Rycote, the UK manufacturer of world-renowned windjammers for microphones of all shapes and sizes, has put its hands up and admitted there’s been a manufacturing flaw in some of its newest “super softie” products.
Regular readers of this website and viewers of our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/Tubeshootermag) will recall we performed a review of the Super Softie in early July of this year and were rather disappointed at the results.
The product uses a new punctured smooth surface fabric called “3D-Tex” instead of traditional fur. Our tests, conducted on the 18cm version of the product wrapped around a Sennheiser ME66/K6 mic, showed less resistance to wind than the traditional “furry” softie and considerably less water resistance than the marketing for the product had suggested.
This result puzzled the boffins at Rycote who have since been pondering why this should be so and now their Managing Director and Chief Tester have now been in touch with Tubeshooter.
With regards to the wind resistance, Simon Davies, the company’s MD has admitted a manufacturing problem. He says: “It appeared to affect some but not all of the Super-Softies, and only ever the longest variant (the 18cm).”
He adds: “The cutting out & sewing process of making the outer shell is critical to the performance. When the seam allowance is slightly out, and the 3D-Tex is too tight, it gets thinner and performance falls away considerably. This appears to have happened on the samples you received and sadly wasn’t picked up at the time by our quality systems.”
The good news is that Simon also says “That’s now been remedied so it should not happen again in the future” and he’s promising “no quibbles” in replacing any products that are falling short, providing he can see a photo of it first to ascertain that it is indeed one of the duff ones.
Any buyers of 18cm Super Softies that aren’t living up to expectations should therefore drop Rycote UK a line to check if theirs is afflicted.
With regard to the water test however, things get a bit more murky. Simon advised us that “3D-Tex will perform better in the long term, and there aren’t any fur strands to get matted. It comes down to how the 3D-Tex is dried when it’s been soaked. We advocate shaking it out rather than wringing it out”
Yet that’s exactly what we did, with a shake AND a wring.
Chief Tester Chris Woolf suggests “shaking out the Super Softie quickly removes the bulk of the water. If totally saturated you may get some retention for a short while due to capillarity, and that could dribble out. Letting the wind blow through it soon clears the remains and the windshield returns to its previous condition and performance“.
As we noted, he also advises that “a fur Softie can still pass audio tolerably well when wet“. He adds “its wind performance drops right down until it totally dries out and is brushed back into shape. It takes a long while to fully dry fur, particularly because the fine fibres cannot be helped to dry with hair-dryers etc as they frizz up in seconds. We also know that once fur has become wet and wind-tangled a few times, and subsequently combed out, the fibres weaken and can break. Eventually the pile length reduces (and with that, the wind noise reduction) until it looks like the proverbial dead cat”
In essence, Rycote are convinced that the Super Softie should be much better after a good soaking than a furry windjammer. Our experience was different but we’re prepared to give each type a longer shaking and wringing when we next test them – though not too much, as time is often of the essence in broadcast and there isn’t necessarily the ability to let the product dry as much as one might want.
Rycote have promised us a review sample of a new, enhanced version of the Super Softie when it’s released later this year and we’ll be sure to post our conclusions here on Tubeshooter. Stay tuned!