. I guess some pro audio dealer should catch up on that and sell them in a bundle!
I was surprised when I read a Gil Norton ad in which this respected and successful rock producer was quoted as saying he liked this mic on drums, and loved its' punch. To my mind, the 4400a was “an overhead mic”, and a “stringed instruments mic” (piano inluded): flat with an airy top, not much balls, and not really what came to mind speaking of “punch” in the mic locker. But I decided to give it a second thought – and Mr. Gil Norton was right. This mic has all the bass and lows and balls you need, but it keeps them in check, neatly tucked in where they belong and not flaunted. Add some eq, choose a fat pre, and you'll find them, ready to be exposed. In fact, the 4400a takes eq very, very well, and responds almost ideally, which goes a long way to proove how far it is from many of the trebly and screechy sounding mics of oriental origin that sE has been working very hard to distance themselves from.
Both the cardioid and hypercardioid polar patterns appear to be very tight, with little and non disruptively flavoured rear spillage and pickup.
Also, it takes high SPLs graciously, with 130 dB without engaging the pads, so drum use and even troublesome placement (thanks to the innovative shockmount) are no problem indeed.

On vocals, both male and female, this is a mic that will make you think less of you mic choice, and perhaps more of otherwise induced “colour” (the eq? The compressor? The preamp? Some tubes somewhere down the line?), or more importantly about the vocal and the singing itself.
Is this good or bad, obviously, is a matter of taste, but in many instances it will at least keep the often human problem littered task of lead vocal recording free of technical problems or added colour that might be enhancing, or annoying, to the point of getting distracting to the performance.
As such, I guess it might be also recommended to first time home studio owners or small production room rookies as the “do-it-all” mic, a safe, clean and sonically healthy step before entering the hazy world of multiple mic choices and shootouts, colour mics and vintage vibe, mics as enhancers of this or that vibe, feel, sound, voice, instrument.

The downsides
There really aren't any, or at least none to be truly singled out as a problem.
And not for this asking price, around or under 500 eur!
Yes, what I've just described above means that the sE 4400a is NOT a “character” instrument. It's more like a sibling of a very high end measurement mic converted to spoken voice, sung vocals and instruments duty – it does the job, but shows no particular passion.
Yes, it's not the fastest reacting mic diaphragm around, even within the large diaphragm category, so more detailed mics can be found. But then again, most are more coloured, and cost more.
My personal thoughts & findings are that in front of a vocalist, most comment on it being “really small”, perhaps looking a tad uninspiring to sing into, and indeed it lacks the stereotypical but psychologically comforting sexiness of a typical big studio condenser mic (the cardioid only sE 2200a looking more like the job).
Given the generous polar pattern choices on offer and the tightness of cardioid and hypercardioid, I for one would have appreciated a wide cardioid pattern, as well.
And, even if 60 and 120 Hz of low cut frequency are a lot more useful to me than the 75 and 150 Hz on the older AKG 414 models, an additional middle ground choice of say 90 Hz would have been most welcome (AKG have apparently listened up through the years, and the new 414 XLS series now feature 40, 80 and 120 Hz low cuts).

But this is steadily into nit picking territory.
I'll say it again, it's a great mic, and for the price it's terrific.

With the exception of one last, bigger problem:
I now want one more, to have a pair!


A
F

11th February 2015

sE Electronics sE4400a by ANALogic

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
SE4400a

Damn I love this mic!
Is super neutral sounding!

If you have a great sounding room you have a big sound.

If you have a bad sounding room, he tell you !

It's anyway on the dark side respect many LCD I've tried but is for the 95% neutral
Sounding!

25th April 2016

sE Electronics sE4400a by Peter D

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
SE4400a

Hey!

I use the 4400 pretty regularly.
Neutral sounding, not too bright, fairly warm, natural and very handy, flexible. It's pretty hard not to think of the beloved 414 here.

I own a matched pair and for me these guys work extremely well as my go to's on:
acoustic guitar (love the MS!), overheads (especially ORTF positioned!), room mics, toms, leslie speakers, accordions, choirs, piano, ukulele, percussion, woodwinds, etc. I'd sometimes use them for vocals and even voiceovers, violins and violas.
Unexpectedly I haven't found much use for them on cabs (guitar and bass), i was never too happy with them on a double bass and they are not my first choice for classical guitars and brass instruments.

I do however find them very nice for experimenting since playing around with all that features (pad -10 / -20, low cut 60hz / 120 hz, 5 polar patterns) just makes it so easy. A most flexible shockmount, everyone is talking about, helps too, of course, but it could be just a tiny bit more robust IMHO (sadly, one of the two i own, can still do the job but it's not intact any more, personally I'd be much happier with holes in the holder rather than carves).

So, if you do think about buying this one or are in need of a workhorse, think no more, go for it!

But if you already own it's Austrian grandparent, or any other all-rounder, or a mic you are using to record clean and play with the sound in post-production (lo-fi, dirt, tube fx…) my advice would be, go look elsewhere.

There. Hope this helps you decide …

 
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