The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs. Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks - a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
For this installment, we're diving deep into the world of studio microphones, exploring the massive range of ribbon, condenser and dynamic options on the market for savvy producers, engineers and project studio enthusiasts.
Catergory: Dynamic | Pattern: Cardioid
Key Features: Aston Microphones have experienced an astronomic rise over the past five years, and the Stealth represents everything that’s made the brand such a revered name in pro-audio today. This cardioid, moving-coil dynamic microphone features an inbuilt preamp, four selectable voices and the option to run with or without phantom power, making it a true studio chameleon and one of the most intriguing microphones of the modern era.
Weighing in at 700g and measuring 196mm L x 58mm D, the Stealth is surprisingly hefty, but it makes sense when you consider all the magic that resides inside the unit. Users can flick between four different voicings - V1, V2, G and D - via a rotary ring towards the bottom of the Stealth, which include two modes for vocals, one for guitars and one to emulate a dark ribbon sound. It’s worth noting that these voice settings aren’t just EQ filters - rather, they’re intricate contour networks with their own pure signal paths, which really goes to show just how dedicated Aston are to their status as innovators.
Another key feature is the Stealth’s inbuilt Class-A gain stage, which can boost the signal by a whopping 50dB. The Stealth is also loaded with some intelligent circuity that automatically detects whether phantom power is available and bypasses the gain stage if it’s not, letting it operate without as a conventional passive microphone if you need it to. The Stealth also boasts a maximum SPL of 140dB and a frequency response of 20 Hz - 20 kHz, with passive and active sensitivity varying in accordance to what voice mode you’re using.
Mixdown Says: This UK-made mic snagged the coveted award for Best Microphone (Sound Reinforcement) at NAMM’s Technical Excellence Awards earlier in the year, and when you break it out in use, it’s easy to understand why. The G voicing on acoustic guitars produces a crisp tone with plenty of definition, while the D mode delivers a mellow tone that’s great for twangy guitar amps. Whether you’re using V1 or V2, the Stealth shines in the vocal department, with the latter even sharing similar qualities to the sound of a U-87, which really is the ultimate compliment. I also love that the Stealth produces a purple glow when you feed it phantom power - sometimes, it’s the little things that matter the most.
Overall: Aston are undeniably paving the way for the future of microphone designs, and the Stealth speaks volumes of the intensive thought and energy that goes into the R&D process. An affordable, versatile and near-essential addition to any intermediate producer or engineer’s arsenal of microphones.
Find out more about the Aston Microphone range via Link Audio.