According to a once pre-eminent North African by the name of Augustine, (the most famous of all the Churches forefathers) pure, unadulterated seduction is, and always will be, the ‘Original Sin’. It would appear that Lauten Audio had a
very solid handle on the Biblical when they created the LT-386 Eden, a gargantuan, theological obelisk of temptation that is starkly demarcated in a largely insipid and uninspiring marketplace dominated by unoriginal thinkers.
When we received the Eden in it’s low key, underplayed packing we already knew it was a doozy. (Appproximately the weight of a
newborn when not in it’s case). Still, it was hard not to notice the brusque warning, plainly stickered onto the outside of the package.
“The Eden is approximately the weight of a newborn child when not in its case.”
When first opening the packaging you are greeted with a very noir-esque, black aluminum case that looks like some Men in Black ‘ish’. Flicking the clasps and opening the lid doesn’t quite prepare you for what’s inside though. The Eden is almost incomparably beautiful. Nestled into the custom packing foam you are accosted by top-fuel, eye candy. Dripping in nickel and with a highly unusual, satin/matt green finish you immediately
think of high level automobilia. This mic, on first glance has all the form, drama and poise of a Bentley. That is, until you try and attach it to your sh*t microphone stand and barely have time to scream the words “Fire in the hole!”. Don’t do it. At the very least get yourself a Proline Studio Boom (they’re only like… $80.00) and make sure that you balance it out on the boom arm properly.
Unusually, the shock mount is of a unique, quasi-permanent status. It is possible to remove it but ultimately rather pointless as the main advantage it holds is that it cannot be knocked out of the mount due to it’s solid fixings. This also means that when you invert the mic on the boom (capsule down, body up) you can feel supremely confident that your 4k investment isn’t going to punch a hole in your wooden floor.
“Lauten Audio’s microphones are on the leading edge.”
So, what is a $4,000 microphone comprised of? What is locked away beneath that svelte, yet achingly rotund exterior? Well, firstly, let’s talk about the ethos behind it’s design. Since the inception of Lauten Audio, quantum mechanic/pen-smith/designer
Brian Loudenslager has pushed, unashamedly against the flow with all of his microphone designs. You see, it’s normal for companies to re-invent and re-hash classic microphones and wax lyrical about inherent advantages in material design and laser accurate machining
but simply churn out nothing more than modernized replicas. Not so with Loudenslager’s unique and original designs. Lauten Audio’s microphones are on the leading edge – seemingly built for studio visionaries and not brainless ‘Sheeple’.
At the heart of the LT-386 lies a custom wound output transformer that is designed to control transients more successfully, an extra-large 31.25mm dual-diaphragm capsule (which Lauten say is tuned specifically for the Eden) and an EF806s tube which, although of modern design is aged (like a distressed pair of Levi Jeans, presumably) using a process known only to Lauten. The mic uses a custom tube-microphone cable, again, designed by Lauten and finally, but perhaps most importantly of all a unique tech that Lauten term their Multi-voicing® function.
This is what the Eden is becoming best known for. Multi-voicing® technology is quaint title-age for a proprietary circuit design that incorporates three individual (read separate) circuit paths. These are labelled F, G and N. Standing for Forward, Neutral and Gentle. Yes, a little like a gearbox… The Gentle position is designed to calm down overtly bright sources – think Marge Simpson in the booth or, if there is no problematic signal coming through the mic then you can enhance what is already there using this G setting giving you a creamy, mellow feel. Neutral is as neutral does. N leans towards the 21st century in terms of it’s overall dynamic, whilst interestingly it also incorporates a kind of ‘S’ control for those horrible, hissing, snakey vocalists. F or Forward is supposed to be the last word in modernity for the Eden, with open, airy highs and a solid but slim midrange.
The Eden's Gearbox (above)
“This is what the Eden is becoming best known for. Multi-voicing® technology.”
Shapes of Things
Kick and Vocal shaping using the carefully designed, two-stage low-cut switch. Configuring the shaping filters with the Multi-voicing® Switch presents a wealth of colors (above)
Another unique feature that carries the Eden flag is the innocent looking Hi-Pass switch on the mic body that Lauten have appelled the Kick and Vocal Shaper What is a kick shaper, you might ask? And indeed, what is a vocal shaper? Well according to Brian and the lads, it’s a 2-stage, low-cut (or high-pass) filter. Primarily designed to help engineers and producers get the right signal when and where it counts – at source. As the adage goes, shit in, shit out and the Lauten team know this. At rest there is no filtering at all, and I have to say that we found this to be perfect for almost every vocalist that used the microphone during a six month plus period. When you actuate the first position, or ‘middle position’ you are awakening the “Kick-shaper which has a particularly savage cut to kill the subs and the booming rattles that can, ironically, make a kick feel non-bassy. Locking in the ‘bottom position’ accesses the “Vocal-shaper” which is of course, provided to give you that modern, ramped vocal spectra that we all know and love.
“…provided to give you that modern, ramped vocal spectra that we all know and love.”
Everyone at APN loved the Eden for the same reasons. First of all, it sounds fantastic using almost any combination of the Multi-voicing® and/or shaping tools on a huge range of material. It seemed that everyone had their favorite Multi-voicing® setting but any of the artists who used the microphone tended to feel the same way as the engineer about ‘appropriate’ settings. And this is the heart of the matter. Every combination reveals something different from the last – but it’s identifiably different to any ears, artistic or otherwise. This surprised most as you wouldn’t imagine there to be such a demarcation between seemingly simple, on-body settings.For the Original Sin project track featuring the artist Keelow Ali we went through almost every setting on the mic (with dry signal)
To find the Eden's sweet-spot it's a good idea to try every combination of the Multi-voicing and Shaping filter to reveal something fresh (above)
“Everyone at APN loved the Eden for the same reasons.”
to find the song’s sweet spot. Interestingly we ended up choosing the ‘G’ Setting for his main vocal (which sits high and upfront) over the quasi boom bap of the track. Something about the Eden accentuated an edge in Keelow’s voice but in ‘G’ mode not so. There are some lower mids in his voice but when using the 2 Stage filtering control we ultimately felt the vocal to be better balanced without. When engaged, even at a minimum it felt too hyped for the track. This goes to show how different the experience can be for any combination of artist and engineer. During the mix, we did dial in a little 2.5k and a not insubstantial 4dB of 10k on a Maag EQ which is all the vocal really wanted in order to sound like a perfect representation of the artists alter ego.
Eden sounds as good as it looks (above)
The Eden sounds shockingly good with no processing at all and, even after going through a comprehensive chain of de-essing, Fabfilter Q3 EQ, Iron Compressor, Millennia Compressor and the Maag EQ there is really nothing more than creative focus added to the original signal. This is why I personally fell in love with the Eden – I felt like it was bringing me closer to the artists’ dream of themselves without forcing me to forge a sound through a choking miasma of heavily adjusted plugins. The Eden requires nothing more than moderate post processing and that is extremely unusual.
For the vocal halos we ended up using the far more brash ‘F’ setting in order for them to peek out through the mix yet still lock down the stress points of the main vocal. This was the perfect choice and it rendered the exact results we were hoping for. This is an area that usually requires all kinds of funky processing – from savage hi-passing and 200% stereo widening to Waves Doubling and so on and so forth. Not so in Original Sin. The only post we used on the halos was to lower the formant and pitch slightly with Soundtoys’ Alterboy and add a extra compression from the SSL V6 Buss comp to keep the two lines separated. Our female vocalist, GQ, jumped on using the Forward settings and gave a perfect performance first time up. When I talked to her she let me know that the sound, even dry put her straight in the comfort zone. It already sounded ‘produced’ to her.
The LT-386 is a complete studio microphone - make no mistake. (above)
“…the sound, even dry put her straight in the comfort zone. It already sounded ‘produced’ to her.”
We say this time and time again to people who ask us what they should spend their money on first when setting up a project studio; “don’t waste your time buying expensive plugin bundles or outboard gear, controllers or $2k headphones if you don’t own one exceptional microphone.” If you’re a tracking engineer or you intend to service vocalists and rappers as a profession a sweet sounding, high quality condenser is an absolute must. A mic as beautiful as the Lauten LT-386 Eden, with such a huge amount of genuine, inbuilt flexibility that is also built like a brick shit house
is always going to be the best investment that you can make. You see it’s impossible to BS a quality input signal. In almost every other area of music production and mixing you can blind people with smoke and mirrors but not the source. Never the source. The Eden takes almost no time to tempt you into enormous debt and justify what others will consider reckless spending. If you’re given an opportunity to take it back to your studio to try out there is literally a zero percent chance that you will not want to buy it. That is seduction on a scriptural level. You have been warned.
“The Eden is seduction on a scriptural level. You have been warned.”
- Beautiful build quality
- Multi-voicing™ feature
- Ultra Modern sound
- Built in shockmount can be awkward
- Massive body does not accommodate Kaotica Eyeball
- Requires purchase of Expensive mic stand