Earthworks throw their hat into the podcasting ring, with the chic and refined Icon Pro.
Lockdown has seen a boom in podcast consumption and production, and microphone brands of all hues have responded by releasing new models aimed at online content creators. Some have simply rebranded OEM mics as their own, others have taken their existing models and swapped XLR connectivity for a USB port, and a few have come up with brand‑new designs to appeal to vloggers, streamers and podcasters. In the latter camp are US company Earthworks, whose Icon Pro is designed specifically for the spoken word. A non‑Pro Icon, which connects via USB, incorporates a headphone amp and ships with a desktop stand, is also available, but for this review I was sent the phantom‑powered, XLR‑connecting Icon Pro.
Earthworks were founded in 1980 by the late David Blackmer (the man behind dbx), and all of their products — from the long‑discontinued Sigma monitors to their current microphones and preamps — have one thing in common: extended high‑frequency bandwidth, often reaching way up into ultrasonic territory.
Almost since gaining the ability to measure audio frequencies, there’s been considerable debate about whether humans can hear frequencies higher than 20kHz, but ultrasonic sound isn’t actually the focus of Blackmer’s thinking or Earthworks’ products. Instead, the motivation is all about optimising performance in the time domain — the ability to resolve audio transients accurately and with precision. But for any diaphragm, be it in a microphone or a loudspeaker, to be able to capture or reproduce transients faithfully, it has to be able to move and stop...