When starting out in home recording, most people gravitate towards a large diaphragm condenser like the LCT 440 PURE as their one do-it-all mic.
But there is another type of condenser that has earned its way into the mic lockers of every major studio. And that's the often-overlooked, small-diaphragm condenser or "pencil mic".
In this article, we’ll explain their advantages and the different types we offer.
Why use a small diaphragm condenser mic?
If you’re recording more than just vocals, you should consider having a pencil mic or two in your locker. Here’s why:
Accurate frequency response:
Some sources, like vocals, demand a certain vibe and character, while others (like acoustic instruments) might need a sense of accuracy and realism. Small diaphragm condensers are less likely to “color” your sound like a large-diaphragm condenser. These are mics you go to for accuracy, not vibe.
For example, check out the frequency response of the LCT 140 AIR in “FLAT” mode compared to the LCT 440 PURE.
Advantages of a small diaphragm condenser microphone
Better transient response:
Strong transients can be problematic for recording vocals by overemphasizing sibilance and hard consonants. But they can be desirable when recording instruments. Usually, we desire a perfect transient response for capturing the strum of an acoustic guitar or getting the full image in a drum overhead track.
Small diaphragm condensers are a far better choice for capturing these small details in your sound because the smaller diaphragm has an inherently faster transient response.
Compact and light for easy mic placement
Large diaphragm condensers usually need a shock mount and can weigh heavily on the stand. It’s hard to get them into position properly in some cases, such as when you want to mic a part of the drum kit.
This isn’t as much of an issue with small diaphragm mics, especially LEWITT mics. You can sneak them in anywhere, and all they need is a mic clip.
Better polar pattern consistency across the frequency spectrum
Small diaphragm condensers perform better with off-axis sounds, both in coloration and rejection. With some cardioid mics, you may experience tonal coloration as the sound source moves off-axis. This is less of a problem with small-diaphragm mics, which makes it easier to place them around guitars, drums, and orchestras.
What small diaphragm mic should I get?
We offer two small diaphragm condenser mics – the LCT 040 MATCH and the LCT 140 AIR. These mics both sound fantastic and provide recordings with great details, so you can easily achieve outstanding results on any instrument.
But what are the differences between them?
LCT 040 MATCH
- Well-balanced sound with pleasant high-end
- Made for acoustic guitar and drum recordings
- Durable and light aluminum housing
- Cardioid polar pattern
The LCT 040 MATCH is an affordable and highly reliable SDC mic. Besides its great sound, it’s popular due to its compact and lightweight design. It’s very easy to transport and position.
You should choose this mic for a shimmery or airy tone. You also will get great results with instruments that have pronounced transients, such as acoustic guitars or drums.
LCT 140 AIR
- Choose between two sound characteristics
- Made for acoustic instrument recording
- Low-cut filter and PAD
- Cardioid polar pattern
The LCT 140 AIR will give you a few more options regarding tone. The primary advantage of this mic is the two modes, AIR and FLAT. The former will offer a response similar to the LCT 040 MATCH, while the latter setting will let you get a neutral, flat frequency response.
Moreover, the LCT 140 AIR also lets you add a low cut filter at 80 Hz and a -12 dB PAD. The pad allows recording louder sources, which may make it more suitable for close-micing drums than the LCT 040 AIR.
What about matched pairs or microphone stereo pairs?
Getting a matched pair will allow you to record in stereo. Stereo mic techniques offer a bigger picture of the instrument’s sound and allow for more depth and width in the mix. Getting matched pairs makes stereo recording easier and the results more consistent.
A "matched" pair means that the mics will have a very closely matched frequency response and output level
LEWITT small diaphragm condensers are ideal to buy as matched pairs because they are relatively inexpensive compared to large diaphragm mics, and we don’t charge extra for the matching process.