SE Z5600 Vocal Mic
I got the SE z5600, a tube mic that Jeff (from Platinum Audio Rents) had recommended to me as being a good mic at a good price.
I went to the AES show in S.F. and met the distributors, who told me about their free trial program which you could do if you want. So, they sent me the mic for a free one week trial and I liked it ok, but not for the 800 bucks they wanted! I went back to the music store where I had originally ordered 5600 from 5 months earlier for $459 and discovered the reason never got it was that the new distributors had raised the price to $850 so the store couldn't sell it to me for less than it cost them; howevcr the salesman told me he had one that came back from a studio (because they wanted two and didn't want to pay twice as much for the second one, so they returned it). I went out to the store and checked out that one, which was the previous year's model and I really liked it a lot better than the free trial 5600. Not just because of the price, but because it sounded way better then the current issue. So, I bought the old model and returned the new one to the factory.
Long story, but the point is that I like the older model better and if you can get one I think it is worth the $500. It has a real nice full tube warmth, which I personally like better than the "Blue" that everyone raves about and the Neumann 87 that all the studios think they have to have. Both of those mics I compared the 5600 to cost at least 5 times as much and I still prefer the sound of my new 5600.
It's great for vocals, even without any fancy preamps it sounds really good. I have a couple of tube preamps but this mic sounds better direct.
I am currently doing a large (13 song) project for a singer songwriter and I used it for the acoustic guitar, it sounds really clean and picks up the room sound nicely.
I love the z5600 for my own vocals.
I have a Marshall MXL 2001 condenser mic that I picked up thinking it was going to be good for vocals and it was like 90 bucks. I found out that you really get what you pay for, the MXL doesn't even sound as good as my SM58. I am sure I will have some uses for the Marshall but other than a room mic I haven't found them yet.
As to how it compares to the mics I used at school, it's been a long time and I am not sure which tube mics I used at school but I do know they cost a lot more than this one.
You can check it out on line at www.seelectronics.com and even arrange for the free trial (they pay shipping both ways) that is if you aren't 50 miles from the nearest DHL route.
In conclusion, I recommend that if you can find last years model and can get it for $500 it is well worth it. Unfortunately, the SE free trial will be with this years model, which I personally didn't like as much, still it's a great mic it is just that the older model is better. Both come with a nice hard shell aluminum clad case with nice foam lining and a very nice shockmount, dedicated power supplly and everything you need even extra elastic bands for the shockmount. The mic takes about 20 minutes to really warm up to its best although it has a ready light that says its ready sooner. Once it warms up it sounds great . It is the best investment I ever made in a mic.
Alan Mayer runs a moble Pro Tools studio in Northern California.
He is a graduate of University of California Berkeley, was additionally trained in audio at Valley College, CBS Studios and Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe,AZ.
He has worked with iMusicast in Northern California which does production sound, video and live webcasts, plus he also worked with and EAR Recording in Los Angeles.
Editor's note: In talking with Jeff at Platinum Audio, he tells us the newer SE5600 comes from a different plant in China and uses different tubes than the original issue microphone that is now only available on E-bay or at stores who bought a supply of the 2003/4 issue...
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