Category Archives: New Microphones

The Viking(s). Extinct Audio’s BM9 Matched Stereo Pair…… Following on from my post in January.

The danger in buying an Extinct Audio BM9 ribbon microphone is that very soon you will want a stereo pair! When Stewart Tavener at Extinct offered to lend me a second one to ‘try’ he knew exactly what would happen! ( Yorkshire cunning!)  It didn’t take long before I hit the PayPal button. So I now have a beautiful matched pair!

Extinct Audio BM9 Matched Stereo Pair

The mics are coincidentally mounted, vertically one above the other and set at 90 degrees. (Classic Blumlein) I have used Rycote InVision 044901 Universal Shock Mounts as these make it really fast and easy to position the mics. They also provide the best possible isolation, and there is no chance of the mics falling out! The magnets in these microphones are seriously heavy and would make a considerable impression landing on the performer’s head!

The recording clip below of saxophone virtuoso Lydia Kenny would present a considerable challenge for any pair of microphones. The dynamic range is huge. It is packed with fine detail of tone and texture, from the delicate phrasing of the piano accompaniment to the rapid articulation of the blistering runs on the saxophone at full volume. The way that the acoustics of the hall support the music is also very subtle.

Having worked a great deal with jazz and rock ‘n’ roll over the years I had never previously been a fan of classical saxophone, but this excerpt from Lydia’s performance of ‘Fantasie’ by Jules Demersseman is quite simply an irresistible tour de force of 19th century technique and musicality. Demersseman was a friend of the inventor Adolphe Sax and the piece was published by Sax.

Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham (UK) had its heyday in the mid-19th century and its spacious acoustic and glorious Regency architecture is the perfect setting for this recording. The Extinct Audio BM9 crossed stereo pair flown below the chandelier also look very cool!!

CLICK ON PIC  to listen

 Lydia Kenny Alto Saxophone accompanied by Damian Kenny Piano.
Lydia Kenny Saxophone with Damian Kenny Piano

Lydia Kenny is the winner of Gloucestershire Young Musician of the Year 2018


The English county of Yorkshire has a long and illustrious history of steel manufacturing and precision engineering. Based in York, Extinct Audio are an enthusiastic new company offering beautiful, high quality, hand-built ribbon microphones.                                                                                                                            .The Viking Extinct Audio's BM9. The Box...The Viking Extinct Audio's BM9.

Although the design and styling of The Viking, Extinct Audio’s BM9 pays tribute to the legendary Danish ribbon microphones of the 1950’s and 60’s, it has a unique British character and tone all of its own. The transformers are hand wound at the workshop in York and the ribbons are individually fitted and tuned by Dr Stewart Tavener who has more than a decade of experience restoring and repairing 1,000s of vintage ribbon microphones. The Viking also features an extremely strong magnetic field, giving high output and low noise.

The Viking Extinct Audio's BM9..The Viking Extinct Audio's BM9. Back view.

My own microphone collection divides up into 4 distinct categories:-

  1. Microphones with historic significance or a special place in the development of audio technology; e.g. Marconi-Reisz, STC4017.
  2. Microphones which are good for particular purposes; e.g. AKG D112, Sennheiser e945.
  3. ‘Oooo shiny!’ Microphones purchased for no good reason other than they look cool! (Though occasionally they turn out to be useful!) E.g. Electro-Voice EV664, EV644.
  4. Serious workhorse microphones that will produce fantastic results in a wide range of situations; e.g. AKG C414, Oktava MK-012.

I must confess that when I opened that gorgeous wooden Viking box my instinctive reaction was category 3……. ‘Oooo shiny!’ The nickel finish on these mics is superb. They really look and feel great.

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of recording opportunities to try out The Viking on a range of acoustic instruments. Here below are links to a selection of sound clips from these sessions.

CLICK ON EACH to listen.

  1. Vocal and Tenor Saxophone. Peter Gill and Edi May.
    Peter Gill Vocal
  2. National Steel Guitar and Vocal. Pete Atkin.Pete Atkin. National Steel Guitar and vocal
  3. Anglo Saxon Lyre. Andrew Glover-Whitley.Anglo Saxon Lyre Andrew Glover-Whitley
  4. Chinese Walking Stick Flute. Andrew Glover-Whitley.Andrew Glover-Whitley Chinese Flute Walking Stick
  5. Breton Bombard. Andrew Glover-Whitley. (blowing this thing can lead to burst blood vessels!)Andrew Glover-Whitley. Breton Bombard in Bflat
  6. Rock Flute. Andrew Glover-Whitley.Andrew Glover-Whitley Rock Flute
  7. Tenor Saxophone. Edi May.Edi May Tenor Sax

In Conclusion. 

The Viking, Extinct Audio’s BM9 is a superb, hand built, ribbon microphone, in the finest tradition of Yorkshire craftsmanship and engineering.  It produces an extraordinary level of fine detail. The low end is rich and full. It is a joy to work with and has definitely joined category 4 in my collection……… though I still can’t help going ‘Oooo shiny’ every time I open the lid of the box!

For more information about Extinct Audio visit: –

P.S.  Buying a Stereo pair was inevitable!

Extinct Audio BM9s. My custom Stereo Mount under construction

Custom mount under construction. using a pair of Rycote Universal Shock Mounts.


It is not often that I buy anything simply on the strength of the advertising, but in the case of the Aston Origin that is exactly what I did! In fact worse than that I bought two! Aston Origin Out of Box As a rule when you make this kind of impulse purchase, the goods arrive and you are doomed to disappointment. However, on this occasion it turns out that Aston microphones are as good in real life as they look on paper and on the website! Every aspect of the product has been carefully considered and designed from the ground up, everything from the unique flexible grill to the eco-friendly packaging.

At the present time the myriad of competitors  in this price range are mostly derivatives of older designs, often vaguely resembling particular vintage Neumann or AKG models. Aston Microphones have launched into this rather tired and jaded market place with product that is radically different.

Designed and built in the UK the Aston Origin not only has eccentric good looks, but it also boasts a distinctive ‘British’ sound. A sound shaped by a panel of 33 well known UK producers and recording professionals, who listened to every element of the audio chain, and by a lengthy process of elimination, chose the very best sounding components. For the full story and technical specifications visit: –

The stand mounting options are either the very classy custom Rycote InVision shock mount (left) or simply screwing the mic straight on to the stand.(right)

The stand mounting options are either the very classy custom Rycote InVision shock mount (left) or simply screwing the mic straight on to the stand.(right)

My only criticism of screwing the mic straight on to the stand is that whilst this is quick and easy, it is not always possible to manoeuvre the mic into exactly the right place.

Below is my homemade rotating knuckle joint which allows the mic to be moved into any position whilst screwed directly to the stand.     It is made from the top piece of an old camera tripod. Using Milliput (which sets rock hard) I glued a 3/8 inch thread adapter into the base.  Then over the screw which would normally hold the camera, I glued a 3/8 inch stand adapter to hold the mic. The ball-joint, which can rotate in any direction, is fixed by screwing down the chrome locking ring.

Rotating Knuckle Joint for Aston Origin

So What Does It Sound Like?

CLICK HERE for Rain Stick transient response test

CLICK HERE for Saxophone.

CLICK HERE for Piano and Orchestra

Neumann U87Ai  v  Aston Origin CLICK HERE

Neumann U87AiAston Origin grill


The Neumann U87Ai is 8 x the price of the Aston Origin!

Here are my Aston Origins used to record Vocals, Guitars and Harmonica on the title track of Steve Ashley’s new album ‘Another Day’.

OKTAVA MD-186 A Classic Clone?

It is quite a few years since AKG stopped manufacturing the remarkable D224 cardioid dynamic. There are still some appearing on eBay but the supply of ones in good working order is dwindling. I was therefore very curious when I spotted a Russian microphone which I had never seen, or heard of before, that looked somewhat reminiscent of the D224. It had a similar twin capsule design with separate elements for treble and bass, which means that like the 224 it would not exhibit proximity effect. It also appeared that the frequency response was not dissimilar (30Hz – 18kHz).  It even had an almost identical-looking stepped roll-off filter at 50Hz.  So to satisfy my curiosity I bought 2!

Oktava MD186

When the mics arrived I was immediately reminded of a well-known brand of margarine which has the slogan ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter!’ However, unlike the margarine that wouldn’t fool anyone, these Russian microphones look and sound very similar to their Austrian counterparts. Even the nickel plating appears to be as good as anything found on an AKG. It rapidly became clear that the Oktava MD-186 is not simply a cheap ‘knock off’.  It is a very solid, well-engineered, high quality, professional microphone.

Oktava MD186 Logo Closeup

Oktava MD186 Roll-off switch

Oktava MD186 Frequency Response Graph

Oktava MD186 Frequency Response Graph

So does it really sound anything like the classic AKG D224 ?  

Below are links to 3 very different sample recordings:-

CLICK HERE for Voice recording comparing an AKGD224 and the Oktava MD-186.

CLICK HERE for  Clarinet recorded on the MD-186

CLICK HERE for Live recording of Guitar and Cajon on MD-186 x2 

My two MD-186s are from the tail end of the Soviet era (1989 & 1990) when Oktava was still wholly owned by the Russian State. Although manufactured around a year apart they sound identical to one another. So much so that I would  not hesitate to use them as a stereo pair.

In Conclusion.

Looking on Oktava’s Russian website I was excited to find that the MD-186 appears to be still in production!

However, upon further investigation I can find no retail outlet actually selling them! It has been suggested to me that maybe they are only on sale to Russian TV and Radio Stations.  Or it could be that they are no longer manufactured and Oktava simply haven’t updated this web page on their Russian site! Whatever the explanation it seems a great pity that these classic dual element dynamic microphones are no longer available from Oktava………… or AKG !

A Great Technique For Recording Acoustic Guitar….. An Omnidirectional Lavalier!

Eh?…..  Yes, you heard right! A high quality omnidirectional lavalier simply pinned on the performer’s chest about 3 inches above the top edge of the guitar produces excellent results.

Lavalier Micing Acoustic Guitar

  • Because the microphone capsule is so small it has an excellent transient response and is capable of reproducing fine detail.
  • The mic has a very wide flat frequency response covering the full range of the instrument.
  • Being omnidirectional it has no proximity effect and therefore there is none of the boominess often associated with acoustic guitars.
  • No mic stand needed.
  • Allows the player freedom of movement.
  • Positioned above the guitar it reproduces the instrument from the same perspective as it is heard by the performer.  (When recording from the front, some performers will claim that the playback doesn’t sound like their guitar.( Arrrgh!!) This is because they never normally hear it from the front! So this method may cut down such studio arguments!………. ok that’s a bit of a long shot!)

     Here is a short clip of 12 string acoustic guitar recorded using            the HMN Sound MicroLav  (As pictured above)

What About Live?                                                                                                        I have even used this method in theatre shows with solo artists to reinforce vocals and guitar at the same time! The balance is achieved by moving the mic up or down the performer’s shirt! Members of the audience and other technicians  have often commented on how good the guitar sounds, not realising that it isn’t separately DI’d !                                                                                                             (N.B. Being an omni, there are however some limitations on gain before feedback. So maybe don’t try this if you are looking to take the back wall out of the place!)

HMN Sound MicroLav 2014 (Latest Developments)

A brand new version of the MicroLav from HMN Sound arrived a couple of days ago.  Once again I am amazed how quickly it got here! This microphone and the previous one only took 4 days to travel from Thailand! Internal parcel post here in the UK often takes more than that!                                                                                         Having been pleasantly impressed by the previous incarnation I was very keen to try out this latest model, and it does not disappoint!

HMN MicroLav

 Once again mic itself is housed in a tough metal shell with an integral grill, and the cable, although very slender, is reinforced with Kevlar which makes it deceptively strong. It is a high quality microphone aimed at the professional user. This mic appears to have a sensibly flat response and is very smooth right across the frequency range. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the MicroLav is the price! Currently selling on the HMN Sound website for $79 this is excellent value for money and considerably cheaper than competitor models such as the Sennheiser MKE2 which is currently available for around £225.            So what does it sound like and how does it compare?

CLICK HERE to find out.

The MicroLav is also excellent on vocals.

Check out this CLIP recorded without eq.

For technical information and purchasing visit