SE Electronics Mics
Cheap, Chinese, Condenser…Three adjectives that all have two things in common. First, they all start with the letter C. Second, they all trigger thoughts of mics that sound brittle, thin, harsh, or any number of other descriptors that are less than flattering. This reputation is well deserved in most cases. Companies have gone to the far east with cheap (rarely unique) designs, cheap off the shelf components, and cheap unskilled labor to bring us mics that are at best generic sounding, and at worst, horrible!
Of course there are all of the other sides to this argument beyond just sound quality. Moral/Political issues such as outsourcing labor, bringing down the collective expectation of what a quality home recording should sound like, and just the practice of manufacturing junk for the sake of profit. Let’s sidestep those issues for now because I don’t want to get into a political debate. You can head to Gearslutz for stuff like that. :)
So SE Electronics has been rocking the Chinese made Condensers (and now ribbons) for a decade now, but what makes them so different? In short, they sound good. Now I’m not devaluing what some of our German, American, Swiss, or Latvian friends are doing. They’re all still making great quality microphones that sound amazing (for the most part) and fit the bill for a lot of guys out there. But you can’t deny the necessity for a good sounding, less expensive, microphone both in project and pro studios.
I’ve included some samples of most of the SE line down below. Check them out for yourselves. At each price point, if you compare them to some of the usual suspects, the SE mics really do shine in my opinion. I know I don’t usually throw out my opinion of things, and I try to leave that to you guys but in this case I assumed that since I was writing the article, the cat was already out of the bag. I DIG THESE MICS! A couple of points to be made that make these stand out.
Yes, they are Chinese made, but if it makes you feel better, their founder and main brain, Siwei Zou, is Chinese. We’re not talking about a company that was looking to shave off the cost of their mics so they moved their factory to China. He’s from Shanghai. it’s no different than SSL building things in the UK. Homeland is homeland. Also, they don’t just take any common guy off of the street and put some tools in his hand. Their team is actually trained for this stuff. I’m told that an employee has to go through 5 years of training before they’re allowed to build a capsule by themselves. Most of the people I know haven’t even worked at the same company for 5 years.
We’re all used to these microphones behind carbon copies of one another. Some generic factory, using generic parts, building generic sounding mics. SE has their own factory, they build their own components, they even go as far as working their own brass for chassis, mesh screens, etc. All the way down to manufacturing the flight cases in house.
Reading over this so far, it all sounds like marketing hype. Believe me it’s not. But in the interest of not turning this website into another jargon spewing machine, I shall now shut up and let you listen. I tried to get samples of as many of their mics as possible.
There you have it. I hope this was beneficial. Check out the specs on these mics, check out the pricing, and see if one of them might fit the bill for you. Let me know what you thought of the mics in the comments below. Am I full of it? Are they awful? Great? Is China still the scourge of the microphone world?
Until Next Time
The Bearded Man