The Wasaphone MKII - Not just a special effect.
Earlier this year I stumbled upon Wasaphone Microphones, a small company making hand built, Lo-Fi microphones with a trashy and authentic vintage sound. After hearing the demos, I just had to pick one up.
The mic I chose was their MKII. Housed in a steel flour shaker and boasting their signature Lo-Fi sound with a limited frequency range of 200Hz - 2kHz, this microphone screams character. It can be used to add a gritty, vintage effect (without sounding harsh and brittle) to just about anything, perfect for those ear candy moments.
However, after using it on just about every instrument I recorded as a throwaway experiment, I started to discover that it can be much more than just a special effect. With heaps of compression it creates an amazing effect on drums, perfect for adding interest to intros and bridges. But, if you sparingly blend this channel with the rest of the kit, it can work wonders to lift a chorus or louder section with a smooth, mid-range boost that cuts through the mix. Another place it shines (rather unexpectedly) is bass guitar. Nine times out of ten, when I'm mixing bass guitar in a busy mix, I'll add some light saturation to the top end to help it translate to smaller speakers and prevent it from getting lost in the mids. With this principle in mind, I paired the Wasaphone MKII with an AKG D112, using the mic's gritty character in place of plugins to achieve the same effect with less effort and more satisfaction.
If you have a chance to get hold of one of these microphones I couldn't recommended it enough, not only are they fantastic for inspiring creativity and experimenting in the studio, but they're an undoubtedly useful tool in plenty of scenarios. Sometimes it's great to reach for a quirky looking flour shaker instead of an uninspiring plugin.