Review: Wasaphone MKII Microphone

Take your music back in time with this inexpensive lo-fi mic
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The best way to impart an old-school sound on a voice or instrument is by using a low-fi mic at the source rather than with post-production EQ. The UK-made Wasaphone MKII (42.50 GBP; approx. $67) is one such mic, specifically designed to give you the band-limited sound of pre-war recordings in the studio or onstage.

The Wasaphone MKII features a dynamic mic element sourced from vintage British telephone handsets that is sealed in a lightweight, metal salt shaker (3.75" long by 2.5" in diameter). An XLR jack is securely mounted into the bottom, and a heavy-duty brass ring is used to attach the mic to any stand. A cloth bag is provided for storage.

With a stated frequency range of 200 to 2k Hz, the mic has an attractively midrange-y timbre reminiscent of early radio or 78 RPM recordings. The position of the dynamic element inside determines the pickup response, and the holes in the top provide the only entrance for sound; there is no acoustic venting to alter the pattern. Consequently, the pickup characteristics lean more toward omnidirectional than the stated cardioid. But compared to a typical cardioid dynamic mic, the Wasaphone MKII gives you greater flexibility in determining the amount of room tone that is captured, depending how close you place the mic to the sound source. This is handy when tracking a voice or solo instrument by itself, and it’s something to be aware of in an ensemble setting if you’re worried about bleed from other instruments.

Overall, the Wasaphone MKII provides a unique color, whether it’s used up front on voice and guitar or as a room mic for drums that you smash with a compressor and blend into the mix. If you’re looking for an inexpensive transducer with serious personality and character, this is the mic for you.