Electro-Voice PL20 by theozzy
I thought I would submit this review separately to the RE20 as a reference. The Electro-Voice PL20 is exactly the same microphone as the famous RE20, but has a slightly different body colour and was marketed differently (source: Electro-Voice Models RE20 and PL20).
I picked up one of those for the ridiculous price of £65 (about $100). Unfortunately the mic was suffering from the infamous ‘baby rattle’, where the diaphragm element shakes around inside, as the internal foam has disintegrated. I took the mic apart and indeed it was a sticky mess of degraded foam. The XLR socket connection was temperamental and the HPF switch did not seem to be working. Repairing this was beyond my skills, so I posted the mic to Ben at micdaddy.com in the USA for repair. This was 2 days before Christmas Eve, 2011. Ben did an amazing job – he repaired it over the Christmas period and it arrived back in England on January the 4th! The cost was $139 with shipping. So I basically got a fully working RE20 for about £150. Anyway I just wanted to recommend micdaddy.com, on to the review.
The first time you plug this mic in and talk into it, it is an instantly recognisable sound. If you have spent anytime in the USA, it is basically the sound of every radio DJ voice on air. A thick, rich, but natural, controlled, bottom end, very smooth, un-honky mids and a smallish presence peak around 7KHz. It is quite a controlled and refined sound for a dynamic microphone. It really shines on an aggressive vocal part, always remaining controlled and smooth. It’s almost as though it has a built in compressor – it has a way of keeping transients in control. It takes EQ very well, although it can become a little bit sibilant in the lower ranges of sibilance because of the 7KHz peak. For the singer I mainly work with, it doesn’t seem to suit quieter, more sensitively sung parts – the detail is not really there in the mids. But hit it hard and it is an amazing sound. The low end reproduction is so good too.
The mic requires a fair old dose of gain, but self-noise is very low. The mic is well known as a kick drum mic, where the very flat, extended bass response picks up the drum very accurately and can then be further EQ’d. It sounds great on bass cabs too. I have had great results on distorted electric guitar cabs too. I once ran out of mics and needed to mic a hihat very quickly and it was the only mic I had left. The wide cardioid pattern was too wide to isolate the hihat and it didn’t pick up the 10KHz + frequencies too well. Perfectly useable still, but a SDC would be better suited.
Overall it is an excellent microphone that really excels in some departments. Its closest rival is the Shure SM7b, which I haven’t personally tried, but some reliable sources have told me to sounds too similar to an SM58 and to not bother. It is all subjective though. If an SM7b sounds very close to a SM58, then the PL20/RE20 will triumph it in its low end response. The only negatives I can think of about the mic are its big and pretty damn fugly! And that depending on environment, it is susceptible to the interior foam degrading and then needing replacing.