First up is the FC4 from Golden Age and you know that we are already big fan of their gear so we thought we would get a couple of these and run them in various sessions to see how they performed. A quick search on the internet will show you that there are at least ten companies selling this small diaphragm studio condenser with detachable capsules. Golden Age, ADK, Peluso, Advanced Audio and all the others buy this mic off the shelf from Chinese manufacturer Felio and rebadge it under their own name. Different companies may or may not tweak a few things but no one likes to admit they just resell it on as it is!
The case and capsule design is based on the Neumann KM-54 (which was infact a tube mic) but now features a clean class “A” FET amplifier circuit coupled to a discrete transformeless Schoeps-like output circuit. The result is a mic which is extremely transparent and has very low self-noise. It has a -10db/-20db pad switch plus a 75hz/150hz low frequency roll-off switch making it very useful in different studio situations but the most stunning thing about this mic is the price. Mic manufacturers know that they simply couldn't build a mic as quiet, versatile and nice sounding for anywhere near the money and the fact that GA can sell these in a padded wooden box with three capsules and a shockmount ( OK, so it's a bit plasticky ) for £79 means that it must be coming out of a factory in China at about £15. It's daft but then so is creationism.
So you get in effect three mics here to try out in as many different situations as you can but the trick is to buy a pair and start to experiment with stereo techniques. As a pair of drum O/Heads in ORTF they sound great; clean and sparkling without sounding harsh and with a good stereo image and I've had some surprisingly good results on acoustic guitar and percussion. I've not tried them yet on a piano but they should get you a result on anything with a bit of careful positioning. The hyper cardioid capsule is always going to be the least useful but for hi-hats when you don't want a lot of spill from the rest of the kit they work just fine and aren't too hard or spiky. However for me the big deal is the omni capsule.
I am a huge fan of spaced omnis for location recording and I recently took a pair of these mics to a mobile recording of a large Brass band over in west yorkshire and I put a pair of the FC4s up alongside my favourite omnis, the Hebdensound 3000 and a pair of the new Lauten Torch valve mics which I had just got hold of and was very keen to try out.
I simply can't say how good these Golden Age mics are when you consider they are up against mics that cost around £1000 a pair and are considered class, hand made mics. The FC4s are quiet and have a good output and are light enough to put up high on a couple of standard mic stands without worrying about them. All you need to do is play the audio in the little mp3 icon below to hear the mics but make sure you stop one before trying to play another. All I will say here is that I was very disappointed with one pair of mics on that session and it wasn't the GAs
So for me another no brainer from Golden Age and a great opportunity for anyone to get out there and start practicing stereo techniques JR
The Golden Age FC4 is a great little studio condenser mic for under £70 and I don't think there is anything out there as good for the money. So if you just want a nice sounding instrument mic buy one, if you want to record a choir in stereo buy two or if you are recording Snow White The Musical get 7!
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