Today, we will be reviewing the Scope Labs Periscope omnidirectional microphone.
The Periscope looks like a pipe stolen from an engine room and has a built-in compressor. This might be great news for those of you who are excited by novelty, but let’s see if its performance is as exciting.
Our verdict on the Periscope
There really isn’t anything that truly compares to the Periscope, as it’s a completely innovative and unique design that stands alone.
While most of what we have to say about it is fairly hit or miss, let’s try not to be too negative about its actual function! It can be amazing for drums, especially in a metal or punk setting where aggressive is the name of the game.
The Periscope isn’t very practical, but when it does work, it really gives a whole new life to your recording. We can’t give it the highest rating, however, because the truth is that it won’t work for everybody.Available at: ThomannVintage King
Polar pattern and frequency response
The Periscope is an omnidirectional microphone with a frequency response of 20 Hz – 16 kHz. As far as dynamic range is concerned, Scope Labs has chosen to list the specs as ‘adequate’ – whatever that means.
Most other specs that might be helpful in gauging how this particular microphone may perform has simply been left out of the spec sheets, which may be concerning to some.
However, the Periscope was not designed to sound good on paper. It features a built-in compressor to smash whatever signal coming in for instant parallel compression. The results? Well, they vary, and there isn’t a great way to tell whether the microphone will perform well for a given track or application.
Your best bet is to just leave it on in the room while tracking in hopes that maybe it will bring some magic to your track.
Due to the built-in compressor, this isn’t going to be your first choice when it comes to tracking vocals in the studio.
Could it potentially work? Maybe. But it all depends on the track you’re working on and whether the results fit the ‘vibe’. You can’t really get too specific with expectations here.
As an omnidirectional microphone, we can’t recommend using this for live vocals, unless you want to equally pick up sounds from the crowd and the rest of the band, which is usually undesirable.
Maybe if you’re doing some sort of performance art, or are a part of a noise rock band. Otherwise, best to leave it at the studio.
While the Periscope is best used as a room mic for drums, the truth is that it’s not going to be perfect in every situation. When it works, however, it really works. It smashes your drums into oblivion and provides some instant parallel compression.
You will need a decent sounding room, though, because you will inevitably hear it in your recording. Its performance tends to be more ‘interesting’ than usable, and is very hit or miss.
All that being said, in the right context it can add a whole new life and breath to your drum sound – especially in a more aggressive setting such as in metal, punk, industrial, etc.
You can find some fairly usable sounds with the Periscope, especially if you’re trying to emulate a Led Zeppelin-esque guitar tone. Otherwise, you’ll more often opt for something else with a bit more focus.
Obviously, it depends on the style of music and the general arrangement of the track, but you probably won’t be reaching for this specific microphone nine times out of ten.
Again, your best bet is to just have it recording for everything, just on the off chance that it brings something to the table you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.
If you want an unfocused, muddy, and overly compressed bass sound – this microphone is great! It might make for some tubbiness, but if that’s what you’re into, you won’t be disappointed.
We’re not sure it has the ability to capture a really solid low end, and you might end up using it more as a character mic. Again, the results you yield will be 50/50 in terms of usability.
This mic can be pretty noisey on quieter sound sources, so yet again, the results are going to be hit or miss.
Usually, blowing your acoustic guitars with parallel compression isn’t an appealing sound, but it can feasibly work as a stylistic choice.
If you’re trying to record something fairly gentle, the Periscope definitely isn’t the right choice.
What can we say, the thing literally looks like a copper pipe ripped out of the engine room of a submarine. That being said, there isn’t much to knock on it for the durability of its design. Although, the overall aesthetic is very niche.
If steampunk is your cup of tea, then the Periscope might be the best-looking microphone available to you. Otherwise, there isn’t much to say about it.
Compared to other microphones
There truly isn’t any comparison to make with the Periscope, as there is no microphone that does what it does.
The best we can do is share some more popular omnidirectional microphones for you to look through. However, none of them will yield the same results, as they lack a built-in compressor.
Lauten Audio LA-120
The LA120 are great for room miking drums, and are often cited as one of the more popular choices for omnidirectional microphone pairs. However, they won’t offer any ‘vibe’ to your music that the Periscope will.
Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina
These microphones are pleasantly warm, dark and lush. They won’t provide the brutality that the Periscope will, but they are the more versatile choice.
Who is the Scope Labs Periscope best suited for?
The Periscope is best suited for engineers looking to beef up their room sound. Its novel performance can be well worth the investment, but it is tailored towards more aggressive styles of music. Probably not ideal for those of you trying to recreate a Joni Mitchell record.
- Aggressive sound.
- Magical in the right context.
- Completely and utterly unique.
- Not cheap.