Review: EV's PL80a Vocal Mic

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Electro-Voice claims that their PL Series covers all the bases when it comes to vocal and instrument microphones for live sound-but how valid is that claim?

The series includes seven vocal, and three purpose-built instrument mics, touted for exceptional durability and sonic performance.

The vocal models include the PL24 and PL24S (the “S” stands for “Switch”), The PL44, The PL80c and 80a (two different finishes), and the PL84 and 84S (again, S=Switch).

Kicking off the list of instrument mics in the PL line up is the PL33 kick drum mic, the PL35 snares and tom mic, and the PL37 for overhead/cymbals (specs for each mic are listed below). The vocal mics in the series are priced aggressively, with the PL24 (admittedly, the budget model) available for around $59. At the other extreme is the PL84 at around $85. The three instrument mics are also quite affordable. All are dynamics, except the PL84 and the PL37 which are cardioid condensers. You can find more detailed descriptions at the PL Series page at electrovoice.com.

For this review, EV sent us the PL80a, which they describe as the premium vocal mic in the line. It has a supercardioid pick-up pattern and is designed to be an EQ-friendly, high-quality, workhorse vocal mic for live sound applications. As such, it would most likely be the choice of any sound tech who needs a mic that can be EQ’ed for a variety of vocalists. It’s also a very good choice for DJs looking for a mic that will give their voice a strong edge so that they don’t get buried in the mix.

Right out of the box, I was impressed with the super-sturdy construction of the PL80a. It has a nice look, and the hammer-like heartiness reminiscent of the legendary EV 635. Removing the pop screen reveals a fairly large element suspended in a highly flexible mount that allows movement up and down and side to side. Surely it would take quite a whack to silence this mic.

The case material is die cast zinc, which (according to the International Zinc Association) produces a case that is tough and highly shock resistant for long life, yet easier to machine, which helps keep the cost down. Zinc casting also allows for a variety of finishes, which EV has taken advantage of for the PL series.

I offered our loaner PL80a out to several local vocalists, all of whom were impressed with the mic’s balance and feel. Proximity effect (that “boominess” that some mics exhibit as your lips get closer to the pop screen) is almost non-existent. Guitar players should especially appreciate this as they don’t necessarily have to “eat the mic” to get a good strong sound. DJs should also find favor with PL80a as it has excellent off-axis rejection, helping to control feedback in loud party halls and club atmospheres. Handling noise is minimal, again due to the attention paid to the capsule mounting.

I had the opportunity to use the PL80a as my main wired mic for a number of DJ gigs over the summer and was quite pleased with its performance. Just a little boost to the high-end gave me the edge I needed to really cut through during talk-overs, and feedback was never an issue. It also passed several unscheduled “drop-tests,” including one facilitated by a Frank Sinatra wannabee who seemed to think that “Ole Blue Eyes’” fame was purely alcohol based.

In the near future, we’ll be taking this mic out on several live band gigs for further evaluation, but for now, on a scale of ten, factoring in price, look and feel, and sound quality, the PL80a is a solid 9 to a 9.5. It’s a great combination of quality, a strong solid sound, and an affordable price, all attributes of a winning microphone, especially when you’re buying more than one. MSRP: $165

http://www.electrovoice.com/

Other mics in the PL Series:

PL24/24S Dynamic
80Hz–16kHz
Supercardioid
Stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag

PL44 Dynamic
80Hz–18kHz
Supercardioid
Stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag

PL80a/PL80c Dynamic
80Hz–16kHz
Supercardioid
Stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag
Black or Classic finish

PL84/PL84S Condenser
50Hz–20kHz
Cardioid
Stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag

PL33 Dynamic
20Hz–10kHz
Supercardioid
Locking stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag

PL35 Dynamic
Supercardioid
50Hz-16kHz
Locking stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Drum rim clamp (DRC-1)
Soft zippered gig bag

PL37 Condenser
50Hz–16kHz
Cardioid
Locking stand adapter with Euro-thread adapter
Soft zippered gig bag