The sE Electronics X1 was a huge hit thanks to extensive features, impressive performance, and an exceptionally low price. But times change, and sE has come back to refresh this popular microphone with the new sE Electronics X1 A. We take it for a test run to see what this new model offers.
sE Electronics X1 A
The updated X1 A continues the tradition of the original and maintains a firm grip as one of the most value-packed large diaphragm microphones on the market today. It is a solid all-rounder that is fantastic for beginners and an excellent budget addition to any microphone locker.
The sE Electronics X1 A is a highly versatile microphone with an impressive array of included features. But by far, the most appealing aspect is the budget-friendly price point. Let’s check it out in more detail.
The sE Electronics performs surprisingly well for a microphone at this price point. The same was the case with the original X1, so I’m glad this updated X1 A model retains the focus on delivering capable performance without a huge price tag.
The frequency response is well-balanced and near flat, which will appeal to people who want accurate recordings without too many embellishments. There is a slight boost through the mids and highs, which gives it some character, but for the most part, this microphone retains high authenticity.
The X1 A is a solid all-rounder studio microphone.
I’ll be the first to admit that setting up a project studio can be expensive, so I’m always happy to see solid options that target the entry-level market. A growing number of independent artists, podcasters, and YouTubers need a dependable and affordable microphone, and the X1 A fits the bill perfectly.
Tonality across vocals is excellent for a low-cost microphone. It is a solid choice for both male and female vocals. However, the transparency will highlight poor vocal performances more than some other, more forgiving microphones.
The clean capturing capability also makes it a fine choice for voiceover work. Whether you are recording a dramatic presentation or a casual podcast, the X1 A is up for the challenge. The relatively low self-noise also makes it a viable choice for softer recordings.
“Outstanding recording capabilities for a microphone in this price bracket.”
The X1 A also features an integrated windscreen that helps minimize plosives. It’s a fantastic addition if you would prefer not to have a bulky pop filter in the way when recording.
While I consider the X1 A best suited for vocal applications, it’s no slouch for other recording tasks. Its slightly elevated high-end means it’s an excellent fit for guitar recordings. I especially enjoyed the clarity and precision when recording acoustic guitar.
The sE Electronics X1 A also handles different instruments well. It’s far better than I expected from a microphone at this price point. Whether you record strings, woodwinds, brass, or piano, the X1 A will deliver workable and clean recordings.
The included pad switch also enables easy handling of high SPL sources, so there will be few situations that the X1 A won’t be able to handle. As a drum microphone, it was also highly serviceable.
Considering the price point, there is little to fault. Having said that, factoring in this price point is what is guiding my assessment. There are better microphones out there, but they will set you back a lot more money than what sE is asking for here.
When you line this microphone up against other microphones in this price range, it rapidly rises to the top as among the best options. Extensive features, solid recording capabilities, and build quality that exceeds expectations. A worthy successor to what was already a fantastic microphone.
The sE Electronics X1 A is technically a large diaphragm microphone, but it barely scrapes in with a modest 0.66″ (16.9mm) diaphragm. This is a noticeable decrease in size from the original, but the result is tighter recording capability. I like this approach for an entry-level microphone as it offers increased dynamic range.
The X1 A is also a cardioid microphone with a familiar heart-like capturing pattern. This is the most commonly needed polar pattern for most studio recording situations. At this price point, I don’t expect to have the choice of multiple patterns, but if you do want that flexibility, you’ll need to up your budget.
The X1 A features a smaller diaphragm than other large diaphragm mics.
The frequency range is 20Hz-20kHz, with a relatively flat response throughout most of the range. Self-noise is also respectable at 16dB. You can find lower if you want ultra-crisp, low-volume recordings. Still, for the most part, this microphone can cover most day-to-day studio applications.
The sE Electronics X1 A also features a high Max SPL rating of 130dB. This alone is usually enough to cover most recording situations. But unlike other budget-centric microphones, the X1 A also features a 20dB attenuation pad that helps increase range to 150dB.
The last inclusion worth highlighting is the Low-Cut Filter. You’ll have access to a 100Hz 6dB/Oct switch, a welcome change from the previous 500Hz 4dB/Oct switch on the original X1. It is an excellent inclusion to deal with background noise or proximity effects.
The last thing I tend to worry about is appearances. Still, I’d be lying if it didn’t have some subconscious impact on my thoughts toward a microphone. The X1 A plays it safe with a tried and tested all-black appearance, which, in my eyes, is the right choice.
I’ll admit I love some pizzazz and color in the studio, but if I had to choose a favorite, I’d always go for simple and clean design over flashy gimmicks. The durable finish features no embellishments beyond the sE logo and the model name. Minimalist design throughout that helps it integrate into any studio setting.
Plain black professional styling.
The sE Electronics X1 A presents a slightly different shape than what I’m used to, with a somewhat bulbous bottom end compared to the more narrow top end. It gives it some character, but I probably would have liked a more symmetrical cylindrical shape, but that comes down to personal preference and has no bearing on what I think of the X1 A.
The integration of the switches is perfect, and they feel great to use. The ridged surface ensures instant grip for easy switching. As with all professional microphones, the X1 A features an XLR connection point and requires 48V phantom power.
Mention the word budget and your mind will likely instantly conjure up an image of a poorly made product that isn’t built to last. As with the original X1, sE Electronics set out to buck this trend by offering a solid microphone at an affordable price.
Unlike other budget microphones, you won’t have to worry about longevity with the X1 A. The all-metal housing is ultra-robust and features a high-quality finish that will ensure it can handle the rigors of frequent use.
High build quality for a microphone in this price range.
The rugged grille features an integrated windscreen. Not only does this assist with plosives, it adds another layer of protection for the condenser capsule. The internal electronics are also top-notch.
sE Electronics has an excellent reputation for delivering high-quality products. The whole operation is in-house, from the design, engineering, and production. It is a different philosophy from many of the mass-produced options on the market.
If you like excellent value for money without compromising quality, the X1 A from sE Electronics should be high on your shortlist.
I’ve mentioned the interesting profile of the sE Electronics X1 A. However, it still falls within the general range of what you would expect from a large diaphragm microphone. Even with the smaller-than-average diaphragm, its width is similar to other popular options.
The X1 A offers a level of heft that inspires confidence.
The all-metal housing does add some heft to the X1 A. At 0.86 lbs. (390 grams), it isn’t the heaviest microphone I’ve used, but equally, it is not the lightest. What I especially like about this level of heft is how it makes you feel. At no point do you think you are holding a cheap microphone.
If there is one underlying theme throughout my time testing the X1 A, it’s that it is rather remarkable how good this microphone performs when you consider the price point. I had an inkling going into it that I would not be let down based on my experience with other sE Electronics microphones, but even I didn’t expect it to be this good.
The X1 A is hard to match at this price. A few other choices give it a good run for its money. Some are better at specific tasks, but as an all-rounder beginner microphone, the X1 A is among the best available.
The X1 A comes with an included mic clip.
Within the package, you’ll find a swivel mic clip that retains the high quality you would expect from sE, along with a thread adapter. But it doesn’t include a shock mount or a case. This is far from a deal breaker, but there are some enticing options that are a little more expensive than the X1 A that do include those extras.
Despite the lack of inclusions, the sE Electronics X1 A is easily among the best value options on the market. Adding a Pad and Low-Cut filter already blows much of the competition out of the water. It is a solid and dependable choice at a price that is hard to resist.
As a beginner-friendly microphone, there are ample reviews online. I always take the time to have a detailed look around to see what others think, and the overwhelming majority rate the sE Electronics X1 A highly. Dozens of 4 and 5-star reviews highlight the impressive performance and the affordable price point.
Benefits Of An Internal Windscreen
The sE Electronics X1 A features an integrated windscreen to help protect the capsule but also to mitigate plosives.
When recording vocals and speech, some letters cause a sudden rush of air, resulting in a “pop” sound in recordings. The usual culprits are B, P, T, and D. A filter or windscreen can help break up the air to prevent these bursts from impacting your recording.
External pop filters can be bulky and intrusive.
For many microphones, you’ll need to invest in an external pop filter that will attach to your stand and shield the microphone. While this is fine, these external pop filters can be bulky, obstructive, or potentially impact where you can place the microphone.
An integrated windscreen eliminates these hassles and allows for a cleaner work environment while keeping plosives at bay.
While I like the sE Electronics X1 A a lot, it’s also not the only option on the market. Below, I take a quick look at some other microphones worth considering.
Audio-Technica AT2020 Review
The Audio-Techncia AT2020 is among the most popular entry-level mics on the market. Backed by one of the leading brands in the space, it is another solid choice for people who don’t want to spend too much on a cardioid microphone.
- Versatile recording capability for vocals and instruments.
- Low price while retaining good build quality.
- Doesn’t feature a pad or filter switch.
MXL 990 Review
The MXL 990 is another affordable microphone, but unlike the X1 A, it comes with a range of excellent accessories. Beyond that, it’s also no slouch when it comes to recording quality.
- Vibrant and defined mid-range that is ideal for vocals.
- Comes with a shock mount and foam-padded case.
- Doesn’t handle high SPLs as well as the X1 A.
Samson C01 Review
The Samson C01 is worth exploring if you want to stretch your budget even further. This cheap microphone offers respectable performance and is a great choice for content creation applications.
- Bright recording capability with a crisp top end.
- It comes with a case and offers decent build quality.
- It’s not as versatile and less balanced than the X1 A.
Should You Buy?
I’ve tested a wide range of studio gear, and one of the things I always keep an eye out for is value. Not everyone is in a position to unload thousands of dollars on the top-of-the-line options. And how a company treats its entry-level choices always shines a light on what it deems to be important.
The X1 A from sE Electronics is precisely what I want to see from a budget offering. It retains high-performance capability without sacrificing quality. It oozes professionalism and packs in as many features as possible to offer maximum value.
If you want a reliable and well-constructed microphone with versatile recording capability, the X1 A is an excellent choice and one I can easily recommend.
sE Electronics X1 A