Reviews – Aston Origin microphone and three kinds of cheese

Not interested in blathering about some goofy-looking microphone? I can’t blame you. Scroll to the bottom for the cheese reviews you are looking for.

Aston Origin Microphone – A few months ago I picked up this puppy used on eBay as the only bidder.

Oddly, it also came with a Samson boom stand (which must have made it cost much more to ship) and a decent VTG cable with Amphenol plugs.

As seen in the pictures, this somewhat conventional large-diaphragm condenser microphone is pretty unconventional-looking. Rather than the usual windscreen, the capsule is covered with sort of a steel wool-like material and a flexible metal spring material that can be bent right back into shape if the microphone falls. There is no paint or finish, but the mic is tumbled for a nice-looking industrial exterior. The mic also eschews any kind of typical stand-mount. The bottom screws right into a mic stand. It is also really, really wide and really, really heavy, which will be mentioned later. The microphone, pretty much priced to compete with Chinese-manufactured mics, is also made in England.

But after just a few months I am selling it on Reverb. It isn’t a bad mic by any means. The pick-up pattern is cardioid-only but it features pad and high pass switches. It sounds OK on everything I tried it on – vocals, acoustic guitar, various drums, and electric guitar. But I haven’t found it to sound great on anything. For example, my old Oktava MK220 sounded much, much better on guitar amp. Without EQ I actually find it to sound a bit bright and harsh. It is supposed to be a “natural, neutral” sounding transformerless mic. I would wager the Chinese-made capsule is the typical “K67” style. With a center-terminated capsule, plosives aren’t as much of a problem as they are with mics with edge-terminated capsules, and this one is supposed to be usable without a pop filter, but I still feel like a pop filter is necessary for vocals.

Although this mic is apparently internally shock mounted, the lack of a conventional means of mounting to a stand actually becomes a big problem. Many mics, such as kick drum mics and ribbon mics, have a build-in stand mount, but those integrated stand attachments swivel so the mic can be appropriately angled! This one doesn’t. The mic just screws right into a stand. That means angling the mic at anything other than a straight zero degrees requires a boom arm, and this mic is heavy! Pointing the mic straight down, as one might do in a drum overhead setting, just plain would not work with an inexpensive boom stand like the included Samson stand. “But Gabe,” you must be saying, “What about all those readily-available inexpensive shock mounts you can buy on ebay shipped directly from China?” Excellent idea – except this microphone is really, really wide, so the only shock mount that likely works with it is the expensive Aston-branded one manufactured by “caviar-of-shockmounts” brand Rykote. No thank you!

With a brand new baby, I haven’t used any microphone for any reason the past month, but I knew that when the time calls to open up the microphone closet this won’t be one I will reach for.

“So, Gabe, what similar large diaphragm condenser microphones would you recommend in the same price range?” Good question. I recommend buying used, and off the top of my head, I would say Oktava’s MK219 or 319, the CAD M-179, various Røde models, or the Latvian-made BLUE Baby Bottle are all better options.

So far my sale posting has had six views. I am keeping the stand and cable. B-

Beecher’s No Woman Cheese – This cheese doesn’t really taste anything like Jamaican Jerk spice (because it isn’t spicy), but this is a fun cheese nonetheless. It may be a bit salty and a bit “flavored,” but it is still pretty good. It is actually a bit salty for my taste on crackers but I remember liking it in mac ‘n’ cheese. A-

Beecher’s Flagship Cheese – This delicious and totally inoffensive sort-of-crumbly white cheese makes a great grilled cheese, a mean mac ‘n’ cheese, and tastes great on crackers. A

Kerrygold Special Reserve Cheddar Cheese – Now this is the ticket! Deliciously sharp, perfect texture, a real winner. Cheese and a half. A+

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