Regardless of which DAW, plug-ins or anything else you use, how you capture sound is probably the most fundamental process in recording. Whether it’s an intimate vocal or a roaring guitar amp, you need the best tools to achieve that. Here’s our shortlist of the best mics of 2019 – now it’s your turn to vote on which was the best.
1Tul Microphones G12 Retro
If you’re a guitarist who has spent a lot of time crafting a unique tone that relies on a specific amp, cab or speakers – or indeed someone who records that kind of musician – then this is for you.
Alternatively, if you just want to sidestep software models and emulations in favour of pushing real air molecules, the G12 Retro is an excellent choice. It’s a versatile dynamic microphone for the price, and it’s among the most Instagram-worthy mics on the market. In use, we found its tonal character was natural with a smooth top end and punchy lows, perfect for capturing every nuance of a guitar amp.
2Aston Microphones Stealth
Aston has essentially made four mics in one with its exceptional Stealth mic. The novel concept has a built-in Class-A mic preamp and switchable voicings most suited to lower and higher voices (V1 and V2) plus guitars (G) and a final mode that imitates the dark sonic character of vintage ribbons (D).
In our tests, the Stealth managed to be both exciting and flexible. Not only does it perform well against classics such as the RE20 and SM7B, at an affordable price, but the four voicings make it useful in situations where neither of these mics would work. The company’s extensive listening test with industry pros have clearly paid dividends too, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. However, will it get your vote?
3Chandler Limited TG Microphone
The TG Microphone is the latest mic to come out of Chandler’s fruitful partnership with Abbey Road Studios. This time around, the company has employed tape equalisations systems from the TG12410 Transfer Console, used for mastering. There are five EQ curves available, plus A and B systems for a total of ten sonic characters, before taking into account the built-in high-pass filter. The benefit is that you have a vast range of different tonal characters available to you at the point of recording. So, while the price may initially seem high, once you consider that it may be the last mic you ever need for single-source material, it reveals itself as being rather better value for money.
The wide variety of tonal characteristics that can be dialled in makes the TG mic a great choice to record just about anything. It can be configured to capture the most delicate audio signals precisely, or be placed up close to the loudest, filthiest-sounding electric-guitar amp without overloading. Our reviewer said that “within one shell, it contains some of the best microphones I’ve ever heard.” But will it come out on top?
4Audix DP7 Drum Microphone Pack
This one is stretching the category somewhat, but we were so impressed with Audix’s DP7 Drum Pack that we had to include it. By offering a mic specifically for each element of the kit, the DP7 pack does away with that head-scratching associated with trying to assemble the ultimate combination of drum mics. The range is specifically optimised to work together, bringing out the best of their individual characteristics and, most importantly, the drum kit.
Not only is the collection also super convenient, it’s also great for capturing a fat, close-mic’d kit sound. Oh, and it’s ideal for both live and studio work. Need we say more?
5Warm Audio WA-251
Based on the ELA M 251E – one of the most revered (and expensive) valve mics going – the Warm Audio WA-251 is an attractive beast and not just for its looks. With its vintage CK12-type capsule and three polar patterns, it’s a high-quality, versatile mic, perfect for vocals and a wide range of instruments.
We praised the WA-251 saying it would “likely please anyone looking for a lovely large-diaphragm condenser mic”. Is it your top pick?
6Golden Age Premier GA-251
Another mic going after the Telefunken ELA M 251 sound is the Golden Age Premier GA-251. This comes in at a slightly higher price than the Warm Audio take, above, but that’s down to the components used and the fact that it’s handmade in small batches of 50 units per production run, with point-to-point wiring using silver-plated wire and Mundorf M-Solder Supreme Silver/Gold solder.
We loved the GA-251 for its “even-handed” tone and the fact it sounded accurate and transparent on both acoustic instruments and vocals. Essentially, it could easily be the crowning glory of your microphone collection.
7Lewitt LCT 140 Air
This durable little pencil mic does what two other mics on this list do – that is, offer more than one sonic character. On top of standard 80Hz HPF and -12dB pad switches, the body also has an Air switch that transforms the flat frequency response, adding a high-frequency boost. Lewitt says this produces a “record-ready sound from the start”. We described it as “sparkling treble boost, adding presence and a spot-lit brightness.”
We were surprised by how full-bodied acoustic guitar recordings were with the mic, noting the warmth of the low-mid tones, silky smooth highs – unlike so many other affordable pencil mics – and the precision of transient capture.
The LCT 140 Air provides professional sound quality at affordable prices and is a great choice for all types of acoustic-instrument recording, especially the guitar. Will it top your list?
Sontronics has attempted to perfect the dynamic vocal mic with the Corona. Ideal for studio and stage with its supercardioid pattern, the Corona is not only visually striking but also has a voicing that’s suited to vocals and SPL handling that makes it excellent for recording drums, brass instruments and electric guitars.
Its frequency response with rolled off top end and presence boost both help sources recorded with it cut through the mix. We described its character as “bright” and “honeyed” noting that it’s also a great choice for harmonica and percussion.
Cast your vote here:
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.