Tune your mic—not just your guitar
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. Versatile.
LIMITATIONS: Heavy, overpowers shock mount.