With the popularity of podcasting exploding at an insane rate as more and more smartphones get connected to more and more cars, it makes sense that we're starting to see a lot of audio products geared towards the podcasting / voice over market. While USB microphones are becoming a bit more commonplace these days, the SL600 has a few tricks up its sleeve that help it stand out from the crowd.
The SL600 is a Mac and PC compatible USB condenser microphone / audio interface. It has a fairly large 34mm gold plated diaphragm. There is a low-pass filter switch, a -10db pad, and gain controls on the front of the mic. There is also a headphone jack as well as a headphone volume knob for full monitoring control with a standard 3.5mm headphone connector.
Editors Keys really stepped up here and provided a full floating shock mount, something a bit unusual (and extremely welcome!) for a microphone in this price class. The SL600 also does not require any special software or driver package to use with your computer. Right out of the box you can plug it in, select it as your input device in your operating system, and get recording.
The Fit and Finish
Editors Keys' SL600 Mic (Front Angle).
The build of the SL600 is top notch. The mic feels very sturdy and its metal chassis feels like it will hold up well over time. The included carrying case helps protect both the microphone and shock mount, so no worries there. The knobs, like the chassis, are metal and feel very solid. The USB connection is a standard, full-sized USB and not a micro or mini size jack. There is also a pretty cool blue light located inside the mic capsule, so it glows a pretty sexy blue when it's sitting on your desk. You can file that under 'something I really shouldn't care about, but just about everyone who came into my studio that day noticed it'.
I was surprisingly impressed with the sound (and in particular the pickup pattern) of the SL600. One of the biggest challenges a podcaster or voice-over recording engineer can face is the loss of key frequencies as you get further from the mic. This is sometimes a necessary evil when you have several people recording into one microphone for an interview or a group of vocalists singing at the same time. With the SL600, I definitely noticed that the proximity effect was negated quite a bit more than other microphones in this class. I could sit comfortably at my desk, a good 2 feet from the microphone and still get a very full sound without too much ambient / background room noise.
This is a big deal for any of you folks who are looking at the SL600 for recording groups of people. Whether it's groups of backing vocals, two people recording a podcast or a group of violinists, the SL600 has a very pleasing pickup pattern.
I was very pleased with the time I spent with the SL600. It's a versatile mic, but particularly well suited for podcasting and voice over for video applications. I would heartily recommend it for anyone looking for a quick and reasonably inexpensive way to get a professional sound in a turnkey solution. The headroom is a bit less than using an expensive condenser mic plugged into a tube preamp, but you really can't go wrong with the price and ease of use of the SL600.
Price: $249 USD
Pros: Good sound, easy setup, rugged design, sleek look, included shock mount and case
Cons: None at this price. The gain might be a little hot, but you can engage the -10db pad and you're fine. I might just be a loud talker...