There appears to be a quiet shift going on in the wireless mic world.

As new FCC mandates make the not-perfect-but-long-counted-on UHF spectrum less and less desirable for wireless mics, companies not generally thought of when it comes to mics–including Line 6 and Sabine–are leading a charge into the 2.4 gHz range and, increasingly, those familiar handheld transmitters you see are not sporting the capsules that they shipped with.

A growing list of artists from Carrie Underwood to Alice in Chains have popped the tops and opted for replacement capsules from Heil

THE GEAR

We knew there was trouble brewing more than a year ago when Bob Heil showed a capsule-only version of the highly regraded PR35 to some of us at a trade show. His decision to adopt the same connecter type as used by Shure and Sennheiser meant he could get into the wireless world without actually making a wireless mic. (Kind of ironic considering Bob Heil all but owns the ham radio mic world.)

When Line 6 announced their upgraded wireless handheld system and showed us that they to had opted for that connector, things got really interesting.

We got an RC22 and an RC35 for this review. These are the wireless capsule versions of the PR22 and the PR35. The RC35 ships in plain black while the RC22 includes switchable grilles in black, nickel and gold.

We tried the capsules on a Shure SLX that usually sports a Beta 87 capsule in the shop and the gigs were done using the Line 6 transmitter.

While the RC22 is smaller than the RC35, both fit and looked good on the Shure transmitter. Ditto the line 6. There was no “frankenstein” vibe when joining any of the brands.

Just because they are capsules most of us know well, we will use the Shure Beta 58 asnd Beta 87 as our “control” units re: sound quality.

Both the RC22 and RC35 were a little heavy on the low end for a vocal mic. The hardwired PR35 has a bass roll-off switch that would have been a nice addition here but there is no way to fit it onto a replacement capsule. And of the three engineers who used the mics, only one found the low end to be an issue and he used them in a church application. Both other engineers used them on loud rock stages.

I loved the high end on both capsules but especially on the RC 35. Very smooth and ‘condenser-like” but without the feedback issues of many condensers. There has been some talk online of problems with stage “wash” with the Heil mics. We did not have any problems and could actually get wedges up louder than with either of the control capsules without feedback. On the whole subject of “wash”–it is a fact of life on loud stages and my personal attitude was given definition when Robert Scovill told me (about a vocal mic from another mfg) that the Tom Petty stage is very loud and if he had to have backline in the vocal mic he wanted it to sound good. Agreed. Again, i did not find wash to be an issue but the overall tonal quality of the RC22 and the RC35 were better than either of the controls and if I am gonna have anything other than vocal in a vocal mic, I would prefer it sound really good.

THE GIG
First the church gig. Keep in mind that the “control” in this case was a KSM9 which is much more expensive than either the RC35 or RC22.

From James Elizondo:
"Let’s take into consideration the price of the replacement Heil cpasules. being roughly $300 I can’t in good faith place them against capsules that are nearly 3 and 4 times the price. In price comparison we are up against the likes of a Beta 58. Both the RC22 and the RC35 are in a league of their own in comparison to a 58.

I’ll start with the RC35. It had very intelligent high end which was nice. It allowed it cut through the mix well. On that note the high end wasn’t harsh. It was very even through the higher freq. ranges. It also had very present low, possibly a little over present in relation to the rest of the response. Even with the mic high passed as far as 250hz there was more low end than I desired.
Where I think that the capsule fell a little short was in the mid range. With all the low end that it produced and the smooth high end it seemed that the 500-1000hz range seemed to be a bit lacking. It sounded better on a singing voice than on spoken word.

The RC22 I’m already a fan of. It’s the same cap as the PR22, which is quite impressive. Again it’s high end was very smooth as in the 35. Low end was still slightly overpresent, but not to the extent that the 35 was. Like the 35, the 22 it lacking in the mid freqs. The overall balance of the RC22 is better than the RC35. It sounded equally good on sung vocals as it did on spoken word.
In an apples to apples comparison with other capsules of like price The RC22 and 35 are the hands down winners. If you are in the market for a higher end replacement capsule for your RF mic please go and buy the Heils. For the price you pay you will not find a better capsule."

James and I are generally on the same page but i gotta disagree on the midrange thing. The Heils do not have the “presence bump” so many of us have become accustomed to but I found both mics to be very well balanced and especially like the fullness and “cut” of the RC35.

Let’s go to engineer Brian Pomeroy who used the RC35 on a big loud rock stage.

"It sounded great, rich full and crisp with no EQ–just the hi pass filter set at 120hz. The singer was doing a lot of vocal harmonies and sang a few leads and the mic really stood out from the hardwired SM 58s we used for the other vocals in the band. The Heil capsule was full of body and cut thru real nice in the mains and the wedges."

We have now reviewed all of the Heil drum mics and these two wireless capsules and the phrase used by every reviewer most often has been “no EQ.”

And that has been my experience as well. And when it comes to vocal mics, “no EQ” is one of my favorite phrases. In fact, I am–for my own personal gigs–replacing all of my vocal capsules with RC35s.

They sound great and, at the price, no one else can touch them.

Originally posted 2010-11-29 04:35:01.