Large-diaphragm microphone optimized for performing with acoustic instruments.
by Teja Gerken
June 10, 2019
Founded by former software engineer Philip Graham, Portland, Oregon–based Ear Trumpet Labs originally grew out of Graham’s desire to build a microphone for his own use. The popularity of Graham’s homemade mics among other Portland musicians eventually led him to turn his hobby into a job. Ear Trumpet Labs microphones are designed for acoustic musicians, and their mixture of retro vibe and steampunk aesthetic makes them like no other microphone on the market. We recently had a chance to take a close look and listen to the company’s Edwina model.
The Edwina is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. The mic capsule is housed in a round enclosure about three inches in diameter that includes protective wire mesh and two flat metal rings, all held together by a set of six screws. The assembly is mounted into a simple swivelling mechanism that consists of a U-shaped metal bracket and two thumb screws. This setup allows the microphone to be used either in a side address or end address configuration. The microphone’s electronics are housed in a brass barrel mounted at the bottom end of the U-shaped bracket, which terminates in a standard XLR connector. Overall, the Edwina’s design appears very sturdy and is a fine example of form and function working hand in hand.
Ear Trumpet Labs has optimized the Edwina for acoustic instruments and vocals, with a placement sweet spot of 1–18 inches from the sound source, but it’s also capable of working as a shared mic among multiple performers, a favorite amplification solution for many bluegrass bands. Since receiving the microphone, we have used it extensively in the Peghead Nation video studio, where we’ve had excellent results on guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and it’s now our primary instrument mic for lessons and performances. We found that the Edwina’s relatively wide cardioid pattern makes it more forgiving in regards to placement than some mics, and its warm, accurate sound yields great overall tone. This video demo includes recordings of myself and Scott Nygaard on guitar, Evie Ladin on clawhammer banjo, and John Reischman on his 1924 Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5 mandolin.
I also tried the Edwina on a few solo guitar gigs. I usually use a pickup when I perform, but the Edwina’s natural sound, high feedback threshold, and ability to sound good in a variety of placements made it extremely easy to set up, and it sounded great, even in situations with short sound checks and less-than-ideal monitor mixes.
Overall, the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina is a microphone that all acoustic musicians should consider for studio and performance situations. It’s rugged, flexible, sounds great, and has a distinctive, eye-catching look.
SPECS: Large-diaphragm condenser microphone. 26-mm. diaphragm. Cardioid polar pattern. 20–15K hz (-3dB) frequency response. - 38.9sB (11 mV/PA) sensitivity. Eartrumpetlabs.com
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