Tierra Audio has made a name for itself by promoting sustainable methods of production and using recyclable materials in its products. The New Twenties microphone follows suit, made of stainless steel and aluminum, with a case made out of bamboo.
I’ve been more or less impressed with what Tierra has come out with, but I’m curious to see how this microphone scales up. Let’s get started.
About the author
Final verdict on the New Twenties
I’m not giving this microphone a bad score because it sounds bad. Actually, it sounds amazing on a lot of things. I just feel that it’s a bit overpriced for what it offers.
If you’re looking for a colored microphone because you don’t have one yet, I would highly suggest you go rummage through eBay or a local tag sale to see if you can find something for cheap. A lot of the best character microphones can be found for less than $100, in my opinion.
To reiterate, this is not a bad microphone. On the contrary, it’s actually great. I also really appreciate Tierra’s stance when it comes to sustainable methods of manufacturing. I just don’t know if I could be convinced to buy it myself.
What we like
- Rich and interesting tone.
- Durable build made of sustainable materials.
- Unique design.
What we don’t like
- A bit too niche.
- A tad expensive considering how niche it is.
Polar pattern and frequency response
The New Twenties microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, meaning that it is most sensitive to sound coming from the front and much less sensitive to sound coming from the sides or back of the microphone.
This pattern is most useful for instances in which you want to isolate your sound source and reject unwanted background noise. It appears Tierra Audio has not listed the frequency response on its spec sheet, but gauging by the graph they’ve provided, it seems to have a range of 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
I can hardly say that this microphone has a flat frequency response, although this certainly wasn’t the point in designing it. Usually, microphones will aim to reproduce a sound source as accurately as possible. However, since most engineers and studios will already have a collection of standard microphones, having a handful of dedicated outliers with their own distinctive characteristics can be a game changer. This may not be ideal in every case, but when used appropriately can work wonders.
That being said, the microphone’s frequency response graph shows a series of peaks and valleys. Mainly peaking at around 5 kHz, 1 kHz and 300 Hz before beginning to drop off slowly at around 100 Hz. This may sound bad, but ultimately I think this helps the microphone to have a harmonic depth and richness that is rather pleasant.
For what it is, the microphone has an overall smooth character with an unhyped upper register. I’ve found that the low mids might be a bit overwhelming at times (at least for my vocals), so I’d suggest leaving some distance between the mic and the sound source to avoid any plosives and unwanted proximity effects.
This microphone can work extremely well for vocals. I’m not sure if I would opt to use it in a live setting, unless maybe if I was playing a radio show or something along the lines of a Tiny Desk performance. It’s definitely doable, but maybe impractical considering the price and quality of the mic.
The rich harmonics of the microphone can help add some heft and weight to vocalists with thinner voices. I can also see how its design could add some eye-candy in the context of a live performance or video.
Streaming and podcasting
Not sure if I would ever recommend this microphone in the context of streaming or podcasting. It seems like an odd choice for such an endeavor, unless you’re specifically trying to emulate the sound of a 1920’s radio broadcast. In which case, have at it.
Guitars and amps
I see no reason why I wouldn’t at least try to use this microphone for any of these applications. The warmth of its character lends itself quite well to a variety of styles.
The Lundahl transformer-coupled output seems to add a lot of harmonic complexity, which can warrant a lot of really beautiful and lush results.
While I did mention that the low-mids can suffer from a bit of build up, the more I experimented with mic placement and distancing the sources, the more success I had in balancing the sound.
I’d say it’s worth a shot to try to use this microphone for drums. I wasn’t crazy about most of my results other than using it as a crush mic, which I thought added some nice texture. I could see it being a successful snare microphone as well.
Not the greatest I’ve used, however, I didn’t have that much time to test it out thoroughly. So that might be affecting my opinion here.
The microphone certainly looks unique, and effectively harkens back to the era of its namesake. I might not be the target audience they had in mind, but I can understand the appeal.
Even without aesthetics, the microphone feels like an art piece. The stainless steel, aluminum, and bamboo casing they’ve employed feel high-quality and durable. Which, ultimately, is more exciting to me. Seeing how it’s unfortunately rare to see an audio manufacturer so dedicated to sustainability.
Tierra has even opted to laser engrave all of its mics and packaging to avoid any chemical pollution. Admirable.
The pop shield is wire mesh and magnetically snaps onto the mic. It’s efficient and rather effective at reducing plosives.
The microphone also comes along with two interchangeable magnet ridges, created out of recycled methacrylate and bamboo, respectively. These can be laser engraved to order with logos and text of your choosing.
The microphone also comes with a 5-year warranty.
Compared to other microphones
Since the New Twenties was specifically designed as a character mic, I’d like to preface all of this by saying that the whole point is that it’s a microphone that doesn’t (and isn’t) supposed to sound like anything else.
There are many microphones that one can consider when looking for something with more color, and sometimes the best colored mics are ones you’ll find for $20 at a yard sale.
So, with that in mind, I chose three microphones that cover a wide budgetary range for you to consider. I’ll start with the closest comparison.
New Twenties vs Sontronics Sigma 2
The Sigma is not only close in price to the New Twenties, but also close in vision. It appears that Sontronics were inspired by notable figures of the swing era, and wanted to design a mic that could imply and build upon the aesthetic and tonal warmth of that time period.
The main difference is that the Sigma is a ribbon microphone while the New Twenties is a condenser. Neither is better than the other, but the Sigma is definitely more sensitive. You can’t really go wrong with either, it just depends on your preferences and needs.
New Twenties vs Placid Audio Carbonphone
The Carbonphone isn’t nearly as clean-sounding as the New Twenties microphone, but it certainly provides a unique, fuzzy, and blown-out tone that can add some interesting harmonic and tonal information.
I can’t say the Carbonphone is better, but it’s wildly different in terms of its approach. It’s also much cheaper.
New Twenties vs Electro-Voice 635A
This is an incredibly cheap option, but definitely worth your consideration if you’re looking for a colored mic. It provides so much character as a microphone and can be used in a wide variety of applications.
I’m biased of course, as it’s one of my favorite microphones. However, I hope this illustrates the point that you can find a microphone that achieves the same effect as the New Twenties without giving up an arm and leg for it.
Who is the Tierra Audio New Twenties microphone best suited for?
This microphone is best suited for professionals with some extra cash to spend who are looking for a new toy to get some inspiration.
This is one of those mics that you might not have a clear sense for until you’ve shot it out in a few applications to see what you like out of it.Check availability here: Vintage KingFront End Audio
Watch this video by my colleague Fabio where he puts the Tierra Audio New Twenties microphone to the test.