Review: sE Electronics V Pack Arena

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Review: sE Electronics V Pack Arena

sE Electronics V Pack Arena
Words by Andy Lloyd Russell

sE Electronics V Pack Arena | Sound and Music | RRP 2709.99

sE Electronics building microphones and equipment for the recording professional. They build reliable, workhorse products that won’t let you down in a session. Audio is all about perspective and, make no mistake, extends to our equipment choices as well. Figuring out the tools required  to do the job your way, can take an audio professional years to hone, especially given the amount of experience required to make a truly informed decision. With the near endless options and opinions available, it can be a never ending pursuit, overhauling hardware and equipment choices in order to find the holy grail.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in drum micing-optimising mic choices to suit individual pieces of the kit and positions in the open air. Make no mistake, piecing together mic choices to place around a drum kit, be it for live sound reinforcement or a studio recording session can be a tough slog, with the number of required mics often getting into double figures when all is said and done. Whilst most won’t be in an immediate position to pick and choose individual mics for this task, be it a limited budget or hands on experience with different pieces, a microphone pack from one brand has been a tried and true way to get things going quickly and affordably.

Read more gear reviews here.

sE microphones are a brand who always have a knack for suitability straight out of the box, and their cornerstone drum offering, the V Pack Arena, continues this lineage.

While most drum mic packs will have one prized piece, offset by a bunch of cheaper or less known mics, the V Pack Arena is strength from end-to-end. What’s immediately clear is just how purpose built each offering is across the pack. That might seem like a painfully obvious thing to say, but there’s nothing more satisfying than throwing up a mic onto an instrument such as a kick drum, turning up the mic gain, pushing up the fader and thinking “now, that sounds like a kick drum.” I really can’t say that for every mic I’ve ever personally setup or heard through a PA or studio monitor – you’d be surprised at some of the surgery required to get things in the ballpark. Not so with any of the mics tested in the V pack.

The V Pack Arena is sE Electronics flagship drum mic pack, with two others in the range being the V Pack Club and V Pack Venue. All packs include the V Kick, V7X, and at least two V Beat mics and as each packs name suggests, enough bases will be covered for their intended use and size of venue they’re likely to find use in. The Arena pack however has the full range of mics available including two of the rather lovely sE8 small diaphragm condensers, which sit immediately below the flagship RN17 (made in collaboration with the late, great Rupert Neve) in the SDC (small diaphragm condenser) range. The sE8’s provide superb detail, lightning fast transient response as well as incredibly high dynamic range (up to 146dB with pad) and SPL handling (up to 159dB with pad), all whilst being whisper quiet in operation. The integrated attenuation pads of -10dB or -20dB and low cut filter options of 80Hz or 160Hz make for a pair of incredibly versatile microphones. Perfectly matched for use as overheads or a dedicated hi-hat mic, they are also equally at home on acoustic guitars, piano, strings and more. A true workhorse of the stage and studio.

Being part of the V range of microphones, the V Kick shares the same technologies and features as its siblings the V7 and V7X, including the specialised aluminium voice coil. Its custom DMC8 SB capsule is custom tuned to accurately capturing even the lowest, loudest sound sources making it a perfect match for kick drum obviously, but also bass cabinets or a thunderous floor tom if that’s what the vibe requires, and being incredibly compact, it can nestle its way in and around a drum kit rather comfortably. Its transient response is impeccably clear and detailed, with a smooth and natural midrange. The four switchable tuning options make the V Kick that much more versatile than other low frequency focused microphones without immediately needing to reach for an EQ. 

sE V7X

The sE Electronics V7X, like its sibling the V7 enjoys an innovative design, specifically its aluminium voice coil. Its supercardioid polar pattern does stand up work on rejecting unwanted sound sources, such as a hi hat when placed on snare drum bleeding into the mic. Tailored for a wide range capture, the V7X’s tonal balance produces plenty of bottom end reinforcement (fantastic for snare drums) with a balanced midrange (definitely not spiky) and a crisp, detailed top end. The subtle bump ranging from 1.5kHz right through to around 15kHz brings forwardness to sound sources that speak in this range, helping them come forward slightly in the mix without sounding peaky or too aggressive. An absolute live stage and studio killer. 

Lastly, the V Beats are a tom’s best friend, enjoying the same sonic benefits of the V7X, but in a compact drum friendly package. Natural, full and incredibly robust, I never felt like the V Beat’s would peril with an accidental stick hit to the grille or body, instead I was more worried for the stick. Their supercardioid polar pattern rejects unwanted sound amazingly well and that aluminium voice coil again, just does something rather special.  

The V Pack Arena was everything I could have hoped for from sE Electronics, with each mic serving their intended sound source with distinct purpose and immediacy, but with enough versatility to open this mic pack up onto other instruments on a live stage or in a studio session if required – which is only but a good thing. Whilst not the cheapest mic pack on the market, it absolutely delivers bang for buck and I’d happily take this as my only drum mic kit to a gig or studio session without batting an eyelid.

For local enquiries visit Sound and Music.