Today, we’ll be reviewing the Lauten Audio LA-120 small-diaphragm condenser microphone pair.
As a small family-run company, Lauten Audio has been crafting intriguing boutique microphones since 2006. Now, let’s see what the LA-120s have to offer.
Our verdict on the Lauten Audio LA-120
The LA-120s deliver professional results for a moderately affordable price. While they may be more suited towards smaller studio setups, we can easily see them being used in higher-grade studios for their neutral performance and versatility.
Polar pattern and frequency response
The LA-120s have a reported frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, a dynamic range of 120 dB, as well as an output impedance of 130 ohms.
The microphones come with a pair of cardioid capsules, a pair of omni-directional capsules, two mic clips, and two foam windshields.
Lauten Audio also provides with the mics a pair of attenuators, which screw onto the body and heighten the max SPL by 10 dB.
Overall, the microphones have an incredibly flat frequency response, only boosting around 7 kHz.
Each microphone also has 50 Hz and 150 Hz hi-pass filters, as well as 10 kHz and 15 kHz lo-pass filters, allowing for more versatility in your recordings.
Switching in the omni capsules delivers a brighter, and bolder sound. For most purposes, we would probably opt for the cardioid capsules, although for darker, roomier sounds may do well with the omnis.
The LA-120s are well built, although since they’re small-diaphragm condensers, they’re more delicate by design. With good care, the microphones are sure to last you for years.
While small-diaphragm condensers are lauded for their naturality and detail, they’re not often used on vocals.
Large-diaphragms are often used for the way they deal with proximity effect, adding warmth to the low-end of the voice without becoming overbearing.
While these microphones do a decent job at off-axis rejection with the cardioid capsules on, we wouldn’t use them for live vocals. Better to use something that could take more of a beating, like an SM58.
The LA-120s are a perfect candidate for overhead mics, especially when engaging one of the lo-pass filters. Without the lo-pass engaged, you may find the sound to be a bit too brash and modern for your liking.
Switch to the 15 kHz setting, and you’ll have something darker, without sacrificing too much air on the top end.
They also work well for capturing the snappiness off of a snare, although an SM57 may allow it to sit better in the mix.
The LA-120s are ideal for recording electric guitar, due to their transparency and high SPL, especially with the cardioid capsules engaged.
We probably wouldn’t use these for bass unless we were trying to capture more body in the mid-range.
The omni-directional capsules can add some brightness to any dull strings, although the cardioids are equally great when it comes to capturing a true representation of your guitar’s tonal characteristics.
Compared to other microphones
Here are a few microphones to compare against the Lauten Audio LA-120.
LA-120 vs. Studio Projects C-4
These are really great for the price, as they come with all the same features as the LA-120s, although with an added hypercardioid capsule. The main caveat is that their general sound has less depth.
LA-120 vs. Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina
The Edwinas are pleasantly dark, warm and lush, but they are significantly more expensive.
With the lo-pass filters you can achieve comparable results with the LA-120s, although it won’t have the same lushness.
LA-120 vs. Audio-Technica AT4041
These are okay, but not as good as the LA-120s. Plus you’re stuck with the cardioid polar pattern, making them less versatile.
Who is the Lauten Audio LA-120 best suited for?
If you’re looking for a solid set of overhead mics, or just a reliable pair of small-diaphragm condensers, the LA-120s leave little room for criticism.
- Natural performance.
- Somewhat affordable.
- Omni capsules sound significantly brighter.