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Gentlemen... the Bruce Swedien signature microphone
Old 15th November 2009
  #1
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gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Gentlemen... the Bruce Swedien signature microphone

It´s my great pleasure to (finally) share my thoughts and experiences along with a couple of pics of the brand new Bruce Swedien signature microphone. It is to my knowledge the first time mr Swedien lends his name to a product so rest assured this mic meets quite serious standards.

It is designed by Martin Kantola, (who some of you may know as the man behind the NU-47 microphone) and handbuilt by Martin´s company Nordic Audio Labs.

I feel blessed that I have had a prototype, and later an updated beta of this mic for around a year. Martin is an old friend of mine and I´ve been a happy beta-tester as I appreciate the kind of unique, high-quality products Martin makes. So yes, I´m a little biased... you might wanna keep that in mind when reading this.

This is an all new design. It is not a clone of anything and the circuit is unique - a new sound all together. In my discussions with Martin he has explained the philosophy behind this microphone and while it is technical to a degree where I´m not sure I even understand everything I´ll try to compress and summarize it for you.

Starting from scratch the obvious question was which tube and capsule to build it around. The lack of quality tubes available led Martin to experiment with solid state circuitry. Spending hours upon hours analyzing classic tube mics to find out what makes the sound we all love he discovered some pretty interesting things. (I will leave it up to Martin to do any further explanation of how the components in, say a 47 interact as I´m not technical enough to do so.) So would it be possible to create a solid state mic with the magic of a good tube mic ? I honestly believe that is exactly what Martin has done here.

It is +48V phantom powered and the amplifier is single ended Class A with a very short signal path. The capsule is rectangular and has a very flat and natural response and very little annoying resonance, acoustically a brilliant capsule. It is cardioid only and takes lots of spl without choking. Inside the wooden enclosure the mic "floats", effectively making it internally shock-mounted. The lovely Viking ship logo is 3D in its appearance and I have no idea how he did it. It lights up in blue when you feed phantom power to the mic.

I find it hard to describe how something sounds but I´ll give it a try. This is a little like you would get the best of two worlds. It has the size and impact of a 47 but it is faster and quite a lot more detailed. Very smooth and open with a fairly flat response and a slightly extended top end. Very 47-ish, deep lowend. It has a larger than life quality yet feels intimate and dimensional. Again, hard to put into words. I have mostly been recording vocals, acoustic guitars, amps and percussion with it during this year and have gotten some of the best sounds ever. I hope to have the time to record some clips to share with you as everything it´s been used on so far has been for clients and material I can´t share at this moment. Bare with me and I´ll see what I can do.

Testing on my end has been done with a NPNG preamp and I know Martin has a bunch of Porticos along with his custom made reference preamps. The NPNG I believe gives a very good picture of how a mic actually sounds so I´m pretty confident in my opinion.

It will be available shortly.

Gentlemen... the Bruce Swedien signature microphone-swedien-mic.jpg

Gentlemen... the Bruce Swedien signature microphone-swedien-logo.jpg
Old 15th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Here´s a link to a youtube clip where Bruce talks about Martin:

YouTube - Bruce Swedien interview
Old 15th November 2009
  #3
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Looks fantastic.... any idea on the price?
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It should be somewhere in the $4700 / €3200 region, give or take a little.
Old 15th November 2009
  #5
70% Coffee, 30% Beer
 
Doc Mixwell's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction ➡️
Testing on my end has been done with a NPNG preamp and I know Martin has a bunch of Porticos along with his custom made reference preamps. The NPNG I believe gives a very good picture of how a mic actually sounds so I'm pretty confident in my opinion.
Old 15th November 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 
GYang's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction ➡️

Starting from scratch the obvious question was which tube and capsule to build it around. The lack of quality tubes available led Martin to experiment with solid state circuitry. Spending hours upon hours analyzing classic tube mics to find out what makes the sound we all love he discovered some pretty interesting things. (I will leave it up to Martin to do any further explanation of how the components in, say a 47 interact as I´m not technical enough to do so.) So would it be possible to create a solid state mic with the magic of a good tube mic ? I honestly believe that is exactly what Martin has done here.
Perfect approach. thumbsup
I wait for years for someone to build top quality solid state LD mic that might replace tube LD as only real choice for top quality vox recording.
How to order it?
PM with offer welcome.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Why give up the tube?

A tube is a tube is a tube.

The tube gives the tube sound doesn't it?
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Moderator
 
James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
We had the first one in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and worked with it for a week along with a Flea 47, Neumann U67, Neumann U87 and Neumann U47. Good times. Cool mic.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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fossaree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction ➡️
It should be somewhere in the $4700 / €3200 region, give or take a little.
sounds expensive to me ...
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That is beautiful!

I like. thumbsup
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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dbjp's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The revised version sounded very good in the second shootout Martin posted.
A little more pricier than I'd hoped for a solid state mic but at the same time I appreciate its quality and I'm sure Martin's support/warranty is great too.

I'd love to read something from Martin himself about this mic.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➡️
We had the first one in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and worked with it for a week along with a Flea 47, Neumann U67, Neumann U87 and Neumann U47.
So how did it compare to the rest of the gang? We need details!
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Moderator
 
James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by author ➡️
So how did it compare to the rest of the gang? We need details!
I lectured at a seminar and we used the 67 as the main mic, it was more open then the 67. It seemed to have a bit more clarity then the 67 but the 67 had a smeary kind of elegance. I think the Viking is more like an 87 where in it's a great mic on a great singer with their s**t together. The detail can be a great thing or a not so great thing. The Flea was a good 47 type mic but the vintage Neumann U47 just had endless mojo. The Viking again was more open and quicker then both the Flea and the Neumann. I thought it was a good mic, sounded like it be great for pop and rock stuff, anywhere where you'd use an 87. It was one of the brighter mics that I liked the sound, so many times when I hear bright vocal mics they grate on my nerves but so many times when I recording I wish the mic was a hair brighter, kind of a weird anomaly.

Anyway, this is no JJ Blair review, best I could do. It's a cool mic, you'd have to use it for yourself to really know if it was for you.

JL
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➡️
it's a great mic on a great singer with their s**t together. The detail can be a great thing or a not so great thing.
Yep, it´s not the forgiving kind.

Still, despite the great accuracy and detail to me it sounds and behaves in a very musical manner. It is not clinical by any means. Open, smooth and detailed would be my 3 words of choice.

One great thing about it is that the sound really holds up in one piece if you go wild on processing. Takes eq and compression without falling apart and you can add dirt to the signal after the fact with great results too.

One thing to take into consideration when evaluating this mic is that it lacks the typical presence bump. At first this can feel a little odd as most of us are used to hearing it. But I´m quite sure you will come to appreciate how easy it is to eq a fairly flat mic compared to a hyped one. No crazy resonant peaks here. The extended top end gives it a slightly modern flavor. Extended as in wide frequency response, not hyped.

I sent Martin a link to this thread. Maybe he could chime in and go into a little more detail.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➡️
I lectured at a seminar and we used the 67 as the main mic, it was more open then the 67. It seemed to have a bit more clarity then the 67 but the 67 had a smeary kind of elegance. I think the Viking is more like an 87 where in it's a great mic on a great singer with their s**t together. The detail can be a great thing or a not so great thing. The Flea was a good 47 type mic but the vintage Neumann U47 just had endless mojo. The Viking again was more open and quicker then both the Flea and the Neumann. I thought it was a good mic, sounded like it be great for pop and rock stuff, anywhere where you'd use an 87. It was one of the brighter mics that I liked the sound, so many times when I hear bright vocal mics they grate on my nerves but so many times when I recording I wish the mic was a hair brighter, kind of a weird anomaly.

Anyway, this is no JJ Blair review, best I could do. It's a cool mic, you'd have to use it for yourself to really know if it was for you.

JL
Thank you, great review! I think you answered a lot of questions many of us may have.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GYang ➡️
How to order it?
Right now the best thing is to contact Martin to find out if there is a dealer in your country, you can find the contact information on his site The NU-47 microphone project

I believe the sales logistics are in the works at the moment.
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Martin Kantola's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hi guys,

and thanks for all the kind words. Think James pretty much nailed it with his review! The 67 is a microphone I often bring out myself when I need something forgiving on a voice, a bit like grease on the camera lens ;-)

This project has been such an interesting journey into what makes a great microphone, so I'd love to discuss anything you might have questions about. Working hard on making demo units available too, but please be patient as I still assemble every single microphone by hand. The next batch of microphones is scheduled for December.

Plush had a great question already, why give up the tube? Several reasons: Good microphone tubes are becoming scarce or at least ridiculously expensive, and at some point we'll need replacements too. Unfortunately any mass-produced Chinese tube won't do the job as you've all probably noticed.

But also realized that it's really the single-ended class-A operation, with very few components in the signal path that I like so much. Want size, depth and detail in the sound, without sacrificing the sweetness. Always point out that I've never seen anybody ask Rupert Neve to go back to tube designs.

There's a few things tubes can't do, and it would not be possible to get such a super low noise floor with one. Here's the thing, even though we might not be disturbed by a little hiss as such, I believe it can still color the sounds we record in an unpleasant way. A bit like dither does. Have found that microphones considered slightly harsh often have an annoying type of self noise. Interesting enough, most classic tube microphones on the other hand have a very pleasing 'waves-of-the-ocean-in-the-distance' flavor of self noise. In any case, a relaxing 'crystal blackness' background (as Bruce calls it) is probably ideal, especially if we compress and EQ a lot.

Martin
Old 15th November 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
There is a lot to be said for this new microphone. I am working with Martin on USA distribution and I have one of the Bruce Swedien No. 1 Signature microphones state-side. Today I'm using it on guitars, vocals and even a little resonator ukulele... and it is just great.

A large part of our plan involves organizing listening sessions over the next few months in the USA. I'm looking to have the initial session in Madison or Milwaukee, WI. In late December I'm looking at booking listening sessions in Nashville, Orlando, and LA and Hawaii in January 2010.

Since all of Martin's microphones are hand-made we don't have a large stock at the moment. In time we will have demo units available, but for now the listening sessions will offer an opportunity to experience the microphones firsthand. There are a few spots left on the waiting list for the next batch, please contact me if you have questions or to secure a spot.

Email : mark(at)nu47.com
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Does it have a transformer in it?

Mark W
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Magic Alex's Avatar
I'm intrigued by the wood body. Does this affect or improve performance at all? What type of wood is it? There is a Jamaican wood that is extremely diffiicult to drill into. It doesn't warp, flex, or absorb moisture. Is the wood used similar to this type?
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
memphisindie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Rock on! I loved the U47 FET mic I used to use it plenty. I'd rather get a good solid state mic. It looks purdy too, lovin that viking motiff. LOVE.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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dpianomn's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I spent a couple of days singing through this mic recently and it's absolutely FANTASTIC. I inquired, and Martin from Nordic Audio told me he'll be doing a batch in December.

I plan to get one (or two!)

Aside from the sound, it's great looking in person and has a really nice weight to it.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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World Studios's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I tried it. It is a very nice and special mic for sure. I a/b'ed it to my reference mic, the Manley ref c. It was actually surprisingly close in some aspects. You could probably swear they both had tubes in them... Let's just say you won't miss the tube... :-) Soundwise, the mic has the low end of a u47 type mic. Lots of it... Nice. For vocals, you would need to roll off a bit, which Bruce does routinely, I am told by Martin. The midrange is stronger than the ref c can offer, without the weird precense peaks some lesser designs are plagued with. The top is not as bright as the manley one, but that one is very bright... I happen to like that, so I boosted a bit there... All in all, with some eq applied, the no 1 came off a bit beefier and more "rock " sounding. Definitely a better choice for acoustic instruments. Martin is doing some "pop"-mods to it right now for me. Looking forward to hearing that. :-)

The Viking ship is made from very small dots burnt into a crystal with laser. Looks like steel wire mesh. Very 3d. Very nice touch. :-) the mic looks absolutely amazing in real life and is nice and heavy to the touch as well.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
andrewenson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
how many of SWE#1's will be made?
there are only 3 nu-47's right?
if there is only going to be a few of this microphone i'll have to redirect my budget and wait for a few things i was hoping to get :P
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
gainreduction's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewenson ➡️
how many of SWE#1's will be made?
there are only 3 nu-47's right?
if there is only going to be a few of this microphone i'll have to redirect my budget and wait for a few things i was hoping to get :P
Unlike the NU-47 the Viking does not make use of any obsolete parts so it can be made in greater numbers.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Joram's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks to Martin I had to opportunity to test the Swedien No.1 in our studio last month.

First impression: a wonderful microphone with pristine high end sound, solidly build, good looks and a pleasant weight. It is different than the large membrane mics that are on the market today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James "LA" Lugo
I lectured at a seminar and we used the 67 as the main mic, it was more open then the 67. It seemed to have a bit more clarity then the 67 but the 67 had a smeary kind of elegance. I think the Viking is more like an 87 where in it's a great mic on a great singer with their s**t together. The detail can be a great thing or a not so great thing. The Flea was a good 47 type mic but the vintage Neumann U47 just had endless mojo. The Viking again was more open and quicker then both the Flea and the Neumann. I thought it was a good mic, sounded like it be great for pop and rock stuff, anywhere where you'd use an 87. It was one of the brighter mics that I liked the sound, so many times when I hear bright vocal mics they grate on my nerves but so many times when I recording I wish the mic was a hair brighter, kind of a weird anomaly.
I like to add that to my opinion the Swedien No.1 is a very serious competitor for Sony's C800G.

The Swedien is not a mic that stands out in character like for example a U67, but it does have an extraordinary openess and speed. Good for voice, practically all string instruments (acoustic guitars, piano, double bass but I can also imagine that two or three Swedien No1's would do absolutely great as main pair/three on orchestra's).

We did a little shootout at the Dutch gearslutz party. Soundclips will be available this week. I will post them in the gear shootouts subforum.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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Joram's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by author ➡️
So how did it compare to the rest of the gang? We need details!
As I wrote above. This week i will upload some clips.
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Loads of the times I am on tour. Wood can crack because of damp in my trailer or bus. Will there be a full iron one available. If so I will start saving.


Muziekschuur
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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World Studios's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joram ➡️

I like to add that to my opinion the Swedien No.1 is a very serious competitor for Sony's C800G.
...or, the Manley Ref C, which sounds almost the same as the Sony...
Old 16th November 2009 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Martin Kantola's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by muziekschuur ➡️
Wood can crack because of damp in my trailer or bus.
This is a good point, thanks for bringing it up. Initially I was also worried about this, but now that some of my microphones have been around for 15 years or so all over the world, it's safe to say that it's not an issue.

These microphone bodies are much less sensitive to humidity and temperature changes than say acoustic guitars or pianos, they are more like electric guitar bodies. With the Swedien model, there's no tube inside that generates heat either. In any case, there's a 10 year warranty on the microphones (including the body).

Martin
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