Countryman has been known for years for making quality miniature microphones. With the advent of the boom-style microphone and putting mics close to a performer's mouth, the manufacturer came out with the very popular E6 Earset microphone, an omnidirectional (like most headworn mics) and quite small. The obvious advantages of having the mic so close to the performer's mouth is incredible gain before feedback, a consistent relationship between the sound source and the microphone, and that "close mic" sound. The drawback is that the microphone is quite visible on the performer, and you get exaggerated plosives with the mic that close to the mouth. You win some, and you loose some.

Taking that all into consideration, Countryman aims to win some more and has come out with the E2, a direct relative of the E6, but its main mechanics have been changed to ease some of the drawbacks of the E6. The E2 is a unidirectional microphone, as opposed to omidirectional. With this change polar pattern, the E2 performs very much like an E6, but is worn up by the performer's ear in a more traditional over-the-ear position.

The E2 has a much shorter boom than the E6, has a super small capsule like the E6, and behaves almost the same as the E6. The unidirectional pick-up pattern lends itself to incredible off-axis rejection. In Countryman’s tests, the gain before feedback of the unidirectional E2 at the ear position was within 3db of the omnidirectional E6 at the mouth position--not bad.

Okay, omni became uni. But moving a microphone from the mouth to the ear? Won’t that sound different or even bad? Anyone who has put a mic over someone’s ear knows that it requires some tuning to make it sound decent. Countryman’s E2 incorporates an equalizing circuit that matches the frequency response of an E2 at someone’s ear to an E6 at someone’s mouth, compensating for the effect of the shape of the human head and the loss of the close-to-the-mouth proximity. At the console, it should appear as flat and happy as an E6.

The remaining features include an improved sub-miniature connector that connects the headset to the cable with a smaller connector and superior moisture seal. This connection point makes changing out a microphone a very quick and easy process, as you don’t need to gain access to the performer's wireless pack to make a mic swap. The cable can either be either 1mm or 2mm, and as usual, you have a choice of four standard colors as well as cable terminations for all major wireless brands. For sensitivity, you can choose between "general speaking" (no band, 130 dB SPL max) or "strong vocals" (blue band, 140 dB SPL max).

The E2 unidirectional earset microphone makes a lot of sense. Get the isolation and close miking sound, without the obtrusive close miking--win win.