REVIEWS

Sonictronics STC-20 Pack Condenser Mic

Published 2 months ago on May 5, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

So you thought all studio mics were much of a muchness? Andi Picker meets the very affordable Sontronics STC-20 - and won't give it back.

I really wouldn’t want to start up a microphone company today. Pour heart, soul and savings into detailed design and prototyping and field testing, finalise a product, source components, produce, quality control, ship, market...and join the ranks of everyone else whose stickers yell “Proudly designed in USA/Germany/Britain manufactured in China”.

Just to make matters worse, a lot of manufacturers manage to produce perfectly adequate sounding mics that sell for next to nothing, and really good sounding mics for not much more.

And that brings me to the Sontronics STC-20 Pack, which ships the mic itself along with an elasticated shock mount, a pop filter that fits onto the mount, a five metre lead and a soft storage pouch. I’ll mention here that the filter material came loose in use but it only took 30 seconds to fix and that is the ONLY fault I found. Read on!

The microphone was designed in the UK by Sontronics’ founder Trevor Coley, and Trevor is a man with a bit of a vision. He likes a certain sound and he designs his mics to produce it. The sound is described as “... the Sontronics trademark “smooth high-frequency roll-off” “ and it’s honestly a bit of a double-edged sword. I’ll declare now that I gravitate towards this sound - I seem to be forever cutting high shelf to get rid of the fashionable “pop sparkle” that digital recordings so faithfully reproduce, but it does mean that the mic can sound a bit “unremarkable” at first. DON’T STOP READING HERE though, because “unremarkable” is exactly what some of the finest (and most expensive) mics that money can buy sound like. If you need a microphone for a particular voice or a specific source, then go audition a bunch of options, find one that glimmers the best features of that source and if you can afford it then buy it. But don’t be surprised if the quirks of that mic clash awfully with some other source. If you want a mic that you can use for everything, find a great sounding “unremarkable” mic.

The STC-20 is a simplified take on the STC-2 Large Diaphragm Condenser (let’s stick with LDC from now on), without the pad (it still has a quoted max 120dB SPL) or low-cut filter. The capsule is a Sontronics design - it’s not an “off the shelf” part, the body is heavy (and not “ringy”) and again is bespoke. The locking ring on the review mic had worked a bit loose so I had a look inside – it’s tidy with discrete components on a neat Sontronics marked circuit board. Specs? Sure, this mic has some, they’re not remotely best-in-class, but it’s certainly quiet enough and sensitive enough and robust enough. This is all very nice and good, but ultimately all quite irrelevant to me - because I simply loved the SOUND of this mic on spoken word, male and female sung vocals, acoustic guitar and as a distant mic on an electric guitar.

Now when you evaluate a microphone you generally want to put it in its best place for the source, and that’s the problem with reviewing mics. If it tends to be a bit bright, you just put it off axis, if it’s a bit thin sounding you just move it closer to boost the proximity, muddy - move it away, and so on. When you’ve been doing this for a while, you do it without even thinking about it. You just move the mic into the right place, and unless that’s “in another room under a duvet” you don’t even think in terms of problems. It’s relatively rare that a mic that registers as “bad” or even “poor” and I’ve recently been very pleasantly surprised by the quality of results I’ve had from even budget microphones.

In this case I also deliberately tried some real “lazy” miking - just sticking it on a stand and playing some acoustic guitar near it, or hanging it over the edge of a chair in front of a cab - and it still sounded good. It’s not just the smooth top end - there’s a slightly flattering size and solidity to the mids that is just right for my taste, and it seems to have an off-axis response that quite outclasses its price. Appreciation of sound is and must be subjective, so I readily admit that I’m biased and “your mileage may vary” as they say, but for me; I like the sound so I think the mic is good! Better than good. Perhaps that sticker should say “Simply Right”.

In summary? Loved it, want one!

Ig23 Cover


YOU MAY LIKE

ADVERTISEMENT

LATEST

Mud, Rain, and Rock 'n' Roll — Guitar Interactive at The Download Festival 2024 | Feature

Tom Morello on new single with his son "Soldier in the Army of Love," the last time he saw Chris Cornell & beating Simon Cowell in the charts | Interview

Marcus King on 'Mood Swings,' Collaborating with Rick Rubin and Exploring New Musical Directions | Interview

Gibson Theodore Standard | Review

Aria Pro II 714-GTR Fullerton | Review

Music Man 2024 Axis Super Sport | Review

Danelectro Fifty Niner Guitar - Gold Top | Review

Taylor Guitars 50th Anniversary GS mini Rosewood SB | Review

Music Man 2024 Axis | Review

Jackson Soloist SLA 3 | Review

PRS 2024 SE CE 24 Satin | Review

JET Guitars JT600 | Review

Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal | Review

Boss Katana-Air EX Wireless Guitar Amp | Review

Cort Abstract Delta Masterpiece Series | Review

Sterling by Music Man St. Vincent Goldie | Review

Mooer Tender Octave X2 | Review

Gibson Falcon 20 1x12 Combo | Review

Godin Session T-Pro | Review

Fishman Fluence 6-String Mick Thomson Signature Pickups | Review

Glenn Hughes on Black Country Communion 'V' & Why Joe Bonamassa is "The Greatest Rock Blues Player Alive Today" | Interview

D'Addario XS Coated Electric Guitar Strings | Review

21 Bands Not to Miss at This Year's Download Festival | Feature

Nothing More's Mark Vollelunga on Embracing the "Raw" and "Real" with 'Carnal' | Interview

Eddie 9V Delivers an Electrifying and Soulful Performance at The Grace, London — May 13th 2024 | Live Review

Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram