Universal Audio SD-1 microphone review: A contender for the throne

Sleek and natural, UA’s dynamic microphones are designed to be the new classic in efficient home studio setups.Yeah?
Founded in 1958, Universal Audio initially became a mainstay in professional recording studios, producing preamps, compressors and other tube-based processors.After decades of making channel strips and outboards, Universal Audio was acquired and the name retired.In 1999 Universal Audio or UA reintroduced and re-established as a cornerstone of the signal chain, introducing hardware entertainment and software emulation of classic console components, as well as a range of audio interface homes that brought studio-grade circuit paths.Now, UA has launched its first microphone since its founding more than 60 years ago.So, does the Universal Audio SD-1 dynamic microphone maintain UA’s reputation for clarity and dynamics, and send a clear signal to singers, podcasters, and other content creators that there’s an enticing new project to work on? Room staple?let’s see.
The Universal Audio SD-1 is the flagship dynamic microphone that stretches from the approachable standard line up to high-end condenser microphones like the $1,499 Sphere L22 modeling microphone, which I’ll be reviewing in August, and multipurpose microphones.Thousands of dollars UA Bock 251 Large Diaphragm Tube Condenser (Available Fall 2022).However, the $299 SD-1 is primarily marketed as an affordable workhorse microphone with an intuitive design and natural sound for all-round studio work and everyday use.
I tested the SD-1 in my home studio, where I tested its capabilities on a variety of sources, and compared its performance directly to that of the legendary broadcast microphone benchmark, the Shure SM7B, which It’s clearly for form and function. Overall, I’m happy with the sound and performance of the SD-1, and while there are a few hiccups with its design, I think it’s a great deal considering the ease it brings to the creative process One of the best vocal microphones in its class.Below, I’ll break down the Universal Audio SD-1′s design, workflow, and overall sound to help you decide if it deserves a place in your setup.
Aside from its unique satin white finish, the Universal Audio SD-1′s practical design is very similar to that of the Shure SM7B, an industry-standard vocal microphone used in recording and broadcasting for decades.Both mics weigh roughly the same, 1.6 pounds, and like the SM7B, the SD-1 has a thick, sturdy metal chassis attached to a threaded stand.The top half of the mic is encased in a unique black foam windscreen that, when removed, exposes the mic’s capsule in a protective metal cage, while the only controls on the SD-1 are the two on the bottom of the mic Recessed switch, which gives users the option to use a soft 200 Hz high-pass filter to reduce low-end rumble and a 3 dB surge at 3-5 kHz to enhance speech and intelligibility.The SD-1′s industry-standard XLR output jacks are located next to these switches on the microphone chassis, a slight departure from the design of the Shure SM7B, which places the output jacks next to the threaded bracket, rather than the microphone body.
The Universal Audio SD-1 comes in a striking cream and black bi-color package that echoes the design and color of the microphone itself.Removing the outer casing of the package reveals a sturdy black cardboard box that holds the microphone itself tightly inside a suitable insert.The box’s durability, snug fit and hinged lid, as well as the presence of the ribbon handle, suggest it can be kept and used as a long-term storage box for the SD-1.Considering that most microphones in this price range either come in unsightly and inelegant bubble wrap, or don’t come with a case at all, it’s important to include a reasonably stylish and secure case — even if it’s made of cardboard.
Mounting the SD-1 to a mic stand or boom is a breeze thanks to its one-piece design and integrated threads, but it does require a stand that can handle its weight.If you’re looking for a wireless desk arm, go for something sturdy, like the IXTECH Cantilever.For my testing, I mounted the SD-1 on a K&M tripod with a cantilever.
Perhaps the most cumbersome part of setting up the mic is accessing its XLR jack, which is directly opposite the address end of the mic and requires some awkward maneuvers to get there.It also feels unnatural to push the mic and try to avoid scratching the white surface with the XLR cable, which makes me prefer the sturdy and easy-to-use XLR jack on the SM7B.
If you own a UA interface like Apollo or Volt, you also have access to downloadable UAD presets for the SD-1 dynamic microphone, which run on a compatible computer and offer one-click sound sculpting options such as EQ, Reverb and Compression. These custom effect chains provide presets for a variety of sources, including cello, lead vocals, snare drum, and speech.I downloaded the presets with a quick visit to the UA website, and they were then available in the Universal Audio Console app (for macOS and Windows).For my testing, I connected the SD-1 to my Universal Audio Apollo x8, powered a 2013 Apple Mac mini, and recorded to my digital audio workstation of choice, the Apple Logic Pro X.
The Universal Audio SD-1 is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern that allows it to pick up sound from a single direction while withstanding relatively loud noises and quickly reproducing details.According to the company’s literature, the SD-1 has a frequency range of 50 Hz to 16 kHz and has a flat, natural response without the use of high-pass or high-boost switches.On paper, this is similar to the response of the Shure SM7B, but in side-by-side vocal comparisons, I found the SD-1 to have slightly thicker mid-bass, and a flatter EQ to sound more realistic in modes that don’t use switches (appropriate, because UA The interface maintains a strong low end).
Another way of saying that the SM7B’s flat EQ mode sounds clearer, especially for vocal clarity (why you see so many podcasters and streamers using it).Still, I was immediately struck by the SD-1′s flat, neutral, and almost “unflattering” tone, which bodes well for its potential versatility.In general, microphones that provide a natural and unsculpted sound are more flexible than those tailored to a specific instrument or source, and may potentially bring more benefits to the user.
Before validating my hunch about the SD-1′s capabilities on guitars and other sources, I used its high-pass and high-boost switches to complete my vocal testing.Compared to the SM7B’s 400 Hz high pass, the SD-1 has a lower 200 Hz high pass, which helps it retain a lot of the hairy, face-to-face low-mids that first caught my attention.Its 3 dB high boost is a whole different story, adding a crisp, almost crumbly quality at 3-5 kHz reminiscent of some condenser mics.Some users may consider this a clean, high-fidelity or “finished” sound that’s perfect for voiceovers and podcasts, but for my personal taste, I prefer slightly darker, more natural vocals, and I’m able to Implemented with high pass and high boost off.In my opinion, the SM7B’s 2-4 kHz high boost is in a more pleasant place, but your mileage may vary.
Next, I tested the SD-1 on both acoustic and electric guitar amps with the mic’s windshield removed.In flat EQ mode, the SD-1 performs admirably on both types of guitars, with the blazingly fast transient response and plenty of high-end you’d expect from a dynamic mic, for a smooth, Modern sound.Compared to my vocal test, the SD-1 and SM7B sounded almost negligible on the guitar in this test, almost a toss up.While the high-pass switch added some extra clarity and punch to the guitar, I felt that the high-boost again added too much thin high-frequency information for my taste.
The final piece of the puzzle with the SD-1′s sound was its software presets, so I loaded up the lead vocal effects chain in the Universal Audio Console and tested the mic in my sound again.The lead vocal preset chain consists of a UAD 610 tube preamp emulation, precision EQ, 1176-style compression and reverb plug-ins.With the mic’s EQ switch set to flat, the software chain added mild compression and tube saturation, along with subtle low-mid pickup and high-end boost, bringing out detail in my performances and increasing the amount of sound available for recording. polish.My biggest problem with these software presets is that they are limited to UA interface owners.The SD-1 may be marketed to users who are already committed to the UA ecosystem, but since the mic can be used with any interface, it’s great to see Universal Audio making these presets available to all SD-1 owners, given their effectiveness and Convenience is.
Because of its flexible sound and affordable price, the Universal Audio SD-1 dynamic microphone is an excellent choice for regular and frequent use in a variety of studios, especially if you can put it on a stand or boom.Given its pristine white finish and bottom XLR jack, I don’t exactly value its durability when shipping it on a regular basis, but the SD-1 sounds and feels like a slightly under-engineered Shure SM7B for a cheap price about $100.
If you already have a UA interface or plan to enter the ecosystem soon, the SD-1 may be a smart choice to buy the presets individually, as they shape the sound easily and quickly, making it a great all-around-all-around mic Improvised music composition and recording.If you don’t have a universal audio interface or don’t plan to buy one, and voice-based content is your primary concern, the Shure SM7B remains the standard bearer in any ecosystem for its proven durability and clearer defaults Voice.
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Post time: Jul-12-2022