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Heil PR40 Vs. Electro-Voice RE20

  • By Mike Phillips
  • Friday September 12, 2014
Filed Under:
Audio Broadcasting

Anyone who is involved in Internet broadcasting or podcasting is likely already familiar with the Heil PR40 and the Electro-Voice RE20 microphones. If you watch TWiT or a hundred other networks, you’re probably going to see a PR40. If you’ve ever visited a radio station or watched a live stream from a radio studio, you’re probably going to see an RE20.

The PR40 for many broadcasters is the successor to the Electro-Voice RE20. The RE20 has been the radio mic of choice for many years. The PR40 is newer technology that provides a different sound, better off-axis rejection, and a better company experience at a lower price. Some people still prefer the sound of the RE20 to the PR40, but a lot of people cannot hear the difference.

The RE20 has three pieces of foam inside to help control the plosives or popping sounds. That foam deteriorates with age and must be replaced. (If you shake an RE20 and hear a rattle, the foam is shot.) The last quote from EV to replace the foam was $205 plus shipping. That’s ridiculous. Unfortunately, doing it yourself is not as simple as you might hope.

The PR40 also has foam windscreens. Like the RE20 foam, the PR40 foam has to be replaced at some point in time. According to Bob Heil, the foam is cheaper, and you can do it yourself.

Which microphone should you buy? The best way to answer the question is to find a way to test your voice on each one. If you like one better than the other, the choice is made. If you can’t hear the difference, buy the cheaper one.

Then again, maybe you don’t need one at all. Several people who own PR40s and RE20s have compared them with the Audio-Technica ATR2100 and AT2005 microphones only to find that the difference in sound is not worth an additional $250 to $350. You might want to do that test yourself before you spend the money. Even Leo was surprised.

If you do decide to purchase a PR40 or an RE20, make sure to purchase the shock mount, too. The PR40 uses the PRSM, and the RE20 uses the 309A. Each mic comes with a rigid stand mount, but if you don’t have a shockmount, you’re likely to hear bumps and vibrations from the desk conducted into the microphone. If you decide to purchase used, be very careful that the foam is in good shape.

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Mike Phillips is formerly a radio broadcast engineer, as well as a disk jockey, sales manager, and general manager. His technical experiences include building and maintaining radio stations and transmitter sites. A production console he built for a radio station in the early eighties is still in use on a daily basis. He also has been an electrical design engineer for a manufacturing company developing analog and digital industrial transducers. His undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering.

6 Comments

  • Shawn

    Shawn posted 09/12/2014 at 09:38pm UTC

    I purchased two RE20’s earlier this year and I’m very happy with them. The RE20 absolutely loves my wife’s voice and while it took some tweaking to get my RE20 to sound good with my baritone-heavy voice, it was worth it.

    I haven’t used the PR40, so I have no practical way to compare them. But I went with RE20’s because I found some good deals on eBay and I’ve also worked with these mics in radio and I knew they were high quality.

  • Tom sabella

    Tom sabella posted 12/25/2014 at 09:12pm UTC

    I use at2020 great mic with at great price. The money saved on mic I purchased a good mic pre. Which makes the at2020 even better

  • Emily Taylor

    Emily Taylor posted 01/04/2015 at 12:17am UTC

    I have the heil because I got it in a cheap package on BSW.

  • Danny Duncan

    Danny Duncan posted 01/16/2015 at 07:11am UTC

    PR40s all the way. These mics are absolutely incredible. I’ve never met anybody that has been disappointed, ME INCLUDED. Incredible vocal sound that is unmatched. Just get the PR40 and thank me later!

  • Chemda

    Chemda posted 01/21/2015 at 10:48pm UTC

    We LOVE this mic! Really helps us in our studio. The sound is crisp and clear which helps us do so much less in post.

    This was a great investment for our show!

  • Chemda

    Chemda posted 01/21/2015 at 10:50pm UTC

    We use the PR40 in our podcast studio. We have been podcasting for 10 years and this mic helps us do less in post.

    It’s got a great crisp clean sound.

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