Earthworks SR20 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Review

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Best Studio Mics

Earthworks SR20 Cardioid Condenser Mic

PROS: Excellent sound, plenty of applications.
CONS: Black finish tends to get scuffed.
PRICE: $599

Earthworks has been making quality microphones for decades, and has an excellent reputation of making high-quality studio microphones. They also have a great line of mics for live use as well, with their SR Series.

The SR20 has a cardioid capsule, which means it’s excellent for recording acoustic environments with clarity and depth – things that just can’t be replicated or modeled. Frequency response is 50Hz-20kHz, and with a maximum input of 139dB, means it can handle extreme frequencies and volume levels. The only attachment, save for a mic clip, is a screw on windscreen that not only protects the capsule, but also acts as a “p” popper-stopper, when it’s used for vocals. Physically it doesn’t feel dainty, so use in a live setting isn’t an issue.

Across the capsule itself, there’s no “dead spots” to be found. Even using it in an extreme off axis position (meaning not directly on the sound source) yields excellent acoustic depth. It’s a fantastic all-around condenser with applications aplenty; anything where the presence of “air” would add more to the mix. Acoustic guitars get plenty of definition, and no boomy-ness. Low frequencies still retain their depth, while ignoring any flubbyness. Even as a room mic during recording, it can handle plenty of volume, capturing a performance and adding that rich acousticness a plug-in just can’t cover.

As a vocal Mic, it’s quite rich; regardless how the singer is placing the microphone, there’s plenty of signal for it to ingest. Considering it can handle high volumes from instruments such as drums, and works equally as well for more subtle items such as strings, it’s sure to become a “go-to” item for any sound engineer. In the studio, in the field, or on stage, it captures a subtlety that just can’t be replicated after the fact.

At a $600 street price, it’s well within the price range of most quality condenser microphones. Considering Earthworks reputation, the sound quality, practical applications, and the fact it’s made in the USA, really makes it a good deal overall. The only downside was our test unit’s black finish seemed to get scuffed when sliding it in and out of the provided mic clip. Not scratching the finish down to the metal, but scuffing nonetheless. It doesn’t affect the functionality of the microphone, but for some obsessive/anal retentive engineers (a rarity, of course, in the recording industry) it might be a bummer. Considering the abuse some mics take in the studio, and don’t sound nearly this good, it’s still an excellent piece of gear that’s no one-trick pony. Recommended for every respectable mic locker.


Microphone Type: Condenser
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Frequency Response: 50Hz-20kHz
Max SPL: 145dB
Output Impedance: 100 ohms