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Field Report: Yellowtec iXm
Sounds "sehr gut"
Sound-wise, the iXm doesn't disappoint. Handling noise is minimal, and the built-in pop filter works fairly well although obviously a windsock is required for outdoor work. The headphone volume can be adjusted if the latest firmware release, which is available for download on the Yellowtec website.
There is a built-in leveler that seems to combine peak limiting with a pretty sophisticated automatic gain control (AGC). Yellowtec calls this "LEA engine," and it basically means you'll get consistent levels at all times as well as slightly increased intelligibility in human voices. It works really well and does not suffer from the "pumping" effect that can occur with lesser-quality AGCs, when recording in areas with a lot of background noise.
One of the main selling points of the iXm is the ability to change mic heads. The iXm is fitted with a system called TOTO, which is short for "twist on, twist off" which is self-explanatory.
There are six different heads to choose from, omnidirectional, cardioid and super cardioid, in a dynamic as well as a condenser version. The dynamic heads are made by Yellowtec themselves, while the condenser line is made by fellow Germans, Beyerdynamic.
I doubt anyone will need all six, but having at least one extra head will make for a more flexible unit overall. Since stations traditionally rely heavily on dynamic mics, the dynamic omni capsule will likely be a good choice. Perhaps a super cardioid would be suitable for working in extremely noisy places like a trade show or sporting event.
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All three dynamic heads are clear without sounding harsh, and voices come out sounding natural and focused. The Beyer condenser series is equally good but obviously sounds a bit more hi-fi. Whether that's good or bad is a question of personal taste, but the difference between the dynamic and condenser heads is pretty dramatic and a recording of regular street corner ambience is much more detailed through the omni condenser head than its dynamic counterpart.
The iXm is a really well built unit that sounds good and, for what it is, is really flexible. The automatic gain control works fine and the pre-record buffer will be appreciated by reporters. The iXm is made for mono handheld interview only. But if that's what you want to do, it doesn't get much better (or portable) than this.
Persson is a writer and radio journalist from Sweden.
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