Earthworks continue their mission to bring small‑diaphragm capacitor mics to new markets.
Over the last 10 years or so, capacitor mics have gained widespread acceptance for live use. Their extended high‑frequency response and clean off‑axis pickup has made models like the Neumann KMS series, DPA 2028, AKG C636 and Shure KSM9 familiar sights on stages worldwide. Typically, these stage mics use small‑diaphragm capsules derived from familiar studio mic designs — yet it’s still rare to see small‑diaphragm mics used for vocals in other contexts. Why?
Anyone who’s tried it will know that small‑diaphragm mics are perfectly capable of capturing the human voice. With some voices, in fact, they even have advantages over their large‑diaphragm brethren. Our tendency to put up a U87 or even an SM7B ahead of a KM84 when a singer walks into the live room is probably driven as much by habit as by genuine sonic preference — or perhaps by the unconscious expectation that a large and imposing mic will deliver a large and imposing vocal sound. Capacitor stage mics have been accepted in part because they outwardly resemble the moving‑coil models we know and love, but a typical pencil mic just doesn’t look the part for vocal recording.
Earthworks have long championed the small‑diaphragm capacitor capsule for all applications. They see its accurate transient response, phase linearity, pure polar pattern and smooth off‑axis sound as being universal benefits that confer advantages in any recording or live context. And, having refined their core technology, they are now introducing it into new form factors in the hope of overcoming our resistance to using small‑diaphragm mics for vocals.
This process has already yielded the stellar SV33 studio vocal mic, as well as the SR40V and SR314 stage mics and the ICON, a speech‑oriented mic available in XLR and USB variants. The latest product of this development pipeline is the ETHOS. Like the ICON, it’s described by Earthworks as...