Testing this mic in real life conditions, with video.Its great having choices and it is especially great having choices when you’re choosing a microphone at the front and center of the stage. Blue’s enCORE 100 is one of the well-respected manufacturer’s forays into handheld stage mics arena.
This cardioid dynamic mic features Blue’s own moving coil capsule which the company claims to produce more balanced highs and clarity. This capsule is mounted in such a way as to reduce handling noise, which is a nice feature on a mic that is going to spend 49% of its stage time on a stand, 49% in the hand of the performer and a crucial 2% transferring between the two.
The heavy-duty metal gray metal casing has subtle ribbing which keeps the mic from slipping out of hand. The mesh screen is chrome plated. The shape of the grill narrower in diameter than often seen ball-shaped , however a large polished metal ring encircles the screen at the 1/3 point up from the base that gives the screen the same diameter as the ball overall. While this ring is slightly cumbersome, it will protect the mesh (and the capsule inside) from damage by anything short of World War III.
I used my vocal-duo-fronted band at a recent gig to test the pair of enCORE 100z I received for review. The sound system we used for the gig was a pair of Line 6 L3t columns for mids and highs along with the line 6 L3s subwoofer. Since only the two mics were running into the PA, we used the L3t’s built-in two channel mixer. Later, subsequent test were done running the mics direct into a Zoom HD-1604 digital recorder.
When the singers first saw the mic, there were a few ooohs and aaahs. They liked the shiny chrome mesh seeing it more befitting their star quality over the more industrial looking matte grey mesh of our usual fare.
After powering up for sound check the first thing I noticed was the enCORE 100s had less gain that our usual mics. This is no big deal, just an observation. Different mics (as with different guitar pickups) will have a different output level. On most conventional mixers this just requires adjusting the gain control for the optimum level as you would with any and every input source. However the mixer on the L3t we were using doesn’t have separate gain and volume, so we merely turned it up (there was still plenty of output to spare).
With the EQ set flat (the mic specs frequencies from 50Hz to 15kHz) , there was a nice definition on the top end of the tonal spectrum and a nice bloom on the low-end without being boomy, even though we overshot our sound requirements by using the subwoofer (remember this was vocals only during the gig, thought the system was used to pump house music when we weren’t playing). There is a mid-scooped sound (what we refer to as the graphic EQ smiley face setting) compared to our usual set of mics, but we enjoyed the clarity so much that we kept the mid parametric EQ set flat. The “more balanced highs and greater clarity” claim was no joke. The Encore 100 sounds more like a condenser mic than a typical dynamic handheld vocal mic.
The enCORE 100 low noise during handling was a non-issue. It would have only been one if we heard anything – then you notice – as it was, there was nothing to hear. Perfect.
And while this is a mic review and not a mic clip review, I rather liked the softer clips provided with mics over the hard plastic ones I typically use. Though time is the determining factor on the longevity, I can only assume they will be less prone to chipping, cracking and breaking (and we all know what a drag that is). The pliability of the material grips well and stands up to being “over inserted”, and one can only assume as they would stand up well to travel if not removed from the stand at the end of the gig (not that I would ever do that).
The Blue enCORE 100 performed every way one would expected a professional mic would, and looked good doing it (if not exceedingly so in a classy way). It worked well with both male and female vocal as my duo can attest. This mic is voiced differently from others, but attractively so. Perhaps that’s the point: not everybody likes the same thing. Plus, not everyone has the same voice. The enCORE 100 (which streets for just under $100) is worth the audition as it may be the better fit…and you could show up to any gig and proudly present it to the soundman as your mic of choice.
– Jake Kelly