PreSonus PD-70 by Sound-Guy
PreSonus PD-70 Dynamic Cardioid Broadcast Microphone
There are a lot of reviews of the PD-70 elsewhere, and they’re all very positive. Since I was in the mood to add a mic to my arsenal, I figured for the money it should be worth a look and listen. I recently gave my two cents worth on the amazing Eris E3.5 monitors and as I wrote, they quite surprised me. PreSonus have a knack for providing excellent gear that is reasonably priced – so is the PD-70 another of these?
What is it Like?
Upon picking up the shipping box I was surprised at the weight, and holding the PD-70 found it a hefty chunk of metal: 29-½ oz (almost two pounds – 838 grams). The build is excellent, the foam pop/wind screen is 3-½ inches of the full 6 inch length (90 mm of the full 150 mm) and it’s about 2-¼ inches (60 mm) in diameter. The half-yoke swivel mount is sturdy and the locking mechanism is smooth – in fact, even when reasonably tight I could twist it by applying a good force, yet I didn’t find it to droop or shift in practice, and the angle of the mic can be changed without needing to loosen the tension knob. So build and looks are fine. How does it sound?
The PD-70 is an “end-address” mike with a standard XLR male socket on the back end. It has been favourably compared to the famous Shure SM7B broadcast mic. And it is promoted by PreSonus as a broadcast-quality microphone for those involved in podcasts, online video work and radio work. A look at the nominal frequency response shows a flat response from about 80 Hz to 1 kHz, with a gentle roll-off of about 6 dB/oct below 80 Hz, and a presence bump above 1 kHz peaking about 5 dB at 10 kHz, then rolling off rapidly above the peak, but within about ±5 dB from 40 Hz to 20 kHz. The polar pattern is shown to be typical cardioid with good rear rejection. Good specs for a vocal mic.
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I ran my own tests (in a semi-anechoic set-up) and found pretty much the same general results: within ±2 dB from 80 Hz to 2 kHz with a maximum peak of +6 dB at 9 kHz. 40 Hz was down about 6 dB, and at the high end I measured the signal down 6 dB at 16 kHz (although measurements above 10 kHz are always very “iffy” unless you have a fully anechoic room). These results are basically what I expect with a dynamic mic and very close to the published specs. I did not try to precisely measure the polar pattern but did find rear rejection is excellent – at 180° I found about a 25 dB drop compared to the normal front end-address level. And of course the bass boost from the proximity effect is very pronounced as with all cardioid mics. I also checked harmonic distortion and at 80-90 dB SPL I found it under 0.5% from 60 Hz to 2 kHz, rising to a percent or so above that. Since harmonic distortion is not necessarily a bad thing (it can add to the character of a mic), I’d say the PD-70 is a very capable unit.
The sensitivity of 1.6mV/Pa is not bad for a dynamic, although much lower than most active mics (capacitor or active ribbons). I had no trouble using it directly into an input of my Focusrite preamp and cranking up the input gain (the Focusrite self-noise is pretty much inaudible, even at full gain). The PD-70 has a rather high output impedance of 350 Ω which means even a perfect preamp will see about 3-4 dB more thermal noise than with the more common 150 Ω dynamic mic – however we are still talking noise in the -129 dBv range which is likely less than your preamp or your room. Maximum SPL is listed at 135dB SPL, but without a corresponding distortion level given. However, dynamic mics are usually tolerant of very high noise levels and I certainly heard no issues using it on the loudest sounds I dare tried.
What is a Broadcast Mic?
But back to “broadcast”. Does this mean the PD-70 is not capable of recording singing vocals or instruments? I’ve seen and heard a number of examples with both male and female singing vocals and the results were very good. I ran some singing tests in my studio, and results sounded fine, although singing very close does produce considerable proximity boost which may, or may not be desirable (and can easily be EQ'd out). On the good side, the PD-70 has been termed “impoppable” and in my tests I found that description to be accurate. With the supplied foam windscreen in place, shouting “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers . . . etc.” only inches away from the end results in a clear recording with no pops. Excellent pop resistance – even better than using a separate pop filter with some mics I use. On the other hand, it’s not a good hand-held mic due to its weight and shape (and handling noise – see below). As with any vocal work, different people will sound best with different mics, which is why we buy so many of them! I’d say the PD-70 is a contender for vocal work.
And I’ve heard the PD-70 has also been used successfully on electric guitar cabs and for close miking on drum kits. Dynamic mics are often used on these kinds of sources, usually in conjunction with a condenser mic or two. Loud sources like these will provide plenty of output, although with its low sensitivity, the PD-70 is probably not well suited to distance miking. But add a booster like the sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite Inline Preamp, and it may surprise you. I would not rule out using the PD-70 for about anything – if it sounds good in a particular application, it is good. And it sounded fine to me with everything I tried.
One issue is handling noise – it is quite high – if the metal body is touched or even if the mic cable is rubbed on something, you will clearly hear it. I don’t have a Shure SM7B to compare, but I do have several Shure dynamic mics intended for hand-held use, and they do an excellent job isolating handing noise from the capsule. However, even bumping the PD-70 foam screen a bit creates almost no noise, so unless you touch the metal body, cable or possibly the mic stand, you won’t likely have any extraneous noise problems.
Excellent audio quality.
Good build and very “professional” looking
Nice strong proximity effect to boost bass frequencies for that Barry White sound.
Definitely excellent gear at a very reasonable price.
Handling noise is on the high side, but not a deal-breaker.
For the money, the PD-70 is a winner for vocal work, including singers with a compatible tones, and you may even find it effective for some instrument recording tasks.