Heil Sound PR-20 – The Tape Op Review

TapeOp Issue #40/March, 2004 | by

Open letter to Jon Brion: At last year’s TapeOpCon in Portland, OR, when asked what piece of gear you hate the most, you responded by saying that you hate the Shure SM57. “Why do we have to always use them?”, you asked, making a plea to try something — damn, anything! — else. Well I tried to scrap them, but I like my SM57’s, dammit!

Then my friend Elisabeth Papapetrou (RIP) suggested I try the new mics that Bob Heil was making in Illinois. If you didn’t know, Mr. Heil is a live-sound pioneer who’s toured with The Who and The Dead and has been credited with many of the major innovations in live-sound production. Mr. Heil was downright pissed off that he couldn’t buy a good mic built right here in the USA without spending upwards of a grand. His goal in building his proprietary capsule was to create a dynamic mic with frequency and transient response approaching that of a condenser, with the SPL-handling of a dynamic.

Heil hasn’t really marketed his mic to the Pro Audio community, but his mic has a strong foothold in Broadcast, where it’s getting rave reviews next to the SM57, SM58, SM7, EV PL20 and even AKG C 414.

We get a lot of mics to review for Tape Op, and I usually leave them in my studio for other engineers to try out. Some stay up, but a lot of them come down after a quick listen. We’ve had the Heil mic around here for about four months now, and we’ve used it in a lot of places we would have used an SM57 or even SM7 (most notably on snare drums and guitar amps). As far as I know, it’s always made the cut and ended up in the mix.

The mic is extremely well-built and sturdy. It’s a bit smaller (but longer) than an SM58 — but bigger than an SM57. The heavy-duty windscreen, however, is like an SM58’s; and it screams, “Go ahead and whack me with your drumsticks — you can’t hurt me you lame-ass drummer!” With a street price around $130, even if you’re not Jon Brion, you can probably afford to check one of these out over yet another imported $99 large-diaphragm condenser. (

Read more about the Heil Sound PR-20 dynamic microphone.

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