The sun dawning over a newly minted 2019 has set me in an oddly reflective mood. 2018 was a busy year for new audio innovations, from digital mixers to all manner of bluetooth enabled devices, and so much more. It seems that the world of sound reinforcement continues to offer more value with each new product.
Despite all the newness, I found myself reflecting on what product or products might have been my favorite discovery in 2018. Once I slowed down to reflect, the answer came to me immediately, the Shure PGA181 microphone. My day to day sound reinforcement experience is focused on solving audio problems, both personal and professional in short time and typically on an extreme budget. The PGA181 side address condenser fits this bill perfectly. At the price of a standard dynamic mic ($99.00) it is an affordable choice with a packed feature set.
A couple of qualifiers to my choice: the mic has a large capsule and requires a large clip (wireless microphone size). The lack of shock mount means that this mic is much better for live applications than recording. Finally, the mic has a bit of a bump in the 100Hz range and so a little bit of gentle eq in that area will go a long way towards quelling any potential feedback.
Despite any drawbacks, this mic turned into my favorite problem solver for 2018. I used it for the following applications:
- Electric Guitar Cabinet
- Mono Drum Set Overhead
- Kick Drum Mic
- Upright Acoustic Piano
- Grand Acoustic Piano
- Choir Soloist Mic
- Children's Choir Mic (8 Voices)
- Bluegrass Style Group Mic (Fiddle, Upright bass, guitar, vocals)
In every instance, the PGA181 exceeded expectations for clarity, range and wide pickup pattern without feedback. Use on the Cajon was particularly surprising as I was able to capture both resonate bass tones and top end snap from the snare wires. I look forward to continuing to use this microphone, and to recommend it to others as a flexible and affordable problem solver.
So audio friends, this begs the question, what were your favorite pieces of equipment for 2018? What piece of equipment did you reach for again and again? Let us know in the comments below.