These days I try to keep my gear buying habits under control and yes I did just say that out loud. However, when I am thinking about forking out some heard earned cash for a new bit of kit, I ask myself two very important questions, that normally have nothing to do with the cost or value of the gear.
Does this “thing” do it better than the old “thing”?
What else does this “thing” do over and above the old “thing”?
After many years of searching for the best overhead mic sound for drums, I have been testing the new Vanguard Audio Labs V1S Stereo mic kit which includes their amazing V34C “Lolli” capsule. Could this be the answer I have been looking for and what else does the full V1S Stereo Kit bring to the party?
Vanguard Audio Labs V1S Stereo Microphone System
The heart of the V1S kit is the Vanguard V1 mic body. It is a traditional pencil condenser form factor with interchangeable heads or capsules. The kit I have here includes a matched pair of V1 mics with a full set of capsules from what you might call the standard Cardioid to Hyper-Cardioid, Wide-Cardioid and Omnidirectional. This kit also includes the amazing looking V34C or “Lolli” capsule which contains the same capsule inner workings as the stunning Vanguard V13 valve condenser mic I reviewed back in 2016. The V1S is a stunning microphone and it’s not just me saying that, I’m hearing it from a great many top engineers, producers and audio industry friends. The Lolli also has 2 different polar pickup patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional) but for these test I only used the cardioid setting as I felt with my current setup and the proximity to the drum room roof, this would not produce a pleasing result.
As with all the mics in the Vanguard range the build quality, look and feel of the V1 is just perfection and the mic has a nice weight to it. It feels like the quality product that it is when you are setting it up. Every little detail has been thought about, even down to having the Vanguard logo on the Lolli line up with the Vanguard logo on the V1 body when it is screwed into place, which is a very nice touch.
But in this case the beauty is more than just skin deep. The V1 uses all top spec components in it’s JFET design including a custom wound transformer, premium capacitors. What Vanguard call their “straight-wire” design philosophy means that only four components sit between the capsule and the output.
Drum Overhead Testing
As I said earlier, my main reason for wanting to try the V1S package was to improve the overhead mics in my studio so I performed a series of recordings using the V1S Stereo rig over my drum kit. You can see from the pictures below how I set up the pair of V1 mics over the kit when using the smaller “conventional” capsules and the Lollies. Yes I know there is a slight spacing difference between the Lolli setup and the capsules but this is more down to the physical size and shape of the Lollies rather than the intention to change things, but I think you can see, it’s pretty close.
Below are 5 audio examples where I have solo’d the V1S pair. There is no processing applied, not even reverb. You are just hearing the 5 different capsules and how changing the capsule changes the stereo image and the overall tone of the kit.
The 5 audio examples below demonstrate how the different capsules sound in a drum mix. This is fully processed with the sort of thing I would put on a pop/rock track.
There are several different Vanguard V1 kits available. Everything from a single V1 and the 4 “conventional” capsules to the full matched pair stereo kit including the Lollies, stereo mounting bar, shock-mount mic clips and sexy wooden case to keep it all looking nice. In the UK prices start at £291 + tax for a single mic with capsules, all the way up to £986 + tax for the complete V1S Stereo Kit with Lollies.
The Vanguard V1 is a fantastic microphone. To my ears and tastes I liked both the Lolli mix and the Half-Cardioid recordings, but I would be quite happy with any of the results.
The very small team at Vanguard are making some stunning microphones. I already own their V44S Stereo condenser which I reviewed back in 2017 and I think I will be putting my hand in my pocket for the V1S package.
But, how does the V1S Stereo kit answer my two questions from the top of this article.
Yes, I think the V1S do sound better than what I was using before, and no I’m not going to tell you what those mics were.
With the addition of the extra capsules and the lollies the V1S kit is a truly flexible stereo microphone package that I have already used in a number of live environments in different recording situations. But for more on that you are going to have to wait for a future article.
Thanks to Paul and the team at Vanguard’s UK distributor Emerging for getting the V1S kit to me and if you want to find out more about the V1S and the other mics in the range just click link to visit the Vanguard Audio Labs website.