The Heil PR-40 has built up legendary street cred in the podcasting world. It has become THE podcasting mic. There seems to be a prevailing thought that if you are talking into a PR-40 that you will instantaneously become the next Marc Maron or Leo LaPorte. That is, of course, not the case. A mic doesn’t give you the skill or abilities of these great podcasters. However, the Heil PR-40 can give you years of reliable service and stellar sound at a price, that might seem intimidating at first, but that is well worth it if you amortize the cost over the long term.
As a pro podcaster, I have been using the Heil since 2011 for my podcasts and foresee using it for years to come as my primary mic. If you are just dipping a toe into the podcasting waters, this mic could be overkill. Since the Heil PR-40 uses XLR connectors, it requires the use of a mixer or a USB interface which adds considerable complexity and expense to a podcasting setup. Buying this mic is locking you into a significant investment. To get the most out of a Heil PR-40, you’ll need a shock mount (Heil PRSM) , boom arm (Heil PL-2T), and a pop filter (BSW RE27POP) in addition to a mixer or interface. If you are brand new to podcasting and want an inexpensive mic that can plug directly into your computer via USB PLUS use XLR connections when you expand check out my recommendations for that use case, the Audio Technica ATR2100 or ATR-2005. They sound great, are more flexible than the Heil, and do not break the bank.
For the advanced podcaster looking to upgrade and who is all in with mixers or interfaces, the Heil PR-40 has to be considered a top mic choice. Unless you are in a well sound-treated environment (read: a real recording studio) and want to go the condenser mic route with something like a high-end Neumann, the Heil PR-40 is excellent. In general, dynamic mics are a better choice for home studios than condenser mics due to their ability to reject extraneous noise.
Here are a few things that I love about the Heil PR-40:
- It looks great. Let’s face it, that is a big part of the appeal. Get this to impress your friends that you are the “real deal.” Is this a valid reason to buy an expensive piece of equipment that typically runs over $300? Not really. The quality sound it provides you is the real reason to buy the PR-40. Remember, no one will hear how great it looks but the fact remains it is damned cool.
- Durability. As a dynamic mic, the Heil PR-40 is durable. That doesn’t mean that you should mistreat it but you should expect years of service if you purchase a Heil PR-40 from a reputable source. Mine is six years old and other than occasionally getting dusty, it is just like brand new. I will note that you should get a windscreen for this mic. Not only does it keep those annoying “popping P’s” at bay but if you “work” the mic closely you don’t want your spittle to rust the metal grill on the end-firing Heil PR-40 (gross but true).
- Proximity Effect. Many people can see too much of this as a bad thing. This is that “voice of God” sound you can get by leaning into some mics. I like using this technique in moderation. I think if someone tries to sound unnaturally like a deep-throated announcer constantly that it can be tiring. However, I think if you want to “lean in” on a particular phrase to add emphasis that it can be a real plus. It seems to work well for me. Just don’t overdo it.
- Off-Axis Noise Rejection. THIS is where the Heil PR-40 really shines. The Heil has a remarkable ability to reject the sound you don’t want while allowing in the sound you do want. Part of this is that it is a DYNAMIC mic which tends to pick up less outside noise. Condenser mics typically do a better job of picking up the small nuances of the human voice but are much less forgiving rejecting the noise often found in a home studio. The Heil has the tremendous noise rejection capability of a dynamic mic while sounding more condenser-like. For example, my home studio is right next to my family room. My family can watch TV at a reasonable volume with the door closed while I am recording and the Heil PR-40, when used with my DBX 286s mic processor, keeps my home recording studio recordings devoid of outside noise.
If you haven’t guessed, I am sold on the Heil PR-40 but only in the right circumstances. If you are committed to podcasting and know you are going to be producing for a long time then consider buying it if you can afford it. Just keep in mind the expense is much more than just the mic. You’ll need the various accouterments that make it sing.
If you are just starting out or are podcasting on a shoestring budget or are just experimenting, take a serious look at the ATR2100 or ATR2005 which both provide the benefits of a good dynamic mic at a lower cost with added flexibility. If you are in it for the long haul, you can’t go wrong with the Heil PR-40.
Jim “Just A Podcaster” Harold
Items included in this article:
DBX 286s Mic Processor
Heil PL-2T Boom Arm
Heil PRSM Shockmount
Note: The above article includes affiliate links. Buying from them don’t cost you a penny more but will help get this site going. Thanks for your support!