Product Review – Electro-Voice ND46
One of my all-time favorite, desert island microphones is the long-discontinued RE38N/D from Electro-Voice. It is, without question, my go-to microphone for recording electric guitar cabinets (and I record quite a bit of electric guitar). It also excels at recording drums, bass, vocals, brass and a host of other sources, making it possibly the most versatile mic in my collection. Unfortunately, they are increasingly hard to find on the used market and will set you back $300-400 if you can even find someone willing to part with one. I had been hunting for an additional (and hopefully inexpensive) RE38 for some time now and when Jeff Stoyer of Sales Force & Associates brought by a batch of EV’s new ND series microphones my eye was immediately drawn to the Electro-Voice ND46 as it was curiously reminiscent of my beloved RE38.
The ND46 is a large-diaphragm dynamic mic with a pivoting head, just like the RE38, which makes placement super easy. Unlike the RE38’s dual screw-tightened adjustments for tilting the head of the mic, the ND46 has an easy-to-use button which allows the head to be adjusted into one of fifteen positions. The other differences are that the ND46 has a supercardioid pattern as opposed to the RE38’s cardioid and the ND46 is lacking the RE38’s 16-position EQ switch on the back (which, honestly, I rarely use in a studio setting – I generally leave it flat).
Over the last few years I have had the good fortune to work extensively with one of the baddest guitar players on planet Earth, Eric Gales, and when he called me up last night to do a quick session I figured that it would be an excellent opportunity to do a shootout between these two mics an find out how EV’s new offering stands up against their classic. After setting the mics up and positioning them as equidistant as possible in front of the amp I dialed in an identical amount of gain on the preamps to try to ensure that any difference in the recording would be due to the characteristics of the mics rather than any external factors. Eric threw down some fire on a gospel-themed track like only he can and afterwards I spent some time listening to the tracks closely, both within the mix and isolated, and ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Overall, I found that the ND46 has a very similar sonic character to the RE38 when used on electric guitar. When isolated, and only on a few passages, I felt that the RE38 had just a tad bit more body on the lower end (perhaps due to the more pronounced proximity effect that these mics are known for) while the ND46 may have been ever so slightly brighter in the upper range. Keep in mind, though, that these differences were fairly subtle and only apparent when the tracks were soloed and were being referenced on a set of monitors from a company known for their extreme detail and fidelity. Within the mix I was more or less unable to distinguish a difference and when visualized on a spectrum analyzer I could see no difference at all. The track recorded with the ND46 had the same well-balanced, fat and punchy tone that makes the RE38 stand out so far ahead of the “standard” mics that are so often used on electric guitar cabinets. Whether Eric was laying into some fast runs or backing off the volume for a delicate phrase in between verses, the ND46 held its own against a microphone that I’ve come to rely on to deliver a solid and consistent guitar amp tone.
The results left me excited to try out the ND46 on some different instruments to hear how it performs in other situations. I’ve always been hesitant to take my RE38 out of the studio to live gigs because it would be expensive to replace if something bad happened to it, and that’s if I was even able to find one! Now I have an option for live use that will deliver the tone that I want to hear from an amp, and that is a great thing.
So far I am very impressed by the ND46 and thankful to EV for finally bringing out a worthy successor to a microphone that many engineers consider a “secret weapon”. At only $159 street it is a steal and should absolutely be a part of any engineer’s mic selection.
S.E. Systems Greensboro
Lepus Maximus Recordings
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