In the April 1999 issue of EM, we reviewed the Earthworks Z30X cardioid condenser microphone, and the high ratings our reviewer gave to the mic (a perfect 5 for both Audio Quality and Value) caused a bit of concern. We rarely give transducers a 5 in both categories. Was it possible, we wondered, that there had been a mistake? But a call to the author confirmed the ratings, and those in the office who had used the mic were quick to second the reviewer's high praise.
This story is relevant because the Earthworks SR77 is essentially the same mic as the Z30X (the guts are identical), but packaged in a more rugged-and cheaper to build-body. (The Z30X was machined from three separate pieces of stainless steel, whereas the SR77 utilizes a one-piece aluminum body.) Although the Z30X has since been discontinued, its stellar capabilities survive in the SR77 at a considerably lower price. We think that's great news for the personal-studio owner.
Like all Earthworks mics, the SR77 boasts a virtually flat frequency response, in this case from 30 Hz all the way out to 30 kHz. This, coupled with the mic's amazing transient response, results in near-perfect transduction of sonic events, which in turn results in that eerie sense of "being there." The sound is full, open, detailed, and absolutely uncolored, even at 90 degrees off-axis.
Of course, being directional, the SR77 is very useful in the studio (and on stage, for that matter), because you can utilize the proximity effect to boost bass frequencies and position the mic to attenuate unwanted sounds. One of our staff editors owns a pair, and he reports that they have become his most frequently used mics, especially on acoustic guitars, percussion, and piano. The SR77 is great on vocals, too; that is, as long as the singer needs no help from the mic! In short, if realism appeals to your production aesthetic, this microphone will too.