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Keith Howland Wraps Up New Tracks for Chicago’s Latest

Keith Howland: at home in the studio and on stage

Keith Howland, guitarist with Chicago, has been intensely writing and recording material for the band’s new studio album—the first in 15 years to feature all-original songs. Howland worked primarily at his home studio north of Los Angeles, where he and most of the band have been singing and playing through his recently purchased Brauner Valvet Voice Limited Edition tube microphone.

“I’ve been using the Brauner for my vocals on some demos,” Howland says. “And a couple of the guys from the band have come over to work on stuff together, so they’ve sung through the mic as well.”

Developed and individually hand-tuned by German microphone craftsman Dirk Brauner, the Valvet Voice Limited Edition microphone, hand-assembled from Class-A amplifiers, custom built Lundahl transformers, and JAN tubes, has been designed with transparency, detail and a response curve optimized for vocal applications. Yet, as Howland has discovered, the microphone is also suitable for other applications.

“Larry Klimas, a great sax player, came over recently,” he says. “The Valvet Voice surprised me. I used the mic on his tenor sax and I thought it would be too bright, but it actually sounded great. Larry joked, ‘I’ll just be taking that mic home with me!’ after we cut some tracks with it.” Howland adds, “I’m also using it on acoustic guitars.

“I just did a vocal the other day that was kind of intimate, where I really got right up on the mic for the proximity effect,” he adds. “It really warms up nicely when you get up on it. And when you back off a little bit it gets wide open. It’s pretty amazing.”

Howland is excited about the new Chicago album. “We’ve got a lot of good material. It feels like the timing might be right for Chicago to have a record that does something. That sort of thing is coming around again—it’s that 20-year cycle. The early ’80s are back!

For more information on Brauner mics, visit