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Lauten Audio LA-320 V2 Review

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Are you an audio engineer or producer looking to mix up your mic locker? If so, the Lauten Audio LA-320 might be the next mic you need to buy. The LA-320 is a tube microphone, instead of the typical FET style of most condenser mics.

Tube microphones use vacuum tubes to amplify the signal, which can produce a pleasant harmonic distortion that adds depth and character to recordings. Additionally, tube microphones tend to have a smooth and silky high-end response, making them an excellent choice for capturing vocals and acoustic instruments. By incorporating a tube microphone into their setup, an audio engineer can expand their tonal palette and add a unique flavor to their recordings.

The Lauten Audio LA-320 is our choice for a first-time tube microphone user, due to its flexibility, colorful sound, and high build quality. So let’s dive in to what makes this microphone the perfect first tube mic!

Lauten Audio LA-320: First Impressions

When you receive your LA-320, the first thing you’ll notice is the sleek black-on-black packaging. The mic comes with a power supply, a 5-pin XLR cable, and a spider style shock mount. The fit and finish of the LA-320 feels ultra-premium, especially considering the affordable price.

When you first set up the LA-320, you may be surprised at how compact and light the power supply and mic are. It’s not bulky and overbuilt like some other tube mics I’ve used, making it comfortable to put on a stand and mic up an acoustic guitar or to use as drum overheads.

Also included in the box is a user guide for the LA-320, including suggested settings for recording different sources. This is super helpful to anyone just starting out or recording a new instrument for the first time. Giving engineers a starting place is a great way to ensure we get the best results from our purchases, and I wish more audio brands included something like this with their products. Obviously, it’s important to use your ears and experiment with settings for yourself, but it is nice to see what the designers of the microphone think are good baseline settings.

Check out this video of my first impressions of the LA-220 and LA-320 mics:

Who is the LA-320 for?

The Lauten Audio LA-320 is a great choice for anyone looking to dive into the world of tube microphones. Its price point puts it within reach of new producers looking to build a mic collection, but it’s not so cheap that the build quality or sound suffers. If you’re looking to buy your first condenser microphone, the LA-320 is a solid choice, since it is highly adaptable to different voices via the onboard sound shaping options.

It’s also a great choice for a more experienced producer or engineer looking to add a stereo pair of tube mics to their arsenal, since you could reasonably afford to purchase two. This makes a pair of LA-320’s a great choice for project studios looking to record drums and acoustic instruments. A single LA-320 is a great choice for a producer looking to build a great vocal chain for recording singers and rappers.

LA-320 Features and Settings

As mentioned, the Lauten Audio LA-320 offers onboard sound shaping options. The mic features 120 Hz and 12kHz cut options, allowing you to flip between the warm sound of a vintage mic, or the clarity of a modern condenser. This flexibility means you can cover a wide range of voices and song styles with just one microphone. If you want to capture highly detailed acoustic guitar for a pop production, or you want warm, dark vocals for a retro style track, you can achieve both without having to swap mics.

Like all tube microphones, the LA-320 does require the included power supply, so that is something you’ll need to consider when purchasing. You will need to plug the power supply into a power outlet, so it’s not the best choice for a portable recording rig or live applications. Tube condenser mics like the LA-320 are typically meant for in-studio use.

The LA-320 features a dual-triode vacuum tube, similar to the tubes found in vintage tube mics. You can swap the tube out if you’d like to experiment with other options, but the included tube sounds great as is. After years of use, your tube may eventually need to be replaced, but it’s simple and cheap to do so.

Tube replacement on the Lauten Audio LA-320

How does the LA-320 sound?

  •  The LA-320’s onboard sound-shaping eliminates the need for mic swaps and wasted time. Choose between the warmth of a classic tube microphone and the clarity of a modern tube microphone at the flip of a switch.
  • The LA-320 isn’t flat – it sounds like music.
  • The LA-320 is hand-soldered with high-resolution, low-distortion polypropylene capacitors and resistors, a dual triode vacuum tube, and a vintage-inspired output transformer. The resulting sound is crisp, clear, and full without the high noise floor and delicacy of vintage microphones.
  • Each LA-320 is lovingly designed and built to last a lifetime by the Lauten Audio family.

The Lauten Audio LA-320 is a great sounding microphone, to put it simply. It captures just the right amount of detail, and it has a balance of brightness and warmth to give it the “already mixed” sound we’ve come to love in tube mics, without any harshness or overly bright frequencies that you’ll sometimes notice in mics at this price point.

The hi and lo cut switches on the mic lead to a noticeable difference in tone, allowing you to shape the sound of the mic to match the song you’re recording. Instead of having to swap out different mics to achieve the sound you’re looking for, it’s convenient to try different switch configurations. After years of recording, I’ve come to trust my instincts when it comes to mic selection for a certain source, but there is still a temptation to A/B test every mic each time you start a new record. Having the option to try a few different switch configurations before you hit record is a nice compromise, meaning you can still experiment without having to swap out mics, power supplies, and cables every time.

I compared the LA-320 to the Sony 800-G, and by moving both switches toward the center, I was able to get a similar tone. If you move the switches to the outside, it sounds similar to a vintage tube mic like a U-47. I’m working on a tube mic comparison video where I test all of these out, so if that’s something you’d be interested in, subscribe to my YouTube channel here!

My favorite applications for this mic so far have been as a solo mono mic for acoustic guitar, for recording vocals, and as stereo drum overheads.

Here’s a clip of the LA-320 mics used as stereo overheads on a drum kit for a recent session I engineered:

This was my first time using a pair of tube condensers as overheads, so I don’t have a big baseline to compare it to, but I was overall very satisfied with the drum sounds we achieved.

If I had to choose one word to sum up the sound of the Lauten Audio LA-320, it would be musical. The LA-320 adds so much character and life to any source, that it just feels like music. In a world full of mics that aim to be transparent and “true”, it’s refreshing to hear a mic at this price point that actually sounds like something. Compared to other mics in its price range, the LA-320 is one of the best sounding mics on the market. Ultimately, engineering music is all about getting great tones, and the LA-320 is a great tool to get you where you need to be without breaking the bank.

So, Should You Buy The Lauten Audio LA-320?

Overall, the Lauten Audio LA-320 is one of the better sounding microphones under $1,000 that I’ve ever used. In my opinion, the LA-320 is a great value for the cost, and its versatile sound, high quality construction, and usefulness in the studio make it a great purchase.

I would suggest this microphone to anyone who is looking for their first condenser mic, but I would realllly suggest this mic to anyone who has a FET (non-tube) mic and is looking to add some color to their mic locker. If you’re still on your first mic, and it’s something like a Rode NT1a or SM7B, you will be blown away by the character and quality that this mic provides.

  •  The LA-320’s onboard sound-shaping eliminates the need for mic swaps and wasted time. Choose between the warmth of a classic tube microphone and the clarity of a modern tube microphone at the flip of a switch.
  • The LA-320 isn’t flat – it sounds like music.
  • The LA-320 is hand-soldered with high-resolution, low-distortion polypropylene capacitors and resistors, a dual triode vacuum tube, and a vintage-inspired output transformer. The resulting sound is crisp, clear, and full without the high noise floor and delicacy of vintage microphones.
  • Each LA-320 is lovingly designed and built to last a lifetime by the Lauten Audio family.

If you want to learn more about Lauten Audio, check out their site here!


Condenser Microphone Buyers Guide

When shopping for a large diaphragm condenser microphone, several factors are crucial to making an informed decision. Here are key considerations to keep in mind:

Sound Quality

The sound quality of a large diaphragm condenser microphone is of utmost importance. Look for a microphone that offers a transparent and accurate representation of the audio source. A well-designed microphone should capture the subtle nuances and details of vocals and instruments.

Polar Patterns: Consider the available polar patterns in the microphone. Common options include cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8. Different polar patterns offer versatility in capturing various sound sources and room acoustics. Choose a microphone with polar patterns that align with your recording needs.

Frequency Response: The frequency response range of a microphone determines its ability to capture different frequencies accurately. Look for a microphone with a wide and flat frequency response, ensuring a balanced representation of lows, mids, and highs.

Versatility

Large diaphragm condenser microphones are renowned for their versatility. They excel in various recording applications, including:

Vocals: A high-quality large diaphragm condenser microphone can capture the nuances and expressiveness of vocal performances. Look for a microphone that offers a smooth and detailed sound, suitable for both male and female voices.

Acoustic Instruments: Whether you’re recording acoustic guitars, pianos, strings, or percussion, a large diaphragm condenser microphone can capture the natural sound and transient response of these instruments. Look for a microphone that provides clarity, warmth, and an extended dynamic range.

Room and Ambient Recordings: Large diaphragm condenser microphones are often used to capture the ambience and natural reverb of a recording space. They can add depth and spaciousness to your recordings, making them suitable for room miking, ensemble recordings, and live performances.

Sound Characteristics

Different large diaphragm condenser microphones offer unique sound characteristics. Consider the following aspects:

Warmth and Presence: Look for a microphone that offers a warm and balanced low-end response, smooth midrange, and presence in the high frequencies. This ensures a pleasant and articulate sound reproduction, enhancing the overall recording quality.

Sensitivity and SPL Handling: Check the microphone’s sensitivity rating and its ability to handle high sound pressure levels (SPL). Higher sensitivity allows for capturing subtle details, while a microphone with good SPL handling ensures distortion-free recordings, even in loud environments.

Build Quality and Durability

The build quality and durability of a large diaphragm condenser microphone are essential for long-term use. Consider the following:

Construction: Look for microphones constructed with high-quality materials, including robust metal casings, sturdy grilles, and reliable connectors. A well-built microphone can withstand the demands of studio recording and live performances.

Shock Mount and Accessories: Check if the microphone comes with a shock mount or other accessories that enhance its performance and protect it from mechanical vibrations and handling noise.

Budget Considerations

Price Range: Determine your budget for a large diaphragm condenser microphone. Prices can vary significantly, depending on the brand and features. Set a realistic budget and explore options within that range.

Value for Money: Consider the long-term value and overall quality of the microphone within your budget. Evaluate customer reviews, reputation, and the manufacturer’s warranty to ensure you’re investing in a reliable and worthwhile microphone.

By considering the sound quality, versatility, sound characteristics, build quality, and your budget, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a large diaphragm condenser microphone. With the right microphone, you can capture stunning vocal performances, detailed instrument recordings, and ambient soundscapes for your music productions or audio projects.

Check out our top 6 condenser mics for recording for even more options!

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About the Author: Adam Sliger

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I'm the founder of makethatlouder.com, and a producer, musician, and songwriter based out of Orlando, FL. I have 10 years experience producing and owning a commercial recording studio. I write and produce music for artists, TV, and for my solo project, Night Winds. When I'm not writing and recording, I'm into food, coffee, and riding rollercoasters!

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