Recording - September 2014 - 34

B Y PA U L V N U K J R .

Pearl ELM-C
and Priority microphones
Unusual diaphragm designs lead to impressive sound
Pearl Mikrofonlaboratorium (Pearl
Microphone Laboratories) is a Swedish
microphone company that was started in
Stockholm in 1941 by Rune Rosander, who
in the 1950s developed the rectangular
capsule used in most of Pearl's designs to
this day. An interesting tidbit about Pearl is
that the company started while Europe was
in the throes of the Second World War,
which meant that importing microphones-
and, more importantly, electronic components-into Sweden was, to say the least,
problematic. Pearl adopted a set of manufacturing practices that it still lives by 73
years later: almost every component of
Pearl microphones is Swedish-made and
the mics are constructed in house.
I was eager to try these mics because
of my marvelous prior experience with
rectangular-capsule Swedish mics. Back
in the June 2012 issue of Recording, I
reviewed the DC-96B and DC-96C from
Swedish microphone manufacturer
Milab, a company spun off from Pearl
that sells modern versions of Pearl's original DC-96 design. The DC-96B has
become one of the most frequently used
solid-state mics in my studio, so it was
exciting to receive two original Pearl
designs-the ELM-C and the brand-new
Priority.
Benefits of the rectangle
So what is the point of a rectangular
capsule over the more common circular
variety? In a nutshell, a rectangular capsule offers three main benefits:
~ Dispersion of extreme resonance
peaks inherent in a circular capsule
~ Extremely neutral off-axis response
~ More surface area with a larger pickup pattern
All of these combine for a microphone
that is capable of an exceptionally linear
frequency response, with the added benefit of incredible directionality and
increased control of rejection and bleed
based on mic position.
While rectangular capsules all share the
same overall benefits, as with their circular
34

RECORDING September 2014

cousins, various models and styles
can vary greatly. This dual review
is a case in point-our two mics
under review today live on opposite sides of the spectrum in everything from sound and style to cost.
ELM-C: Latest of its line
First up is the ELM-C, which is
one of the company's top-end
models. Unlike the Priority and the
older DC-96, which use smaller
capsules, the ELM-C is part of
Pearl's ELM line, which makes use
of an impressive 72 mm long
membrane housed in a specially
designed perforated capsule
enclosure. This 3" tall capsule is
only about 1/2" wide. Pretty much
everyone who walked into a session with the ELM-C set up at my
studio exclaimed, "Hey, what kind
of ribbon mic is that?"
All three models in the ELM series
share the same 71/2" x 11/4" brass
body with a single-layer mesh grille
finished in piano black. The previous
models in the line are the ELM-B, with
a figure-8 pattern, and the unique
ELM-A, which provides multiple polar
patterns by offering a separate output for each of its back-to-back
diaphragms via a Y-cable. You
change the polar pattern simply by
mixing the two diaphragms' signals
at different levels and polarities. This
makes the ELM-A a microphone
where you can actually alter the pickup pattern after the fact during mixdown!
The ELM-C on review here is the cardioid member of the family. Like all members of the ELM series, it comes in a kit
with a foam-lined wooden box and the
1930 shockmount, a high-end Lyre-style
design made for Pearl by Rycote.
ELM-C: Specs
The ELM-C is stated to feature a 20 Hz
to 25 kHz frequency response, a sensitivity of 22mV/Pa, a 100 ohm impedance,

10 dBA of self noise and a Max
SPL of 126 dB. Note that these
specs and the frequency and polar
plots shown in this review are generalized ones for the model, provided by Pearl, but the mics I was
sent included individual plots and
specs. The review mics had a sensitivity of 28mV/Pa and a self
noise of 9 dBA. Looking at the frequency plot, the ELM-C is about as flat as
you can get from 50 Hz to 10 kHz, with
only a slight low-end rolloff around
40-50 Hz and a quick high-end rolloff
around 12 kHz.
I would describe the ELM-C as full,
smooth and even. I do find it a fun bit of
synergy that while the ELM-C looks a bit
like a ribbon microphone, it is also sonically one of the most "ribbonesque"sounding condenser microphones I have
ever used.



Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
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