Enter the sE Electronics Reflexion Filter. It would seem ideal: Portable treatment for recording vocals and other single-mic sources. In practice? Here’s the deal.
The Reflexion Filter (RF) is a semi-circular baffle. It comes with a mounting arm that clamps on your mic stand and extends outward. There are two “spindles”: One for mounting the RF, and the other for mounting mics in a standard shock mount. This all weighs a fair amount, and as the weight is to one side, you need a stable mic stand (or secure the base with weights).
Although sE emphasizes that the RF reduces the amount of energy hitting the walls and bouncing back into the mic, it also helps isolate the mic from external sounds (see Figure 1). If your mic has good back rejection, the RF makes it better.
The construction is high-tech, starting with a punched aluminum outer layer to diffuse sound waves. There are additional layers: wool, aluminum foil, an air gap, more wool, another layer of punched aluminum, and four panels of sound absorbers separated from the rest of the RF by a small air gap.
APPLYING THE RF
The review started with a problem: I have several older mics whose mounts are incompatible with the RF mounting bracket. But there was an easy workaround. Instead of mounting the RF on its designated spindle (see product picture), I mounted it on the mic spindle (the screw threads are the same), faced the RF toward the mic stand, and mounted the mic on the mic stand itself. It worked just fine, and when I asked sE about this, they didn’t see any potential problems. If all else fails, simply use two mic stands: one to hold the RF, and the other for the mic. As long as the mic sits in the center of the RF’s arc, it works as advertised.
When testing the RF with vocals, the sound was definitely tighter and less “scattered” than without the RF, as far fewer reflections were getting back to the mic. But I was pleasantly surprised that it’s possible to “tune” the effect by sliding the mic (or in my case, the RF) along the mounting arm track. Putting the mic closer to the baffle deadens the sound more (but introduces some frequency peaks), while moving the mic further away “lets in” more of the room ambience. While I think the preferred position is best, the variability can come in handy.
I also recorded percussion. Tambourine in particular benefited from recording in front of the RF. Although I don’t play wind instruments, sE mentions that the RF is well-suited to recording reeds/horns and provides additional isolation. Based on my experiences, that’s easy to believe. Also, some singer/piano players use it to provide additional mic isolation.
If anything, sE underhypes the RF. Even in an acoustically-treated room, you can get additional isolation. I kept thinking about Lee Flier’s August column on recording a band and not worrying about leakage: If she’d had a couple of these, leakage would have been even less of an issue. Overall, this is a clever and useful accessory that earns major “cool useful gizmo” props.
Product type: Portable, single-mic acoustic treatment device.
Target market: Smaller studios with less-than-ideal acoustics, in particular those doing close-miking of individual instruments and vocals.
Strengths: Tightens up recorded sounds. Portable. Relatively affordable. Also reduces ambient noise coming from behind the RF. Provides additional isolation when recording multiple mics.
Limitations: Requires a little ingenuity to mount mics not accommodated by the mounting system.
Price: $399 list