A peek into our microphone locker

Our microphone locker houses some of the finest microphones ever to grace the inside of a recording studio. From large diaphragm and tube condensers, ribbons and dynamic microphones. Abbey Road Institute students have access to legendary microphones usually reserved for the upper echelons of the recording industry.  

From mics such as the Neumann U87ai, probably the most famous vocal mic of all time, to the amazing AEA R88 MkII stereo ribbon. A matched pair of the BBC designed Coles 4038’s stereo ribbon, Royer 121’s, and the famous AKG C414s – widely considered the best overhead mics ever made – all contribute to a truly world-class microphone collection! Add in the  Neumann M147, AKG C451’s, Neumann Km184’s and the EV RE20 and Abbey Road Institute students are guaranteed to capture every amazing details of their performances. 

How many microphones can you spot?  

Here is a short breakdown, should we maybe call it the staff favourite microphone choices?

R88 mkII

The R88 mkII is a stereo ribbon microphone. The R88 utilises a Blumlein design to capture a full and rich sound. The Blumlein technique is two figure-of-8 microphones, set in close proximity at 90-degree angles giving a detailed stereo image.

This microphone technique was developed in the Abbey Road Studios in the 1930’s by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein.

The R88 mkII is an excellent microphone for recording drum overheads, as a room microphone, orchestral, guitar amps and choirs.
You can hear this microphone on the Life Of Pi soundtrack, The White Stripes albums and albums from the Strokes.

Coles 4038

This unique looking microphone has been used during the course of the Beatles career on a number of recordings. The STC 4038 has established itself as a widely used broadcast microphone within the BBC, and are still being used by the BBC to this day.

The 4038 is a bi-directional ribbon microphone, and Norman Smith primarily used the microphone as an overhead mic on Ringo’s drum-kit.

Geoff Emerick recalls using the 4038 for the Abbey Road album:

“I was experimenting with 4038s on overheads. They’re big ribbons; you have to boost the high end. But there was a certain relationship, for some reason, on the 4038s, between mixing them in with the close mics, that really worked. Something to do with the phasing, I suppose. When you reversed the phase on the snare mic, it always came as a much bigger, fatter snare sound when you used the 4038s. It had to do with the bottom end on them. And they were also figure-of-eight, so it was kicking back”.

During the Sgt. Pepper sessions, the Abbey Road Studios engineers chose this mic for Paul McCartney’s bass cabinet, as the tonal characteristics are perfect to capture some of the “creamier” bass sounds from that era.

Additionally, it is also a popular mic for recording brass, french horns, Leslie cabinets, electric guitar and vocals.

In fact, you can hear this microphone on countless albums including Pink Floyd’s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”.

Neumann U87

The Neumann U87,  a more modern and trouble-free replacement of the U67, was the first solid-state Neumann mic that Abbey Road embraced in 1969. The large diaphragm condenser microphone that has a huge history behind it. You can hear it on the greatest music in history, including John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Marvin Gaye’s “Whats going on” and Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”.

It is primarily a vocal microphone but is also amazing on acoustic guitars, room/overheads for drums, piano and more.

What else is in the microphone locker?

For a current list of available microphones and more details about our studios, please click here.