Monday, April 29, 2013

Inspiration Begins Here - It all started with the Horizon

By Mike Terry
There is something special about a great, large diaphragm microphone that is hard to beat; when you start lining up your favorites, it becomes hard to live without certain ones. They hold up and deliver exactly where you expect, and when the time to mix arrives those tracks always sit just as intended.

Sure, there are many standout microphones; every engineer has a favorite preferred line-up., But what is the key element that makes up a truly great large diaphragm microphone?
Vintage U67

One specific characteristic responsible for separating good mic’s from great mic’s is their ability to produce depth.  Capturing the source and maintaining the 3 dimensional field instantly gives a recording a bigger, fuller sound allowing the listener instant access to being mesmerized by this phenomenon. The classic Neumann, AKG, and Elam mics are well known for this quality and it is this reason they are so desirable.

U67 insides
I first discovered the Neumann U67 after using and understanding the characteristics of several other microphones such as: the U87, the 414, M49, and C-12’s. The first few listens of the 67 indicated it was a very nice microphone and was going to make a nice addition

Horizon in swivel mount
After listening back to tracks recorded with the U67, I discovered how wonderful this mic really was.  Electric guitar tracks were first to get my attention, then drum overheads; even a tambourine that was recorded last minute was able to sit so perfectly in the mix it was uncanny. This mic allowed the character of the instrument to be represented without making everything sound like it was recorded with the same mic. It wasn't long before the U67 became my favorite mic. I could use it nearly everywhere and feel confident that I would get excellent results, even in the densest mixes.

Was this the perfect mic for all applications? In a way, yes. Once basic tracks are complete, recording layers of overdubs tend to go pretty quick. The band gets excited as they hear their song come together. The line to overdub gets longer, guitar’s are layered, tambourine’s over the chorus, shaker’s in the verses, high strung acoustic guitar in the bridge, layers of back ground vocals, it goes on and on.
Production Prototype #1 Pre-Horizon name

Running to the mic closet in search of the perfect mic, a different mic, is out of the question. The artist is waiting and ready to go. The performance is what matters now, and with the right mic you can record all of these parts quickly and with confidence.  The U 67 was this mic for me when Brian and I began developing the first Lauten microphone; it seemed the perfect benchmark to reach.

Testing Lauten prototypes circa. 2004

If this new microphone can produce great depth, then all else will follow. We can swap out components and A/B a variety of components until we achieve the frequency characteristic we’re looking for. But, if the depth isn’t there, then we don’t have a mic. We found a way to achieve this kind of 3-dimensional depth in the Lauten Horizon microphone and now use that practice to achieve depth in all Lauten microphones.

We didn’t need to make it sound like a U67. In fact to this day, I don’t think we ever made a direct comparison, but the commonality is they both produce incredible depth and capture the sounds that we like to hear.

The shape of the Horizon was a critical design decision.  Being an all-purpose mic required it to fit into difficult positions, such as a full drum kit, while remaining free from rogue drum sticks. Using it with the swivel mount allows it to fit easily into these places.  Micing a snare drum is no trouble at all and usually a favorite for most owners of the Horizon. The shock mount is useful when space is not an issue - recording vocals for instance.

Horizon's in production
The close fitting grill helps to eliminate nearby reflections from directly entering the capsule. This also allows the capsule to be in incredibly close proximity to its source.

It is oftentimes difficult to maintain depth, tone and punch after many layers of overdubs. More added can sometimes collapse all that you have worked towards. Opening up the 3-dimensional sonic landscape is the key to giving your tracks the breathing room that they need.

The Horizon, along with the rest of the Lauten Microphone line were inspired by great microphones from time’s past. The intention has always been to build an original, modern microphone that will help others to record from their own inspiration.

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