It isn’t often that we cover discontinued products, but occasionally exceptions should be made. The secondhand market for coveted music gear is alive and well, so with that in mind, let’s review the SE2200T by sE Electronics.
Can a Cheap Microphone Be “Worth” the Money?
When sE debuted the original 2200A budget condenser in 2004, it won numerous awards and was applauded by the industry for its value and quality. This spurred them to make a tube revision of the popular condenser, debuting the 2200T in 2008. At the time of release, the 2200T carried an MSRP of $599 — an excellent value even by today’s standards. While it may not have taken off quite like the 2200A did, it was another successful foray into making high-quality microphones accessible to everyone.
Fast forward to today, and there are dozens of affordable, high-quality condenser mics on the market. These are microphones that aren’t just “good for the price,” but actually impressive tools for stellar recordings.
What to Look for in a Budget Condenser Mic
One of the main things to keep an eye on is the quality of the components. Designers and manufacturers have gotten really good at using nice parts and still passing great values onto consumers, which is good news for everyone. Look for additional features such as multiple polar patterns (not super common in budget condensers, but possible), attenuation pads, and bass rolloff filters. These can come in handy depending on the recording situation. Needless to say, look for overall ratings and how well a mic is reviewed. Listen to demos online, and try to get an honest sense of what a microphone can do, assuming you’re unable to test it yourself.
SE2200T Review: Serious Performance from a Highly Affordable Mic
SE had an unbelievable hit on their hands with the original 2200 — Amy Winehouse famously recorded on one, rocketing it to the forefront of the industry. It’s not always easy to make a good thing better. However, it’s definitely possible to develop a slightly different flavor of a good thing. That’s what inspired the tube-based 2200T in 2008.
Introducing the Model “T”
The SE2200T is a fixed-cardioid tube condenser with a switchable -10dB pad and a high-pass filter. It originally shipped in an aluminum hardcase with its own shockmount and power supply. The 2200T retailed for $599 compared to the solid-state 2200’s $399. Realistically, that’s a small jump in price to take advantage of tubes. Calling in to question the mic’s popularity is the fact that it was discontinued, but if you can find one secondhand it just might be worth it.
How Does It Compare to the SE2200?
The current SE2200 is a large diaphragm cardioid condenser with a stepped -10/-20dB pad and stepped high-pass filter at 80 and 160 Hz. Featuring all discrete Class A components, it’s a very nice microphone, considered by many to be truly special vocal mic. The latest model falls well within the definition of a budget condenser, so it’s definitely worth considering if you can’t find a 2200T, or you just want something newer.
Dual-Triode Tube Preamp
The dual-triode tube preamp makes up a large part of the 2200T’s sonic character. Like the solid-state 2200, it has a slightly hyped top-end at around 10 kHz. But thanks to the tubes at work, it has a way of rounding off the sharpest transients and smoothing out the overall signal in a pleasant way.
The SE2200T is a fixed cardioid microphone. For instruments like vocals, acoustic guitar, brass, guitar cabinets, drum overheads, and more, that’s all you need. In most cases, budget condensers do not have multiple patterns. The average user will have no problem using straight cardioid for their recordings.
How Does It Sound?
One of the things sE did extremely well was to not oversell the tube sound. It’s definitely there, but it’s actually somewhat subtle. In the microphone’s favor, that makes it a versatile and well-rounded workhorse condenser. The 2200T excels as a vocal microphone, with a clear top-end and subtle tube saturation that makes a vocal sound intimate and “expensive.” However, it can handle other sources with poise and is a great all-rounder.
Who This Mic Works Best For
Anyone with a flair for the vintage, or someone shopping for a tube condenser on a secondhand budget, would probably be happy to try the SE2200T. It’s not as readily available as newer microphones, but that’s part of the appeal, right?
Final Verdict: The SE2200T Is a Budget Condenser Mic That Doesn’t Sound Like One
SE Electronics are masters of quality on a budget. It started over two decades ago, and with a near immediate game-changer on their hands, sE has continued to push the boundaries of quality versus cost. In our review, the SE2200T, if you can find one, would be a steal for any recording enthusiast.