Electro-Voice has long tried to serve the live vocalist with handheld mics that deliver condenser mic quality on stage. My first vocal mic was an Electro Voice PL76, an electret condenser mic that only went out of use when I could no longer source the 4.5-volt battery that it took to operate its internal preamp. Its design philosophy matches that of the N/D767a. EV set out to make a mic that is comparable to the classic Shure SM58 but with performance advantages such as crystal clarity and controlled low frequency response. And with the N/D767a, they did it, without resorting to a condenser or electret condenser design that needs battery or phantom power support. They accomplished this at a price that takes 25 bills off the $100 price of the SM58.
Though everything about this mic is geared to vocals in stage settings, its voice could be useful for warm acoustic instruments, adding some sparkle that may cut through band mixes. While EV suggests the N/D767a is at home in the studio, I found nothing compelling about it as a studio mic when I have other options for voice. However, plenty of users are happy with it for just that reason, and there are certainly worse choices you could make for a vocal mic that works onstage and in the studio.
THIS MIC LOOKS LIKE CLASS, IS IT REALLY A DEAL AT $75? Department: Yes, total deal. Electro-Voice is class, and this mic doesn’t disappoint.
Setup and Usability
This is a straight-forward XLR connected mic, compatible with a standard mic cable. No on/off switch or phantom power required. Plug it in and it works. Its polar pattern is hypercardioid, to reject sounds from the sides which, in a live setting, should mean good feedback rejection. Hypercardioid mics, as a nature of their design, have a lobe of sensitivity 180 degrees away from the front of the mic. That is, when you’re singing into the mic, there is a bubble behind the mic, where the XLR cable plugs in, that is sensitive to sound. A true cardioid has no lobe at 180 degrees, but is more sensitive to sounds from the side. If I remember my engineering classes in college, this is a trade-off caused by the venting around the mic’s capsule. Design it for hypercardioid sensitivity and you must accept the lobe.
Here’s a live sound Pro Tip: When using a hypercardioid mic, set the mic stand so that the body of the mic is parallel with the floor, or, if the singer is hand-holding the mic, advise her to hold the mic so it is more or less parallel with the floor. If that rear lobe is pointed down, toward a monitor speaker, there may be an opening to pick up ambient sound that in turn creates feedback. Angling the mic parallel to the floor offers the greatest rejection of feedback prone signals.
A true cardioid, on the other hand, has its greatest rejection exactly at the 180-degree point. So pointing the XLR connector directly at a floor monitor is the best possible orientation of the cardioid mic. So if you ever wondered if it was important to know if a mic is cardioid or hypercardioid, now you know, yes it is, so go back and re-read all the mic reviews to memorize polar patterns. There might be a test.
Though the SM58 is in such common use, it’s not the best voicing for every voice. Its bass proximity effect is pronounced and it has a strong signal in the lower midrange when used as a close, handheld vocal mic. This can create a muddy and indistinct vocal sound without a fair bit of EQ at the mixer. It is a tendency that is overcome with EQ and sometimes some compression, but without a competent front-of-house engineer, vocals could sound boxy. The N/D767a is, on the other hand, clear from the get-go. Beware of P-popping though. Without good mic technique, the N/D767a is a little more sensitive to pops than a 58.
The N/D767a counters some of the bass proximity effect, but doesn’t eliminate it. EV calls it VOB technology, standing for Vocally Optimized Bass. Coupled with the hyped high frequency response, this VOB modeling provides clarity with bottom end support, and little mud. A singer using the N/D767a for the first time may weep at how clear her voice is all of a sudden. Or she could be weeping because Nicki and Ariana are fighting. You never know with singers. However, the sound of the N/D767a makes them happy in a way that the current membership of One Direction never will.
As mentioned, Electro Voice equals class. The N/D767a is a sharp-looking unit, black with tasteful gold accents. I haven’t run into durability issues with any EV mic, but there was a user review that tickled my senses as authentic. The singer was on her third N/D767a because the previous two died. The first may be been through rough handling, but the second was coddled onstage and off, and it failed also. The timeline was 3 to 5 years, by the sound of it, and rightly she pointed out that these are tax deductible for a working musician, but compared to the SM58, rumored to be the mic Julius Caesar was using when he was stabbed, and currently on tour with Coldplay, that’s not a long time, even if the mic is only $75. While it’s a gut feeling rather than personal experience on my part, I docked the N/D767 build points due to that and a few other user reviews.
Other user reviews were as sparkling as the N/D767a’s response. A bass singer in a gospel group spoke highly and that made perfect sense. A deep voice combined with bass proximity and boosted lower mids will be a mess of mud. The VOB technology combined with the upper frequency boost would be just the ticket for a bass or baritone to be heard clearly while retaining character.
For the singer looking for a good studio vocal mic, look elsewhere, into large capsule condenser country. This is a live singer’s mic, though it could pull studio duty in a pinch. I’d recommend six to ten inches between the singer and the mic in studio setting, completely negating any proximity effect but maintaining the top end character that’s a bit condenser in nature. For $75, you’re not taking much of a risk on a reputable maker and a solid performance mic concept.