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electronic MUSICIAN

SE ELECTRONICS Reflexion Filter

By Mike Levine | November 1, 2007

BONUS MATERIAL
Web Clips: Listen to audio recordings produced with and without the Reflexion Filter

image of the black and silver Reflexion Filter with a silver mic in shockmount

The Reflexion Filter is designed to reduce the sound of room reflections when recording.

SE Electronics' Reflexion Filter ($399) is a sound-absorption device designed to minimize room reflections. SE touts it as a solution for recording in untreated spaces with subpar acoustics. The unit is composed of a curved metal frame, measuring roughly 12 by 15 inches, with several layers of absorptive material attached to its concave side. The entire apparatus, which includes a sliding post to mount a microphone on, attaches to your mic stand.

Heavy Stuff

After assembly (which is easy), the Reflexion Filter weighs 8 pounds and can easily tip over a conventional mic stand. You can purchase heavy-duty stands from sE that are designed to take the weight, or just put something heavy at the bottom of your stand to keep it balanced. A 10-pound barbell across one of the legs of a tripod stand worked for me.

The curved filter section has a metal post that attaches into a hole in the clamping assembly. The post can be loosened, allowing you to raise or lower the filter to position it. Another post (about 7 inches in height), to which you attach your mic's shockmount or clip, sits on a track inside the curved filter and slides to move the mic closer to or farther from the filter.

That post is threaded in the ⅜-inch European standard, and sE includes a ⅜-inch-to-⅝-inch (U.S. standard) adapter that screws onto the post. I recommend that you tighten it with a tool such as a wide screwdriver. Why? I initially hand tightened it and found that once I finished with a mic and unscrewed its shockmount, the adapter came off the post with it and was stuck in the mount's threads. It happened several times, and it always took much effort to unscrew the adapter. I wish that for the U.S. market, sE would change to the ⅝-inch thread.

The clamping assembly has three metal handles, which can be loosened to adjust various parts of the filter. Depending on how they're set, the handles sometimes get in each other's way, requiring readjustment. Despite this somewhat clunky design, you get a lot of flexibility for tweaking the height and angle of the filter (see Web Clip 1). If you choose not to mount your mic on the sliding post, you can always use a second stand for it. One other issue: the filter is so big that it can block your view of lyrics, a script, or, if you're self-engineering, your recording gear.

Test Case

I tested the Reflexion Filter extensively and found that it definitely reduced room reflections. I tried it with vocals, both sung and spoken, and it gave me a tighter, more focused sound. The effect was subtle when tested in my studio with the mic placed parallel to the filter's edges (as sE recommends). The closer I moved the mic to the filter, the more deadened the sound became. If I got too close, it started to sound harsh and honky. The control of reflections was more noticeable when I used the unit while recording vocals in a reflective hallway (see Web Clip 2).

I also used it with success recording acoustic instrument tracks, including guitar and mandolin. Again, unless you're in a really reflective room, the results are subtle. Regardless of the space, I liked the way that tracks recorded with it sounded — they seemed a tad more controlled and consistent.

According to sE, the Reflexion Filter was not designed as a sound isolator. Still, it can help lower the amount of ambient noise (such as the whir of your hard drives) that your microphone picks up.

Reflexions

If your studio's acoustics are not what you'd like, the Reflexion Filter may be a good solution. It's not completely user friendly, nor is it inexpensive (although its cost is low compared with acoustic treatment), but it delivers what it promises and would be valuable in almost any studio. Based on performance, I would have given it a Value rating of 4. However, the mic-stand-adapter problem and the other design issues I mentioned caused me to lower my rating by one point.

SE also makes the Instrument Reflexion Filter ($199), which is smaller, lighter, and designed specifically for instrument recording. It's mounted on a gooseneck that clips onto a mic stand. It has a hole in the middle to place a cylindrical-shaped mic, such as a pencil condenser (a large-diaphragm mic won't fit). Like its larger sibling, it was effective when recording acoustic-stringed instruments. SE also touts it for miking woodwinds, acoustic piano, guitar amps, and more.


Value (1 through 5): 3
sE Electronics
www.seelectronics.com


BONUS MATERIAL
Web Clips: Listen to audio recordings produced with and without the Reflexion Filter

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