6 of the Best: Microphones

In this latest six of the best we’re looking at six of the best microphones for a range of studio tasks and, of course, budgets…

Best All-rounder – Aston Spirit

6 of the best: microphones

Price £349
Contact Aston Microphones
Web www.astonmics.com


Aston burst onto the microphone scene a few years back with the Origin microphone. This follow-up boasts the rugged tumbled-steel, with the same wave-form mesh head which gives the Aston mics their unique aesthetic. The Spirit is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that we found worked exceptionally well on an array of instruments, drums and vocals. In fact, we said: “It performed well at just about everything we threw it on, matching and even outperforming some much more expensive microphones in the process. If you already have a few mics and are just looking to expand your selection, the Spirit is virtually a must-have. It performs well enough to add to any mic locker, and is also inexpensive enough to demand your attention.” We concluded: “Aston Microphones has brought the Spirit back into British microphone manufacturing.”

Best For vocals – Shure KSM8

Price £417
Contact Shure UK
01992 703058
Web www.shure.co.uk

The KSM8 is a Dualdyne microphone that attempts to eliminate a couple of niggles which are inherent with Shure’s classic SM58 vocal microphone; and it largely succeeds in outdoing and outperforming Shure’s ubiquitous stalwart. “We were able to add a subtle air boost without any hint of the nasal edge that is present in the SM58. We also noticed that we were able to get more gain. The KSM8 cut through in our mix nicely, ensuring everyone in the audience could make out all of the lyrics throughout the performance.” We concluded: “With the KSM8 battling for your attention, you owe it to your voice to at least give it a try. Looking to upgrade from an SM58? Put the KSM8 on your list.”

Best Value – RØDE NTR

Price £589
Contact Source Distribution
020 8962 5080
Web www.rode.com


If Darth Vader ever needed a vocal mic, the NTR would surely win out on looks alone,” Huw Price said when reviewing the RØDE NTR. Fortunately, this ribbon mic sounds as good as it looks. “The RØDE’s noise floor is so low that recording acoustic instruments and quiet singers presents no difficulties. Vocal tests revealed extremely smooth and natural results. We were astonished by the NTR’s RRP. In fact, if it had been significantly higher, we wouldn’t have been unduly concerned.” Huw concluded: “A very high quality, old-school ribbon microphone with outstanding build quality and an extremely attractive price.”

Best Polar versatility – Lewitt LCT 640 TS

Price £879
Contact Lewitt or JHS:
01132 865 381
Web www.jhs.co.uk

What if you could change your mind on which polar pattern you used on a recording after the band has gone home? Or even in the mix? Lewitt’s LCT 640 TS microphone features a unique Dual Output mode, which enables you to do exactly that. The microphone uses a second output on the side of the body to enable you to record the front and rear diaphragms to separate channels, so you can select between them later. We said: “If you enjoy experimenting with recordings, this microphone would be an excellent addition to your arsenal. Furthermore, if you are looking to invest in your first multi-pattern condenser, this is a great-sounding microphone and an interesting option for your cabinet.”

Best Budget – sE Electronics V3

Price £60
Contact Focusrite
01494 462246
Web www.seelectronics.com

The sE V3 is one of two new dynamic mics from the Chinese manufacturer (the other being the V7, which costs £25 more). Despite being the cheaper of the two, we actually preferred the V3 on the vocal recordings we made. “The proximity effect was less pronounced with this microphone than the V7 and the extra presence helped to hype the vocal in a musical manner. For live vocals, the V3 is going to make a great alternative to the Shure SM58. Not only does the presence give it an extra shine, but it looks great to boot.” We concluded on both mics in the V range: “Don’t be fooled by the inexpensive price tags, these stylish-looking microphones are a serious option for vocal recording and are well worth auditioning.”

Best For guitars – Audio-Technica AE2300

Price £249
Contact Audio-Technica
0113 277 1441
Web www.audio-technica.com

The AE2300 has been voiced as a more flexible ‘instrument’ mic, and specifically for guitar cabinets, brass and percussion. In our tests, we certainly concluded that it’s a great mic for guitars and outperformed two other mics we lined it up against. “The AE2300 had a stronger low end, capturing the growl of big, open chords. It produced a much more focused tone, with less fizz, but still a brighter, more airy sound. The AE2300 is particularly versatile, and the addition of the switchable low-pass roll off makes it a perfect candidate for guitar cabinets. We concluded: “The AE2300 has the makings of a modern classic and is a bit of a bargain, too.”