The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs. Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks - a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
For this installment, we're diving deep into the world of studio microphones, exploring the massive range of ribbon, condenser and dynamic options on the market for savvy producers, engineers and project studio enthusiasts.
Austrian Audio OC818
Category: Condenser (Large Diaphragm) | Pattern: Multi-Pattern
Key Features: The story of Austrian Audio is almost fit for a Hollywood screenplay. When an iconic Austrian microphone manufacturer officially closed their Vienna offices, 22 former employees (many of whom were involved in some of the largest technological advancements in microphone history) decided to put their talents to use, creating a new company with the goal of taking microphone design back to the cutting edge. This is the seed from which Austrian Audio was born.
The OC818 is their premier capacitor microphone and has already caused quite a stir in the studio world – taking out the Sound On Sound Editor's Pick Gear of the Year prize in 2019. It features an innovative switchable polar pattern design directly in the front of the mic, allowing you to choose between Figure 8, Omni, Cardioid, Super-Cardioid and Custom Programmable settings. The consistency of the ceramic capsule design allows you to create a stereo pair using any two OC818s or (if it’s in cardioid mode, pair OC818 with its sibling - the OC18), creating a legitimate stereo pair out of any two disparate mics!
This is only beginning of the gobsmacking technical trickery at play here, with the OC818. While its capsule legacy may lead to some comparisons to a well known Austrian made mic of yesteryear, the OC818 captures a cleaner, less coloured sound with stunning accuracy and an egalitarian response across the board. The OC818’s flexibility in regards to polar pattern make it particularly adept at reducing unwanted resonance and in turn make it a highly adaptable microphone for a wealth of recording situations; in the studio, broadcasting or in the live domain.
Mixdown Says: Low self-noise and high sensitivity make capturing wide dynamics a breeze, and the switchable pad can be used at –10db or –20db to safeguard against distortion. A microprocessor that is controllable via the PolarPilot app further opens up your recording options. Featuring 255 iterations of polar pattern steering between Omni and Figure 8, as well as the aforementioned pad settings, as well as high pass filter settings.
The filters operate using two steeper second-order curves at 80Hz or 40Hz, then a gentler first-order curve at 160Hz. The 255 iterations are great for sculpting sound, but in a pinch, there’s also a ‘terminator’ control which allows you to either optimise your desired source or reduce unwanted spill. It must be emphasised that all this fine-tuning is digital control of analog components; there’s no analog to digital conversion. Truly astounding.
A second XLR output allows direct access to the second diaphragm, which grants greater control over the recorded signal. Dynamic stereo recording, spill suppression and atmospheric room mixing are just some of the applications this opens up.
Overall: Austrian Audio have brought years of capacitor expertise to the table and combined it with unrivalled fine-tuning of polar patterns to create the OC818; a sophisticated and flexible piece of hardware that we’re heralding as the next big thing in microphone development.
Get in touch with Group Technologies to find out more about the Austrian Audio range in Australia.