sE 2200a Review: The Best Affordable Condenser Microphone

Rob Mayzes, founder of Home Studio Center   by Rob Mayzes

 

2200a_II_C-frontpopIt’s not easy deciding what equipment to purchase.

You can spend hours trawling forums and reviews online – but find yourself going round in circles.

One of your first purchases should be a good condenser microphone. In fact, for most people, it will be the first.

(On a side note, I recommend having at least one large diaphragm condenser and one dynamic microphone as a starting point).

I guess this explains why so many people ask me what my favorite affordable condenser microphone is.

I have been using the sE Electronics 2200a for years. It’s by far my favorite affordable large diaphragm condenser.

I use this almost every day for recording my own voice, and find myself using it in the majority of vocal sessions.

Compared to the competition in this price range, the sE2200a sounds smoother and more expensive. The slight bump at 10kHz adds a nice airiness to vocals and helps them cut through the mix.

They are extremely well built, and each microphone capsule is crafted by hand.

The bundled shockmount and pop filter are also great additions, and this will save you quite a bit of money. After all, these items are pretty much essential.

 

Video Review

 

About the sE2200a II

This is a large diaphragm condenser microphone, which makes it perfect for vocals, acoustic guitars and a range of other uses. But perhaps the key use case here is vocals.

Remember that as a condenser microphone, it will require phantom power to work.

The model that I have used the most is the cardioid model. This is the perfect polar pattern for use in a home studio. It rejects sound from the rear, so is more suited to a less-than-ideal environment like a living room or bedroom.

There is also a multi-pattern option, which is highly affordable. In fact, I think it’s the most affordable multi pattern microphone on the market that’s actually usable.

With the multi pattern microphone, you get cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8 patterns. This is extremely useful for recording vocals. Switching to omnidirectional will give quite a different tone and reduce fluctuations from movement – perfect for vocalists that like to move around. The figure-8 pattern has its uses too.

In a home studio you will probably need to use some treatment when using the microphone in omnidirectional mode, but this shouldn’t cause too much of a problem.

Both the cardioid version (2200a II C) and the multi pattern version (2200a II) have a high-pass filter switch at 60Hz and a pad switch.

The high-pass is extremely useful and I pretty much leave it turn on all the time. The pad is also great if you want to use one of these on a louder source, such as a drum kit.

One thing to note is that the cardioid and multi pattern microphones do have a slightly different frequency response.

The cardioid microphone has a slight bump between 3-6kHz as well as a larger bump at 10-15kHz.

sE2200a-II-C--Cardioid-2

The multi pattern microphone, when set to cardioid, lacks this bump in the upper midrange (3-6Khz), so sounds a touch warmer but might need more additive EQ to help the vocalist to cut through.

sE2200a-II-Cardioid-2

Interestingly, in omnidirectional mode, the multi pattern version has a dip in the upper mids around 5kHz. This could be extremely useful in some cases.

sE2200a-II-Omni

In figure-8 mode, the multi pattern version has a significant boost in the upper mids from 2-7kHz, and a dip in the highs from 15kHz upwards. Again, this would be very useful in some cases where the vocal really needs to cut through, or to enhance a deep male vocalist.

sE2200a-II-Figure-8

As you can see, the multi pattern provides more tonal options, but the cardioid version has that nice boost in the upper mids that works well in dense mixes.

 

Tone and Comparisons

Compared to the competition in this price range, the sE2200a excels.

I have made a direct comparison to both the Rode NT1A and the Audio-Technia AT2035.

I find that the Rode NT1A often sounds too bright on most vocalists, bordering on harsh. The exaggerated top end compliments some vocalists, but in most cases I find that it’s too hyped and can enhance sibilance. To be clear, it’s not the kind of silky exaggerated top-end that you would expect from a more expensive microphone.

The AT2035 doesn’t suffer from the same top-end problems as the NT1A, and has a warmer, analogue character of sound. Although a great microphone in it’s own right, I find that the 2200a has more clarity that helps the vocal to cut through a mix.

In general, the 2200a has a slightly warmer tone, and more clarity in the top end thanks to the slight bump at 10kHz.

 

Conclusion

In some cases, a different microphone might suit your voice or the vocalist. The best thing you can do is to try out several microphones.

But if you have a limited budget and can only afford one condenser microphone, I highly recommend the sE2200a II.

Have you used this microphone? Or do you prefer a different microphone in this price range?

Leave a comment below.

10 Responses to “sE 2200a Review: The Best Affordable Condenser Microphone”

      • I’m curious because the engineer who did my last album recommends the at4050 but he’s never used this mic so he couldn’t vouch for it. from what I read it seems the se2200 is very similar but a bit cheaper.

        As someone who has used both a lot, would you say the at4050 is worth the extra money? I’ll be using it primarily for male vocals but it’ll be my go to mic for other stuff. I have another mic but I’ve out grown it and it doesn’t fit my voice well.

        Anyways, I’ve been trying to decide between these two mics and your review of this one is making me lean towards it over the at4050.

  • Most of us don’t get the chance to use and compare lots of different mics in a good studio, but I’ve always been happy with Rodes until getting an Aston Origin. Great sound, great value and built like a tank!

  • Hi Rob,
    Great review. Yes I got that straight away that it sounded very warm. Would be great for acoustic and Jazz songs.
    I own an Avantone CK6 which I feel is a really great mic. So clear and it really helps your performance and drives you to perform more openly. certain worth a lot more than they price it for that is for sure.

    Kind Regards.

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