Microphones are the most noticeable and iconic trademarks of sports and newscasters. In the case of sportscasters, they almost always use headsets, which offer hands-free miking and isolated monitoring. Countless environmental and technical factors are taken into account when choosing the right headset; the primary one being the format on which the sporting event is carried. In an age when radio broadcasts are sent less and less via POTS lines, microphone quality and performance is a bigger concern. Full-bandwidth audio is easier than ever to get from stadium to studio. The talent microphone offers the first impression listeners will hear concerning the content being broadcast. With that in mind, AKG has unleashed the HSD 271 and HSC 271 headsets, both of which deliver superior reproduction and tout some pretty neat features to boot.
Try one on for size
The primary difference between both models of headsets is what lies in the microphone capsule. The HSD model has a dynamic element, and the HSC a condenser element. The two headsets are identical in design, weighing only 8.8 ounces and offering a very comfortable headband and circumaural earphones. This means the ear muffs completely encapsulate the ear. They are also closed back, rejecting a good amount of background noise. Both headsets ship with vinyl and velour (cloth) earpads, which are easily interchangeable.
|Performance at a glance|
|■ Comfortable, lightweight design|
■ Condenser or dynamic mic elements
■ Circumaural headphones for ambient noise rejection
■ Multiple cable configurations
■ Left or right side mic arm position on/off switch
The HSD 271 and HSC 271 headsets do not ship with connection leads, but several different cable sets are available from AKG and should be specified when ordering the headsets. Various talent box, mixer and headphone amplifier setups dictate different connection lead cable sets which can range from four- and five-pin XLR plugs, three-pin XLR and 1/4” TRS combinations, and 3.5mm minijacks for direct use with computers. The headset itself (both models) has a 6-pin mini XLR socket located on the left ear under the microphone arm.
Polar pattern and frequency response of the HSD. Click to enlarge.
The microphone arm is mounted on the left ear on both models. It swivels 270 degrees to accommodate having the microphone on the talent''s left or right side. This is especially important in situations where announcers work in tight quarters close to one another. For example, if an announcer has a partner to his right, his microphone should be on his right, pointing away from his partner. The compliment is true for the other announcer. This configuration helps avoid comb filtering. The 270-degree swivel feature allows for quick setup changes. The microphone arm itself is sturdy and flexible and contours nicely. The microphone capsule is extra flexible, and shock-mounted to avoid handling noise. When an announcer flips his microphone up above his head to talk off air or cough, both the HSC and HSD microphones quietly turn off. This feature prevents unwanted speech and handling noise from making it on the air. A headband switch also mutes the mic when taken off.
Polar pattern and frequency response of the HSC. Click to enlarge.
Both condenser and dynamic models boast 16Hz to 28kHz response, the condenser model exhibiting a more flat response at 15kHz, while the dynamic model exhibits a sharp 10dB notch at 15kHz (frequency response at 30mm from source). Both microphones are cardioid and respond very accurately, handling high SPLs and producing a very low and unnoticeable noise floor. By way of contrast, the HSC 271 condenser model is considerably more sensitive, providing much more output than its dynamic counterpart. The more natural curve at 15kHz produces a brighter and slightly more life-like response. An important consideration for the HSC 271 is the HSC-PA phantom power adapter that is necessary for its cable set. The HSC-PA is housed in an extended XLR connector and has a small printed circuit board inside. A user-configurable set of jumpers is where the bass cut filter can be activated, and the microphone on/off feature can be deactivated.
From comfort and ergonomics to monitoring and microphone reproduction, the HSC 271 and HSD 271 are fantastic solutions. The lightweight design and adjustable microphone arm will keep announcers happy. In addition, the circumaural earphone design allows for accurate monitoring and the added microphone on/off feature offer extra confidence that unwanted noises and speech will remain unheard by listeners. Special features such as bass cut filter and a life-like frequency response make an engineer''s job much easier on gameday.
Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Victory FM at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.