The RN17 redefines the capabilities of small-diaphragm condensers

The second product of the sE / Rupert Neve collaboration, work on the RN17 began with a discussion between Rupert and Siwei Zou on the merits and problems of small-diaphragm condensers.



The second product of the sE / Rupert Neve collaboration, work on the RN17 began with a discussion between Rupert and Siwei Zou on the merits and problems of small-diaphragm condensers.

Recommended Use

Acoustic guitar, choir, orchestral + strings, piano, woodwinds, drums, percussion, cymbals / OH

The world's smallest production gold-sputtered diaphragm (15mm)
Adept at picking up the most delicate of high-frequency content
Full-scale transformer custom-designed by Rupert Neve
Astonishing clarity across ALL frequencies - not just the highs
Balance and headroom never before achieved with a small-capsule microphone
Compatible with sE's RN17 omnidirectional capsule

Inside the RN17

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    With a 15mm diaphragm (the world’s smallest production gold-sputtered diaphragm), the transient response of the RN17 is unparalleled. Such a small capsule reacts extremely quickly, and is therefore adept at picking up the most delicate of high-frequency content.

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    Made obvious by the unusual chassis shape, the RN17’s transformer is substantially larger than the norm. This full-scale transformer was custom-designed by Rupert Neve specifically for this microphone – and nobody has been designing audio transformers longer (or better) than Rupert Neve.

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    With an audio transformer of this magnitude, the RN17 is able to put out astonishing clarity across ALL frequencies – not just the highs. The midrange is detailed and forward, the lows are full and accurate, and the whole microphone has a balance and headroom never before achieved with a small-capsule microphone.

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    The matte black finish minimizes the level of visual attention drawn to the microphone when used on stage or in the studio, allowing it to blend into the background.

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    Every RN17 includes a custom-designed, sturdy, protective, and easy-to-use shockmount, which is essential to reducing the unwanted effects of vibration or knocks to the supporting microphone stand.

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    The RN17 ships standard with a cardioid capsule, but an omnidirectional capsule is also available for purchase separately.

RN17 Matched Stereo Pair

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    When purchased as a pair, the transformers and cardioid capsules are factory-matched for perfect tolerance, guaranteeing the best possible stereo image.

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    This configuration also includes a precision stereo mounting bar, two shock mounts, a wooden presentation case, and empty canisters for future capsule additions. The whole setup comes packaged inside a secure flight case.


Capsule Hand-crafted 2/3" True Condenser
Electrical impedance 200 Ohms
Connectivity 3-pin male XLR connector
Powering 48V Phantom Power (P48 according to IEC 61938)
Polar patterns Cardioid (Omnidirectional capsule available separately)
Frequency range 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Sensitivity 6 mV / Pa (-44.5 dBV)
Sensitivity (Figure-8) 2.5 mV / Pa (-52 dBV)
Max SPL 131 dB (0.5% THD @ 1kHz)
Equivalent noise level 18 dB (Cardioid), 15 dB (Omni)
Signal to noise ratio 76 dB
Mic length 200 mm (7.87 in.)
Diaphragm 17.2 mm gold / mylar
What's in the box
RN17 microphone
Custom shock-mount
Wooden box
Metal case
Thread adapter
User manual


User Manual
  • "They’ve got a really elegant, smooth brightness to them. Not overly so...crystal clarity, but they’ve also got this forgiving warmth too."

    — Simon Rhodes, Recordist / Mixer (Spectre, Skyfall, Grand Budapest Hotel) - sE Artist
  • "Using the RN17 on acoustic guitars again today - what a revelation. Makes me want to go back & re-record every acoustic guitar I've recorded since 1988."

    — Brad Wood, Producer / Engineer (Pete Yorn, Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins) - sE Artist
  • "The RN17 has become my desert island microphone. If there was one microphone I knew I could take with me that would get me out of trouble, it’s this...The clarity and the detail I get is wonderful, especially for one of the things I do a lot of, which is sampling - this is a perfect sampling microphone, because it has that reality that you need, with low noise, but it also has just a little bit of extra something."

    — Simon Franglen, GRAMMY® winning Composer / Producer ('Avatar', 'Titanic', 'Skyfall') - sE Artist
  • "The RN17 is my new favorite small diaphragm condenser mic. It's incredibly detailed in the higher frequencies and has a weight in the lower mids that was traditionally compromised in pencil mics. I love it on acoustic guitar, piano, strings, percussion, and as a room mic on any source. It was a go-to mic this year for sessions with Metric & The Kills."

    — John O'Mahony, Mixer / Producer (Vance Joy, Sarah Bareilles, Coldplay, Metric) - sE Artist
  • "As a drummer & recording engineer I was looking for overhead mics that could handle both the fast transients and the low end of a drumset. I found them in the sE Electronics RN17 stereo pair. Excellent mics!"

    — Ron van Stratum, Drummer & Educator (Maastricht Conservatory, Netherlands)
  • "The RN17s are the perfect percussion and guitar mic. The extremely accurate and quick transient response is perfect for capturing all the nuances that come off of the guitar...our RN17s have been a god-send. They capture every transient perfectly."

    — Sonicsmiths, Sound Design ('Mad Max: Fury Road', 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'Inside Out', 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides')
  • "The sE RN17 has it all. Every positive adjective I can use for any of these other mics, they all apply to this one. Smooth, balanced, warm, present, articulate… it’s like somebody went through these tracks and EQ’d away every bit of high-end hash and low-frequency wooliness and left behind just the stuff I want to hear. The bottom is tight, like the C460B, but the sE RN17 hears farther into the room than the AKGs do. The top is ever so slightly sweeter than “natural,” but not hyped. I would use the hell out of these mics. My compliments to Mr. Neve and Mr. Zou!"

    — Matt McGlynn, Recording Hacks
  • "My first session was recording percussion, and the first comment by the percussionist was, 'Wow, this shaker sounds huge!'...I can’t think of any condenser mic that reproduces cymbals, hat, and other metal percussion as cleanly as this mic."

    — Adam Kagan, Tape Op Magazine
  • "Close mic’ing a 9 ft grand piano with a stereo pair of RN17s showed the mic’s superb imaging and large, natural sound...for featured piano music, especially classical or jazz, this mic will become a standard."

    — Adam Kagan, Tape Op Magazine
  • "The RN17’s cost is up there among most revered names, but the RN17’s features like interchangeable capsules, superb build quality, excellent sound quality, and association with Rupert Neve assure the longevity and future classic status of the RN17."

    — Adam Kagan, Tape Op Magazine
  • "On a subjective level, the RN17s do have something of a signature Neve sound, where the presence of a high-quality transformer seems to add a sense of weight and solidity to the sound without actually changing the tonal balance in any obvious way - rather like running a signal through a good analogue console."

    — Paul White, Sound On Sound
  • "Lows remain deep and controlled while the highs are smooth yet don't in any way lack detail or definition."

    — Paul White, Sound On Sound
  • "The RN17 gives the user a clean sound in a way that is almost shocking. This does not hit you at first and you may even be tempted to think that they lack top end – but when you work these mics with a good EQ, you get to hear just how pure the output really is."

    — Andrew Graeme, Audio Media
  • "The session’s results exceeded my already-high expectations. The RN17 pair showed detailed dynamics, very stable imaging, unexaggerated brightness up top and plenty of bass without murkiness, providing more bottom than most SDCs I’ve used...the varied responses of the RN17’s omni and directional capsules gave me the sonic options I needed, all conveyed with musicality, truthfulness and an accurate reproduction of dynamics."

    — ob Tavaglione, Pro Audio Review


How should I store my microphone?

We generally recommend keeping your microphone in its case or original packaging when it is not in use for more than a few hours. If your studio is very clean and safe, it could be OK to leave out on its mic stand when not in use, but if a mic is out of its case, it could potentially be exposed to dust, smoke, moisture, or humidity – which can damage the sensitive parts of the mic – so we recommend avoiding those things at all cost.

What are the differences between your microphones’ polar patterns? How do I choose the most suitable type of polar pattern for my recording environment?

There are no real “right” or “wrong” answers to this question, as different patterns will just provide different types of sounds, and whatever best suits your particular song is usually the right answer! With that said:

  • Cardioid – Generally best for recording vocals or other single sources, when you don’t want to hear much of the room sound around the source.
  • Omni – This is good when you want a less focused, more “roomy” sound. Think distant drum mics in a great-sounding room.
  • Figure-8 – Since this pattern lets the mic “hear” on both sides – front and back – and reject the sounds on either side, it’s handy if you want to record two sources at once from a point in between them, without hearing what’s off to the sides.
  • Hypercardioid / Supercardioid – More directional than Cardioid, this is good for spot mics, when you want the sound to be very focused.
My guitar amplifier / drum / horn is VERY loud, and I am concerned about the risk of damage due to loud noise.

For the most part, sE mics can tolerate extremely high SPLs (typically over 135dB) and will be fine in front of even the loudest sources – yes, even our ribbon mics. If in doubt, you can check the specifications on the individual product page.

Which sE mic is best for recording vocals / drums / guitars / etc.?

Check out our Find Your Mic page to find the perfect mic for your application.

How do I clean the microphone from spillage and dirt?

If your microphone has come in contact with dirt or another removable substance, we recommend cleaning it with a very soft, slightly damp cotton cloth. Do not open the microphone up to clean the inside, and make sure you NEVER touch the capsule itself. Cleaning a capsule should only be done by highly trained professionals in a “clean room” environment. If you suspect your capsule needs to be cleaned, please contact [email protected] so we can recommend an authorized local technician.