Heil PR40 – My New “Multi-Purpose” Mic

On June 28, 2015

Lately I’ve been looking for a decent all-round, multi-purpose microphone for close source applications. OK, so there probably isn’t a mic that is perfect for everything, but there is certainly a range of mics that will do a great job in front of most close sources. My specs were:

  • £200-£300
  • Work with voice, percussion and guitars
  • Decently high dBSpl rating

Straight away, these became the contenders:

  • Shure SM7b
  • Electrovoice RE20
  • Beyerdynamic M88

However, one mic kept cropping up, both through forums and recommendations from other engineers. The Heil PR40…

Heil PR40

Heil probably don’t have the same well known branding as the mics mentioned above, but don’t let that sway you to believing this is an amateur outfit. Bob Heil has a remarkable reputation as an innovator, both in microphone design and in the fields of ham radio. Based out of Illinois, the mics are assembled and tested in the good ol’ U S of A.

The first thing you’ll notice about the mic is that although it looks like it is side address, it is not. Much like the mics above, you need to fire your sound into the top of the mic, not the side. It comes with a simple clip as standard, but has optional shockmount accessories, and it also comes in a nice leather case. The presentation and finish lets you instantly feel that this is a mic of very high quality.

The mic element is surrounded by a double mesh pop screen called a “breath-basket”. Much like the Re20, the basket does a pretty decent job reducing pops and plosive sounds without a proper shield.

So, let’s make some comparisons using Microsoft Data…

Mic Comparison pics Mic Comparison Graphs

The first thing I noticed on the standard data graph from MD was the much flatter and more extended response of the PR-40. It has a low frequency response that stretches down to 28Hz and even rolling down to 18Hz (-3dB). There is also a nice little present boost around 5KHz, which helps pop my percussions and give a bit more detail to my vocals. It also helps with detail on electric guitar tone. This all can be credited to the great design of the microphone element; a dynamic coil with uses a low-mass copper-wound voice coil assembly with a neodymium magnet and a quilted aluminium diaphragm.  This means that the mic also sounds great on percussion, while also remaining pleasant on vocals, even if a little coloured.

The PR-40 can withstand up to 148 dBSpl, which is probably my Bob Heil is so happy with how the unit sounds on Kick drums. The unit also comes in around £220, so it works for my budget too.

So, it seems to tick all the boxes. Considering I have access to the others through work, I thought this would simply add another option to the cupboard. However, the mic has barely come down of my mic stand since I bought it. As I’ve been doing more work with my Bodhran, as well as several vocal and drum sessions, the mic is one of the first things I reach for. I know what I’m getting with it every time.  On Mike Hillier’s suggestion, I’ve also been running it through my Universal Audio LA610 and it adds another layer of life to the mic.

Overall, I’m very happy with the mic and I keep throwing it in front of more and more sources and still getting great results. I’m waiting to throw it in front of some horns, which should be a great test for it. This should be a great addition for anyones mic locker, so put it on your shopping list 😉

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