Moaning is an abrasive post punk trio comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson, and Andrew MacKelvie has been hard at work recording the follow-up to its debut album. LA-based producer/mixer/engineer Alex Newport is spearheading the recording efforts and, among the various tools used to capture the band’s performances is the MA-300 multi-pattern large diaphragm, vacuum tube condenser microphone from Burbank, CA-based Mojave Audio.
Newport is best known for his work with rock and indie rock bands. He’s produced two records for the El Paso, TX-based rockers At The Drive-In and has also worked with British indie rockers Bloc Party, the alternate rock band Death Cab For Cutie, as well as Toronto, Canada’s Dallas Green—also known as City And Colour. According the Newport, “I love recording loud drums and guitars and love to hear the energy and passion in a group performance.” And to accomplish this, Newport is a big fan of Mojave Audio’s MA-300. He discussed his experience with the microphone.
“I had a pair of Mojave Audio’s MA-200s for the last year or so and absolutely loved them,” Newport says. “After discovering that the MA-300 is essentially the same microphone but with a multipattern capsule, I acquired a pair. Since I can use them as a mid-side pair, or switch between the cardioid pattern for close sources or omni pattern for room mics, the MA-300 is proving to be tremendously valuable for me. Having the extra patterns is very useful.”
“I’ve been producing Moaning’s second album at my studio in LA,” he continues. “They are an amazing band with a dark, driving noisy guitar/synth sound, with huge pop melodies and great vocals, so there’s a great juxtaposition of sound between melodic and noisy that I am really drawn to. They sort of sound like catchy pop songs, all put through a massive distortion pedal. We just finished the tracking and are about to start mixing. The album is scheduled for release on the Sub Pop record label in early 2020.”
Newport discussed his use of the MA-300. “I used the MA-300 pair almost exclusively for drum overheads,” he explained, and then used them for the guitar overdubs. Following this, I used the MA-300s for vocals, strings, and percussion. So, after all that, they feature pretty heavily on most records I’m working on.”
When queried about those attributes that make the Mojave Audio MA-300 so well-suited for his applications, Newport offered the following thoughts. “The MA-300s sound excellent on drum overheads,” he reports. “They can handle a huge amount of SPL and really capture a natural and realistic image of the drum kit without the harshness I experience with many other condenser mics. I’m a huge fan of tube mics and the MA-300s are very well designed, with quite a touch of thickness on the bottom end and a clear, smooth top. Those attributes make them well suited to many applications and I especially love them on drums, guitar cabinets, plus vocals and strings.”
“Having the different capsule patterns really opens up the opportunities,” Newport adds. “I use them a lot in omni pattern for ambient mics. To be perfectly honest, I think they sound great on any source. By comparison, other tube mics I own are good for certain sounds but not so great for others. I feel that the MA-300s are much more flexible and can be considered great ‘all-rounders’. These Mojave mics have a lot of character—and it’s a character that seems to work more often than not. As an example, the MA-300s served as the overhead mics for all tracks—in cardioid pattern as a spaced pair. I didn’t use any EQ, just a little high-pass filtering and the overheads sounded perfect.”
When one is experimenting and searching for the ideal placement to capture a sound, questions frequently arise. In that regard, Newport is equally enthusiastic about Mojave Audio’s customer and technical support services. “I honestly haven’t needed much support,” he says, but Mojave’s Dusty Wakeman is fantastic and I really like that he is someone who possesses lot of real studio experience—so you know you’re working with someone really knowledgeable.”
Before shifting his focus to the business of the day, Newport summarized his experience with his Mojave MA-300s, “The MA-300s are well designed, fantastic mics that really sound great. To me, they capture the spirit of some of the ‘vintage classic’ mics that we all know and love, but without the hassle and continual repairs associated with vintage gear. I can’t recommend them highly enough. I’m planning on getting a second pair of MA-300s so I can have one pair for drum overheads and another pair for drum room mics. After my positive experience with the MA-200s and MA-300s, I’m also looking into some of the other Mojave mics, as I’ve heard a lot of great things about them.”