When I was asked to review an Ear Trumpets Labs microphone, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve always been attracted to their vintage-style designs and have had good experiences with their Edwina [Tape Op #91] and Nadine models. I chose their Myrtle because it’s advertised as “ideal for single-miking soloists or small acoustic ensembles, including acoustic instruments and multiple vocalists, on stage or in the studio.” Given the times we are currently in, and the resultant proliferation of DIY livestreaming performances and home recordings, I thought this would be the perfect mic to review.

Myrtle is a large-diaphragm, cardioid condenser microphone with “spring-suspended retro styling.” Ear Trumpet Labs built on the success of their flagship Edwina model’s characteristics by adding “a low end tuned for accurately capturing acoustic instruments from any distance” to Myrtle’s design. They claim the sweet spot is about six inches out. It’s hand made, hand-wired, and utilizes copper plumbing parts for its body, giving it a sweet retro look and feel that will take your stage appearance up several notches. Myrtle’s other notable design features include internal shock dampers, a built-in pop filter, and transformerless FET electronics.

To check out Myrtle’s abilities as a single-source mic for live streaming, I took it to a bluegrass jam at my neighbor’s. There was a trio consisting of acoustic guitar, mandolin, and upright bass, so I figured this was a perfect situation to test the microphone. We all set up six feet apart with the mandolin player in the middle. I placed the mic on the side, closer to the guitarist (as it’s typically the hardest to hear unplugged). My main concern was capturing the right amount of upright bass, especially as it was a good ten feet from the mic – so I boosted 110 Hz a touch with some EQ and compressed the signal somewhat. I was thoroughly impressed at Myrtle’s clarity and coverage in this setting. Given that I guesstimated mic placement, based on prior experience, and did not bother to monitor my input, the mix was well balanced and pleasant to listen to later on Facebook. I could actually hear and feel the thump of the bass! The hi-mids were not harsh either, even through Bluetooth earbuds and with Facebook’s data compression. I’ll credit this to the microphone’s frequency response of 20 to 15 kHz and a gentle roll-off.

When I used Myrtle later at an outdoor gig for vocals, acoustic guitar, violin, and upright bass, I was surprised how much gain it needed, but it didn’t feed back – even though we kept pushing the level. Ear Trumpet Labs is known for “astonishing feedback rejection,” another aspect they carried forward from Edwina’s design. I’ve done a lot of gigs over the years, both as a performer and FOH engineer using large-diaphragm condensers in loud bars with acoustic bands, so finding a mic that does not moan and whistle through the stage monitors in this setting is extremely important. Given its popularity amongst working professionals, it seems like the Ear Trumpet Labs’ line has been designed to conquer this challenge specifically. What impresses me about Myrtle, given its wide focus, is the rear rejection. It’s like having your cake and eating it. One thing to note: It’s not easy to tell which side of the microphone is the front. It took me a while to find the indicator etched into the metal on the inside rim. Needless to say, always check the mic from both sides to make sure it’s correctly oriented.

For close mic’ing, I set up Myrtle to track myself singing and playing acoustic guitar; first as a guitar mic, then in the vocal position. As an acoustic guitar mic, Myrtle plays nice with other microphones. Its rear rejection worked well for isolating the guitar from the vocal with minimal bleed. The tone was warm and clear when positioned at the recommended six inches away from the instrument, and aimed at 45 degrees down toward the sound hole. I used a high-pass filter on the preamp, and the sound was not at all woofy in the low mids.

On vocals, the Myrtle had a rich clear tone. Not as much body as I might prefer, but not harsh in the upper mids either. Again, I think 15 kHz being its top frequency keeps the tone from getting overly brittle. Getting closer to the mic can yield more low end (due to proximity effect) for a deeper tone, but then again I don’t have the most stellar set of pipes, so this is going to be a case-by-case mic’ing situation. While not every microphone works for all voices, Myrtle is a fine choice to have in your collection.

Included is a high-quality metal case with foam padding, a 30-day full return policy, and a lifetime warranty. It also ships with just a standard Shure microphone clip, but given its Internal shock mount, I found this to be sufficient – plus if you lose it, it’s easy to replace. Ear Trumpet Labs also sells a fashionable knit windscreen for $65 extra. With an exhaustive list of notable users in the acoustic music realm and its friendly price point, Myrtle is a versatile and eye-catching option for self-producing artists and engineers looking for a mic equally suited for the studio, stage, and ‘stream.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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