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Review

Aston Spirit Condenser Mic

Issue #57

The Spirit is a thoroughly modern classic large diaphragm condenser microphone. Designed and manufactured in the UK (and yes, I do think that matters) the Spirit is a multi-pattern (omni, cardioid, fig-8) microphone with an 80Hz low-cut filter and -20/-10dB pads, all selected with simple, mechanical, body-mounted switches.
Andi Picker

 PROS


Great Sounding mic

British made

Distinctive style

Great quality


Cons


Honestly, none.


SPECS


Condenser

Cardioid, Figure 8, Omni polar patterns

Guitar Interactive star rating:  5 stars

Aston Spirit Condenser Mic

MSRP £349 (UK)  $549 (US)


Aston Spirit Condenser Mic

Classic microphones, typically those pre-60s models that we all dream about, were designed and built based on the components, materials and construction methods that were standard at the time. As home/project studios became more popular, the demand for affordable equipment increased, and many of those early microphones were “sort-of” copied to produce models that looked a little like the old ones, but that often fell short on sound and build-quality. Thankfully, a handful of modern producers have had the nerve to create original microphones based on well thought-through designs and modern components and manufacturing techniques. 

The Spirit is a thoroughly modern classic large diaphragm condenser microphone. Designed and manufactured in the UK (and yes, I do think that matters) the Spirit is a multi-pattern (omni, cardioid, fig-8) microphone with an 80Hz low-cut filter and -20/-10dB pads, all selected with simple, mechanical, body-mounted switches.

Externally, the design of Aston mics owes nothing to anyone: the Spirit’s body is made from unpainted 2mm thick stainless steel, the head basket is a sort of stainless steel spring with a stainless steel mesh behind it to provide a degree of protection from pops and electrical noise (and all sorts of other things that might try to get into microphones), and on the base of the mic is a socket to allow it to be mounted directly onto a stand with no mounting bracket needed.

Internally, the electronics are very high quality (let’s pretend I just read that somewhere) with an output transformer, which is a configuration that I often think adds a bit of “extra” to the natural sound, although that may be just because I like the idea of transformers in mics.

I have never been much good at reading a spec sheet for a microphone and knowing what it’s going to sound like, but at least this one does tell me that the Spirit has good noise and sensitivity figures and a maximum SPL of 138 dB (plus up-to 20dB with the pad switched in). I’ve used the Spirit for voice work, acoustic and electric guitars and as a room mic for some whole-band recordings that I worked-on, and it has a very natural open sound with just a little upper-end lift that adds a hint of air, and a smooth, almost “finished” sound that’s a pleasure to record. Handling noise is good enough to allow it to be used direct-mounted, so long as you can avoid tapping your foot against the stand, but I generally put it in my Rycote shock-mount as a matter of habit (Aston actually has an optional Rycote cradle available).

I suspect that Aston has made some clever decisions to get a mic as good as the Spirit to market at the price. The packaging is adequate rather than fancy, the highly distinctive mic body is a simple stainless steel tube and requires no painting, plating or coating, the spring basket is probably manufactured by the meter and that built-in stand socket means that they don’t have to include a separate accessory in the box; but the internals are excellent, the sound is very good indeed, and the whole thing looks like a work of art and drips class. I reckon Aston could put one of these things into a hardwood box, call it boutique and double the price (but don’t tell anyone).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:

astonmics.com

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Issue #59

Lzzy Hale

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