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EV PL80a High Performance Dynamic Mic Review

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Should The EV PL80a Be Your Choice Of Vocal Mic?

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Choosing a live vocal mic is a personal thing for most vocalists. Every voice is unique and different mics accentuate different qualities that can bring out the best or worst in a singer. In addition, when choosing a live vocal mic, it is important to choose a microphone that is rugged and durable, cuts through a live mix and can take a lot of gain without feeding back.Has Electro-Voice delivered on these criteria with the PL80a?

Putting The EV PL80a High-Performance Dynamic Mic To The Test

I was eager to test the EV PL80a and see how it compared to the Shure SM58, the world's most popular live vocal mic which can be found in countless recording studios and live music venues. The EV's stylish Memraflex grill and unique body shape certainly make the PL80a a more attractive mic than the SM58, and the weight of both microphones is quite similar. Unlike the cardioid pattern found in the SM58, the PL80a features a super cardioid polar pattern which helps reject unwanted room sound and system feedback. It also boasts a powerful neodymium magnet structure and an "EQ friendly" sonic contour which helps the vocals sit nicely in the  live mix without being harsh.

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EV PL80a High-Performance Dynamic Mic Test: Live Use

I recently had the opportunity to put the mic to use at band practice. Our band has a habit of practicing a lot louder than we should and it's often difficult to hear my vocals over the guitar player's stack and our aggressive drummer. Often times I find myself struggling to get a good level of vocals in the PA without experiencing any feedback. The first time I plugged in the PL80a, I noticed that I didn't have to turn the level on the PA as high as with the SM58 and my voice sounded a lot more lively and clear. It was as if a blanket had been lifted off the sound of my voice, which actually helped with my singing because I could focus more on my technique without straining to sing over the other instruments in the room.

EV PL80a High-Performance Dynamic Mic Test: Comparison

I was so pleased with the results that I wanted to make sure I wasn't just imagining a difference, so I plugged in my SM58, and sure enough, the new found clarity I was hearing with the EV was gone and I had to turn my PA up to bring the Shure to an adequate volume. While singing right on top of the microphone, I noticed it had slightly less proximity effect than the SM58 which I actually preferred because I could get my lips right on the grill without the sound turning to mush while still enhancing the low end of my voice. Although the PL80a was designed primarily as a live vocal mic, the manual suggests that it also works well as an instrument or amplifier microphone, although for, the purposes of this review, I did not test it on any instrument other than the voice.

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An important and sometimes overlooked quality of a live vocal mic is how well it can stand up to years of rugged abuse on the road and on stage. The SM58 is legendary in its indestructibility and could double as a hammer or blunt weapon if need be and still function without a problem. While I have not road tested the EV PL80a, based on EV's reputation and the quality feel of the mic, I would have no problems taking this on the road with me and throwing it into my duffel bag without worrying about it breaking.

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Although I have not tested every vocal mic on the market, I have used plenty of other mics that cost more than the PL80a's $150 street price, however, I wouldn't say that any of those mics are better. At this level of quality and price range, it all comes down to testing the mic to see how it reacts to your own unique voice and choosing the one that inspires you to sing the best. I will say that I absolutely love how my voice sounds through this mic and would have no problems recommending it to other singers who are looking for a high performance, yet affordable mic. For those of you who have been singing into a low cost generic dynamic microphone, this mic would be a huge step up. Personally, I am looking forward to testing this mic out at my next live performance.

Review by Travis North

*This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.

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