I think it’s common for every musician or home recording enthusiast to have a favorite microphone: that one in their mic box that they just keep going back to.
For me, that microphone is the sE Electronics 2200a. An original one though. I became an enthusiast when a producer I was recording with was using it for literally everything – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, vocals, percussion… whatever. When I decided to save costs by investing in my own home recording instead of continually going to a studio, it was an obvious choice of microphone to have.
sE Electronics brought out a revised version of the 2200a a few years back, so I was keen to see what it would be like in comparison to my trusty, and somewhat battered, original. The Mark II actually comes in two versions: the 2200 II C, which is a cardioid version, or the 2200 II, without any additional letters, which is a multi-direction version.
We’ll be looking at the classic cardioid version.
sE Electronics 2200a II C: Core specs
|What kind of capsule is it?
|Hand-crafted true condenser
|20 Hz – 20 kHz
|Signal to noise ratio
Microphones always have so many numbers and different units of measurement listed in their specifications. Honestly, I’m not much of a numbers man, and if you have an in-depth understanding of these numbers, you’re a whole bunch smarter than me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to go on except whether or not it does what I need.
sE Electronics 2200a II C: The scenario
At this price, the 2200a II C is made in the east, and mass-produced. This is aimed very much at what I would call intermediate home recording enthusiasts. It’s higher-end than the brandless SM58 clones, but equally a long way from a $10k+ Telefunken job.
To give the best overview of the mic, I thought it best to use it to record a variety of things.
Obviously, the room you record in is one of the most important factors to the sound. I was in a medium-sized living room, with some furniture and a carpeted floor. Nothing too boomy: quite a flat-sounding room overall.
I’m recording through the built-in audio interface on a set of Samson Studio GT-40 monitors, into a Windows 10 PC, and my DAW of choice is Reaper.
It’s not a setup that will win any Grammys, and the good people at Abbey Road wouldn’t feel threatened, but it does what I need.
sE Electronics 2200a II C: Sounds
I could write an entire book detailing the different positions and settings I used across my testing, so I’ll stick to some highlights, namely at the flat, 0dB setting of the mic.
Starting with a little acoustic guitar to lay down as a rhythm, I opted for the standard position of pointing the top of the mic at the sound hole. The results sounded somewhat brash, I felt, but nothing a post-compression EQ tweak wouldn’t resolve. I’d say the results in terms of the microphone were satisfactory.
Moving on, I used a single coil electric guitar plugged into a 30 watt, single speaker, solid state amp. I ignored the effects, opting for the guitar/amp’s natural sound. With the amp raised off the floor, I put the 2200a pointing at the centre of the speaker, a few inches out, at a slight angle. It certainly picked up the driven sound I was going for!
Obviously, recording electric guitar is incredibly subjective: the positions I liked and taht I felt worked for me may not work for another player.
Next up, some vocals. Vocals are such a weird thing to record: everybody’s voice has different characteristics that some mics pick up on better than others. In a professional recording scenario, you try a bunch and then pick which works best. Not really an option here.
I would describe the vocals I recorded in testing it as OK. I’ve certainly heard much worse. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% right for my voice, but again, I’m not trying to impress anybody!
I’ll be honest, I don’t know what makes an ideal microphone for percussion. I recorded some shaker and some tambourine, and I thought they both sounded fine, but I’m open to being schooled with further intel.
sE Electronics 2200a II C: Conclusion
This is a fine microphone for having around the house for recording. None of the resulting tones were awful, but if you had the time and money, you would likely get a number of mics that would specifically record different things better.
I guess that makes it a jack of all trades, master of none microphone, but realistically, if you’ve got the money, you wouldn’t have been looking at this to start with.
The cardioid one costs $100 less than the multi-pattern one. I don’t know if the difference is worth that, but I would say that’s a comparison review for another day.