Tune your mic—not just
Most of us yearn for a tolerant society in which
people are judged by the quality of their person
rather than looks, gender, or place of origin. In
the spirit of this noble ideal, I won’t dwell on
describing the looks of this large-diaphragm,
multi-pattern mic. Besides, the best I can do is
compare it to crop circles, the Stargate, or an IUD
for a giraffe. But once I got past the whimsical
design, this sucker is substantial—2.2 lbs. doesn’t
sound like much, but Reactor feels like Thor’s
Hammer in your hand, and causes lesser mic
stands to slip and bend to its heavyosity.
Reactor’s capsule, based on Blue’s B6 model,
uses a matched pair of single diaphragms
mounted back-to-back inside the head to provide
cardioid, omni, and figure-8 pickup patterns.
The electronics are solid-state Class A, with no
additional pads or low-end filters; there was a
slight tendency toward rumble, but nothing some
EQ couldn’t stop. The head swivels 90 degrees, and
there’s a totally cool magnetic pop shield.
While Blue provides one of the best teeny
manuals I’ve read, there’s no diagram that outlines
which part is the front, or the capsule’s address
side. As Reactor pushes the design envelope,
such no-brainers may not be obvious to persons
like myself who live in perpetual confusion. But
then I actually read the manual (always a good
idea), not just looked at the pictures, and my
questions were answered.
Patterns on the Side The right side of
Reactor’s body covers pattern selection via a
Captain Nemo-meets-steampunk toggle-witha-
magnifying-glass over teeny omni, cardioid,
and figure-8 LEDs. This unusual setup begs
experimentation by using the two capsules’
frequency response variants to sculpt your
sound. I like omni’s high end, with a nice 1-2dB
bump over 5-15kHz, and the flattest overall
response. Cardioid is warmer in the high end,
has a character bump in the 6-7kHz range, and
offers a nice dose of proximity effect to make
everything sound great on FM radio.
The audio quality is fantastic for a
multi pattern mic in this price range, and
when combined with the swiveling head/
capsule, Reactor becomes a mic-physics exploration
fun factory. You can “tune” the
mic to specific applications to capture fat
vocals, super-present guitar acoustics, and
the room frequencies of drums.
This May Come as a Shock . . . Reactor’s
bottom screws into the provided shock mount,
providing a springy fulcrum for the heavy,
high-center-of-gravity mic—so the whole
thing goes into spasms of bounce and swing
when you make the slightest mic adjustment.
Fortunately, Blue says this unpleasant quirk
will be fixed by the time the mic hits stores.
Final Reaction Reactor is warm when
you want it, with an airy top end that leads to
incredibly clear reproduction of virtually any
sound source. I rarely found a need to dial in
additional EQ, choosing instead to work the polar
patterns and make use of the swiveling head.
Reactor provides precise detail in a package
that can take a sonic beating, and works
equally well with soft vocals and screaming
guitar amps—it’s a great choice for a versatile,
large-diaphragm condenser, especially for
studios on a budget.
STRENGTHS: Killer sound and
features for a mic at this price.
LIMITATIONS: Heavy, overpowers