Lauten Audio’s LA‑120 Version 2 is not so much a pencil mic as an entire box of crayons!
The Black series is the most affordable of Lauten Audio’s three main microphone ranges, but it still embodies their refreshingly different design approach. The LA‑220 v2 large‑diaphragm mic I reviewed last month offers two completely different voicings, and the subject of this review is perhaps even more versatile.
The LA‑120 is a modular small‑diaphragm ‘pencil’ mic. Or, more fully, it’s a set, comprising two mic bodies with pairs of cardioid and omni capsules, along with foam windshields and clips. These are supplied in a smart cardboard box, which has foam cutouts to house all the components. The capsules themselves screw onto the ends of the bodies in time‑honoured fashion, and electrical contact is made using a robust‑looking stud that makes a nice change from the fragile pins on old Neumann and AKG capsules. A pair of inline 10dB attenuators is available as optional extras; if used, these screw between the capsule and the body, raising the SPL tolerance from 120 to 130 dB.
And the versatility doesn’t stop there. Like the LA‑220, the LA‑120 has not one but two filters. At the low end, a high‑pass filter can be engaged at either 50 or 120 Hz, for removing subsonic rumbles and/or taming proximity effect. Much more unusual is the low‑pass filter, which on this mic can be switched in at either 15 or 10 kHz. The bodies are transformerless and present a 200Ω impedance to your preamp. Standard 48V phantom power is required for operation, and the LA‑120 is specified at a comfortable 10mV/Pa sensitivity. Self‑noise is less than 15dBA, which is very decent for a small‑diaphragm mic.
Given that the LA‑120 is only available as a set of two mics, with pairs of capsules, it’s tempting to assume that you’ll be getting a matched pair, but Lauten themselves don’t actually make this claim. In the review set, the capsules seemed to match well tonally, but there was a 2dB difference in sensitivity between the two mics. Once you know about this, it’s easy enough to compensate for it, though life is easier when you don’t have to remember to do this sort of thing.
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