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Lauten LS-308 Microphone — A Mix Real-World Review…in the USVI

Our review team headed to St. John, USVI, to test all kinds of gear in a real-world recording setting, including a Lauten LS-308 Microphone.

Lauten LS-308 microphone
A Lauten LS-308 microphone in paradise.

Every year, Mix contributors Rich Tozzoli, Mike Dwyer and Bruce MacPherson decamp to St. John, USVI, and temporarily turn a house into a studio where they record TV cues while also testing new equipment and software, resulting in a bevy of Mix Real-World Reviews written in a unique part of the real world.

It’s not often that a mic comes around that makes you completely reconsider what’s possible while recording, but that’s exactly what happened with the Lauten Audio LS-308.

The LS-308 features a unique second-order cardioid pickup pattern, giving it an unbelievable 270 degrees of off-axis rejection. In practice, this means it picks up exactly what it’s pointed at and not much else.

Our first test of the mic came while building percussion loops for a track. With drummer Ray Levier at the helm, we placed the mic on a floor tom, and despite recording in an untreated, reverberant room with squeaky ceiling fans running overhead, multiple pairs of open-back headphones live in the room, a coffee maker running in the background, and the mic placed about a foot from an open window with the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore pouring in, when we listened back, the signal was surprisingly pristine.

Ninth Annual St John, USVI Recording Retreat Results in Reviews

Even after applying heavy compression, there was virtually no sign of background noise or room tone! Just to be sure we weren’t going crazy or this wasn’t a fluke, we tried a more typical condenser mic in the same position, and it was exactly what we would expect: weird room reflections and tons of background noise. The Lauten, by comparison, sounded like it was recorded in the booth of a studio.

We did notice that the 308 is extremely sensitive to mic placement. Even a slight change in the angle of the mic had a pretty dramatic effect on the sound. This made perfect sense considering how laser-focused the polar pattern is, but it just meant spending an extra second, making sure it was pointed at exactly what we wanted to hear.

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Another unique feature of the mic is that in addition to the typical low-cut filters you find on many condensers, the LS-308 also has a selectable high-cut, allowing you to roll off the top end above 8 or 10 kHz, perfect for taming overly bright sources. Even with the mic set flat, the tone of the 308 is definitely on the darker side, especially for a condenser, but when we wanted a brighter tone, we found that it took EQ exceptionally well, brightening up without any sign of harshness. While many mics try to be all-arounders, Lauten clearly took a refreshingly different approach with the LS-308. This mic is an incredible problem-solver. When you need the ultimate in isolation, I don’t think you can do much better than this mic.