The Rycote S-Series Review (Sept. 07)
I recently purchased the Rycote S-Series S-330 from Trew Audio in
Nashville for $319.00. I have been using it with a Sennheiser
MKH-416. After using it for a few weeks, I’ve found there are things
I really like, and others I wish were changed.
The S-series is a wholly new design – new suspension concept, new
materials, new windshield construction – and retains all the renowned
Rycote features of flexibility, balance and professional performance.
It is lightweight with a minimum of parts, tough enough to withstand
the rigours of ENG and simple to use straight out of the box – with the XLR cable supplied!!
The Upside of the S-Series
It’s accessible! It is much easier access to the mic than traditional
zeppelins, and to me this IS it’s WOW factor. You turn the pods a
slight turn on and off with no problem, yet it stays firmly in place
when it is needed. I can quickly twist a pod and get access to my mic
It’s Lightweight! It’s lighter than the my old Zeppelin.
It’s tough! The outside enclosure is strong and retains it’s shape.
The steel reinforced spine and beefy plastic chassis ring are well
built. The ends are no longer made of the (dentable) mesh and are now
foam and fur only.
It’s all-in-one! Like the Softie, it’s all in one piece, with no sock
or furry to lug around.
It’s modular! You can buy different pods for different mics and you
don’t have to replace clips for most mics as they are one-size-fits-
most. Even the suspension clips are modular, which means no replacing
New Handle! Overall, I like the new handle. It’s lighter. It’s got
rubber grippies. It holds the XLR connector much better than previous
designs. There are two issues I have with it, see below!
The Downside of the S-Series
Balance Balance Balance! My biggest beef with the S Series was
balance. I placed my 416 in, stuck it on my pole and quicker than I
could extend/lock it… the S-330 swiveled the top 180 degrees
pointing up. Out of the box, this enclosure was not happy.
After many emails back and forth with Rycote Techs (who I must say,
have been VERY helpful and customer service has been top notch!) they
talked me a modification I could do of sliding the spine back. One
side effect of this change results in one of the cable isolator clips
not quite clipping in 100%.
To get the system to be more front heavy, I had to go one step further
and remove the handle and turn it around to further balance the
system. The odd thing, is in past models, the handles WERE in the
position that I’ve modded it to. The result… a balanced windscreen
NOTE: With in one week of sending my concerns to Rycote, I have been
informed that they are planning a redesign of the pods to further it’s
balance. A longer front pod and smaller rear pods are being created
to allow a more front loaded design. This will also give more rear
clearance in tight situations with shorter ceilings and such.
Indoors. One thing I liked about the Zeppelins was being able to
remove the enclosure, or just the front and putting a foam windscreen
directly on the mic for use indoors. With the S-series, there is not
enough space between the mic and the spine without rubbing to occur.
This is okay for interviews, but not for run-and-gun.
The Other Bits
Grip Handle – While overall, I like the handle, I wish the connector
near the top the hold the XLR with two rubbers “V’s” more firmly held
the XLR cable in place. I have resorted to a piece of Velcro wrapped
around the handle to secure it in place. (As noted above, I had to
spin the handle around for balance reasons.)
Handling Noise – This was tricky. It takes sometime to get the mic
properly placed so that it doesn’t hit the foams bits at the front and
back of the enclosure. Once positioned, it works fairly well and
handling noise is minimal.
Wind Noise – I haven’t been in any strong wind situations yet, and
will update this with more detailed experiences. So far, in light wind
it has done fine. I have seen some other peoples comments that it does
not perform well in strong wind compared to a traditional Zeppelin.
Click! – I think a great idea would be for the pods to click together
to attach to each other when not in use to set aside for int or for
Customer Service – Rycote’s Owner called me personally to thanks me
for my feedback, and to let me know they will be sending me a revised
S-Series at no cost. Kudos! I will re-review when it arrives.
I must admit, before my modifications, I was going to return the
system and purchase a new Softie. Since working through the
modifications, I am much happier with the system. The overall design
is a great idea and I bet over the next year or so we’ll see some
changes to it that will vastly improve some of the problems I’ve had
with it. I’m keeping it.
Chris Durfy, ATLaudio.com
I have received the new updated S-300 from Rycote. They have changed
the identical 6″ pods on the front and rear to a longer front pod (7″)
and a smaller rear pod 5″.
There are three benefits that I have noticed with this update:
1) Balance – as it is more front loaded it is better balanced
2) Frontal Awareness – Something I missed writing about in my last
review, with such similar front and back sizes, I often had to double
check the way the mic was facing to be sure. This is much easier to
see now with the 2″ size difference between pods, although the S-330
has only a 1″ difference you may have to do a double take to be sure of
the direction. I think it would be wise for Rycote to switch the size
from 7″/6″ to 8″/5″.
3) Ceiling Clearance – It is simply easier to navigate those tight
space with less in the rear end.
Fitting Your Mic in the S-Series-
An added note, since my previous post, I’ve updated my shotgun to the
Schoeps CMIT 5U.
The Schoeps fit perfectly in the windscreen. To get that perfect fit,
I pushed on the front lip of the pod and mentally mark where the foam
starts on the end and then eye it with where the mic end should be by
placed. Then repeat with the rear. As a final test, plug it in and
shake it to listen for a scratching sound of the mic or rear cable
hitting the foam. If you are getting that noise, remove one pod at
time and do the shake test to determine if you need to move your mic
back or forwards.
I’ve been using the S-Series as my standard Run and Gun for two months
now and I’m sticking with it.