Today, we’ll be reviewing the Electro-Voice RE20 dynamic microphone.
Debuting in 1969, the RE20 initially became a favorite amongst radio broadcasters due to its clarity and immunity to proximity effect. Since then, it slowly became known as one of the most useful microphones a studio engineer could own.
Let’s get started with the review.
Our verdict on the Electro-Voice RE20
For what it is, there are very few microphones that compare to the RE20. Its versatility in the studio and clarity of performance make it one of the most practical dynamic microphones that money can buy.
No, it won’t be ideal for every application, but for a dynamic microphone it is worth its weight in gold.Check availability here: SweetwaterAmazon
Polar pattern and frequency response
The Electro-Voice RE20 is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern and a frequency response of 45 Hz – 18 kHz.
Its frequency response is fairly flat and neutral, and boasts a reliably smooth and “in-your-face” performance. While not necessarily ruler-flat, its performance is consistent from its highs all the way down to its cutoff at 45 Hz.
What’s more, is the Variable-D technology used in the RE20’s design, which makes it virtually unphased by proximity effect and coloration issues when positioned off-axis.
This helped it become a favorite amongst radio broadcasters, as you can get up-close and personal (lips on the grille) and still record with a great deal of clarity.
The RE20 is an absolutely incredible microphone when it comes to recording vocalists. Its immunity to proximity effect, as well as its remarkably flat frequency response, make it a great choice for nearly any singer – especially for vocalists who don’t have the best mic technique.
What’s more, is that the microphone takes EQ like nobody’s business. It might not give you the immediate studio magic that a condenser microphone might have, but the results will absolutely be usable and honest.
The RE20 has great off-axis rejection as well as virtually no proximity effect, meaning that you can get great takes from live settings with minimal bleed and coloration.
This microphone is great on drums, particularly when it comes to recording the kick drum.
For most cases, the main objective when recording a kick is to capture both the full weight of the low-end thump, as well as the snap of the batter head. The RE20 excels in both camps, due to its extremely flat and level-headed response.
Also, the fact that it doesn’t get bogged down by proximity effect means that the performance will be detailed and honest rather than muddy and unusable.
While this might not be our first choice when it comes to recording electrics, it can work particularly well if you’re trying to gain some weight and bottom-end “chunk” out of distorted power chords or rhythm guitar parts.
The microphone also has a high-pass filter that can really help cut out any unnecessary frequencies in your guitar’s bottom end.
The RE20 cuts off at around 45 Hz, where a low E-string on a bass guitar sits around 41 Hz. The difference is negligible, however, and the slight roll-off is incredibly beneficial when it comes to getting a bass to sit in a mix.
The microphone also has a great mid-range performance as well, which can really help a bass cut through the noise. Its immunity to proximity effect also means you can push it right into the mesh of your bass cabinet and not have to worry about losing any clarity in your performance.
There are far better options for recording acoustics than the RE20, although it could feasibly work in a pinch. Transients are a vital part of a steel-string guitar’s sound, and require a fairly fast response out of a microphone in order to capture them accurately. In general, dynamic microphones have a slower response which doesn’t bode well for strummed acoustics.
The RE20 won’t necessarily sound terrible, but it will soften and round the overall sound which isn’t ideal. Best to go with a condenser or a ribbon microphone, which will bring more sensitivity to the performance, as well as clearer transients.
Not only is the RE20 a great workhorse in the recording studio, it can also double as a hammer in case you need to put up some shelves or acoustic treatment in your studio.
Joking aside, the RE20 is a bit of a behemoth. It is one of the heavier microphones you can have on deck, and will most likely require a bougie mic stand which will be strong enough to keep it from slowly falling out of position.
The all-metal construction should also diffuse any anxieties about potentially breaking it from any accidental drops.
Compared to other microphones
Here are a few alternatives to consider in comparison to the Electro-Voice RE20.
Electro-Voice RE20 vs. Shure SM7B
Both the SM7B and RE20 are classic microphones, with a lot of key differences. The RE20 has no proximity effect while the SM7B does, which will make the SM7B sound a bit warmer as opposed to the clarity of the RE20. The RE20’s output runs a lot hotter, so it will require less gain out of your preamp.
The RE20 also has a slight boost around 8 kHz, whereas the SM7B has a dip, which may make the RE20 sound a bit more sibilant on certain vocalists. The RE20 also has better off-axis rejection and is the more versatile microphone out of these two.
So, if you want a clean, versatile workhorse, get the RE20. If you just want to record some warm vocals, the SM7B is probably your better option.
Electro-Voice RE20 vs. Sennheiser MD 421 II
The Sennheiser MD 421-II is the flipside comparison from the SM7B, as the RE20 is much warmer than the Sennheiser. Again the RE20 is a bit more versatile than the MD 421-II, as it works equally well on kick drums, bass, guitar cabinets, and vocals. The MD 421-II is better with guitar cabinets and toms.
Electro-Voice RE20 vs. Shure SM57
The SM57 is an equally worthwhile investment when it comes to dynamic microphones. However, the RE20 still outperforms it in terms of versatility. That being said, the SM57 is so inexpensive that you should aim to have both in your arsenal.
Who is the Electro-Voice RE20 best suited for?
The RE20 is a great choice for any professional looking for a solid studio workhorse. Its versatility, clarity, and durability make it one of the most useful microphones that anybody could have.
- Honest and flat frequency response.