Review: sE Electronics X1 Bundle

sE-X1 bundleIt’s often said that microphones are the most important part of your signal chain, so it’s about time that I made the effort to upgrade in this area. Of course there are also a heap of options you can look at and there’s really no limit on how much you can spend. In the end, the sE Electronics X1 bundle delivered everything I could ask for at a price point that I could afford. Maybe one day I’ll splurge on something more expensive, but even then I think the X1 will always have a role to play.

Item: sE Electronics X1 Bundle

Inspiration: While there are lots of areas I could beef up in my home recording setup, microphones were something I saw as a priority. I’ve been using a SM58 for jut about everything for a while, and although that’s a very good starting point, the lure of a large diaphragm condenser mic was strong! I looked around for quite a while at my various options but in the end the combination of the mic quality and the accessories that come with the sE-X1 were just too good to go past.

Image: Well, it looks great – a nice finish, very professional, sturdy and cool. Can’t ask for more than that!

Investment: With a street price of under $A350, this is a bargain – especially when you throw in the reflexion filter and assorted accessories. Rode offer a similar entry-level bundle but not with the reflexion filter.

Intrinsic Qualities: All the reviews I read about the mic were very positive so that part wasn’t too hard to get a tick. Some say it isn’t quite as warm as the Rode NT-1 but then some praise the clarity it has. I do find it warm enough for me – but I guess that also ties into the voices you are recording. An experienced engineer once told me to go for clarity over warmth, as there are small changes one can make in mixing to add a bit of warmth.
It was actually the reflexion filter in the bundle that really sold it to me. Like many home studio folks, the room I record in isn’t exactly the most acoustically friendly. That said, as very much an amateur in this area I guess I didn’t really appreciate how much the acoustics of a room can affect things. Again, I’d read a bit on the matter and was starting to realize that I needed to do something.
The first time I used the reflexion filter I was amazed at how much clearer my vocals sounded. Now I haven’t tried the fliter with the SM58 so I can’t really tell whether it’s just the filter or the filter/sE-X1 combo that’s made the difference – but I can tell there’s a big difference.
The shock mount works well – but is also part of my only negative. The way it sits, when the mic cable comes out the bottom of the mic it can’t fall straight down as it hits the arm that supports everything. Does it make a difference? No, but it would be nice if it looked a little tidier. I should probably take a closer look at it as there’s every chance it’s me that’s just set it up wrong though!
Finally, the pop filter is a plus simply because it’s nice and small compared with the “stocking” version I already had. A minor point, but it does make it easier to hold a lyric sheet in direct line of sight when I’m singing.

Intangibles: The mic and accessories are all really well put together – the build quality is excellent. There’s also the fact that a “proper” set-up does inspire me to spend a bit more time getting everything arranged properly before recording. I know I could have done that already, but let’s give credit where it is due as it’s the new toy that’s done it for me.

If not this then…: Rode NT1 was really the only other one I looked at and I would certainly consider it strongly if I didn’t need the accessories. In the end it does come down to the sound you are after – and only you can decide on that front.

Bottom line is that this is a great bundle of great gear at a great price!

Btw, there are a couple of other good reviews that I referred to when I was looking around. You can check them out at Pro Tools Expert and Recording Hacks.

You can find more reviews of gear that I use here!

The format for doing a brief reviews of the various bits of gear that I use is called the “I” Test: 7 categories that are a bit different from the standard review that reads like it’s lifted from a guitar magazine. My “I Test” takes into account not just the performance characteristics (as normal reviews do) but also addresses the real reason we buy stuff: the 7 “I”s – what’s the Item, Inspiration (why did I get it), Image (what’s it look like), Investment (bargain or just lust), Intrinsic qualities (what does it do), Intangibles (sometimes the reason you got it doesn’t fall into any other category!), and If not this then… (did I look at alternatives).

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