The Altec/Western Electric 633A is the classic microphone known as the "Salt Shaker," so named for its small cylindrical body with rounded edges and series of small holes across the top. It's an omnidirectional dynamic microphone with limited frequency response that was manufactured in the mid 60's. I bought mine a few years ago. These days, they're generally selling for around $100- $150. It's a great "go-to" lo-fi mic, with a bright, raspy top that manages to keep things clear amidst the bite. It's a great mic for background vocals to set them apart from the lead vocal. When used up-close as a lead vocal mic, I usually find that it needs a good bit of de-essing for most singers, but it makes for a nice effect. I also really like it for an odd- sounding guitar solo, especially for punk-rock-type stuff, where its spiky tone helps it cut through brash rhythm tracks. It can have an interesting sound near a drum kit, and it seems to be a popular thing to run this mic through a Shure Level Loc-although doing so makes it a little bright for my tastes. The 633A is also good for an interesting acoustic guitar sound when mic'ing from a distance, but close up it usually accentuates all the bad stuff. Probably my favorite place for this mic is inside a kick drum. Here, the 633A gives a surprisingly modern sound, well-defined with a good bit of beater sound and nice low-end clarity. It works well in conjunction with an outside mic or by itself if the bass guitar sound requires a little more room in the bottom where the sound from a "standard" kick drum mic might compete. A neat little mic with a cool lineage. Worth checking out if you want something a bit different.
Microphones | No. 60
CL2 Pencil Condenser Mic
by Dana Gumbiner
Here's a couple of new and very affordable mics from Samson. First up, the CL2s are sold as a matched pair of small-diaphragm pencil-style condensers with high-pass filters and 10 dB pads. The mics...