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Recording by Stealth – another world-first for Aston Microphones

Category : Products

How to record an entire track using just (17) Aston Stealths

 

Many extraordinary claims have been made about the Aston Stealth microphone, and not just by Aston’s marketing team, but by artists, engineers, producers and pretty much every respectable audio publication on the planet. It isn’t just that Stealth is one incredibly multi-faceted mic, but that it offers all its onboard options without compromising on sound quality. It’s not a jack of all trades, it’s a master of them. So, having claimed Stealth as ‘the world’s most versatile microphone’, we thought it was time to go out and prove it.

 

After its launch in 2019, quotes like “If someone doesn't make a hit record with the Stealth, I will eat the box.” (Gearslutz), soon became typical as journalists vied for ways to describe the revolutionary new beast. Leading USA magazine Tape Op’s reviewer went as far as to say; “If I was stuck on a desert island with one microphone, this might be it.”

 

And the mic has won awards aplenty, including ‘10/10 Excellence’ from Music Tech magazine, ‘Best Microphone’ in Sound on Sound’s ‘Gear of the Year’ awards and, famously, ‘Best Microphone’ at the prestigious NAMM TEC Awards 2020 (beating all of the world’s biggest and best-known mic brands). But there are accolades and awards, and then there’s the reality of a mic having to deliver, often in time-sensitive and costly situations.

 

So we decided to put Stealth’s ability to perform way, way above its price point, faced with pretty much any sound source, to the real-world test. Not, admittedly, on a desert island, but in the no-expense-spared recording facility of one of the world’s most revered music education establishments, Leeds Conservatoire. The plan was to record a whole band - and a complex one - live, using only Aston Stealth for everything; full drum kit, piano, guitar, bass, vocals (and, as it turned out, even a vocoder). The Leeds team were up for the challenge, as were Sogo Rock, a ridiculously talented jazz/fusion band formed by a group of the Conservatoire’s students in 2018. We’re pretty confident this has never been achieved before, in a professional setting, using multiples of a single mic model.

 

The band’s line-up for the Stealth session was Bela Horvarth Jr. (piano, keyboard), Oliver Wolf (vocals), Ferenc Lakatos (keyboard, talk box), Alexander Beanz Miller (bass), Nic Svarc (guitar) and Joshua Gumbs (drums).

 

Studio engineering and production was left in the more-than-capable hands, and ears, of the Conservatoire’s Craig Golding (Music Production Programme Leader), and Bhupinder Chaggar (Curriculum Manager). Both have distinguished backgrounds in professional sound engineering and music production. For a session as complex as this, the pair would usually reach for a selection of mics, spanning several brands and different mic types (dynamic condenser, ribbon etc.) from the Conservatoire’s extensive collection. But the pair were undaunted.

 

Bhupinder explained; “Stealth is such an incredibly versatile mic. We experimented a lot with the different voice settings and mic placement and in a full live session, so there was lots going on in the room and there were some demanding acoustics to handle. The Astons did a tremendous job.”

 

Craig added: “In terms of rejection, the amount of spill we were getting, from the overheads for example, the Stealth was really impressive so the mix sounds awesome.”

 

A total of seventeen Aston Stealths were used to capture Sogo Rock’s stunning track ‘Your Shelter’, recorded live in the room without overdubs, into ProTools via an Audient desk. The track was mixed by Bhupinder on an SSL console.

 

The placements and settings, eventually settled on, saw the whole spectrum of Stealth voices put to use. The kick drum was mic’ed front and back, using V2 and D settings respectively, with the same pairing used for the snare top and bottom. Hats and toms were each recorded using V1, while a trio of overheads employed V2 (L and R) and D (centre).

 

V1 was chosen for the bass amp, and the guitar combo had two Stealths set to G (front) and D (back). A stereo pair were used for the grand piano, set to D with 48v supplied by the mic’s onboard Class A preamp. V2 was used for Lakatos’s voicebox and for Oliver’s lead vocals.

 

Stealth’s voices, Vocal 1 (V1), Vocal 2 (V2), Guitar (G) and Dark (D – reminiscent of the sound of a vintage ribbon mic) were originally labelled in accordance with the Aston 33 voting panel’s preferences during the mic’s development. However, as the Leeds Conservatoire session has demonstrated, these are only suggestions, or starting points, for their applications. Stealth users are finding experimentation a great ally in achieving their required results and being able to try different voices without changing mics, and in situ without changing Stealth’s placement, an invaluable time-saver in the studio.

 

So how did it sound? Well we were pretty stoked to hear the results, and we hope Sogo Rock and the team at Leeds Conservatoire have allowed themselves a few pats on the back too. Here’s the final mix… Enjoy!

 

 

With its choice of four voices, passive and active modes and its built-in Class A Preamp, Stealth really can be used for any instrument, or vocal, with world-class professional results. And yet it costs just £299 / 339€ / $379. It’s the equivalent of four professional mics for a fraction of the price of some well-known single-sound options. So if you are thinking of buying one mic for your set-up, Aston Stealth should be it.

 

Our heartfelt thanks to Craig Golding, Bhupinder Chaggar and the rest of the Leeds Conservatoire team for their sterling work and for making this crazy project happen and, of course, to the uber-talented Sogo Rock for a stunning performance on the day.

 

No musicians were harmed during the making of these videos - or at least, none of them were at risk from Coronavirus (the session took place some weeks before lockdown). Also, to our knowledge, none of the packaging contains peanuts, or has been consumed by artists and reviewers, although many, many hit records have, indeed, been made using a Stealth mic.

 

 

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