By Barry Rudolph
The Sontronics Halo is a moving-coil dynamic microphone purpose-built for use on guitar amps/cabinets. The cardioid pattern Halo is based on the company’s STC-80 handheld vocal dynamic—a mic that was getting popular use as an alternative to the typical, “go to” guitar amp dynamic microphone. All metal construction, the Halo has an “old-time” look—its shock mount consists of four springs that suspend the microphone’s tubular body in the center of a circular frame. A one-piece assembly, apart from the shiny nickel metal front grill, the mic and angle-adjustable threaded base is powder-coated flat black.
The published frequency response is from 50Hz to 15kHz with a noticeable lift in a broad swath of midrange frequencies. My first test was comparing it to the Shure SM-57 dynamic on a Paul Reed Smith “30” head and cabinet amp. I placed the Halo in the same starting position I would use for the SM-57. I had both microphones plugged into mic inputs of a SSL G Series console.
Besides having more high and low frequencies, the Halo requires slightly less pre-amp gain for an equivalent recording level and is slightly more responsive to “peaks” than the SM-57. For single note playing, solos and standouts overdubbing in the studio, the fat tone coupled with good pick attack was a winner for clean guitar tones.
Back at my studio, I tried the Halo on my ZT Amps Lunchbox Junior for some quirky and distorted sounds. I pushed Halo (aimed slightly off-axis) into the mighty 5.5-inch speaker of the Junior and used my boutique RTZ 9762 mic pre- amp to record it. The Halo responded to repositioning just as any dynamic mic with the proximity effect working well to further fatten the sound. Sontronics’ Halo approaches the sound of a cardioid condenser with its low and high frequency extension and offers a good alternative microphone for recording electric guitar amps. It sells for $185 MAP and is covered by a lifetime warranty. Much more about it is at http://sontronics.com/halo.htm.
miniBIO: Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer with over 30 gold and platinum RIAA awards to his credit. He has recorded and/or mixed: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and Robbie Nevil. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and also teaches recording engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. http://www.barryrudolph.com