sE Electronics set the standard for, and popularized, reflection filters after the debut of their Reflexion Filter (RF) PRO back in 2006. Eight years later they debuted the RF SPACE, marking a substantial design improvement over the already successful original. Today, it remains one of the most renowned reflection filters in the biz. We’ll check out why in this sE Electronics RF SPACE review.
What Is a Reflection Filter and How Do They Work?
A reflection filter is a semi-circular shield of sorts that mounts behind a microphone on its stand. Primarily for recording vocals, devices like these promise to minimize reflections from the sides and rear of the microphone for cleaner, flatter, more natural sounding recordings in not-so-pretty acoustic environments.
Reflection filters also claim to absorb acoustic energy coming straight from the vocalist (past the mic) to practically eliminate any type of room reflections whatsoever. Naturally there’s some debate in how effectively a filter like the RF SPACE manages that; many engineers still prefer to have some kind of absorption behind a vocalist to dampen on-axis, over-the-shoulder reflections from behind. But that’s getting into the weeds.
Reflection filters use multiple layers of absorptive material and metal diffusion to create an isolating portable vocal booth. I’ll leave the science to the acousticians and brilliant designers over at sE, but there’s a reason these particular filters have become the industry’s best-selling and most lauded dampening devices in years.
How Do I Use a Vocal Shield or Mic Diffuser?
Using a vocal shield like the RF SPACE is easy. It mounts directly to the microphone stand. Try to center your microphone in the filter and you’re good to go. Just be aware that the RF SPACE is a heavy-duty filter, so you’ll need a nice quality mic stand to keep it from drooping.
sE Electronics RF SPACE Review
SPACE (Specialized Portable Acoustic Control Environment) Improves Upon Previous sE Models
The original sE RF PRO was a game-changer. So much so that it took almost a decade for the company to determine exactly how and where to improve on it. But that R&D phase definitely generated results.
There’s a lot to be said for the 10-layer absorption design, but perhaps the most practical improvement by the SPACE over the PRO is its increased size. In this case, bigger really does mean better, as the increased surface area does a better job of dampening reflections. That, and the mounting hardware is also much sturdier on the SPACE than the original.
Great for Capturing a Well-Controlled “Live” Sound
Reflection filters aren’t meant to completely deaden a room. There are drawbacks to that “dead” sound. It’s why experienced engineers will tell beginners that recording vocals in the closet isn’t actually the best place to do it, unless you want your vocals to sound like they were recorded in a closet — compact and lifeless!
What the sE Electronics RF SPACE does manage is to control room reflections in a natural way. The vocals don’t sound small or dead, but instead breathe with the room as in any great studio space. Mileage may vary, as always, yet there’s sure to be a noticeable improvement using a filter versus not using one, especially in untreated spaces.
Our Take: Is RF SPACE the Best Reflection Filter for Your Studio?
sE Electronics’s RF SPACE is a leader, for sure. There are many imitators out there, but not many have come close to delivering on the same promise sE has made. If you’re considering investing in a reflection filter of any kind for your recording environment, definitely put the RF SPACE at the top of your list. Design aside, the quality on these things is fantastic as well — all hand-assembled by sE Electronics.