Gear Icons: Earthworks 

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Gear Icons: Earthworks 

Earthworks ETHOS
Words by Mixdown staff

For Earthworks to have become such a recognised name in microphone and transducer design in the current era is not an easy undertaking, by any means. 

Given the number of bonafide studio classics, age-old industry standards and blind brand recognition that exists in the microphone space, it proves that Earthworks offer something truly special and cutting edge to break in amongst such illustrious company. 

American manufacturer Earthworks are one of the very select few who have managed to crack the upper echelons of the mic world, by doing just that-bringing something new and exciting to the table, particularly as it pertains to transient speed and honesty of capture. 

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Earthworks microphones

In these respects, Earthworks have emerged as an industry leader in premium quality microphones, both for their vocal and instrument mics, but also for their highly coveted measurement microphones like the flagship M50, which have seen the brand become industry standard across various sectors of the Professional Audio and  Acoustics industries in recent times. 

Earthworks M50

Originally founded in 1995 by famed audio engineer David Blackmer, Earthworks are a brand that have managed to carve out their own place in the Audio landscape by sticking to Blackmer’s vision of a human-centred approach to audio, trying to understand what our physiology is capable of and looking to meet those needs in full with better technology. If this is starting to sound like it’s bordering on Audiology, that’s because Blackmer’s research into ultraphonic frequencies and telemetry (using extended frequency bands for the transmission of Audio data) was the basis for so much of our current understanding of modern equipment design and its relationship to human hearing.

Known as a market-leader in room measurement and room correction software (studio royalty like Eric Valentine and Manny Marroquin being just some of their impressive client list!), Earthworks have applied this same mastery for high definition, lightning quick capture in the measurement domain and applied it to their music and content creation products to virtuoso aplomb. Suffice to say, the results are something to behold. 

ETHOS XLR Streaming Microphone

One notable example is the new ETHOS XLR Streaming Microphone, which takes the brand’s penchant for reference quality audio and takes it into the world of broadcast and content creation, breaking new ground for what is possible in regards to clarity and quality of diction for a microphone in this space.

The ethos behind the ETHOS is that it is designed to be as neutral sounding and uncoloured as possible, ideal for capturing podcasters, voice-over artists, content creators, broadcasters and streamers at their most nuanced. The humanity of the ETHOS comes in its ability to accommodate detail, allowing the talent to communicate their emotions, excitement and performance in a way that is most true to the original sound.

The ETHOS’ active internal components make it hotter than most microphones, allowing for a larger dynamic range in general without any need for additional gain boosters between mic and preamp. This also has the added bonus of providing improved clarity and an optimised impedance, with a crisp, clear signal that offers both headroom and low ambient noise.

A supercardioid condenser, the ETHOS features a 14mm diaphragm that responds to everything between 20Hz-30kHz. This rings true to Earthworks’ commitment to ultraphonic sound and speed of capture, and this is really at the core of what makes the ETHOS such a gamechanger for budding creators and on-air personalities.

The ultra-fast 11.67 microsecond rise time is quite frankly, insane for a microphone of this type and its ability to withstand up to 145dB SPL means that this speed isn’t at the cost of clipping either. The rise time of a condenser microphone refers to its ability to capture a transient as accurately and quickly as possible, something especially important with spoken word, given the nuance of the human voice and the importance of diction and vocal timbre in the space. 

Available in classic Earthworks stainless steel (also available in matte black) and with a diminutive enclosure measuring just 6.9″ x 2.25″ making it great for on-camera applications and video content creators, the ETHOS has all the hallmarks of a soon-to-be industry standard.

In use, the ETHOS is simple. That’s all there is to it. It’s not so much the presence of all these helpful additions, but more so the absence of any issues. It connects easily, has low-self noise, plenty of gain and a huge dynamic range. Connected directly, regardless of preamp, the ETHOS sounds true to source and a very real interpretation of my own voice was played back to me through my headphones. There’s a clarity to the sound, thanks to the fast rise time, but a full-range sound as well, making it equally handy for capturing room ambience for instruments, or sound for film foley. Either way, it’s a handy mic to have in the mic cupboard.

Earthworks Microphones

We often use buzzwords like ‘warm’, ‘crisp’ and ‘air’ to define the sound of microphones. While the ETHOS isn’t a particularly ‘warm’ or ‘vibey’ mic, it does a shockingly good job at capturing a warm, fuzzy, gritty amplifier or other source with that ‘crisp clarity’ and ‘airy’ headroom that we are so often trying to achieve. We all talk about getting a sound right at the source, and the ETHOS will ensure you’re getting the closest you can to a true-to-source sound.

The ETHOS is Earthworks’ own full-range broadcast microphone. Its intention, simply put, is to give you a response that’s as true to the source as possible. Their experience making scientifically accurate microphones for room measurement, trusted by the best in the biz, gives them a leg up over other microphone manufacturers, Earthworks understanding what it takes to produce a great microphone.

For more info, keep reading at Earthworks Audio here.