When I was managing Jackpot! Recording Studio, I was fascinated by Tape Op editor and studio owner Larry Crane’s approach to gear-buying. The studio is mostly made up of new equipment with a few vintage items. This is savvy, as new gear doesn’t come with inflated price tags or unexpected (and even impossible) maintenance issues. For a long time, it's felt as if all the quality new equipment was spendy and the affordable gear was always crappy. I believe we’re now finally entering an era where new recording equipment can be high performing at low costs. Enter the new TG Microphone Type L from Chandler Limited. I’ve had this mic for over three months, and I’ve used it on nearly every session since with superb results – and it costs less than $800!

The Type L is essentially the little brother to Chandler's larger TG Microphone [Tape Op #131], in that both are solid-state, large diaphragm condenser mics with two tone voicings. But the similarities end there, as the Type L has its own unique sound and is not simply an affordable version of the TG Microphone. Because of how quickly I grew to love this mic and its attractive price point, I’m going to make this review all about my great experiences using the Type L and keep the tech talk to a minimum.

Upon its arrival, I was impressed by the sturdy bamboo storage box it comes in and was surprised by the actual size and weight of the microphone – it’s small and light! Neither observation bothered me after putting it to use, finding it very easy to place in tight situations (thanks to the supplied swivel mount), and feeling comfortable with its weight on just about any mic stand. The Type L is a fixed cardioid FET mic with simple controls on the microphone body – a -10 dB pad switch and an A/B voicing switch. Voicing A is a mid-forward TG Microphone feel, while voicing B is cleaner and more transparent with a slightly lower output than A. The B setting is referred to as "ribbon-like," which is what initially made me want to try out the mic.

How does it sound on sources? The first time I used the Type L was mic’ing up the exterior of a hollow-body electric guitar to blend in with the amped signal. I don’t typically do this when recording guitars, but the song we were recording had a Django Reinhardt vibe that made me want to capture some acoustic, woody tone to add to the mic'd amp. I set the Type L to the B voicing and placed it about a foot away from the f-hole on the guitar. I was stunned at how musical and full the sound was. It gave me exactly the tone I was hoping to capture. After comping our guitar part, it was time to record vocals. This song was a duet between a male and female vocalist, singing face-to-face a few feet apart from each other. I decided to use a Klaus Heyne-modded vintage Neumann U 87 on the man, and the Type L set to voicing A on the woman. While it’s unfair to stack these two mics up against each other, I was once again stunned at how well the Type L stepped up to the challenge. The A setting helped bring a relatively mellow female vocalist up front, with nice presence that was not harsh or thin-sounding at all. The back and forth between each of the singer’s phrases ended up totally natural and complementary to each other. Next, I tried the Type L on a session where we were overdubbing brass instruments on choral music that we had recorded in a beautiful cathedral in downtown Portland. The goal was to capture clean and honest recordings of each instrument in a way that could later be mixed with a healthy dose of reverb to match the sound of our cathedral recordings. First up was French horn, which I’ve found difficult in the past because of how mellow the tone is. I started with the Type L set to the B voicing, no pad, about two feet away from the bell. It was a nice sound, but still very mellow and getting a bit lost in the track. After a couple takes I remembered I could simply ask the horn player to switch the voicing switch over to A to see if that made much difference. There was thankfully no loud “pop” with the channel open while switching. We did one more take and listened back. Both the horn player and I looked at each other and said, “Wow, that sure helped!” Suddenly there was enough midrange presence to help it cut through the mix but without losing the gentle tone of the horn. Next up was trumpet. I switched the mic back to B, engaged the -10 dB pad, and placed the mic a little over a foot in front of the trumpet. Because I was working on limited time with union symphony players, I set a quick level and started rolling takes. The whole time I was a little bummed I didn’t have time to switch preamps, as my record level was just slightly too hot to my liking. I was worried it might be a tad too bright (not harsh, just too present), even on the softer B setting. But when it came time to mix these songs, I was pleasantly surprised again. After turning down the trumpet about 10 to 12 dB in the track and drenching it in some lovely cathedral-like reverb, the presence in the recording was exactly what it needed to cut through in the mix and required zero EQ’ing. Amazing.

Now onto where I believe the Type L really shines – kick drum and guitar amps. This mic is my new go-to for an outside kick mic. With the pad engaged and the voicing on B, I immediately get that satisfying pillowy low end punch that I crave on a kick drum. The sub frequencies are nicely controlled and roll off before getting out of hand, but the proximity effect helps keep the low end punchy and strong. I’ve been thrilled with the results I’ve been getting during tracking and mixing using the Type L for outside kick. Guitar amps are the other place this mic totally shines. When overdubbing electric parts on a number of songs, the guitarist was primarily using his Gibson ES-335-style electric into a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. I had the mic set to voicing A with the pad engaged and got a quick level, and the guitarist immediately asked what mic I was using. He said he’s so used to the sound being a bit thicker/muddier in the low mids and requiring some EQ to open up the tone. Instead, the voicing on the mic took care of that for us! It was mid-forward, the way electric guitars like to be in a mix, and full sounding without ever getting muddy. When we needed to switch to a Fender Telecaster for a song, I ran out and switched the mic to the B setting. It brought a little more weight to the twangy sound and mellowed out some of the Tele's icepick upper mids that I’m used to battling during a mix. Again, success!

I’ve grown so fond of using the Type L on guitar amps and kick drum, that I’ve neglected trying it out in other spots on a drum kit. I can’t wait to try it out as an overhead and on toms (great, now I'll need at least two of them). Chandler set out to make a studio workhorse, and that’s exactly what they did. It’s simple, to the point, and sounds excellent every time I put it to use. The fact that it has two different but equally musical, tonal voicings makes it a no-brainer purchase for any studio owner. It makes overdubbing fun and easy since I can double track guitar or vocal parts using the different voicing settings, and have it sound as if I was using different mics for each part. The Type L can handle crazy loud SPL before any audible breakup, as well as pick up sensitive details in quieter recordings. At this price point, I’m excited about this type of affordability with new gear that can excel in professional settings. I will be keeping this microphone, I plan to buy a second one, and I'm putting the Type L at the top of my list whenever friends reach out asking me for advice on an affordable studio microphone that sounds good on everything.

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

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