A lot of general purpose studio mics are designed to have a fairly neutral sound so any ‘character’ has to be added in afterwards, usually via plug-in processing of some kind. Those who are more serious about their recording however tend to rely much more on specific microphones to achieve the kind of sound they want at source: this was after all how records were traditionally made, and many still are. There’s a lot to be said for this approach, especially when it can be achieved without breaking the bank.
Wasaphone is an independent UK-based builder of custom ‘lo-fi’ microphones which are designed to have unique characteristics without requiring any extra processing. They’re hand built so each one really is special and receiving one in the mail is refreshingly unlike opening any kind of mass produced product. Maroc is housed inside a small, hand-tuned Moroccan thuya wood casing and the whole thing is about 2/3 the size of a drinks can.
It’s pretty straightforward in operation, with the dynamic element housed inside the body and a copper end plate and mesh protecting it. At the other end is an XLR connector and the whole thing fits to your mic stand using the supplied brass mounting bracket. Although solid, the mic is surprisingly light. It has a frequency range of 200 Hz to 10 kHz and an output impedance of 200 ohms. The sound you get from it is distinctly lo-fi and has a “phone line” style quality, but in a good way of course. It’s mostly middle and top end and as such, anything you record through it sounds warm and old fashioned. This is thanks to the resonance of the wooden chamber and also the cardioid capsule.
The videos on the website show you the kinds of thing that Maroc is ideally suited to: harmonicas, folk, guitars and ‘tinned’ vocals though of course you can put it on anything to warm it up. One thing that users seem to do quite frequently is use Maroc and Wasaphone’s other mics blended with a regular studio condenser to get a nice warm edge to the sound—to add some character. Customers include such luminary producers as Adrian Utley and John Parrish, so the company must be doing something right.
At just £90 (around $135) Maroc is an excellent and affordable way to add some authenticity and unique character to your recordings. Even if you don’t use it on a single source (it is after all a very specific kind of sound) you can blend it with other, more conventional mic feeds to create something much more interesting than a single studio mic would normally provide. At this price, it’s not a big investment and could very well influence your production techniques in a good way, encouraging you to capture different kinds of effects at source rather than relying on plug-ins.
Price: £90 / $135
Pros: Bags of character. Beautifully hand made. Affordable. A great go-to mic for lo-fi effects. Blend it with regular studio mics for more flexibility.
Cons: None at this price.