Is this how an RE-20 should sound?

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jgimbel
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Is this how an RE-20 should sound?

Post by jgimbel » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:38 am

I just bought a used RE-20 for $75 off Craigslist. I figured there might be something wrong with it because of the price, hoped for the best, but I've seen clearly not working ones go for much more than this on ebay, so I went for it. The guy of course said it worked fine, though he also seemed like he was on something. But that's another story.

Anyway, got it home and tested it, and first thing is the output is really, really low. I tried it with my Portastudio and my Firestudio Project. I know dynamic mics are generally lower output than condensers, but none of my other dynamics are anything close to this low output. I had to turn the preamp on the FSP literally all the way up to get a signal comparable to levels I normally get.

Second thing is that it sounds high-passed (or low cut?). Part of the reason I got the mic was to hopefully at some point use it for kick, bass, and maybe acoustic guitar and vocals. As is, definitely unusable for kick, except maybe to get attack only. I did a quick test with an acoustic guitar for a sound sample:

http://jessegimbel.com/re20.mp3

This was with the FSP preamp all the way up, with the mic a few inches from the 12th fret or so, ie. close so I could try to see what kind of proximity effect it had. No compression or EQ. Does this sound right to you folks who own or have used them? My guess is no. It actually doesn't sound too bad, could be great for certain things, but it's not what I want an RE-20 for. There is a little crackling with the cord connection, but I don't know that a poor connection alone would cause it to sound different in this way. I'd love to be able to fix it myself, but while I'm fine with soldering I don't know much about identifying problems in gear. I'm assuming sending to EV to fix it would cost a small fortune (from what I can find, a flat $250), in which case I'd have to wait to do that since I spent some of the last money I've got right now on this thing. Thoughts?

EDIT: I forgot to mention, another issue is there is no discernible difference between having the bass-rolloff on or off, so I'm sure it doesn't just sound like this because I didn't realize it was on!
Last edited by jgimbel on Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by JGriffin » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:43 am

Quite seriously: I have a broken RE20 that sounds like that, but the working RE20 I have sounds much nicer. You should get it looked at. Come to think of it, so should I.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:58 am

Before I sent it in for a flat $250 I'd at least open it up and look for anything visibly FUBAR (bulgy caps, crispy looking resistors, etc.). I'd reflow any questionable solder points, tug on the wires (super gently) etc. I'm not talking specifically about an RE20, I've never even touched one, but basically any out of warrantee electronics (tv, mic, mixer, amp, etc.) But that's probably just me.
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Post by jgimbel » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:41 am

Yeah that's the plan. I'm just trying to figure out how to get the damn thing open. It's got a screw that goes in at the bottom which let me gently pull the connector out, which looked pretty good. Nicely done solders, green and red wires to two pins, everything looked good. But after that, I can't see anything that comes apart. There is a tiny, tiny hole up near the end of the mic (closer to the capsule) with what looks like a screw in it, but it's so tiny that it's hard to believe there is a screwdriver small enough to get it out. It kind of looks like it needs an allen wrench, and I saw someone say you need a special wrench from EV to open it, which I guess is possible but seems strange. I've got tons of really small screwdrivers for all sorts of things, but I've never seen anything this small. My smallest eyeglass screwdriver is barely small enough to even fit in the hole for it. My smallest allen wrench doesn't come close to fitting in there. This would be a pretty clever way to keep people out of the insides of the mics. But does this mean I have wait for EV to send me a wrench to even open up and see if I could fix anything, then potentially just have to send it to them anyway?

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Post by Nate Dort » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:32 pm

jgimbel wrote:There is a tiny, tiny hole up near the end of the mic (closer to the capsule) with what looks like a screw in it, but it's so tiny that it's hard to believe there is a screwdriver small enough to get it out. It kind of looks like it needs an allen wrench, and I saw someone say you need a special wrench from EV to open it, which I guess is possible but seems strange.
Yep, there's a set-screw in that hole. I guess you need a special tool for it. My RE-20 was missing that screw when I got it, so I never had to try and find one.

RE-20s are a bit difficult to disassemble and reassemble. Also, the interior foam is notorious for disintegrating and sticking to the diaphragm. You'll have to order a foam kit from Telex. I posted the part numbers and contact info in another thread a year or two ago. There aren't any components (resistors or capacitors) inside the mic, so the only thing that can go wrong is a broken wire, bad solder joint, or a dirty/broken diaphragm.

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Post by JGriffin » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:39 pm

nate wrote:
jgimbel wrote:There is a tiny, tiny hole up near the end of the mic (closer to the capsule) with what looks like a screw in it, but it's so tiny that it's hard to believe there is a screwdriver small enough to get it out. It kind of looks like it needs an allen wrench, and I saw someone say you need a special wrench from EV to open it, which I guess is possible but seems strange.
Yep, there's a set-screw in that hole. I guess you need a special tool for it. My RE-20 was missing that screw when I got it, so I never had to try and find one.

RE-20s are a bit difficult to disassemble and reassemble. Also, the interior foam is notorious for disintegrating and sticking to the diaphragm. You'll have to order a foam kit from Telex. I posted the part numbers and contact info in another thread a year or two ago. There aren't any components (resistors or capacitors) inside the mic, so the only thing that can go wrong is a broken wire, bad solder joint, or a dirty/broken diaphragm.
I seem to recall the dirty diaphragm issue is what's wrong with mine. I'll have to look.
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Post by DrummerMan » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:52 pm

There's probably a good chance it's foam that's turned to shit and caked all over your capsule. At least that what seems to be the problem with mine and the symptoms sound exactly the same. I posted about a while back (it's funny cause I thought someone had ressurected my thread when I saw this). I'm on my iPhone and can't link to it now but do a search and you should be able to find it. In it, I believe, someone pointed out how to open the damn thing up as well, so that might be of some use.

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Post by Rabbit » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:04 pm

agreed on the foam. I inherited a really cherry early '60s 664 that sounded horrible, so I thought it was toast. Opened it up and found all the caked up decayed foam, removed it and cleaned the element up and it worked great.

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Post by jgimbel » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:17 pm

Great, info guys, thanks. Rabbit, you said you removed the foam, do you mean just what was on the element or entirely? I've always heard that the foam/openings in the mic had a lot do to with the sound/reduction of proximity effect, so leaving the foam out entirely seems strange to me. Not that I wouldn't give it a try before paying a load, just wondering if what's what you meant.

I gave EV a call. After calling EV tech support, being transferred to Telex, then to Bosch, then back to EV, I got a human, nice! The nice lady said that the wrench ISN'T a special part you need to get from EV, that in fact they don't give out/sell the wrenches, you just find something that fits. So anyone know where you can find the tiniest of tiny allen wrenches? Smaller than an eyeglass kit would use?

She said, from what I understand, they do repairs for a flat $200 now. They do sell the parts individually, and she said if I think it's the capsule that's the problem they can send that out, but they're $230, so it'd be better to just send the mic in for repair than buy the parts (nice of her to admit that). I didn't check on the price of the foam kit though, so if I can get the mic open, take out the foam and it works fine just needs foam, I'll just order a foam kit. If I can't get it to work even that way I'll just send it in for repair. $275 (including the mic and the repair) for a fully-working RE-20 doesn't sound like too bad a deal. It'd be amazing if I could just repair it myself though!

Thanks for everyone's help. I say it all the time but you guys are great, I don't know what I'd do without this board.

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Post by Rabbit » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:20 pm

The foam in my mic was sort of a crumbly glob so I had no choice but to remove all of it. I never did replace the foam the mic works fine without it re:'plosives and such. However if the foam on your RE-20 is bad I'd remove it and see about replacement foam from EV or Bosch since it's a much better mic and great on some vocals so I'd want to get it back in shape as much as possible to get the most out of it. The 664 is more of a utility mic, it works on a few things but not a lot of things as opposed to the RE-20. My two cents anyway.

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Post by jgimbel » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:07 pm

Yeah I hear you, thanks for the info. So here's the plan. First, I need to try to find an allen wrench small enough. I honestly have no clue where to do look for that. I'll try the hardware store but I feel like they're not going to have something like that since it doesn't seem to be a normal hardware kind of tool. I'll check tomorrow, but is there somewhere, a store or online even, that might have something like this? I'm at a total loss.

So once I find something that can open the sucker, I'll check how the foam is. If it's looking bad (I did notice a little bit poking through the grill, I'm assuming the foam is at least part of the problem) I'll take out the foam altogether. Then if the capsule's got crud on it, dust or from the foam, I'll clean it with, from everything I've read, a very soft q-tip with water, and if that isn't working then I'll use diluted isopropyl alcohol. Then check if it works. If yes, I'll order a foam kit from EV. If it doesn't, I'll suck it up and send the thing to EV and have them work it over. Am I missing anything?

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Post by BostonBassist » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:40 pm

I posted this a while back somewhere as a lot of people were asking about how do take an RE20 apart - click on pics for some instructions:

http://tinyurl.com/yksrms7

Few notes:
* The allen wrench is I think is something silly like 0.20 mm - Telex stopped selling them and I couldn't find one at a hardware store. I took a cheapo eyeglass screwdriver and filed down the edge slowly until it fit (took about 5 mins) once unsscrewed I did not screw it back in fully there is really no need, you will see when you unscrew the grill it is only to keep the grill from spinning but it is essentially unnecessary.

*If your foam is melted/crumbled, to get the crud from the mic body I took a drinking glass cleaning brush (bristle kind with a handled) and scrubbed with warn water and few drops of detergent. Of course need to fully dry after. Residue left on the cartridge I used a razor very lightly for big pieces and a few drops of Goo Gone on a paper towel so it was barely damp. Keep it away from solder connections and wires. Wipe off any residue.

* the foam does not go in as easy as you might expect - it sill be snug. Go slowly and patiently, took a while to get some of the ends pulled up around the capsule as they tend to get pushed down when trying to get everything put back in. Use a tweezer to gently pull up on the foam, very light pulling - probably took 20 mins to just get the foam seated right.

All in all - pretty simple, just need to be patient and take your time - you'll be glad you did!

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:56 am

Thanks so much for that, BostonBassist. I couldn't imagine having something so helpful, that's going to make things so much easier. And wow they really don't have too much inside!

I'm still trying to figure out how to get it open. We've got an jewelers/eyeglass screwdrivers, but I don't want to file down my only one, I guess I'm going to have to buy one. I was thinking of going to an actual jeweler and seeing if they could get it open, or let me know where they think I could get a tool for it/exactly what size tool I should get (if it's not .20mm). This is a pretty big contrast to buying something and having it working! It's sitting there, and as soon as I can crack it open I can figure out of I'm going to have a working RE-20. Frustrating! I so hope it just turns out to be degraded foam on the capsule, that'd be awesome. Though if this was the issue, would that explain the low-cut issue? I guess if the a dirty capsule can get rid of the low end, then there's going to be no low end to cut out, so there wouldn't be a difference. Fingers crossed!

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Post by DrummerMan » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:12 pm

I just found my old thread on this. Funny, it even has almost the same title:

http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopi ... light=re20


I don't remember what I did to get the screw out but I guess I was eventually perplexed by the fact that the top then UNSCREWS, instead of pulling right off.

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:45 pm

Thanks Drummerman! I thought I had found your thread because I found this one, except that the title wasn't close - http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?t=58233 . Really must be a common problem with these mics huh!

I've been trying for the last hour or so with the screw, and I'm getting frustrated. I filed down the end of a paper clip to be like a really small flathead screwdriver. It won't catch on anything, seemed like it still wasn't fidding inside. So I filed a smaller paper clip similarly, still no luck. Then I filed down an eyeglass screwdriver, same result. I was starting to wonder if the hex was actually in there at all. There's definitely something, silver at the bottom of what looks like a threaded hole, but it's definitely not a clean allen wrench shape. Like it's either a round hole that's got some messed up edges, or an allen wrench shape that's been fucked up. I promise it looked like this to begin with, I didn't go so harsh with it that I fucked up the head!

So I looked for a picture of the screw itself. After not finding much I realized "why would anyone take a picture of something that god damn small". Well, they wouldn't, unless they were crazy. Like me:

Image

I've never felt more stupid than asking "is there a screw in here or not?". But I can't tell. I believe see threads, but the screw could be one that screws in past the top of the threads..At one point the screwdriver felt like it was catching, but it didn't feel at all like it was something that would be turning.

So I thought hey, maybe there's no screw, and I'm just not turning the head of the mic hard enough, as it didn't seem like it was budging. I really don't want to break it off, but I figured if the foam is bad maybe it's making some difficulty with opening. So I tried, and eventually the head turned. HOWEVER it stops after turning about an inch. It doesn't stop like it's getting stuck and needs more force, it gets stuck like something's blocking it. Which makes me assume the screw IS in there, unless it wouldn't move at all (which would be my initial thought, but maybe there's space in there that it could move like this?). In which case there's a screw in there that it really doesn't seem I can get out. One thing I really don't want to do is blow $200 without even getting to look inside to try and fix the problem myself, when it would cost just $15 or so to replace the foam. Ugh.

BTW I found another disassembly diagram, in case someone ever needs another - http://archives.telex.com/archives/EV/M ... ervice.pdf

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