Great Expectations

A couple of months ago, I was part of a blind mic shootout here at Hartwell Studios.  The four mics were – 1) Manley reference mic 2) Lawson 251 3) vintage Gefell CMV-563 4) vintage AKG 414.  All 4 mics were run through my trusty Aurora GTQ-2 preamp and we ran several different song sections with varying dynamics and expression to compare our mics.

When I got the blind clips loaded back into my DAW (labeled simply mic 1, mic 2, etc) the assembled group, which included 3 audio professionals and our artist, all opined on which clip corresponded to which mic.

It went a lot like this “Well, mic 2 is my favorite and my favorite is the Manley, so mic 2 is the Manley.  Boom, cracked it”.

Or “Mic 4 is the darkest so it’s gotta be the Gefell.  I knew that wouldn’t be my first choice”.

And I refrained from weighing in too much as I own a couple of these mics and thought SURELY i knew my mics from the guest mics and i didn’t want to influence anyone because of my knowledge of my own gear!

Well…..  we were all wrong.  Across the board.  Myself included.

I left that shootout humbled but also encouraged.  It proved to me that our expectations of gear color our judgement.  It’s amazing how much our eyes and our thoughts affect HOW we hear things.

And they shouldn’t.  But we’re all human and they do.

So I challenge all of you – do a blind shootout if you get a chance.  Test your ears versus your expectations.

And never forget rule #1 of audio – If it sounds right, it IS right.


Want more info on the shootout or Hartwell Studios?  Email me at