For years, possibly since the beginning of time itself, microphone windjammers have been almost uniform in their design. Lots of long fur wrapped around the mic = minimal wind intrusion whilst permitting maximum recorded sound.
Now, Rycote – a UK company that’s pretty much synonymous with windjamming – have taken the bold step of trying to improve on the tried-and-tested, with their furrless “Super Softie”. This is what it looks like (the black dotty thing, not the mic holder):
It’s still soft, certainly – you can squidge it easily. But there’s no fluff to be seen. Rycote say it not only has better wind noise resistance than the old style but also can be squeezed out more easily if it gets wet, and can shrug off dust better too.
Intriguing. Sadly, in our tests, not the case. We took the new and old Softies to the top of Blue Bell Hill in Kent on a really, really, really windy day and tested them on identical microphones (Sennheiser ME66/K6) at the same recording level at the same time.
First shocker: though the new Softie did prevent the high wind from overloading the mic to the point where it popped and crackled as the peaks blew in, overall its resistance to gusty noise being picked up in the breeze was less than the old one. You can definitely still hear the wind rushing against the mic with the new softie, where the old one sounded fine.
Then we poured a little fake rain (it was a glorious day, there was no real rain to be had) from a watering can over both Softies, wrung them out and tried again.
Second shocker: the old one still worked best. The wind was blocked as expected and the vocal was clear. The new “Super” Softie sounded as though it was still underwater; the recording was muffled, garbled and really low level.
Puzzled, we decided to retake the tests so waited for another windy day. And waited. And waited some more. In a completely unusual turn of events, the British weather turned lovely, all sunny days and barely a breeze.
On the two days when the wind turned up a notch, it was raining and we don’t like filming in the rain.
After five weeks we gave in and bought a desk fan to simulate wind (incidentally, you can see our review of that fan on our new gadget review website, www.davidexpert.com). The fan broke instantly so we bought a more expensive one (review of that also coming soon on that same website)
Alas, extensive re-runs of our tests showed our initial findings to be correct. The old, standard Softie resisted the wind better than the new one (especially side-on to a breeze) and was easier to wring out when wet, giving a decent clear sound afterwards where the Super Softie once again sounded as though it were still ten fathoms down.
You can see our efforts in the video about but the conclusion is that the old Softie reigns supreme. Don’t get us wrong, we love Rycote windjammers, they’re the best. But we think they haven’t been able to improve on their own original design.
And that’s good news for pets everywhere, who love biting and attacking the furry windshields…