The Soundelux U195
(Originally published at www.atlasproaudio.com/u195lowdown.html)
Soundelux U195 Lowdown Review
by Nathan Eldred
The whole Soundelux line offers something completely different, some of the mics are a little more specialized in my opinion, some are more general usage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the general usage mics will sound great on your voice. Do the tube mics have something special? Well, a dual-backplate design is special, found on the E-47, ifet7, E-49, U99, and ELux 251, (especially from a flexibility standpoint, each pattern has different peaks and valleys from the lows to the highs) and that is only found in the SD tube mics. Is a tube design special? Aaah, hell, I think it is, even if a side of me knows that technically it’s hoohaa on paper, I think there is something there… not necessarily better, but just a different vibe. Maybe it’s just historical placebo. What about the solid state mics, the U195 and ifet7? Definitely special, in the fact that they are so extremely versatile, they are the very definition of a workhorse mic.
All three of the tube Soundelux’s are different from each other, as are the solid state ones. Although the Soundelux U195 is the entry level microphone of the entire line (MSRP of $1350), I wouldn’t underestimate it, it is a great microphone that is waaay underpriced IMO. Will it sound great on your vocals? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how well the frequency response curve of your voice compliments or contradicts the curve of the microphone. When using clean preamps, I don’t see getting much of a mid 60’s Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ vibe. To get classic 60’s era sounds with the U195, couple it with any Neve or EMI recreations, doesn’t have to be tube to sound thick and rich. To get a more “modern” sound, you can do the U195 with a Buzz Audio or OSA MP1-A, transformerless preamps, or preamps that utilize less coloful transformers a la Jensen, Alltran, some Lundahls.
The U195 probably my favorite kick drum microphone.
As a general rule, the U195 is awesome on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, FOK (Front of Kit or Kick) or inside bass drum, toms, overheads, you name it, it will 9 out of 10 times sound freakin’ great. The U195 probably my favorite kick drum microphone. The Soundelux U195 can be either dark or airy with “fat” switch. This provides the very much needed flexibility that stems from the microphone, not from using EQ from the board or outboard. The “fat” switch is a unique feature found only on the U195. When using the U195, you will want to switch between modes to see which compliments your source.
Overall, I think the Soundelux U195 and iFET7 sound quite a bit better than a U87, and should replace the U87 in practical applications in modern studios. The U87 isn’t a bad mic at all, but considering the U195 and iFet7 are less in cost and sound better, it’s a bit of a no contest. I only bring it up because so many people care to compare to the U87 as it is some particularly important measuring stick to them. Throw the U195, iFet7, and the U87 on a guitar amp and you’ll see what I mean… the Soundelux’s are definitely far more musical and pleasing to the ear in my opinion. The U87 has a ‘harder’/’colder’ sound. The only disadvantage in the U195 is that it is a Cardioid-only microphone, so if you need multipattern, you would have to go to a different Soundelux mic, the Elux 251 being the closest in sound to the U195, or the E-47 for all around utility.
If I only had a $6000 mic budget, what microphones would I buy. I would do the following:
|2 x Soundelux U195|
|4 x Sennheiser 421 II|
|2 x SM57, or
2 x Sennheiser E609 Silver
|2 x Royer 121, or
2 x Coles 4038, or
2 x AEA R84
I think this will yield the most flexible results for the modern day music engineer/studio. Why these mics in particular?
- They are all excellent quality
- They are all well-rounded, multi-purpose utlity microphones
- You will never want to sell them even if you eventually have a million dollar room with a six figure mic locker… they will always be useful.
You may get MORE mics by buying cheaper crap, but the loss that you take by selling the cheap-o mics on eBay later could have bought you better mics today. I wouldn’t go for the “big prize” mic until you get these fundamentals out of the way, then something like a Soundelux E47 or ELUX 251 would be in order if you want to take it up a few levels.
I often get asked what the U195 sounds like in comparison to a Blue Microphones Dragonfly mic (BTW also a Cardioid only “budget priced” mic)… The U195 is more natural sounding than the Dragonfly to my ears. The U195 is also more forgiving and generally smooth than the Dragonfly, with the capability for an extended low end in it’s ‘FAT’ setting, definitely thicker sounding than a Dragonfly. I find it more versatile than a Dragonfly for male and female vocals.
I can rely on it for any acoustic guitar work, and I’ll get huge sounds from it. There’s probably a million other great options, but that’s what comes to mind from my own personal engineering experiences.
Conclusion: The Soundelux U195 is a superb choice for anyone needing a well-rounded utility mic. Every studio needs a large diaphragm condenser cardiod mic, so it may as well be the U195, as far as flexibility, quality, and price, you can’t go wrong with this one it beats everything in it’s class.
Nathan Eldred, atlasproaudio.com