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Aston Microphones Stealth Review: Your Sound. Get Some.

By Damien Gula on February 11, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Aston Microphones Stealth Review: Your Sound. Get Some.

Here at MMORPG.com, we run the gamut of covering news and reviews for MMOs and RPGs along with the hardware and tech that we use to enjoy them. Along with sharing content regarding the usual suspects - PC components and peripherals, this philosophy has taken us into realms on the periphery of the average gamer’s experience to cover some truly remarkable technology. The Stealth by Aston Microphones is one such product.  

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At first glance, the Stealth looks like a slimmed-down Amazon Alexa, but this sleek cylinder is smart in a different way. Within this review we are going to break down what the Aston Stealth is, what it does, and why, if you are a streamer or digital content creator, this may be the most technologically advanced microphones you will ever need.

Specifications

  • Current List Price: $379.99 USD
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Microphone Class: Dynamic
  • Passive and Active Modes: Class-A Pre-Amp Engaged With 48V Phantom Power
  • Features Four Unique Voicings via Analog Circuit Paths
  • Internal Sorbothane Shockmounting
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kohm: ~1 mV/Pa (passive), ~150 mV/Pa (active)
  • Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%: 140dB
  • Product weight: 692 g / 1.52 lb

Before we jump into talking about the Stealth, we need to talk about Aston Microphones. 

The Origin Story

While they are a relatively new in the pro audio market, don’t mistake that for obscurity.  After a decade and some years building another brand, the UK-based maker and manufacturer went to the drawing board to explore the primordial essence of what a microphone truly is, what is necessary for it to function, and how can the technology be better.

With the help of a growing panel of industry-leading sound engineers, producers, and musicians, Aston Microphones developed a team to create the best possible sounds. What started as a team of 33 has grown into the hundreds. At the time of the Stealth’s creation, 92 industry-leading professionals, including the original Aston 33. Over 9000 data samples were collected from blind tests to determine the ideal sound for this microphone.

If you are interested in more of the Aston story, we had the opportunity to interview Aston Microphones Managing Director James Young. Check out the interview here.

What IS the Aston Stealth and How Does It Work?

The Aston Stealth is a premium, broadcast-quality end-fire dynamic microphone gunning to be the go-to microphone for any and every situation you might need a dynamic microphone for. Whether recording in a studio space or using in a live setting, the Aston Stealth has four discrete signal paths designed to bring the best possible sound, no matter your voice. Keep in mind, this is not four EQ settings on a chipset, but four unique analogue circuit paths.

These voicings can be changed via a small, plastic ring around the base of the Stealth - one of the few places you will find plastic on this microphone, I might add. These settings, labelled V1, V2, G, and D all have unique characteristics to them, each with a different application in mind.

The design for V1 (or Vocal 1) is designed to enhance the typical male voice. This setting has slightly elevated bass frequencies while scooping out some of the less flattering high-midrange frequencies. V2 (or Vocal 2) reduces the lower range of frequencies with a slight elevation in the mid and high-mid frequencies. In a blind test, this setting was found to be the best for the typical female voice. The G (or Guitar) setting was designed to capture and enhance stringed instruments. This setting will likely not be ideal for voice-over work, unless your voice has brassy or nickel-wound characteristics to it. Finally, the D (or Dark) setting has a deep quality to it, producing a rich presence for narration. Aston likens this sound to that of a ribbon mic.

On top of these four individual settings, Aston has built the Stealth is a Class-A preamp inside of it. When 48V of phantom power is detected, the preamp automatically turns on, giving you a hefty boost in gain. This set the Stealth at an advantage above its nearest priced competitors, the Shure SM7B or EV RE20. While these microphones have been staples among broadcasters, seen on such shows as Louder With Crowder, H3 Podcast, and The Joe Rogan Experience, Aston means to change that. The Shure SM7B and EV RE20 microphones have been staples for a reason, they’re high quality pieces of gear, but they do require external gain lifting devices to provide extra headroom where the Stealth does not. These devices typically run in the ~$150 USD range. This is an important detail in considering the cost.

Design Observations

Out of the box, the Stealth feels like a high quality product. It is, by far, one of the most solidly constructed microphones I have even handled. This heft is in large part do to the capsule’s internal design and the decision to mass-load the capsule for better audio fidelity. All of that is suspend inside with a material called Sorbothane - a synthetic rubber that serves as the shock mounts for the components.

The external chassis of the Stealth is a black matte metal with a subtle foam filter on the end of the capsule. Just below the settings ring is a purple LED ring that can be toggled on and off when the mic is being power. It is a subtle touch that pays homage to Aston Microphones’ branding without beating you over the head with it.

The Stealth is mounted on a small plastic key mountings that sockets into the bottom of the microphone, fitting any microphone stand. Initially, this mounting system made me a fair bit nervous for its longevity, but Aston Microphones backs up their whole product with a 3 year warranty and assurance that they have tested all parts under extreme conditions. Even if it happened disconnect, the Stealth is built for live conditions where mic stands don’t stay still.

That being said, it is worth noting that  the Stealth does not come with any storage case outside of the packaging. It will be pretty safe in there and the mic is rather hearty, but I will likely be looking for a small padded case for it to make sure it stay protected.  

Because of the Stealth is designed as an end-fire microphone, it has excellent off-axis noise rejection. While you may still pick up a bit of key clicking if you are a heavy typer, using a sound mechanical keyboard, or both, but it does minimize much of the external noise that you might pick up while using a condenser microphone.

Field Testing

While each voicing has its officially recommended uses, Aston encourages users to try each setting out for themselves to see what sounds good to them. Chances are, one of these four settings is going to make you sound better than you ever have on a recording before.

To test out the Aston Stealth, I had it plugged into an AudioBox 22VSL by PreSonus running via USB 2.0 to a 2017 iMac using Logic Pro X. All tests were run without any extra plug-ins, EQs, or enhancements. And that is what impressed me right away about the Stealth.

Over the past four years, I had been honing an EQ setting within Logic for voiceovers and podcasting that fits my voice, but the settings on the Stealth changed that. V1 feels like a very natural fit for my voice in conversational settings, but Dark mode enhances the baritone qualities of it for more narrative work.

In discussing our experiences with the Stealth, MMORPG.com Hardware Editor, Chris Coke, found that the V1 setting was his voicing of choice. As musicians, we both appreciated the option of having a guitar setting. It made my low-end acoustic guitar sound far better than it has ever sounds in both live and recording settings. Pretty impressive.

You can see Chris’ take on the Stealth here:

Final Thoughts

The Stealth by Aston Microphones is a meticulously crafted masterpiece of a microphone, but it is not for everyone. The Stealth is a piece of gear that we would classify as an aspirational for content creators. It’s a next-level piece of gear to work toward or aspire to with the end goal of elevating your production quality.

While the $379.99 USD price tag carries with it a fair amount of sticker shock, it is vital to keep in perspective of what you are getting for money: a broadcaster ready, professional quality microphone whose multiple voicings and built-in features (internal shock mounting, Class-A preamp) will take some of the audio engineering work out of your hands, getting you into content creation right out of the box. In short, it will make you sound like you without a lot of fuss.

If you are a streamer or a content creator that is looking for the next step toward high production quality in your audio, but you have been daunted by the extras required by many high-end microphones, the Aston Stealth may be the only microphone you will ever need again. At the end of the day, it’s your sound… get some.

Pros

  • Professional-grade design and features
  • Solid build quality
  • Voicing options provide high quality capture right out of the box
  • Class-A preamp removes the need for extra gear
  • Off-axis rejection cuts down on extra noise while recording or streaming

Cons

  • Plastic key-style mount design is a bit concerning for a microphone of this caliber
  • Storage option (outside of the box) not included

The product discussed in this article was provided by Aston Microphones for the purposes of review.

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