Road Test: New RE420 & RE520 From Electro-Voice

Evaluating two new condenser vocal microphones.
New RE420 and RE520 microphones from Electro-Voice.

Next, we ventured to handle a speech presentation, deploying the pair of RE420s for audience “Q&A” mics placed in the seating area aisles. While we mostly use wireless mics for this application, a few times a year in busy RF environments we need to go wired.

Because most audience members asking questions are not experienced presenters, often forgetting to tilt a mic toward their mouth and/or speak directly into it, we prefer a cardioid. The RE420s did a great job of capturing the voices of everyone who spoke. Meanwhile, one of the RE520 resided at front of house for announcements and introductions we were asked to make. Placed on a rubber-footed desk stand and with the switch set to roll off the lows, it proved more than up to the task.

The Journey Continues

A few days later we worked with a praise band with a female and a male lead vocalist. Both of them utilized the RE520s with the low end rolled off. They were extremely pleased with how they sounded in their in-ear monitors, and I can verify that was the experience in the house as well.

Again, the rejection of stage noise by the pattern came through in a big way – despite eight musicians (including a horn section) located right behind the singers, there wasn’t a bit of bleed into the lead vocal channels. Curious to see what an RE420 would sound like on a horn, at sound check we put one on the trumpet. Suffice to say, we kept it there for the performance.

Shifting gears, we supported a harpist (7-pedal orchestra style) and her backing band of keyboards and drums who were playing a private party. An RE520 on a boom captured her vocals, with the switch to roll off the low end. Another superb result.

Charting the frequency response of the RE520 in both “Flat” (above) and “High-Pass” modes.

The other RE520 was placed under the ride cymbal because it was hard to hear the “ping-ping” from the drummer’s sticks (his preference is sticks with wooden tips) – basically, the ride just didn’t cut through the mix like it should. But after applying the 520, it most certainly did.

The next day we supported a female vocalist singing the National Anthem and another song at a large corporate meeting. She arrived a bit late (her flight was delayed) so she didn’t have time for a sound check, but we did get the chance to rough in her monitor mix.

I handed her an RE420 and stood onstage, dialing in the mix. We were definitely already in the ballpark, and then I received a big “thumbs up” from her during the performance and very nice compliments from her directly after it was over. She thought she sounded great in her wedge, and I certainly won’t argue, plus it sounded excellent in the house.

Wrapping It Up

The last stop on “Craig’s RE gig tour” was in support of a band at a corporate party in a hotel ballroom. The 4-piece band consisted of a guitarist, bass player, drummer and male singer who also played acoustic guitar. After talking to the singer at sound check and finding out he “eats the mic” (his words), we opted to provide him with an RE520 on him – and I’m really glad we did.

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The room has a low ceiling (about 12 feet) and isn’t all that wide either, and the guitar player using one of our Fender Deluxe single 12-inch combo amps was a little too loud for the space. (Not his fault, he didn’t have the amp turned up all that high.)

I basically mixed the band volume around his guitar and having the RE520 with the supercardioid pattern out front gave me the rejection needed to keep the guitar sound out of the vocal channel. With the switch set to High-Pass, the vocal cut through nicely, sounding clear and natural in the house PA.

Electro-Voice has a couple of winners with the new RE420 and RE520. They sound and look great. Vocals are very natural and the roll-off switch is a handy feature. Handling noise is very low in handheld applications.

While they’re designed for vocals, as explained, I also used them in a few instrument applications with high success. As a sound tech I really like the added rejection of the RE520’s supercardioid pattern, but both mics would be an outstanding addition to anyone’s mic locker.

U.S. MAP For RE420 & RE520: $299 (per unit)

Go here for more details regarding the Electro-Voice RE420 and RE520.