Rycote HC-22 and HC-15 Shotgun Mics Review Testing the first mics from Rycote

Today we will be taking a look at two shotgun mics that we have been using for several months now from a company that has a great reputation in the audio industry but until now never developed its own mics.

Rycote has been part of the audio industry for over 50 years developing generations of wind, shock, and handling protection for microphones used by professionals all over the world.

Rycote Mic project

We had a chance to talk to John House, Head of Marketing at Rycote and he gave us some interesting insights into the company’s new venture into the professional shotgun microphone segment.

Apparently, making a Rycote shotgun microphone specific for one of the company’s windshield kits has been an idea floating around Rycote for some time. According to House, Simon Davies, Rycote’s CEO, envisioned making such a microphone, but only if it would be worthy of having the Rycote name on it.

There were two main reasons House mentioned why the shotgun mic project happened now. First, the company started to get more feedback from their customers who needed a large number of quality mics and windshield kits at a reasonable price.

High end at an accessible price

The second reason was more internal as the company began to build a bigger engineering team with upgraded testing equipment inside Rycote. This was initially to support the company’s windshield kit and shock mounting projects, but it also gave Rycote new capabilities and resources for developing microphones.

Talking to House it seems that Rycote is extremely confident that its two new HC shotgun mics are going to compete favorably with some of the best professional shotgun mics at the $1000 category. According to him, they were designed with a variety of use cases in mind including scripted film, ENG, documentary, foley, sound design as well as live broadcast.

We also wanted to know if its new mic business is going to affect the company’s long history of cooperation with other microphone manufacturers. House stated that Rycote still considers itself primarily a microphone windshield, shock mount, and accessories company and these will keep being their core products. They also plan to continue working with other audio companies in the future so the new mics are not going to change Rycote’s core strategy.

A luxury pen style case

HC22 box

Rycote HC-22 and HC-15 Shotgun Mics characteristics

The HC-22 is the longer of the two mics measuring around 22cm or 9″ which is a little shorter than the other full-size shotgun mics that we have in the studio.

The HC-15 is the shorter variant measuring just over 15cm or 6″ long. Both mics have a dark coating and the back part is made from brass with the front made from aluminum for better balancing and low overall weight (100g for the HC-22 and just under 90g for the HC-15).

Both mics use a Gold-plated Neutrik XLR connector and seem to connect better than any other mic we used to our Mogami Cables with a nice reassuring click, both also require +48V phantom power in order to operate.

Quality Gold-plated Neutrik XLR connector

Rycote-HC22-HC15 connector

Each mic comes in a really lovely case reminiscent of a luxury pen case although for some reason Rycote decided that you will need to purchase the foam cover separately.

Rycote claims that it designed the mics to protect against different sources of radio-frequency interferences, something that we shall test later in this review.

Both mics use Hypercardioid polar patterns with a frequency of 50Hz to 20,000Hz and a maximum SPL of 133dB.

The official Datasheet of the HC15:

The official Datasheet of the HC22:

Tests

We performed several tests in our studio looking at things that are relevant to our work which is mostly dialogue-driven. We might do more tests outdoors on a later date if we get one of Rycote’s Nano Shield Windshields.

  • Sound rejection – We tested how the polar pattern of both mics influences their rejection at different angles and different distances. You can hear the test in the video. The actual tests showed that we are looking at a difference of 13db from the front to the back and between 8-10db between the front and the sides of the mics.
  • Noise level – The official Rycote specs claim both mics have a noise level of only 8.5 dB, where typically anything below 10dB is considered extremely good. We performed a more practical test recording a short voice segment with some silence into our MixPre 3 with both mics. We then imported the tracks into iZotope 9 and normalized the tracks to minus -23dB (LKFS) and looked at the max RMS levels of the silent parts. Our best results were around -60dB which is decent, but our colleague Curtis Judd who performed a similar test got a significantly better result of -68dB, possibly in a quieter room.

Our HC15 practical noise floor test

Rycote-HC15-noise floor-test

  • RF interference – We did a test with an active voice call extremely close to both mics and got no interference. our tests with wireless transmitters also didn’t produce issues but other reviewers commented at a very close distance you might get some interference so keep your transmitter at least 30cm/1 feet away from the mic.
  • Handling noise – Both mics seem to be pretty sensitive to handling noise so keep this in mind and make sure you are using a quality shock mount, good cable management, and applying correct working practices.

Sample audio

We recorded short sample audio using both the HC-15 and HC-22 connected to our MixPre 3 which you can listen to in the video (no extra processing).

Reading test – HC22

As well as a short instrumental guitar track.

HC15 instrumental recording

We also did some Foley recordings just to test the mic with something which isn’t music or voice which you can also listen to in the video.

Foley test with the Rycote HC22 – can you guess what we have been doing in each segment?

Conclusion

From our perspective, the Rycote HC-15 and HC-22 are impressive high-quality professional microphones. They are probably even more impressive coming from a company that has never produced a mic before, although not surprising considering how much experience Rycote has in the professional audio market.

Both mics are pretty much identical aside from the length which is directly connected to their polar pattern which makes the HC-22 more focused compared to the HC-15 so choosing between the two boils down to how narrow you want your pickup to be.

Both are lightweight and easy to work with and balance, they are well built have good RF rejection, but most importantly they produce clean and extremely detailed sound (much more than our Deity S-mic2 that we have been using, although that one is in a lower price category and quite capable in its own rights).

The only negative that we could find is that handling noise on both mics was higher than other mics we own but that might be a price you pay for having such sensitive mics.

These are not inexpensive mics, however, compared to some of the other mics in the category which are closer to $1000 or even more, their price can actually be considered affordable for their intended target audience.

Are these mics for everybody? no, of course not. The law of diminishing returns certainly works for professional mics and for every jump in price range, the best mic that you can get for your money will give you just ever so slightly better audio quality.

However, for professionals who can hear the difference, both of the new Rycote mics (HC22 or HC15 depending on how focused you want your recording to be) are good bang for the buck and are certainly going to be our go-to mics for our studio work for the foreseeable future.

The Rycote HC-15 and HC-22 mics

Rycote-HC22-HC15-mics

Pricing

As for pricing, the Rycote HC-15 sells for $780 and the HC-22 goes for $800, just don’t forget to order the foam cover separately (10cm SGM Foam and 18cm SGM Foam respectively).

Don’t forget to get the foam cover separately

Rycote-HC22-HC15-mics-foam

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Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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