In this video review for Pro Tools Expert, Technical Editor James Ivey takes a look at the new V13 multi pattern valve condenser microphone from Vanguard Audio Labs. This is not only a beautiful looking mic but it also has the sound characteristics of some of the world's most famous and expensive mics making it one that you really should think about when buying a modern microphone. Take a listen as James talks about the mic and then creates a track using only the V13 and a single mic preamp.
The Vanguard V13 Valve Condenser Mic
The Vanguard V13 is a large-diaphragm multi-pattern valve condenser microphone. Crafted by experts over the course of 2 years, it combines vintage warmth with smooth modern detail. After extensive testing and listening by world-class engineers, Vanguard say with pride that the performance of this mic will rival or exceed that of both iconic vintage and modern microphones at a fraction of the cost.
Vanguard designed the V13 with the character of yesteryear’s iconic vintage tube microphones in mind, while also utilizing the latest technology to ensure that every nuance and detail of the performance is faithfully captured. they say...
We specifically engineered the V13 with warm, full lows, a precise and detailed midrange, and buttery-smooth high end. The result is a microphone that unifies warmth with clarity, depth with detail, and character with precision.
The V13 is particularly forgiving when it comes to vocal style and timbre. Very often microphones can be a bit choosy when it comes to how they mesh with different vocalists, but they have found that the V13 sounds great with almost any vocal complexion. Tested on both male and female vocalists in a diversity of ranges, styles, and genres, they found that the V13 was usually the top option, despite being matched against microphones several times its cost.
One important design objective was maintaining a low noise floor – no small feat when working with vacuum tube circuitry. When tested against several $5000 European tube microphones, the V13 had the lowest noise floor by a significant margin.
After hundreds of hours of listening and testing dozens of design variations with world-class engineers, the V13 is a top-shelf microphone with an incredibly low noise-floor. This is truly a professional, world-class microphone.
The Vanguard V13 is very different from other mics in its price range. It is designed and precision-built in limited quantities to “no-compromise” standards.
Vanguard started with an extra-large 34mm edge-terminated, gold-sputtered 3µm Mylar dual-capsule assembly and custom-voiced it with a proprietary hand-tuning process, placing it in an open-weave headbasket for a natural sound with low internal reflections. They then designed a circuit that matches the unique musical properties of the capsules and loaded it with premium-grade, over-spec components sourced from manufacturers around the world. They cryogenically treated critical components in the signal path, including a hand-selected European vacuum tube. There is then a low-frequency roll-off and -10dB pad toggle switches on the rear of the microphone, where they are easily accessible to the engineer. They topped off the electronics with an ultra-linear, fully shielded, custom-wound, dual-bobbin humbucking transformer for the output stage to drive long cable runs.
Aesthetically, the precision-machined brass body is coated with our signature Pinot Noir, finished with a deep, lustrous gloss, and accented by polished nickel trim and a precision-cast Vanguard badge. Machined into the rear of the microphone is a cooling vent to prolong tube life. The V13’s serial number is laser-engraved on the lower rear of the microphone.
The V13 was designed by a team of experts with more than 65 years of experience and vetted by world-famous award-winning engineers and producers.
The V13 was designed in the USA, and undergoes final assembly in sunny Southern California. Vanguard perform 100% quality control – every single microphone undergoes a series of stringent audio and visual tests here in Southern California before being hand-packed.
Every part of the V13 was designed to be robust and reliable. Wherever possible, components were over-specced. The deep-cycle cryogenic treatment improves the lifespan and performance of critical electronic components. Brass, steel, aluminum, and zinc are part of the heavy-duty construction. Every Vanguard microphone is backed by a five year warranty.
When you buy a V13, you also get a VLSM Heavy-Duty Shockmount. They decided to rethink the standard “spider-style” shockmount of old, and designed the VLSM with a few nifty features. First is the open front, which allows you to position the microphone as close to the source as necessary. Second, they install aerospace-grade suspension rings that are designed not to break, sag, crack, or stretch over time. This shockmount was designed to fit any microphone with M22x1 threading, so you also can use it with a number of microphones from other manufacturers.
The V13 also comes with the PS-13 power supply, which allows you to select any of 9 available polar patterns on your microphone. They encourage users to experiment with the different polar patterns, as each one changes the character and frequency response of the microphone. The PS-13 can operate worldwide on 110-240V mains outlets via a switch on the rear of the power supply.
When not in use, they recommend that the V13 should be stored in its padded pinewood box.
The black aluminum locking carrying case with the V13 keeps your microphone, cables, and power supply in one place, and includes a slot for a spare vacuum tube. 12AX7, 12AT7, and 12AY7 tube types will work with the V13 microphone. Folks who experiment sonically with NOS tubes can feel safe using these tube types.