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Thread: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Hey y'all!!

    I thought I would share my impressions of an amazing mic I just bought: the KEL AUDIO HM2D.

    KEL Audio is a company based in Canada that contracts the latest and most modern Chinese facilities to build them some mics to their custom specs. They have a whole range of mics suitable for various purposes.

    I read many reviews online, as well as shot an email to Kelly before making a final decision. Customer service was great as Kelly promptly replied to my email inquiry. I finally decided to order an HM2D. The mic arrived 5 days: I think that's very good considering I live in South Louisiana.

    Here's a copy of an email I sent of my impressions:

    I had the opportunity to use the mic both in the studio and live.

    I first tested the mic in a friend's studio on a protools system. People have used many different mics on my tenor in the past. I've found that only few of them worked without disfiguring my tone: a well EQ'd TLM103, a U87 and maybe a Coles 4038 for a certain vibe. I placed the mic at more ore less 2 feet from me, at neck height, angled down towards the left hand. Everything was flat on my friend's setup. I played the full range of the horn at various dynamics in order to test the mic's ability to reproduce details and nuances. Before my friend pressed "play" to let me listen to the take, he commented on how hot the mic was, that he had to turn down his preamp quite a bit compared to most mics he uses. What I heard on the tape immediately reminded me of a U87, with maybe a more compressed sound and a midrange presentation that wasn't as "liquid". I was seriously blown away!! It was like we had recorded the sax and applied some subtle processing to it while keeping my tone true to itself: no boxiness in the midrange or sizzling buzz on the high end (like so many mics). The "in your face" quality of the recorded take, with just enough air from picking up the room to remain natural surprised me. Most mics, when placed this far, sound a bit distant and take on a weird veil over the midrange frequency unless you apply a well setup compression - still it is more than often not enough to correct this behavior.

    A few hours later, I setup the mic for a live gig at a convention center sort of place. Now, I had my doubts about using a condenser for a live performance but I'd been getting tired of using the usual suspects: 57, 58, re20, 421 and so on. These mics all have either a mid or high mids coloration which I loathe. I can hardly stand to hear myself through these mics. Also, they need to be very close to the sound source to deliver which means I usually have to shove it down the bell of my tenor or close to it resulting in an unnatural tone, and my movements being restricted. That's a big problem as I'm the kind of player who moves a lot when he plays. I feel restricted if I have to freeze in front of a mic and my playing usually suffers from it. So I decided to setup the mic very much like in the studio, only a little closer. When we first started playing, I immediately noticed the fatness and 3D dimension of the sound coming out of the monitors although these were rather low quality ones. The more we played, the louder the band got. By the end of the gig, I had the HM2D seriously cranked up: no feedback or rumble whatsoever. Actually the singer's SM58 started picking up a low end rumble by the end of the gig. I thought it was my mic so I muted it and I realized it wasn't it. I was sold on it.

    I can say the HM2D is without a doubt the greatest sounding mic for tenor sax I've ever owned, both live (which is why I bought it for in the first place) and in the studio. How did I manage to live without it for so long?
    For $199 shipped there's simply no better mic in this price range or many times more for the intended purpose. The mic and shock mount come in a nice solid box with a metal frame and handle with padded interior.

    Hope you enjoyed and thank you for reading!

    A few pics of the mic (not mine) for your viewing pleasure:


  2. #2
    Souportwenty's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    I would love to hear more about this microphone after you have used it for a while. I had my 421 stolen a while ago and haven't replaced it with anything I'm really pleased with. I suppose one of the big factors is durability once you have determined it reproduces your sound as you like. I like the fact that this condenser was not prone to feedback issues as that has been my experience with them live. Please drop us a line after a month or so to see if it "can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'"!
    Tenor: Saxart Creative Tenor Silverplate, Warburton LA 7*, ED Rovner lig.
    Alto: Selmer Mk VI, Barone Vintage, ED Rovner lig
    Soprano: Jupiter 947, Bari HR, ED Rovner lig

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Souportwenty View Post
    I would love to hear more about this microphone after you have used it for a while. I had my 421 stolen a while ago and haven't replaced it with anything I'm really pleased with. I suppose one of the big factors is durability once you have determined it reproduces your sound as you like. I like the fact that this condenser was not prone to feedback issues as that has been my experience with them live. Please drop us a line after a month or so to see if it "can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'"!
    I sure will. I'll have a few opportunities to put it through some serious tests in the upcoming months, both live and in the studio.

    Durability is indeed an important factor and I'm sure I'll have to be more careful with it than with a 57, but I'm hoping it won't fall apart after a few months. I don't see why it would though.

    I was worried about feedback issues but Kelly at KEL Audio told me I should be okay. He was right. I think it may be due to the pickup pattern (tight cardioid which would be between a 58 and beta 58), and the fact the frequency response of the mic is not "hyped".

    I forgot to mention KEL has a 30 day satisfaction guaranteed return policy - no questions - asked which makes it a no brainer to at least try the mic!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Only in Canada, eh?

    Maybe we'll get some responses from members who own, or have tried this mic, Vic.
    Like you said, it has been on the market since '07.
    My wife, whose ears I trust, said that my sound is much fuller, richer, more powerful and resonant on this set up.
    ... but really folks... my wife said, " It sounds like a saxophone ".

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by saxphil View Post
    Only in Canada, eh?

    Maybe we'll get some responses from members who own, or have tried this mic, Vic.
    Like you said, it has been on the market since '07.
    Hopefully. I'll try to get the recording from yesterday's session and see if I can post it on here.

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    You'll excuse the weird sound clip...

    KEL HM2D Dry

    KEL HM2D Processed (reverb and slight EQ'ing)

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    Forum Contributor 2009 saxguy007's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by magical pig View Post
    You'll excuse the weird sound clip...

    KEL HM2D Dry

    KEL HM2D Processed (reverb and slight EQ'ing)
    Sounds nice and sweet! I hope it holds up for you over time.
    Covering the bari part- because no-one else owns one...
    Cannonball "Lady Godiva" Vintage, Selmer Ref 36 and Barone MAC 8 tenors; Cannonball Stone Series and Mk VII altos; Cannonball Stone series soprano and bari

    YouTube clip MySpace

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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Are you still liking your Kel Audio HM-2D, on your tenor Vic?

    How would you say it compares to a 58, Beta 58A and EV RE20 on tenor.

    Anyone else tried one?
    My wife, whose ears I trust, said that my sound is much fuller, richer, more powerful and resonant on this set up.
    ... but really folks... my wife said, " It sounds like a saxophone ".

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by saxphil View Post
    Are you still liking your Kel Audio HM-2D, on your tenor Vic?

    How would you say it compares to a 58, Beta 58A and EV RE20 on tenor.

    Anyone else tried one?
    Well sorry for the late reply. I still like the mic. Using it less live, mainly because sound guys don't know how to use it. It's still my reference mic.

    When I'm gonna be playing big stages, I usually take my cheap vintage Radio Shack dynamic mic. It has a great accurate sound, not too bright, and has an omni pattern so it's easier to use.

    I've recently tried a Beta 57 and it doesn't really, really great. A bit to bright, but oh so dynamic (no pun unintended). The 57 and 58 really sound like a bad dream in comparison.

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member. Tzadik's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    I have the Kel HM-2D too.

    Quote Originally Posted by saxphil View Post
    How would you say it compares to a 58, Beta 58A and EV RE20 on tenor.
    Compared the Kel with the SM58/Beta 58A.. The Shures are too (as usually) more midrangy and boxy.

    The 58 lacks in definition on the lower notes of the horns... and it sounds boxy and harsh.

    The 57 is pretty the same of the 58 but even more directional mic: a small movement generates a well perceptible change in volume and frequency response... annoying! The fact is the 57 is designed for "motionless" sound source.

    The Beta 58A has a better response in the low registrer, less proximity effect... somewhat more bright than the 58, more directional than the 58 (no big deal).

    The RE20 sounds darker than Shures and smoother... it doesn't sound "fake"... almost no proximity effect. Different color. I generally love the EV sound expecially on horns (I own a RE27N/D, the RE20 big brother).

    As go-to-microphone I use an EV Raven (dynamic mic)... with it's not so different from the Shure in terms of timbre but it has a good definition on the low frequencies, it doesn't sound boxy or harsh and it has a very open top end (it sounds almost like a condenser mic.


    -----
    For me, the choice of the mic is very personal: some people prefer a mic which had color/brightness/edge, some people prefer a natural/neutral sounding mic, some people prefer a mic which make the sound smoother (or darker... etc etc).

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzadik View Post
    I have the Kel HM-2D too.


    Compared the Kel with the SM58/Beta 58A.. The Shures are too (as usually) more midrangy and boxy.

    The 58 lacks in definition on the lower notes of the horns... and it sounds boxy and harsh.

    The 57 is pretty the same of the 58 but even more directional mic: a small movement generates a well perceptible change in volume and frequency response... annoying! The fact is the 57 is designed for "motionless" sound source.

    The Beta 58A has a better response in the low registrer, less proximity effect... somewhat more bright than the 58, more directional than the 58 (no big deal).

    The RE20 sounds darker than Shures and smoother... it doesn't sound "fake"... almost no proximity effect. Different color. I generally love the EV sound expecially on horns (I own a RE27N/D, the RE20 big brother).

    As go-to-microphone I use an EV Raven (dynamic mic)... with it's not so different from the Shure in terms of timbre but it has a good definition on the low frequencies, it doesn't sound boxy or harsh and it has a very open top end (it sounds almost like a condenser mic.


    -----
    For me, the choice of the mic is very personal: some people prefer a mic which had color/brightness/edge, some people prefer a natural/neutral sounding mic, some people prefer a mic which make the sound smoother (or darker... etc etc).

    Have you tried the Raven for live vocals? It looks like a very nice mic to me. I'm probably going to buy a new mic next year and the Raven is in my price range.
    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

    "The spiritual life is built upon a commitment to truth telling and truth living. As master jazz musicians, [John Coltrane and Miles Davis] presented their spirituality within the reality of cool." --Farah Jasmine Griffen and Salim Washington

  12. #12

    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    sounds great @ that price.

  13. #13

    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Another great one around that price, but definitely not intended for the stage (studio only) .... is the sE 2200a IIC, which is very hard to find, but Sweetwater has them for $250. It's a large diaphragm condenser with gold sputtered around the diaphragm (how cool does that sound?).

    This one is a high end vocal mic and is making a big splash in the UK, where the company is based. It was the mic used on most of Amy Winehouse's vocals on her album, "Back to Black" (that's what got my attention). It has a "presence" that blows away all my other mics (Shure SM32, Blue Spark), like all the great vocal mics have. It's not intended for the stage at all, but if you want to put the sax solos right up front in the mix of recordings, like great vocal mics do with the voice, this one is worth looking at. I use it for everything I record and can't recommend it highly enough!


    Turtle
    1924 Conn New Wonder Tenor / 1970's Yamaha 61 Tenor / NY STM Link 5* / Vandoren V16 reeds
    Soundcloud.com/turtlejimmy

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member. Tzadik's Avatar
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    Default Re: KEL AUDIO HM2D microphone review!!

    Quote Originally Posted by rleitch View Post
    Have you tried the Raven for live vocals? It looks like a very nice mic to me. I'm probably going to buy a new mic next year and the Raven is in my price range.
    Yes... it works good too on vocal, the open top end helps a lot... maybe it suffer a little bit of popping.
    I'll use it for the lead vocals.


    The microphone grill (on the Raven) is like on the Shures... regarding the popping, pretty "permeable".

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