Assembly and quality control is carried out in California and the Atlantis has a large edge-terminated, dual-diaphragm capsule. It features a trio of three-way switches for selecting cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8 pickup patterns, +10dB, 0 and -10dB gain settings, and three individual timbre settings.
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This last feature purports to make the Atlantis three microphones in one. The options are labelled G (Gentle), N (Neutral) and F (Forward). Apparently the idea was developed over several years of collaboration and testing with engineer Fabrice DuPont.
It appears that the settings activate preset equalisation curves. Leaving aside basic high-pass filters, plenty of manufacturers have incorporated equalisation curves into preamp circuitry to flatten the response of a capsule or colour the tone of a mic. However, making it user-selectable does appear to be something new, and we were informed that it’s more than just equalization because the signal follows three different circuit paths.
Lauten explains it thus: “The ‘Gentle’ position provides maximum control of bright or peaky sources such as Ss in vocal recordings. The ‘Neutral’ position offers a nice, even response with good control over vocal Ss and other audio peaks, while the ‘Forward’ position can help bring life to dull sources without having to use EQ but while still maintaining control over peaks.”
The +10dB gain feature is borrowed from the Lauten Clarion. Of course it’s useful if you’re recording quiet sources, but with louder sources you can choose to drive the Atlantis’ preamp harder to get colouration from the onboard FET circuitry rather than your mic preamp. The -10dB is there to keep things clean when recording very loud sources.
The heavyweight body and overall feel are impressive, which partly explains our surprise when we opened it up. The body contains mostly fresh air, with the discrete preamp circuitry neatly assembled on a PCB situated under the capsule housing and a custom transformer encapsulated in the base.
Spoiled For Choice
The Atlantis sounds as big as it looks. It’s fundamentally a strong-sounding mic with the larger-than-life character you might expect from a large-capsule FET condenser. Forward mode has the most sparkle in the high frequencies and would be an obvious choice when detail and fast transient response are paramount. Any concerns that this mode may have been edgy or harsh were quickly dispelled.
Neutral mode has a far softer quality with extra midrange emphasis. It’s very smooth and natural without being at all dull in the treble or lacking in detail. Where Forward mode delivered breathy, upfront instrument and vocal sounds, Neutral mode is more ‘vintage’ and forgiving. If you’re faced with a tinny- sounding instrument or a sibilant singer, N mode comes to the rescue. Gentle mode has noticeably rolled-off treble and a little bit of extra kick and growl in the low mids (not unlike some classic valve mics we’ve used) and is ideal for taming harshness in electric guitars.
The tonal characteristics remain fairly consistent across the pattern settings, although the treble response does vary. That’s fine, because you can just flip modes to compensate. Generally things become brighter, so G mode was our favourite for omni and N was preferred for figure-8.
The +10dB gain setting is the Atlantis’ secret weapon. Pushing the FET harder seems to generate extra harmonics and induces a hint of compression in the transient response. Combined with the pad and tone settings, this makes it a real Swiss Army knife of a microphone for anyone using a neutral, characterless mic preamp with limited gain and headroom.
+ Extremely versatile
+ Genuinely usable preset tones
+ Fabulous build quality
– Omni slightly spiky in F mode
– No bass roll-off
If you plan to buy only one microphone, the Lauten Atlantis has to be a very serious contender.