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True love for great sound unites us. 

LCT 1040 - Developing the ultimate microphone system

Jan 19, 2022 7 min read

Thomas K.T.
I like words.

LCT 1040 development

In this blog, we'll take a deep dive into the development process of our most challenging product so far, LCT 1040 - the ultimate microphone system. 

Learn about our vision of revolutionizing the recording workflow, how we explored our ideas for sound shaping, about the design and state-of-the-art prototyping process involving 4406 hours of 3D printing.

Read about Project 1040, a community-driven fine-tuning process, where over 2500 audio enthusiasts from all over the world directly impacted the sound characteristics of LCT 1040 (If you're one of them, thanks again). And, of course, the close cooperation with world-renowned engineers and producers during the development process to bring this microphone system to perfection.

Last but not least, you'll find out how we can ensure excellent quality with every microphone. Enjoy.

LCT 1040

Our vision

Our vision was clear from the beginning. We wanted to revolutionize the recording workflow by creating the ultimate microphone system.

Creativity comes first; engineering comes second. 

LCT 1040

Both are crucial for the success of a recording session. The longer we can keep both engineers and artists in the zone, the better. It has always been our vision to make the process of getting the perfect sound as easy as possible, the sound you envision, the one you already hear in your head. 

Timeline

LCT 1040 timeline

Timeline 2

Exploration

Exploring means following different paths and singling out the ones that work. In the exploration phase, we took our initial vision and gave it a shape.

The most fun comes from leaving our comfort zone and trying new things out.

And as we found, it is the only way to create something extraordinary. This process includes research within many different areas. We designed our early prototypes to allow for as much sound experimentation as possible.

Tube technology offers the highest flexibility

We were looking for something that would combine nicely with that precise FET sound of LEWITT and provide the sonic flexibility we were looking for. After exploring different paths, we found that tube technology offers the highest flexibility to create various sound characteristics.

Picture a glowing tube. You may think about a warm, compressed, saturated sound when it comes to tube sound, while someone else thinks of a hi-fi-like clean sound.

LCT 1040 Tube

All this is true for tube technology. In our exploration process, we found that a total of four tube flavors is exactly what a microphone needs to cover most of the applications and styles that are recorded in the studio: 

  • Clear
  • Warm 
  • Dark
  • Saturated

We wanted to back up our approach scientifically with a sound survey, and so we did.

Early prototypes

Tube prototype
This prototype PCB with hand-soldered joints allowed us to compare different tube circuits and tubes on the same source. 

 

Early prototype
Prototype with several options to tweak parameters like plate voltage and tube heat.

 

Conducting the sound survey

We invited the whole audio community to shape the sound of LCT 1040. The survey ran from the 16th of July until the 31st of August, 2019, and we collected 2530 entries in total. 

We wanted to verify our approach scientifically. 

We built a mini-website featuring different sound samples and asked participants to state their preferences. They listened to nine pairs of sound samples, and each sample was played three times. This way, we could filter out inconsistent answers.

Each sound sample consisted of two variants, and one could state individual preferences. There were sound samples of female and male vocals, plus an acoustic guitar recording.

Sound survey

1. Clear vs. Warm A significant number of participants were able to hear the difference between Warm and Clear consistently. Though there was a strong preference for Clear, Warm could meet the personal tastes of many.

2. Clear vs. Saturated Low consistency and preference stats showed us that the Saturated tube characteristic needed improvements. 

3. Clear vs. Dark Many participants were consistently able to identify the difference between Clear and Dark in our blind test. Almost a quarter thereof preferred Dark over Clear. 

Development

After exploring and validating the different options, we took the best ones to start the product design and development. As always, the feature set defined the design.

The right design turns pure functionality into exceptional usability. 

Gernot

The design gives the substance its form - size, layout, the feel of the knobs, the connectors, every single part. All aspects serve a specific design purpose, and nothing was taken from another product.

Some things are often inconspicuous, but great challenges are often in the little details. There is no other product that we have ever developed to such a level of detail. In the end, almost every component of the LCT 1040 is custom-made from scratch. 

LCT 1040 remote release mechanism

State of art prototyping

For us, it is essential to create ways that allow us to interact with the product at a very early stage of the development and design process.

Our 3D-printed prototypes help to tackle technical challenges early on.

LCT 1040 remote prototypePrototypes give our product designers and engineers the freedom to optimize and bring the design to perfection. They also allowed us to involve the audio community early on. We can send out prototypes, get feedback, iterate, and build new prototypes. 

Project 1040

Project 1040 started a fine-tuning process supported by the global community. The product design and feature set were close to final, and we had functional prototypes. However, we could still adapt parameters of various features, including the sound characteristics. 

The professional feedback we collected ranged from friendly appreciation to brutal honesty. 

prototypes
Getting the prototypes through airport security wasn't easy. Could be a bomb, right?

We set out to see many world-renowned engineers and producers in their studios to put our prototypes to the test in real-life conditions. It was incredibly exhausting and fun at the same time, but we got what we were looking for. 

Harmony Samuels
COO and Head of Product Management, Moritz Lochner with star producer Harmony Samuels. Associated artists include Ariana Grande, Janet Jackson, Chris Brown. 
Kia Knoester testing the LCT 1040 prototype
Kia Knoester explores the different tube characteristics of the prototype. 
Adam Schoeller
The prototype was also tested on different acoustic guitar models. Adam Schoeller, Studio Engineer at NRG Recording Studios, North Hollywood.

 

Finetuning at the LEWITT studio

After we have collected all the feedback, we started implementing it.

Our in-house studio in Vienna is specifically designed to test our microphones in a studio environment with a reverb time of 300 ms.

LEWITT studio in Vienna

The 68 absorber modules are a mix of absorbers and so called diffusorbers. As the last few steps of a journey are often the hardest, it took a lot of perseverance to get the saturated tube characteristic to where we wanted it to be. 

Mass production

The microphone system moves to the mass production phase after its development is complete.

The industrialization process is a symphony of interdependent factors.

7

As the LCT 1040 consists almost entirely of specially manufactured components, it is crucial to test the manufacturing tools before moving towards mass production. The process is called pre-production and it is the last check before we start to produce in larger quantities.

Inspecting pre-production samples

We double-check every single piece for mechanical fitting. Step by step, we move towards the final CMF (color, material, finish). 

Pre Production Samples

 

Ensuring the highest quality

During the development process, we focus on the listening experience, which is directly related to the microphone's acoustic properties. As soon as our final prototype is confirmed, we do not leave anything to chance during production.

Consistent quality is a significant part of our product philosophy.

Anechoic chamber

 With the help of modern technology, we can ensure that our high quality standards are kept consistent. 

Last check

 

LCT 1040 color development

 

Looking ahead to the next challenge

"Having the opportunity to embark on such a monumental endeavor - the creation of a product that carries the knowledge and ideas of a whole industry - is a great privilege, and I'm profoundly grateful for it. 

Roman Perschon, CEO of LEWITT

I thank my colleagues at LEWITT who believed in this product idea and poured so much dedication into this project. And I thank all the supporters and contributors around the globe who shared their feedback and ideas that allowed us a reality check at any given point throughout this remarkable journey. Without you, we wouldn't have created this flagship microphone system that is set to revolutionize the recording process." - Roman Perschon, CEO

Contact us

If you have any further questions about LCT 1040 or any other of our products, we'll be glad to hear from you. 


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