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How to buy a £2000-sounding microphone for £249

Category : Products

Money no object

You can pick up a new Aston microphone from around £249/$299, but a host of top artists, engineers and producers are choosing to use one (or usually several) Astons, often in preference to ‘classic’ mics costing thousands. How come? It’s not about saving money – these people are at the top of their professions and don’t mess around when it comes to having the very best tools of the trade at their disposal.

Producer Chris Porter, for example, should know his mics - he’s worked with George Michael, David Bowie, Simple Minds, Thin Lizzy, Take That and many others!

“I use my Origin and Spirits happily alongside classic microphones such as the Neumann 49b, U87 or AKG C414s and often choose the Astons.” He told us.

And Steve Levine (Culture Club, The Clash, The Beach Boys, China Crisis, Gary Moore) swears by his Origin (Aston’s most affordable mic):

“I would argue very strongly that in terms of the sound, Origin stands up very well to a U87 or 47, it really does.”

And Alexander Archer (Kasabian, You Me At Six, The Cribs, Rag n Bone Man, Phoebe Bridgers, Novelist, Jake Bugg) remembers when he first added the Origin to his studio collection:

“The vocalists and musicians I was working with would almost always prefer the Origin to the Neumann and Telefunken mics I would normally reach for!”

You get the idea. So how did Aston end up making microphones that sound so good but cost so little?

 

Starting afresh

The first thing the team did, when the company was formed in 2015, was to take a good look at the many microphones already available - including the expensive ‘industry standard’ options that were dominating the market - and question why they were pretty much all designed and built using the same materials and techniques. Why had nothing significant about microphones really changed, for years?

Worse, it turns out that many of these accepted norms of mic design don't always work particularly well. For example, most of the well-known models have a similar fixed gauge mesh head. These don’t work at all well as pop filters (hence you need to add one!) and are easily damaged in a fall. And pretty much all the mics have that easily scratched powder-coated or nickel plate finish on the chassis (they look great in the music store window but look at one that’s seen some action!).

So the team ripped up the rule book. Aston mics are totally unique from ground-up, and ingenious proprietary features like tumbled steel chassis, waveform spring heads, direct-to-stand mounting and many others turned out to be not only beneficial in terms of durability, aesthetics and eco-friendliness, but overall far less costly to manufacture than traditional mics. The intention was never to make the mics cheap, it was to make them excellent, whatever the cost. It just turned out that excellence doesn’t necessarily cost the earth.

 

Sound is everything

‘Testing’ can mean many things. Of course, what sounds good is a largely subjective thing. That’s why Aston took listening test processes to a whole new level. A couple of boffins with white coats and meters wasn’t going to cut it. We wanted the very best ears in the business to be calling the shots on how a REALLY great mic should sound.. so we turned to some of the very top artists, engineers, and producers in the world and invited them to participate in a comprehensive series of double blind listening tests. That means that nobody knew which mics they were listening to, not even the in house engineer sorting the data, until all the results were in and counted at each stage. In the end, this elite group of golden eared music professionals are the reason that Aston mics sound SO good.

Fortunate to have many friends in the industry – all working at the very top of their fields – the team invited them to participate in this new testing process, far more comprehensive than anything seen before, and the Aston 33 was born.

 

9,000 reasons to buy an Aston

Affectionately named after the original members, the Aston 33 now comprises more than 120 top audio professionals. The panel participates in a series of blind listening tests, comparing a number of prototype versions of a proposed new Aston mic, alongside several key models from other manufacturers, across a variety of sound sources. They then vote, rating each mic from best to worst, without knowing which they are listening to.

The prototypes are re-voiced according to the results and the process is repeated, several times, until one of the Aston prototypes is consistently voted the best sounding mic across the board. The 92 panel member who worked on the Stealth project, for example, provided more than 9,000 data points in total, an extremely comprehensive sample and quite unlike anything seen in the industry, before or since.

All this disruptive behaviour, this disrespectful meddling with tradition, has resulted in Aston’s four current microphone models; Origin, Spirit, Starlight and Stealth. Between them these beauties can make pretty much any source sound phenomenal, and that’s exactly what they’re doing every day, on the world’s biggest stages and in the studios where the stars make their hits. In fact, the only thing that may sound wrong about Aston mics is the pricing.

 

Of course, we’re very proud of our microphones and you may be thinking we might be just a little biased(!), so please check the reviews below and see what the world’s audio press thinks…

ORIGIN REVIEWS

SPIRIT REVIEWS

STARLIGHT REVIEWS

STEALTH REVIEWS

 

Here are some highlights:

Gearslutz - “…the U87 for the new millennium.” (Aston Origin)

Music Tech - “Blind testing with the artist against an AKG C12 VR showed a clear preference for the Origin”

Resolution - “The performance of Origin far exceeds what you might expect for the price”

Audio Fanzine - “Origin is a product of original design, quality and flawless workmanship… a serious contender to the U87”

Audio Media International – “This is a phenomenal product that will stand up against microphones ten times the price” (Aston Spirit)

Sound On Sound – “The Spirit stands up well against more costly US‑made boutique mics.”

Inside Audio - “The highest possible audio quality, period.” (Asston Stealth)

Tape Op – “I might go as far as to say that if I was stuck on a desert island with one microphone, this might be it.” (Aston Stealth)

Ask Audio - “With such pleasing sonic results, I had to remind myself that these mics only sound expensive.” (Aston Starlight)

 

FIND YOUR NEAREST ASTON RETAILER

 

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