This is a microphone review written by great friend of the Podcast Host, and founder of New Media Europe, Mike Russell.
There's a very popular microphone amongst podcasters, talked about the world over. That's why, today, I'm happy to bring you my own Heil PR40 review, so you can decide if it might be the mic to power your own podcasting. Let's dig into the reasons why Heil Sound's microphone is admired and respected by many from hobby podcaster right up to the pros.
What is the one thing that sets the Heil PR40 apart from all other microphones in its class? The fact that it's a dynamic microphone, and yet it looks like a big beefy condenser mic that wouldn't seem out of place in a professional broadcasting setup.
Dynamic vs. Condenser
First of all, it's worth mentioning, as a former radio presenter and producer, not to mention active voice over artist, I'm no stranger to condenser microphones. Condensers produce a completely different sound to dynamic mics. If you have a sound treated, isolated and sound proofed room then you really can't beat the sound of some of the expensive condensers.
Podcasting is a different game. At the start of our journey we may not feel comfortable shelling out the best part of a grand on a Neumann TLM103 along with tens of thousands on correctly treating your room for sound.
Dynamic microphones, like the PR40, will focus on sound coming in from one place (you talk into the top end of the Heil PR40) whereas with condenser mics they're picking up sounds all around the mic. That could be your kids playing in the other room, the neighbour mowing the lawn or even a strong rain storm. If you have a condenser and don't correctly sound treat, then you're going to have extra sound effects in your podcast along with a whole bunch of room reflections.
You can read here for more info on Dynamics vs Condensers.
The Ultimate Podcasting Sound
The Heil PR40 matches some of the mics I've used in a pro environment. Clean and unprocessed it can really produce a great sound. Hook it into a mic preamp and processor (like the DBX 286s) and you have yourself the ultimate podcasting sound.
Another dynamic microphone benefit is that it doesn't need 48V phantom power. That's why the Heil PR 40, at just around the £300 mark, is an excellent choice for podcast creation. It has superb rear rejection and you may consider two PR40s at that price. The rear rejection means two mics in close proximity will not cause unwanted sounds and reflections.
Heil PR40 Accessories
Not only do I like the sound the mic produces, but let's focus for a moment on the shape, look and accessories. It's a gorgeous design that comes with its own beautiful carry case containing a Heil Sound sticker. It's custom made in the USA and comes in black, silver and champagne colours (the champagne looks great!). I understand that Heil Sound are also able to paint custom artwork and logos directly onto the microphone if you ask them.
It's really worth purchasing the bundle that includes accessories, such as the Heil Sound PRSMC Shock Mount and the Heil PL2T Microphone Boom arm. You'll find it hard to use holding it in your hand so these accessories are a must. RoXdon also make the HPF-1 Metal Pop Filter which attaches nicely to the PR 40 and blocks any plosives and unwanted sounds hitting the microphone directly.
PR 40 vs. USB Microphones
USB microphones are a popular choice for podcasters as they plug directly into your computer. The Heil PR 40, on the other hand, requires an XLR lead that plugs it into a mixing desk. USB microphones that I’ve used have never matched the quality of XLR cable mics. The easiest way to get a PR 40 into your computer is via a USB mixing desk that comes with an XLR microphone input and perhaps a little EQ and compression too.
Should You Buy a Heil PR 40?
The final word on Heil PR 40s? Bob Heil hates condenser microphones. He and his company focuses on superb sounds for dynamic mics. I have two of the PR40s in my home studio and highly recommend them for podcasting.
But there are many other great mics available out there at a fraction of the cost of the PR 40. Check out our Best Podcast Microphones roundup for some alternative options, if this one is a little steep for you!