As an artist and audio engineer I have a particular appreciation for gear that helps me get my ideas down efficiently without sacrificing sound quality.
When it comes to microphones I have my application-specific preferences, i.e. U67 or Manly Gold on vocals, Royer 121 or Earthworks TC25 on percussion, etc. And I recently tried out a microphone that I found quite useful for demos, recording sketches of ideas, and even the occasional one-off recording I might share with my audience. That is…the Studio Projects LSM (Little Square Mic). It’s another neat little tool for the toolbox.
The LSM microphone has a 34mm Von Braunmuhl and Weber-style cardioid transducer that is coupled to a discrete JFET impedance converter with a high SPL-handling output circuit. The result: audio that is pretty accurately represented – especially for something of this size and price (under $200).
This compact microphone comes with a folding yoke that allows the mic to sit on a flat surface (the box it comes in came in handy for me) but it can also be mounted on a mic stand if so desired. It’s super portable and easy to set up and comes with both an XLR cable (+48v) and a USB cable that connects directly to both Windows and Mac-based systems. AND it comes in a variety of colors, including pink!
The LSM is a great microphone for any singer/songwriter, and I imagine especially so for one who is on tour.
On recent travels, I had the perfect opportunity to test out the LSM on the go. Inspired to write a new song, I broke out the LSM, my MacBook Pro, my guitar and ukulele and for the first time ever, GarageBand. Having not much experience with a USB microphone, I must say it was pretty nice to just plug it directly into my computer and hit record: one step closer to bridging the gap between inspired idea and capturing it during the creative process.
Generally speaking, the microphone doesn’t have much of its own “character” but rather does a really good job of returning your acoustic sound back to you faithfully. On the whole, I found it to be clear and bright but also able to capture a full low end as well. If it has any tendency, it’s toward the brighter side of the spectrum. In the end, I felt like I walked away with a very good recording of a demo that I could share with a writing partner.
This past week I went a little deeper with the LSM, connecting it via XLR cable to my Mbox, Intel iMac, and Pro Tools. My plan was to go full-on multi-track, recording acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, percussion, piano, flute and ukulele. Recording in somewhat of a haphazard fashion, I placed the mic on a work surface (without a computer on it, as the mic will pick up the vibrating hard-drive) and moved my position depending on what instrument I was recording.
With the acoustic guitar I tried to get in close to get the fullness and richness of the guitar without the clickety-clack of the pick hitting the strings. For the high-end percussive stuff, like shaker, bells and finger cymbals, I backed off the mic more. With the electric guitar, I placed the mic on a stack of cables sitting in front of the amp and tilted it towards the speaker (as I said it comes with a folding yoke and is mountable, so it’s not necessary to do it this way, I just found it convenient).
And with the vocals I held it in my hand and sang close and quiet. I picked up more wind than I would have liked but considering the parameters (no pop filter to boot) I didn’t think it was such a big deal nor detrimental and ultimately I adjusted my mic technique as a singer.
Overall, I found the mic to be versatile, accommodating all the instruments – capturing the up-close intimacy of the vocals, the loud crunch of the distorted electric guitar, and almost everything in-between. The LSM is really a very handy mic to have around for spitting out demos.
And having an easy-to-use and easily transportable setup for recording is a necessity for artists of the modern age, who need to produce and produce regularly. Promoting oneself with little one-offs, demos or EPs between records is not only necessary (and fun), but also easier than ever with products like this one.
Listen for yourselves. I spent an afternoon recording this in demo-style as mentioned above. See audio clip below and Happy Holidays!