Everyone has their "go to" microphone: your default when you can't decide what to use, the one that seems to sound great on everything, your Swiss army mic, if you will. Which microphone comes to mind when you think about your own personal go to? For me, that mic has always been a large diaphragm condenser of some kind. Condensers in general have that reputation about them, whereas dynamics tend to have a more 'specialized' label; even the legendary SM57 has become pigeonholed as an instrument mic above anything else, nowadays.
A Multifaceted Star
However, typecast dynamic microphones have become, Aston either didn't get the memo, or they simply refused to accept the notion. Their latest effort, the Stealth, defies the usual limitations placed on dynamic moving coil mics thanks to a bevvy of features you wouldn't expect to see on many microphones. The most notable of these features is the 4 different voicing modes (Voice 1, Voice 2, Guitar, and Dark), selected by a low-profile moving ring at the base of the mic. These allow the Stealth to be more accommodating by tailoring its response to the primary source, ensuring that you'll get the tone you'd like to hear, rather than what the microphone is limited to picking up.
Let's Get Sensitive
Another common complaint about dynamic microphones, particularly broadcast style mics, is that they have a low output and sometimes require an in-line preamp in order to get decent volume levels out of them. While in-line preamps aren't terribly expensive, Aston has removed this variable by building a preamp directly into the microphone. While the Stealth sounds wonderful and has a healthy output as a standard passive dynamic microphone, it is also capable of handling +48vDC phantom power, which generates an insane 50 dB of gain. Basically, this gives the microphone a louder output and more sensitivity, much like a condenser microphone.
I've had the chance to use this mic on a variety of sources now, and I've been beyond pleased with the results. Snare drums sound thick and snappy, vocals sound smooth, detailed, and ride the mix well, and guitar cabinets sound punchy and dynamic. I was most surprised though, by the Stealth's performance on acoustic guitars. I tried a single Stealth on the V2 setting in active mode, and positioned the mic like I would a single LDC mic: about 18 inches away and pointed around the 20th fret. The midrange was detailed and present without a hint of harshness. Had I not already known what microphone was being used, I would have assumed I was listening to a condenser microphone priced in the thousands. The Stealth truly is like 8 microphones rolled into one.
This is one of those mics that you can truly say is for everyone: voiceover artists, podcasters, broadcasters, home studio recordists, and professionals. If you'd like to hear it in action, check out our podcast, then pick it up on our website, or in store!