0

Review: Lewitt Microphones

A new range of microphones has arrived from Austria via China and Sydney. But is Lewitt a genuine title contender or just another purveyor of cut-price cannon fodder?

By

22 June 2012

Just what the world needs, another brand of Chinese-made microphones!

That’s probably what you’re thinking and I have plenty of sympathy for that opinion. But Lewitt immediately strikes me as a different proposition. Here’s a new name in microphones that isn’t making U47 copies (good), or no-budget knockoffs. Here’s a brand that’s come to market with a range that spans studio, live and wireless mics. So who exactly is Lewitt?

With its products designed in Austria and built in China, Lewitt is a new company established by a partnership of Roman Perschon (an ex-AKG product manager) and Chinese-born Ken Yang, who resides in Sydney and is a second generation owner of one of the largest microphone manufacturing facilities in Asia. This partnership brings a very professional-looking brand and product to the marketplace. I was supplied with a whole swag of mics but for the purpose of this review we will focus on Lewitt’s Studio offerings the LCT240, LCT540 and LCT640, and in the sound reinforcement arena the MTP540DM and MTP340CM.

SOUND REINFORCEMENT

MTP540 DM ($119)

Lewitt’s top-of-the-line dynamic stage mic is a worthy entrant, combining a classy black aesthetic with rugged build quality and very low handling noise thanks to a cleverly designed elastic shockmount system. It looks not dissimilar to an AKG D5 in shape if nothing else. By way of a benchmark, in side-by-side comparison with an SM58 I found the MTP 540 to be more detailed in the crucial mid range area, though the proximity effect seemed a little more pronounced — something I grew accustomed to over time. It is also quite a heavy mic, so make sure your mic clips are tight! The extra weight probably contributes to the low handling noise, and feels reassuringly solid in the hand. I used the MTP540 DM on a number of singers, both male and female, and the responses were resoundingly positive from all. If you’re looking for a rugged, workhorse handheld dynamic — and you’re happy to be the first on the block to own a Lewitt — then you should audition the MTP540 DM.

MTP340 CM ($179)

Lewitt’s stage condenser shares its styling with the rest of the MTP range, black on black, which will keep the rock fraternity happy. It’s hard not to want to compare it to the industry standard stage condenser mic (the Shure Beta 87) so I will! For starters, the MTP340CM is a cardioid compared to the super cardioid of its competitor. This means a slightly wider pickup pattern for the MTP340 CM which will suit some but may become an issue on noisier stages. Sound-wise the MTP340 CM is a little smoother and less hyped in the top end. In the mix it sat nicely and performed in the way you’d hope and expect from a high-quality condenser mic. Foldback tuning with the 340 was straight forward, a testament to its smooth frequency response. This is a quality microphone and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

NEED TO KNOW

  • PRICE

    MTP540 DM ($119)
    MTP340 CM ($179)
    LCT240 ($319)
    LCT540 ($649)

  • CONTACT

    National Audio Systems
    1800 441 440
    sales@nationalaudio.com.au
    www.nationalaudio.com.au

  • PROS

    • Build quality
    • Reassuringly weighty
    • Well priced

  • CONS

    • Clipping History needs fine-tuning

  • SUMMARY

    A new range of workhorse mics need to do something special to get noticed. Fortunately, Lewitt has the price low enough and quality/features high enough to instantly win fans.

STUDIO STABLE

The LCT 240, 340 and 540 all share the same distinctive styling and build quality, which is reassuringly top notch. As far as the livery is concerned, ‘Understated Black’ is the order of the day and all the mics sport the same hexagonal steel mesh grille. With the mic body shape also being hexagonal, the feel of these mics is one of rugged sturdiness. They’re impressively weighty as well, which again adds to the impression of quality straight out of the box.

Lewitt’s studio mics are extensively featured. For starters, all the mics light up when supplied phantom power. Electronic soft switching is employed for polar pattern adjustments (LCT640), pad and high-pass filters. These mics also feature clipping history and auto attenuation features… I’ll explain. In practice, when set to Auto Attenuate mode (hold the attenuation button in for two seconds), the mic’s logo will switch to red indicating the mode is active. When clipping occurs it will switch to the next attenuation level. Clipping History is accessed by holding the filter button for two seconds. Clipping is then indicated by the attenuation lights. The set attenuation level will light solid and, if clipping has occurred, the attenuation level above will flash. This setting is cleared after you have viewed it but, somewhat frustratingly, it’s not cleared when you unplug the mic — at some point you’ll need to ‘view’ the clipping history to clear it. I like the feature, and it’s clever, but could be better implemented. Also included is a lockout feature to stop any accidental button pressing by the talent!

LCT240 ($319)

This is the most compact of the studio mics on review here. Although the same width and depth as its brethren, it loses a little in height. It also differs in capsule type: the LCT240 uses a ¾-inch back electret. Despite this it still manages a fairly healthy (quoted) 78dBA signal to noise ratio. The LCT240 has a fixed cardioid polar pattern, signal pads are available at 10 and 20dB, and 40Hz and 300Hz high-pass filters at 12 and 6dB per octave respectively. I put the LCT240 to use in a number of scenarios and it performed admirably. With a published ruler flat response up to 4kHz and a presence peak centred at 7kHz, I found the LCT240 particularly impressive as a drum overhead. It possesses an open sound that also lends itself nicely to acoustic guitar applications. It’s a great all rounder for live use or the budget conscious studio owner.

LCT540 ($649)

Essentially, this is a cardioid version of the multi-pattern LCT640. This fixed-pattern one-inch cardioid diaphragm boasts a miserly 8dBA of self noise and 135dBA dynamic range. The LCT540 is one of the quietest and most revealing mics I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. While very full sounding in the bottom end, high-pass filters are provided (12dB per octave at 40 and 150Hz and 6dB per octave at 300Hz). I must admit, the 300Hz filter initially struck me as a strange choice but in use it proved effective and made the LCT540 a very versatile performer — the gentle slope of the filter compensating for the fullness of bottom end when used up close for vocal work. The LCT540 is not a character mic but what it lacks in ‘personality’ it more than makes up for in expansiveness and depth. I would describe the LCT640 as modern sounding with a very smooth top end. But beware, it will brutally reveal a poor source for what it is! Off-axis response is a particular stand out, capturing rooms with outstanding ‘realness’ and neutrality. Supplied with a stylish and functional suspension mount that makes fitting the LCT540 in tight spaces a joy, this classy all rounder will quickly find a host of fans for its depth and adaptability.

LCT640 ($899)

The LCT640 builds on the 540’s sound and feature set by offering a choice of nine polar patterns. The usual suspects are included along with wide cardioid and super cardioid patterns. Sonically, the LCT640 obviously boasts the same characteristics as the LCT540 in cardioid mode. In omni mode some of the bottom-end fullness is revealed and a slight 3dB dip at 6kHz and a 4dB lift at 12kHz again makes for an honest and revealing sound. Figure-8 mode is characteristically tight with good 90-degree off-axis rejection. On paper, the LCT640 manages almost ruler flat response from 200Hz–2.5kHz and after spending some time with this mic I have no reason to doubt the specs supplied. The LCT640 has a classy modern sound, with character and flexibility thanks to the wealth of polar patterns. A very handy mic to have at any price.

WHOLE PACKAGE

I’m impressed. It’s rare to review what’s essentially a whole new range of microphones. As I mentioned, this isn’t a niche offering, it’s a range of mics priced and built for the masses. And there’s a lot to like. All the mics are well packaged with glossy brochure/user guide, with polar plots and frequency response charts… hell, the manual even gives suggested miking techniques.

In my Skype conversation with Roman Perschon he spoke of a company focused on innovation. Easy words to say, but when you look at the latest, upcoming addition to the Lewitt stable (the LCT 940 hybrid tube-Fet mic with the ability to mix between the two topologies on the power supply), it looks like he’s walking the talk. I can’t speak for the entire range but based on the mics I reviewed, the sound of these mics well and truly belie their price. I think they will find a big audience among the budget minded and connoisseur alike. Whether they will stand the test of time and become a classic is anybody’s guess… but there’s enough attention to detail to suggest Lewitt is a name for the long haul. Personally, I’m buying two!

RESPONSES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More for you

Filter by
Post Page
Reviews Universal Audio Waldorf Issue 95 Allen & Heath Korg Issue 94 IK Multimedia Steinberg Dynamic Microphones Audix Issue 93 Drum Microphones Issue 92 Digital Console Yamaha Issue 91
Sort by