A professional modeling microphone for $149? I’m a big fan of Steven Slate’s plugins and have been fascinated by the concept of his ML-1 microphone and the mic modeling plugin that comes with it. But when he introduced the small diaphragm ML-2 for only $149, I was more skeptical than anything. I figured that the only way to make a judgement was to just score a couple of these and try them out.
In short: These are amazing
A quick explanation of the concept: The idea is to have a microphone with a super-flat frequency response, going into a preamp that is super clean and does not add any coloration to the signal. After that, you add the microphone modeling plugin to the track, and it takes the clean/flat signal you recorded and enables you to model the signal after various classic microphones through the plugin.
Sounds like a great idea on paper. But does it work? Hell yes it does.
I don’t own a Nuemann U67 or a Schoeps M 222 so I can’t speak for those. But as a way of checking the accuracy of the plugin, I compared the ML-2 modeling an SM57 to a real SM57, and the sound is incredibly close.
Putting two ML-2’s up as room mics and using the Royer 121 or Neumann U67 emulation sounds flat out amazing. It is remarkable how the emulation makes a tiny small diaphragm condenser mic accurately sound like a ribbon or large diaphragm mic. It’s a real head-scratcher, but sometimes you just have to not ask questions and enjoy things for what they are.
As for practical application: Many engineers will record bass (and sometimes guitar) by splitting the signal through a DI and into both an amp that will be miked up, and a direct signal into the DAW. The direct signal serves as a backup for when the miked cabinet does not sit in the mix the way it had been anticipated, offering the option of either using the direct signal with some plugin processing, or re-amping and re-miking. I see the Slate ML-2 as the exact same thing. When recording at my studio for my various clients, I am using a classic SM57 on my snare, going into a BAE 1073, or sometimes a BAE 312A. In addition to that, I have a Slate ML-2 right next to the SM57, recording a “direct” signal. I am then able to offer clients so many extra options that require very little to no extra work. If the client has the Slate “Classic Instruments” plugin, he or she can simply do whatever they like with the Slate mic signal, and blend to taste with to the main SM57 track if needed. Optionally, I would be able to model various mics for the client, run the tracks out through some nice preamps and back into the DAW.
This is simply an amazing thing. When I record drum tracks for people, I dial in my drum sounds to the best of my abilities of anticipating the final arrangement and sounds. 95 out of 100 times, my sounds are perfectly fine and require no supplemental samples or other enhancements. But having the extra options with the ML-2 is an incredible safety net. What I am personally hoping is that more drummers and studios start adding a Slate ML-2 to both their kick and snare, giving mixing engineers a versatile extra track to work with when needed, rather than reaching for a sample right away.
$149. Get yourself some!