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New Studio Microphone Wrap-Up : Fall 2020

Studio Microphone Wrap-Up, Fall 2020
Sift through our Studio Microphone Wrap-Up, Fall 2020, to see the latest offerings for recordists of all levels.

Recording microphones have been flying off the shelves at retail all year, but that hasn’t stopped pro-audio manufacturers from introducing a new studio microphone every few weeks this Fall. Some are high-end products aimed at the upper echelons of the recording world, while others are intended for down-and-dirty use in home studios, but they’re all worth finding out about, because every new mic is a potential new tonal flavor for your sonic stew. Sift through our ICYMI rundown of new mics from the last six months and see what’s new!

 

Aston Element Microphone

Aston Element
Aston Element

Aston Microphones has clearly had a blast this year developing its new Aston Element by having potential users vote on sound samples to determine the way the microphone would ultimately sound. The Element incorporates new capsule technology, a new chassis design, a magnetic pop filter and custom shock mount, and a backlit-LED logo 48V phantom power indicator. According to Aston, the studio microphone has been rated by NTi Audio as the world’s quietest mic and the frequency response, which extends far below 20Hz and above 20kHz, as the widest of any electromagnetic microphone.

Aston Microphones • www.astonmics.com

 

Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics

Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics
Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics

Audio-Technica has released new limited-edition AT2020 Series microphones—the AT2020V (standard) and the AT2020USB+V (USB model), each featuring a reflective silver finish. The side-address condensers are equipped with low-mass diaphragms custom-engineered for extended frequency response and transient response. The mics’ cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. All models in the AT2020 mic line are aimed to provide a wide dynamic range and handle high SPLs. Both of the limited-edition V models come with AT8458a shock mounts to attenuate noise, shock, or vibration transmitted through a mic stand, boom or mount.

Audio-Technica • www.audio-technica.com

 

Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic

Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic
Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic

Aiming to help drummers capture the ultra-low end of their sound, Avantone Pro has introduced Kick, a sub-frequency kick drum microphone that aims to capture the subsonic signature by using a low-frequency driver. The AV-10 MLF sports a single continuous press-formed cone, and in the Kick’s case, the 18 cm cone acts as a microphone element. The microphone itself is of a moving coil dynamic type, with a 50 Hz to 2 kHz frequency response, 6.3 Ω output impedance and figure-eight pattern, plus a male XLR connector.

Avantone • http://www.avantonepro.com

 

Beyerdynamic TG D70 and TG 151 Mics

Beyerdynamic TG D70 and TG 151 Mics
Beyerdynamic TG D70 (left) and TG 151 Mics

Beyerdynamic has introduced two new additions to its TG series. The second-generation TG D70 dynamic kickdrum mic is meant for capturing the impact of bass drums and similar low-frequency intensive instruments, while the TG 151 instrument mic is a lean microphone with a short shaft that can be used on everything from snares and toms to brass instruments and guitar amplifiers.

Beyerdynamic • www.beyerdynamic.com

 

IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone

 IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone
IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone

Swedish audio manufacturer IsoVox has introduced IsoMic, a new studio microphone created in conjunction with fellow Swedish company Research Electronics AB, owners of the Ehrlund Microphones brand. The new microphone is based around a triangular capsule with a 7 Hz to 87 kHz frequency range. The IsoMic itself features an aluminum body with glass bead-blasting finish. Its triangular capsule reportedly has a SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) of 87 dBA, DR (Dynamic Range) of 115 dB, and a maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) peak performance of 0.5% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) at 116 dB or 1% THD at 122 dB.

IsoVox • www.isovoxbooth.com

 

MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET

MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET
MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET

Hot on the heels of introducing its Revelation II studio microphone in the Spring, MXL Microphones has launched its new Revelation Mini FET, aiming to provide intimacy and warmth of a tube mic, but built around a FET circuit with a smaller footprint. MXL’s Revelation Mini FET utilizes a 32 mm center terminating, gold-sputtered capsule combined with a low noise circuit. The mic focuses on the midrange and lower frequencies, resulting in recordings with less hum and more music. Additionally, the inclusion of a three-stage pad (0, -10 dB, -20 dB) is intended to provide the flexibility needed for recording high SPL sources, such as horns and kickdrums. The mic features black chrome accents as well as hand-selected FET and capacitors

MXL • www.mxlmics.com

Sanken CUX-100K Microphone

Sanken CUX-100K Microphone
Sanken CUX-100K Microphone

First announced earlier in the year, Sanken Microphones is now shipping its new CUX-100K Cardioid or Omnidirectional super wide range professional microphone. The new microphone builds on the history of the company’s Chromatic omni-mode CO-100K, adding the ability to change modes with three settings: Cardioid (Far), Cardioid (Near) and Omni modes. The CUX-100K is intended for a variety of high-resolution, high-sample rate recordings, both in spatial or close-miking applications.

Sanken • www.sankenchromatic.com

How To Choose Your Next Studio Microphone – The Complete Guide

Scope Labs Periscope Microphone

Scope Labs Periscope Microphone
Scope Labs Periscope Microphone

Scope Labs, a new pro-audio manufacturer based in Finland and operating globally, has introduced its first mic, the Periscope Microphone — an omni-condenser microphone with a built-in compressor that gives the mic a unique character. The Periscope is based around an omni capsule followed by a compression circuit intended to highlight textural nuances that the mic captures, with the aim of providing a hyper-realistic sound. The Periscope is manufactured in-house at Scope Labs Ltd. in Finland.

Scope Labs • www.scopelabs.eu

 

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Vocal Microphones

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Vocal Microphones
Sennheiser MD 435, MD 445

Sennheiser has introduced two new vocal microphones—the MD 435 large-diaphragm microphone, bringing the company’s dynamic MD 9235 capsule to a wired vocal microphone for the first time; and the MD 445, an LDC with a tight super-cardioid pick pattern. Ostensibly intended for live sound use, they reportedly hold their own in the studio as well. The MD 435’s lightweight aluminum-copper voice coil is intended to provide fast transient response, according to Sennheiser, in an effort to provide detailed, transparent sound. The large-diaphragm microphone features dynamics of 146 dB(A) and can handle sound pressure levels of up to 163 dB/1 kHz. The MD 445 is designed with a high-rejection, super-cardioid pick-up pattern, it reportedly offers uses considerable gain before feedback. Dynamics are wide at 146 dB(A) and the microphone is said to be able to handle sound pressure levels of up to 163 dB/1 kHz.

Sennheiser • www.sennheiser.com

 

Telefunken TF11 Microphone

Telefunken TF11 Microphone
Telefunken TF11 Microphone NICHOLAS SONSINI

The TF11 is the company’s first large diaphragm phantom-powered condenser mic. The CK12-style edge-terminated capsule is a single membrane version of the capsule featured in the TF51, and the amplifier is a proprietary take on the FET mic amplifier similar to the M60, coupled with a custom large format nickel-iron core transformer by OEP/Carnhill made in the UK. The mic’s through-hole components include UK-made polystyrene film capacitors, Nichicon Fine Gold electrolytic capacitors, and a high-performance, ultra-low-noise JFET amplifier.

Telefunken Elektroakustik • www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com

 

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

How To Choose Your Next Studio Microphone – The Complete Guide

Your next studio microphone
Rob Tavaglione
Rob Tavaglione

So you’ve purchased your first audio interface, got some recording software, splurged on a pair of pro headphones (hopefully some near field monitors, too) and you’re driving your first DAW (digital audio workstation). You’re finding that good results are pretty easy to get, that this is seriously fun stuff and are wondering where to go next with this whole audio production thing. Allow me to suggest one thing: Get some microphones.

It’s easy advice to give, as mics are the window to worlds of audio understanding, enabling the most impactful ability and choice in audio production, using mic technique and selection to capture sound of all varieties in the most accurate, or at least the most useful, way possible.

Every studio microphone is the “ears” of your audio recording kit and no single model will ever do, no matter how perfect or expensive it is. As you’ll soon see, audio capture isn’t so much about mics that pickup sound waves perfectly; rather, it’s about microphones that pickup sound waves in a manner that your ears “want” to hear and about the microphone technique required to create euphony—the ability to recreate sounds better than how they are heard in real life, in ways that will delight and astound listeners of all varieties.

The cold, hard—but exciting—truth is, you’ll need at least five different kinds of studio microphone to be able to utilize proper mic techniques, have flexibility and be able to pursue artistic choices in your endeavors.

Let’s dive into the different mic categories and look at what applications and techniques are typical, what classic microphones we would have used in the past and what modern-day mic options may offer a twist on such time-proven and tested formulas.

Here’s the studio microphone categories we’ll explore (click the links to jump ahead): Dynamic MicsLarge Diaphragm Condenser MicsSmall Diaphragm Condenser MicsRibbon MicsLow Frequency Enhanced Dynamic Mics

Dynamic Mics

Shure SM57.

For many fledgling engineers, their first studio microphone is a dynamic mic, as much for the low cost as anything else. Totally adequate dynamics start out in the “less than $100” range; they’re simple to use, rugged, consistent and aren’t that sensitive to loud sounds, so it’s hard to “blow them up” and force them to distort. Many people start out with a dynamic handheld mic—the one with a long handle and a ball-shaped windscreen/pop-filter that helps to reduce those dreaded popping “P” plosives that blow-out PA systems, distort speakers—and which are the delight of hip-hop beatboxers everywhere.

Sennheiser MD421-II
Sennheiser MD421-II.

Another nice thing about dynamic mics is their taming of sibilance, or the “S” sounds that are part of S’s and C’s. They’re important sounds that have to be heard in order for you to understand speech, but for certain people (and certain instruments), these sounds can get unruly and downright nasty when picked up by a mic. Dynamic mics typically have an appropriate amount of sibilance; in fact, they are often considered a little dark and need a slight treble boost to perform ideally with intelligibility, detail and clarity.

Your typical dynamic mic has a cardioid or hyper-cardioid pickup pattern—that is, the mic is sensitive directly in front of it, not very sensitive on the sides at all and rejects sound coming from the rear rather well (a hyper-cardioid pattern is like a cardioid, but even narrower on the sides, with a just a touch of unwanted sensitivity at the rear, oddly enough). You’ll sometimes see dynamics with an omnidirectional pattern (sensitive equally in all directions), but these aren’t very common, even if they are occasionally useful.

How To Use Them

Heil Sound PR40.

Technique-wise, dynamics are quite good at the modern technique of miking a source from a very short distance and getting a touch of proximity effect (or bass boost)—“close miking” as it’s obviously called. This technique rejects room sound by bombarding the mic with up-close volume, so that it sounds very “in your face”—even more aggressive than the reality of listening from a close distance—and conveys lots of power with thickness from bass and low-mids. Dynamics can easily handle the high volumes of such placement, convey those low frequencies with power and substance, and reject unwanted off-axis sound pretty well, too (sounds like cymbals, guitar amps and degrading sound reflections off of the walls).

Electro-Voice RE320.

Dynamics excel on any job with excessive volume like drum kits, percussion, guitar amps, sound effects, horns and loud vocals. Their ruggedness allows them to perform even in temperature, humidity and vibration extremes, so they’re great for difficult tasks like news gathering, harsh environments and “zero-failure tolerance” gigs like press conferences.

Using a dynamic mic is easy; just aim it at your sound source, get in close if you want some extra punch and proximity effect, or back off if you want some “air” and room sound. You likely won’t have to worry about mic overload, so turn up your preamp’s gain, and EQ/compress to taste in the mix. Look to filter out low-end if you got in too close with proximity effect, dip out some boxy midrange around 300 – 400 Hz and possibly brighten up the top-end around 8 kHz if more detail is needed.

The Classic and Current Models

The classic mics here—the proverbial dynamic duo—are arguably the most popular mics of all-time: the Shure SM57 and SM58. They’re nearly identical in their performance, sounding only slightly different due to their different windscreens—the ball-ended SM58 is ideal for vocals, while the ultra-rugged, narrow-tipped SM57 is perfect for instruments. They’re mostly known for rugged success on-stage, but 57s see lots of studio work, too, especially with snare drums and guitar amps.

The Electro-Voice RE-20 is the essential mic that radio DJs have relied on for decades, and it has now become an essential mic for podcasters for all the same voice-massaging features. The updated RE320 brings a hotter output and optional mid-sculpting.

Perhaps the most desirable dynamic ever for instrument recording is Sennheiser’s MD421-U. These wedge-shaped, Sixties mod-looking mics (and their modern MD421-II counterparts) have brought thickness and warmth to countless trumpet, horn, guitar amp, bass amp and tom tom recordings.

Aston Stealth.

Today, the dynamic mic scene is dominated by the ubiquitous Shure SM7B. What was once a mic for DJs and announcers has become the “mic du jour” for indie crooners, popsters, singer/songwriters and metal screamers, too. For blistering loud screamers and yellers, the SM7B smooths out shrillness and the built-in variable high-pass filters (HPFs) allow careful filtering out of unwanted chestiness.

Heil Sound’s PR40 (with a big 1” diaphragm and wide frequency response) and its handheld PR35 are both top studio performers that hold their own onstage, too. Also, British newcomer Aston brings a clever new wrinkle to choices in dynamics—its ultra-versatile Stealth offers not only four different tonal voicings but also the boost of active circuitry (with increased sensitivity and output) when 48 V phantom power is applied.

 

Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics

Neumann U87.

Your first mic might have been a large diaphragm condenser mic instead of a dynamic and they can be a much better choice for voice work, whether singing, talking or rapping. Compared to a dynamic mic, a large diaphragm condenser (LDC) offers a much more defined sound—one laden with more treble and detail, with hotter output from the mic requiring less gain at the preamp. It also has circuitry that requires external power, such as the 48-volt phantom power that is provided by the mic preamps in your interface.

AKG C414 XLS

In addition to their identifiable sonic properties, many LDCs are also larger and often side-address (they’re sensitive to sound on one side of the windscreen, not directly in front like a handheld) with multiple variables to sculpt the sound.

LDCs have a somewhat larger diaphragm than dynamics (and a capsule to house it and the backplate), and multi-pattern LDCs have two diaphragms and can therefore combine their outputs in various ways, creating useful polar patterns like directional cardioid, figure-8 dual-cardioid, omnidirectional and sometimes even hyper (or super) cardioid.

LDCs with multiple polar patterns, pads, filters and more are “fully featured”—you’ve got to own at least one of these versatile performers or you’re going to miss out on a lot of great possibilities.

How To Use Them

Audio-Technica AT2050
Audio-Technica AT2050.

You can use LDCs for close miking, but be forewarned—the output will be excessively loud. You’ll need either a mic preamp with a pad to decrease sensitivity (often -20 dB) or a LDC with a built-in pad (sometimes -10 dB, sometimes -20 dB, sometimes both). Also, be warned that off-axis sound from other sources are picked up quite a bit by LDCs—more than with dynamics—and the sound is not pleasant; it’s often brittle and harsh.

But LDCs handle room, area and distance miking much better than dynamics do, picking up incredible detail, ample low-end and crisply defined high-end. Many people say that a pair of properly spaced LDCs in a stereo technique closely approximates human hearing and “being there.”

Lewitt LCT 940
Lewitt LCT 940.

A pair of LDCs can be used to achieve a number of stereo techniques that can present a very wide, deep and interesting sound field; exactly which one to use for any given task is the stuff of artistry. You can go with X/Y for a strong center image and great mono compatibility; ORTF for more width and excitement but less mono accuracy; a spaced pair for extreme width with less center and less power; or M-S (Mid-Side) for a raw capture of center and side information that requires some complicated post-production manipulation after the fact but yields great imaging and superior flexibility.

LDCs are going to excel wherever detail and sensitivity are more important than volume handling or power—for instance, acoustic instruments of all shapes and sizes, vocals of all types, pianos, rooms and ambiences, and anywhere where the priority is a capture of full frequency response and a big life-like sound.

Roswell Colares
Roswell Colares.

Usage can be complicated, but offers great flexibility if you employ the typical wealth of features. Use the pad if loud sources are causing distortion, even if only on occasional loud peaks. To tame muddiness, try the high-pass filter (HPF – only highs will pass, filtering out lows) and experiment with close-positioned proximity effect, with or without the HPF. Most importantly, experiment with polar patterns, as you’ll be delighted to find the sheer number of tonal options provided by omni, figure-8 and hyper-cardioid patterns.

The Classic and Current Models

Austrian Audio OC818
Austrian Audio OC818.

There are two classics that have defined excellence in LDCs through the decades: the Neumann U87 and the AKG C414, both in numerous, slightly different iterations. The U87 is truly utilitarian, with three polar patterns, a pad and a HPF making it capable of most any instrument or voice job, even if it has become most iconic for vocal work. The 414 is even more versatile, with more patterns, pads and filters making it legendary as a sort of a Swiss Army knife of audio capture.

Many modern LDCs have taken all the things we love about their predecessors and added forward-thinking versatility. The Roswell Colares is a favorite for vocals with built-in saturation (mild- and warm-sounding distortion) that is more useful across a berth of styles than you’d ever imagine, and it’s defeatable too.

Townsend Labs Sphere.
Townsend Labs Sphere.

Austrian Audio’s OC818 has taken the capsule and concept of the C414 and added futuristic enhancements, like polar pattern, pad and HPF control from an app on your phone, as well as recording the output of each diaphragm separately and then selecting polar patterns in post-production. Lewitt offers its multi-pattern LCT 940, which has both tube and FET amplifiers within, as well as the ability to blend them in any proportion for fine-tuned versatility.

Fear not if you’re on a budget—there are numerous entry-level LDCs that perform adequately and affordably: Audio-Technica’s AT2050, Behringer’s C3 and Rode’s NT2-A are all more than capable for very little cost.

Alternately, a modern modeling mic (which uses software to emulate numerous classic LDCs) may be an ideal choice for your first LDC, especially if you’re still searching for that perfect match for your voice or tonal preferences. A modeled studio microphone can sound great, with believably authentic tones and they’re only getting better as advances in their software and preamp modeling further close the gap between the “real deal” and digitally imitated signal paths. The Slate Digital VMS and Townsend Labs Sphere L22 are good examples here, even if you might want to purchase the actual hardware after the models stimulate your tastes.

 

Small Diaphragm Condenser Mics

DPA 4006 family
DPA 4006 family.

Having just a large diaphragm condenser mic isn’t going to be enough versatility for your kit—not with a world of small diaphragm condensers ready to spice things up. Like a painter with numerous brushes, you’ll find the “stroke” of a SDC has a unique focus, clarity and punch that LDCs (or dynamic mics, for that matter) just cannot provide. Though detailed like a LDC, SDCs are even more exacting than many LDCs, and when used in pairs, provide some of the most accurate reproduction possible. Sure, SDCs can be a little self-noisier than LDCs, but their transient capture (that sharp leading-edge of a sound) is oh so accurate and lifelike, and their off-axis pickup is typically smoother than LDCs, too.

How To Use Them

Schoeps Colette
Schoeps Colette studio microphone

Use this kind of studio microphone for acoustic instruments, drum overheads, orchestras, choirs, pianos, percussion arrays, natural ambiences…. The list of superb SDC apps goes on and on. Used up-close, the sound can be kind of rude or even overload the mic, but SDCs excel when pulled-back a bit at moderate and long distances. They’re generally really good at stereo techniques, too, and are often easier to position than a pair of bulky LDCs. Using SDCs is a lot like LDCs, except pads, filters and patterns aren’t typically offered (if your SDCs do actually have them, use them by all means).

SDCs often come with foam windscreens which are useful for not only outdoor applications and preventing plosives, but also for taming bright, high-end response in what can sometimes be rather thin, bright mics. Most of all, experiment using stereo patterns with your SDCs, where the realism and air greatly benefit drum overheads, pianos, vocal groups, acoustic guitars, strings and much of anything with width and dimension to it.

The Classic and Current Models

Lauten Audio LA120
Lauten Audio LA120.

The classics in this studio microphone category are once again built by the Germans and Austrians. Neumann’s KM84 and subsequent KM184 are wonderfully focused and euphonic, with a high-end that is sparkling, crisp and to die for, while AKG’s C451 (cardioid, but often fitted with interchangeable omni or hyper-cardioid pattern capsules) is a utilitarian’s dream, with a life-like midrange reproduction and surprisingly impressive low-end. Shure’s SM81 is also a classic SDC favorite, especially for drum overheads.

Worthy of mention is a category of SDCs known for their stark accuracy, reference consistency, availability in omni configurations and high price—Elite SDCs if you will. DPA 4006s, Schoeps Colette series, Earthworks’ super time-coherent models and Bruel & Kajers’ (B&K) measurement microphones are standouts in this apex group, which you’ll find recording orchestras, jazz and in the hands of picky uber-producers.

Vanguard Audio Labs V1S stereo kit
Vanguard Audio Labs V1S stereo kit.

Modern variants are plentiful at all price points and in my many years as an educator, I must say I’ve tried literally dozens of brands/models of SDC pairs and found them all to be adequate, if not exactly stellar. You’ll get less sizzly high-end and nastiness, and more smooth treble with less ear fatigue as you move up the price scale. I’m fond of the Vanguard Audio Labs V1S stereo kit with its interchangeable cardioid / hyper-cardioid / soft-cardioid / omni capsules (wide-cardioid is perfect for when you want to hear a little more of the room).

Today, there are pairs of SDCs with amazing price-to-performance ratios, notably Lauten Audio’s LA120 (with high- and low-pass filters) and Audio-Technica’s AT4041, which will outperform the lowest price models with a smoother high-end response and less self-noise.

Ribbon Mics

Beyerdynamic M 160
Beyerdynamic M160.

Now let’s do a 180 degree swing: What about those times when you want less precision and less excruciating detail? What about when things sound way too harsh for a dynamic mic, much less a condenser mic or two? The answer, of course, is the slow-moving, dull-sounding, bottom end-creating warmth of a ribbon mic. Whether a short or a long ribbon, most ribbon mics are figure-8 in their polar pattern, lean naturally towards accentuating low-mids, slightly dull their transients and smooth out their peaks, rejecting sound in the nulls of their “8” to an amazing degree while accepting EQ (especially of the high-end boosting variety) surprisingly well.

How To Use Them

sE Electronics RNR1
sE Electronics RNR1.

Ribbons are quite sensitive, so you’d best not drop the mic, or blow into the ribbon or expose the mic to excessive SPL (sound pressure level), so close-miking isn’t possible on many drums or loud sources. That figure-8 pattern is often viewed as a liability, but I tend to disagree; it’s a useful feature. A ribbon mic for room ambience is great, as it picks up the source directly and the reflections coming in from the rear; just carefully position the mic’s distance from the source to get an ideal room balance, maybe even room reverb in larger spaces. Try placing the nearest sound source that you’re trying to reject with your ribbon mic right smack in the 90 degree (or 270 degree) off-axis position, and the polluting sound will seem to disappear from your ribbon’s track, especially if you can get your ribbon in fairly close to the sound you do want to pick up.

AEA R84
AEA R84.

Don’t forget to try a ribbon where a smooth and silky top-end is needed. Try close miking a vocal for intimate detail and first carefully tune a HPF to filter-out just enough unwanted rumble without losing fullness. Find the spot where the mic is resonating in the mids (likely around 400 to 500 Hz) and notch out a few dB, put a high-frequency shelf at about 8 kHz and start boosting it until the vocal is sweetly detailed and crisp without sounding lispy, irritating or unnatural (you might have to boost a lot, maybe even a whopping +12 dB; just don’t add too much noise in the process).

The Classic and Current Models

Coles 4038
Coles 4038

Classic ribbons are still used today despite their fragility, ancient design and expensive cost; they simply sound gorgeous, huge and lush (words truly cannot describe). RCA 44s and 77s from the post-WWII era are the holy grail of ribbon mics, but slightly newer Coles 4038s (a long-standing favorite of the BBC and anglophile recordists) and Beyerdynamic M160s (that iconic drum intro to “When the Levee Breaks” by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin? Yep that’s the sound of 160s) carry the classic tone in to the modern era.

Royer R121
Royer R121.

Today, we’ve got ribbon mics that are sturdier, handle more SPL and have more high-end response (at least on some models), like Royer’s guitar-cabinet favored R121. AEA—maker of vintage throwbacks and post-modern designs, too—offers up passive or active-electronics R84, and there’s also the sE Electronics RNR1 Rupert Neve-designed ribbon, which is perfection on guitar cabinets and vocals, surprisingly enough, with sweet high-end response.

MXL R144
MXL R144.

Even on a budget, there’s worthy choices out there in this category of studio microphone, like the sE Electronics X1R, a solid performer. A favorite among my students is the MXL R144, which is voiced with prominent mids so it sounds warm yet defined on drum room and electric guitars. Cascade makes a line of ribbon variations at great prices, allowing a little experimentation if you get sucked down the whole ribbon mic rabbit-hole as so many people (rightfully) do.

Low Frequency Enhanced Dynamic Mics

Then there’s “bass mics” or “kick mics” or “large diaphragm dynamic mics” as they’re often mistakenly called (It’s not so much that they have bigger diaphragms as they do bigger bodies with resonant chambers and features to enhance low-frequency reproduction). They aren’t exactly versatile, but when low-frequencies are what you need, low-frequencies are what you get. These mics are dynamic and are always amply windscreen-protected so they can handle the brutal SPL of a kick drum no problem. In fact, foley and effects recordists will often use these mics to record jet take-offs, guns, explosions and engines without distortion.

How To Use Them

AKG D12 VR.
AKG D12 VR.

You’ll find uses for this category of studio microphone on kick drums, floor toms, bass guitar amps, tubas and anything that needs more “boom and butt” than “bite and crispness.” I’ve also put them under pianos to add some thickness, on baritone guitar amps and behind cajons (when paired with a condenser to grab the highs). Listen in solo if you dare, but don’t be surprised if the sound seems oddly unbalanced; check your track again without solo (or PFL) and note how your track actually blends into the mix naturally. Furthermore, getting the bottom-end just right usually takes some EQ and compression to notch out resonant frequencies of excessive bass response, careful EQ boosts to make up for any hollow holes in the response and the application of some compression to help smooth out, congeal and increase consistency.

The Classic and Current Models

Avantone Pro Kick
Avantone Pro Kick.

Back in the day, AKG absolutely owned this category of studio microphone, starting with the D12, the world’s first bass-enhanced mic. It followed that widely successful mic with the ubiquitous D112, the green-rimmed egg that was found on countless stages and in countless studios through the 90s. Today, AKG carries on the tradition with the D12 VR (with three voicings and phantom power-activated active electronics). All the major players have worthy “kick drum mics” today, with the V Kick from sE Electronics being a favorite amongst touring players, while other top performers include Sennheiser’s E902, Heil’s PR48 and Avantone Pro’s Pro Kick (actually a small speaker wired in reverse to be a large bass drum mic).

The Ever-Evolving Studio Microphone Locker

Now that you’ve got all your bases covered (including your basses), don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving the specialized abilities of a more exotic studio microphone. Shotgun mics for tightly focused vocals, vintage mics for throwback tones, body-worn mics for unique perspectives, stereo mics for their wide perspective and easy placement, contact mics for direct pickup…. The list, and the adventures, go on and on!

Further Reading: How to Pick a Studio Microphone for Podcasting

Can a Neumann TLM 103 or AKG C 451 EB Mic Record an Entire Band?

Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Charlotte, NC’s Catalyst Recording and has been a longtime studio contributor. www.twitter.com/robtavaglione

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Yorkville Sound Launches Pro Audio Podcast

Toronto, Canada (July 23, 2020)—The Yorkville Sound Podcast is a new monthly downloadable program created by pro audio manufacturer and distributor, Yorkville Sound. Taking a monthly discussion format, the podcast is geared toward Music & Pro Audio enthusiasts and is available on Apple, iHeartRadio and Spotify, along with a video version on Yorkville’s YouTube channel.

The Yorkville team drew from in-house resources and know-how to see the idea through from concept to final product. “Everything used to create the podcast, down to the last cable, is an item currently available in the Yorkville catalogue,” says James Greenspan, marketing and communications manager at Yorkville Sound. “We used the ART Tubemix and HeadAmp 4, Apex headphones, two Aston Stealth mics and a variety of Yorkville cables and stands to make it happen. “

Yorkville Sound PodcastEach podcast is a hosted session with a special guest from the MI & Pro Audio field.  “We look forward to in-depth discussions with sound engineers, producers, touring musicians, retailers and more,” says Jeff Cowling, Yorkville Sound’s VP of Sales & Marketing. “We have some outstanding conversations ahead of us.”

The first episode is an interview with Yorkville Sound’s head loudspeaker designer, Todd Michael. Hosted by Yorkville’s Dave Lawrence, Todd recounts the story of his journey from building furniture to designing Yorkville’s Synergy Array Series.

Yorkville Sound Pivots to Produce Ventilators

Cowling adds, “The old saying ‘If these walls could talk’ is the best way to describe the podcast.  On one hand, we have a tremendous well of expertise within the building to impart tips, advic, and behind the scenes insight to the Yorkville catalogue. On the other hand, we have over 50 years of contribution to music history.”

Yorkville Sound • www.yorkville.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Final Round for Aston Mic Vote Underway

Aston Microphones is conducting its third and final public test session for its new Aston Element.
Aston Microphones is conducting its third and final public test session for its new Aston Element.

United Kingdom (July 9, 2020)—Aston Microphones is conducting its third and final public test session for its new Aston Element. The UK mic manufacturer has been using public voting on its website to determine the final sound of the upcoming microphone. Reportedly 4,000 customers have participated in earlier votes to date.

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With the final vote now underway, using blind listening tests to provide insight for the manufacturer, the company is also using it as an opportunity to introduce a look at what will be the mic’s bundled shock mount and pop shield.

According to Aston, the Element will incorporate new capsule technology, a new chassis design, the magnetic pop filter and custom shock mount, and a backlit-LED logo 48V phantom power indicator. Voting registration can be done at the company’s website.

Aston • www.astonmics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com