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Lauten Audio LA-220 v2

Cardioid Capacitor Microphone By Sam Inglis
Published April 2023

Lauten Audio’s updated LA‑220 offers both the Yin and Yang of affordable capacitor mics!

Lauten Audio LA-220 v2By now we’re all very familiar with the business model whereby Western design and quality control are combined with Far Eastern manufacturing, hopefully delivering products that are affordable without compromising on standards. It’s a model that Lauten Audio have pursued with notable success, as many previous reviews in these pages will testify. And unlike many mic companies who adopt this approach, Lauten are not afraid to innovate. Their Synergy series microphones are designed to solve real‑world isolation problems, whilst their Signature‑series Eden and Atlantis models offer three distinct tonalities in a single mic.

The Lauten range is completed by the newly refreshed Black series, which contains three models. The LA‑120 is a small‑diaphragm ‘pencil’ mic with interchangeable cardioid and omni capsules. The LA‑320 is an affordable large‑diaphragm valve mic. And the subject of this review is an even more affordable, solid‑state, large‑diaphragm capacitor mic.

Welcome To LA

Though it’s not intended as a homage or a recreation, the LA‑220 v2 resembles a slightly smaller Neumann U87 in appearance, with a gently tapered body and a wedge‑shaped headbasket. Build quality seems good, with a smart matte‑black body topped off by a very shiny grille, and a pleasingly heavy‑duty shockmount is supplied. There’s also a soft fabric bag to protect the mic when not in use, but no proper case or storage box.

Inside the headbasket lurks a 32mm centre‑terminated, externally polarised capsule, of which only the front diaphragm bears a conductive gold layer, making this a cardioid‑only mic. As in many affordable capacitor mics, the design of this capsule is based on the Neumann K67, though Lauten Audio have made some interesting modifications (see box).

Unusually for a mic in this price bracket, the LA‑220 has a transformer‑balanced output, and it presents a fairly standard nominal impedance of 200Ω. It requires standard 48V phantom power, delivers a sensible sensitivity of 16mV/Pa, and will tolerate sound pressure levels of up to 130dB before 0.5% distortion at 1kHz is reached. Self‑noise is quoted as less than 15dBA, which is not state of the art, but comparable to the U87s of this world.

Split Personalities

Perhaps the most intriguing claim Lauten make for the LA‑220 is that it represents “two mics in one”, letting you “choose between modern clarity and classic warmth at the flick of a switch”. The body of the mic actually bears two switches, of which the first is a conventional high‑pass filter. The LA‑220’s dual personalities are swapped using the second, which is described as a low‑pass filter. This is an unusual feature to find on any microphone, at least in switchable form, but it does make sense in terms of the origins of the design.

Most K67‑style capsules have a naturally rising...

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