Review: Beyerdynamic MCE 55.18
Much more than just a lapel mic.
Text:/ Christopher Holder.
People have their favourite lavalier mics for a whole variety of different reasons. For some, the size is paramount – smaller the better (and shaving half a millimetre from the profile can make all the difference). For others, they won’t so much choose their mics as choose the wireless system and use whatever comes with the beltpack. Water resistance and, of course, the sound quality and price are considerations as well. But what about a nifty squiggle mount? When I saw photos of Beyer’s (what’s officially known as) helical mount I could instantly see the possibilities. These mounts come in three sizes and will attach themselves to just about anything. What these squiggles do is effectively turn the lapel mic into a go-anywhere omni bud mic. No instrument is safe! Strings, flutes, horns… the MCE 55 will happily attach itself relatively unobtrusively. I say ‘relatively’ unobtrusive because in the end you are attaching a plastic squiggle, but the visual impact is no more/less than clips or DIY bodge-jobs.
The mic itself sounds wonderful – open and natural, just like a high-quality omnidirectional microphone should. The frequency response is dead flat with a gentle 4dB lift from 7kHz upwards to 20kHz. It’s a sensitive mic and, being omnidirectional, will pick up everything in its orbit – bear this in mind if you work with noisy stages. But working as a close mic and with its gain wound down relatively low I found it worked very well on flutes and horns, without being an involuntary ‘room’ mic wherever it went.
For wired applications the MCE 55 has an optional phantom-powered ‘preamp’. Plug the mic’s mini four-pin XLR connector into the preamp (not much bigger than a standard XLR housing) and then its off into the desk, stage box or recorder. It’s this link that frees you from the restrictions of wireless beltpacks, including Beyer’s well-regarded Opus series. It also frees the mic up from the hassles of wireless connector protocols. I plugged the mini XLR into a Shure SLX beltpack without any problems but if I was working with another brand, I could just as easily have been scratching my head or digging about for an adapter.
The mic itself is small enough to sneak into the hairline for theatre applications and will thrive in traditional lapel mic duties. But team the MCE 55 with its merry band of helical friends you’re not so much getting another lavalier, you’re getting a genuine ‘small diaphragm’ omni that’ll happily slot into just about any situation.
The word is, the squiggles will also be sold separately. Definitely worth stocking up on!
Price: $445 (includes helix mounts but not the preamp)
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