Making a Mountain, out of a Sandhill
By Front End Audio on Nov 9th 2017
Sandhill Audio is still a fairly young company, being founded in the beautiful country of Finland in 2011. While they have six years under their belt, they are really just now coming to the US. And, they are making a big statement.
Needless to say, there are many choices in ribbon mics these days. No matter what you are looking for, whether it be drum overheads, guitar cabs, vocals, etc. - there is a ribbon that will get you what you need. But, often times you want a ribbon that is highly versatile and works with any sound source. That is where the Sandhill Audio 6011A excels.
One of my favorite things about this the 6011A, is that it is the best of both worlds. You have an active circuitry in the mic, that requires less gain than a traditional passive ribbon – but you get all the richness of a passive ribbon. The bottom end is full, the mids are rich, and the top is silky smooth – all the while being very balanced throughout. I spent time with this microphone, and recorded several acoustic stringed instruments, as well as vocals.
I play a limited edition Taylor 114CE. It has rich tonal resonance to it. Often, I find myself needing to pull out a good bit in the low mids, to get a track right. That was not the case with the Sandhill. From the first cord on playback, I knew there was nothing I needed to do to. Everything was there. The body, the harmonics, the finger and pick noise, every nuanced detail and the big picture – all captured properly. I might add that it was done so with a smooth musical feel. Next I recorded the mountain dulcimer. The same results were present. The clarity of the strings (and their transients), the resonance and decay where all there. This consistent theme of balance and musicality continued when recording mandolin. Every time I go back and listen to the tracks I recorded – I continue to be impressed. It's not that the recordings sounded like the instrument was being played right in front of me – it's that they sound right. I found no desire to EQ, compress, etc. Further, it wasn't like I did anything special. On the acoustic guitar, the mic as place 8 inches from the guitar at the 11th and 12th frets, slightly angled in to the heal of the neck. That was all it took. And, I rather like that. A microphone that captures the sound source right, with minimal effort, and less to do in mixing is a huge plus. It is the type of gear that we look for in recording. I used the same positioning on the mandolin, and same distance on the mountain dulcimer (just pointing the mic at the center of the instrument).
After such pleasing results from the Sandhill 6011A on these instruments, I went to testing the mic on vocals. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be beautiful. The chest resonance was maintained – giving a full presense. The tone was captured by the mids, and the upper mids had the clarity you need to allow the voice to be clear. And overall, it was smooth and rich. The musicality of it was inspiring. As a male rock baritone vocalist – I really only trust a certain voice of microphone. That changed with the Sandhill. If all I ever used the 6011A on was vocals – the mic would be well worth the investment. Knowing it is great on virtually all sound sources, makes it all that more impressive. This is a mic to take into serious consideration, if you are looking for a ribbon mic. It is a mic that earns that serious consideration. Do not underestimate or over look the Sandhill 6011A.