The newest mic from the Aston stable offers remarkable performance at a surprisingly low price.
There was a time when dynamic mics were typecast for live use, drum miking and sticking in front of guitar amps. Aston helped changed that preconception with their Stealth microphone, a dynamic model that challenged traditional capacitor mics in their usual studio roles, including vocal recording.
While some mic companies produce new models as often as they change their shirts, Aston take a more considered approach. To date they offer the Spirit and Origin large‑diaphragm models, the Starlight ‘laser‑guided’ small‑diaphragm model, the Stealth active dynamic model and now the attractively priced Element. The one thing they all have in common is that Aston make use of industry listening panels before arriving at the final design for a microphone.
In the case of the Element, they opened the listening stage of design up to the general public, and garnered the opinions of over 4000 musicians, engineers and music producers. All took part in multiple blind listening tests based on recordings made using multiple microphones on multiple sources. The results were eventually narrowed down through further rounds of tests that included several differently voiced versions of the Element. The whole process took 18 months of R&D and three months of public listening tests, during which time the mic was auditioned alongside models from major competitors such as Blue, Rode, AKG, Audio‑Technica and Neumann.
Like the Stealth model, the Element is an active moving‑coil microphone, and combines a fast transient response with an extended low end, though it doesn’t have the switchable voicings of the Stealth model. The Element’s capsule is based on something Aston call Ridyon capsule technology, which gives it a tight cardioid pattern. It is larger than usual at a full 1.5 inches in diameter, but apparently has a very lightweight diaphragm and coil (see 'The Designer Speaks' box).
There’s nothing conventional‑looking about this microphone, and despite the low cost, it comes with a custom shockmount and bespoke...