Recently we were sent a pair of Lauten Audio LS-208 large diaphragm, end fire condenser microphones and to try them out James decided to use them as the overhead mics for a tracking session. In this article, we show how to set them up over the kit and then take a listen to the end result.
Lauten Audio LS-208
We first saw the LS-208 by Lauten Audio at the winter NAMM show back in January 2019 . The LS-208 is an end fire large diaphragm condenser mic. Don’t try singing into the side, it’s not designed to work that way. At first glance you might think this mic is really designed for vocals, and you would be right, it does sound really good on voice. In fact, the LS-208 is the mic I have been using to record my voice for the Production Expert podcast for the last couple of months, but that is getting a little of topic.
You can see from the frequency response graph below that the LS-208 has quite a flat curve with a nice little lift at about 7KHz which should make this a really good mic to use for recording drum overheads. It also has optional high pass and low pass filters built into the mic. In the case of drum overheads I wanted to capture a nice wide frequency band so I left the filters off.
NOS Stereo Microphone Technique
NOS or the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (Dutch Broadcast Foundation) in Holland, first developed this style of stereo recording where 2 identical cardioid microphones are place at 90 degrees to each other with the capsules around 30cm apart. One of the main benefits of this technique is that it leads to a realistic and pleasing stereo image and is reasonably mono compatible. I have found that it works well with overhead mics in my very small very low drum room.
Whole Kit Or Just Cymbals
There are very much two schools of thought when it coming to placing and pointing drum overhead mics. Are you wanting to record a picture of the drum kit as a whole or are you trying to capture just the cymbals? In this case I have the rest of the drums close mic’ed so I tried to aim the mics at the crash cymbals, which I have spread to the left and right of my kit. Yes, all overhead mics will pick up some toms and plenty of snare but it’s the cymbals we are focusing on.
In the three audio files below you can first hear my full desk (console) drum mix. In this case I have pushed the overhead mics up far more than I normally would with small diaphragm condensers but I feel it’s really working and the cymbals are not cutting your head off with over the top high-end.
The second track is just the stereo drum overheads. Even though I was not going to a good image of the kit as a single instrument it’s really not bad at all. If I was recording something more jazzy or low key with less mics for a more natural sound the LS-208 mic would be a great choice.
The final track is my full mix of drums with the final mix of the song with all parts complete.
It is true to say that in designing the LS-208 the folks at Lauten Audio thought that they were creating a really nice mic for voice, be that spoken word or singing. While that is true, I think the LS-208 is just a great sounding microphone full stop. I was really pleased with how well it performed on this session. With no tweaking or processing the cymbals sound really nice and smooth. The China, in particular (when I hit it towards the end of the examples) does not jump out and bite you, which they can do, all too often, as those things are loud and very aggressive. The LS-208 gives the China, a nice fast explosive sound with none of the brittleness that I have experienced with other mics. As I said before, I pushed the overhead channels far higher than I normally would and it still sounded great. The bleed that the LS-208 has captured sounded great and it really reinforced the rest of the kit.
This is another mic or pair of mics that I really am not going to want to give back. Well done Lauten Audio you have made something slightly different to the run of the mill 87 clones and in that you have come up with something quite brilliant.
A massive thanks to the team at Synthax in the UK for getting me the mics to try out on this session.
Finally, you can check out the full track as mixed by Studio Rats guitarist Paul Drew in the production video for ‘This Desire’ in the video below….