If you’re a streamer or content creator looking to take your production values to the next level, picking up a quality microphone should be first on your to-do list. Nobody will invest in your stream if your audio is bad, but if your audio is good, you’ll instantly stand out and seem far more professional in the process.
Today, we’re looking at the most versatile and impressive microphone we’ve ever laid hands on: the Aston Microphones Stealth. It’s essentially four microphones in one and opens the door to sounding your very best right out of the gate – on top of saving money on expensive accessories. At $379, the cost of entry is high but stick with us because it’s a definitely a mic every content creator out there needs to be considering for their next upgrade.
- Current Pricing: $379
- Transducer Type: Moving coil
- Directional Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz (+/-3dB)
- Equivalent Self Noise Level: 0dB A-weighted
- Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kohm – passive mode: Average 1 mV/Pa (varies across 4 voices)
- Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kohm – active mode : Average 150 mV/Pa (varies across 4 voices)
- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%: 140dB
- Product length : 196 mm / 7.72 in
- Product width: 58 mm / 2.28 in
- Product weight: 692 g / 1.52 lb
Aston Microphones is a relative newcomer to the professional audio scene but that hasn’t stopped them from making a splash. Their Origin and Spirit microphones have gained notoriety in the recording industry due to their expert balance of performance and premium. Aston drips quality. Whether it’s in their superior, ultra-durable construction, their attention to the finest of details, or, most meaningfully, the fact that a blind panel of leading recording industry figures consistently chooses their microphones as the best, it’s no wonder Aston is making waves.
With the Stealth, they’re up to something different. All of the above remains true, but they’ve challenged themselves to break the mold their microphones have followed thus far and redefine exactly what an Aston mic can be. Instead of focusing on a singular purpose, such as mic’ing up instruments or vocalists, the Stealth adds broadcasting to the mix and allows the user to uniquely tailor it to their voice. Out of the box, it challenges heavy hitters like the SM7B and Rode Broadcaster, microphones chosen by radio hosts and ultra-popular podcasters like Joe Rogan. Through a series of innovations and clever engineering tricks, it manages to not only rival that famous mic but outright wipe the floor with it.
Unboxing and Construction
But let’s pull back for a moment, shall we? The Stealth arrives in a charming little box that shows a bit of the character Aston brings to the table with its scrawled encouragements to look under the mic for additional goodies. There you’ll find a pin and the clip-in stand adapter (more on that in a moment). The microphone itself is big.
If you’re familiar with the streamer-favorite Blue Yeti, the Stealth manages to be both longer and heavier, if a bit skinnier in width. The Stealth comes in just under eight inches long and weighs 692g, a full 150g heavier than the Yeti. This is partly because the Stealth uses a mass-loaded design, but also speaks to the durable metal body they’ve applied in its construction. It’s only as you get to the ends, where the microphone capsule and voicing ring resides, that you find any plastic. Put simply, the Stealth is built like a tank and, though I wouldn’t recommend it, feels like it could take a good drop or two. It’s look is also all-new for Aston, adopting a black aesthetic that has a real sleekness that makes the name “Stealth” fitting.
It’s in this design that we find a pair of other neat additions that cut some costs on the accessory purchases that would usually follow picking-up a new microphone. The Stealth is end-address, which means you speak into the end of the cylinder rather than the side, and I was pleased to find an effective built-in windscreen. Combined with the faraday cage holding the capsule, it blocks most plosives even when speaking very close to the mic.
Inside the chassis is the first built-in shock mount I’ve encountered that actually does its job. We’ve reviewed a number of mics at this point that claims to have built-in shock mounts and, though I don’t doubt they do, each has paled in comparison to a dedicated external mount. Here, the capsule is suspended in mid-air by three Sorbothane balls, completely isolating the capsule from the enclosure. It works very well, completely eliminating the need for an external mount. Considering the Stealth’s size, it would likely need a custom external mount anyways, which don’t come cheap: just look at the $49 Radius for the Blue Yeti. Between the pop filter, Sorbothane mounting system, and multi-circuit non-EQ voicings, that $379 price point starts to make a lot more sense.
Speaking to the voicings, the Stealth is replete with innovations but this is certainly the most striking one. In essence, Aston has delivered four microphones in one, selectable with a mechanical ring on the bottom. There’s a single capsule driving the Stealth, but turning the ring actually engages four different circuits that completely change the dynamics of what’s being recorded. They’ve labelled these V1, V2, G, and D for Vocal 1, Vocal 2, Guitar, and Dark. As they fine-tuned each with the help of their blind panel, they’ve correlated these with male, female, guitar, and the darker pick-up of a classic ribbon microphone, though these are hardly a rule and Aston would encourage you to try each to see what sounds best for your voice.
This one feature single-handedly makes the Stealth the most versatile, readily-equipped microphone I’ve ever used. Each selection offers its own flavor to make you sound your best, right out of the gate. Other microphones I’ve tested have offered different polar patterns (the Stealth is only cardioid) but none have actually allowed you to customize the character of what you’re recording in such meaningful and varied ways. That’s a powerful innovation. When you know you sound good, your self-confidence grows and you’re free to step out and perform your best. Knowing I sounded my best, streaming was just plain more fun. I felt more professional.
The other big innovation is that the Stealth is the world’s first fully passive or active microphone that can auto-detect whether or not it’s receiving phantom power. Typically, with a dynamic microphone, you’d be left cranking the gain on your interface to achieve an acceptable volume. Doing that introduces white noise, which is never good for a recording. Often, people recommend picking up a pre-amp, which boosts the volume without the noise; however, these can often go for upwards of $120.
The Stealth fixes this problem by including a Class-A mic pre-amp, built into the onboard circuitry. By turning on phantom power, the pre-amp engages, providing a huge amount of clean volume headroom. I tested the Stealth with my Behringer UMC202HD and was impressed at how quiet it was, even turned up to 95% gain without phantom power. With the pre-amp engaged, I was able to turn the gain down all the way, eliminating that background noise, and still get a solid, crisp capture. It was remarkable.
If you’re in a noisy environment, say recording in a house with kids, you’ll want to leave phantom power off and get “right up on” the mic. If it’s a bit quieter, you can turn on phantom power and move it further away, only sacrificing proximity effect. The off-axis rejection is fantastic, however, so in either case, you’ll find usual annoyances like typing sounds or the whirring of fans in the background fade away much more than a normal mic.
Bring on the Warmth
So we come down to it: how does it sound. It depends, of course, on your voicing setting but I was impressed at the warmth and clarity the Stealth was able to provide. I don’t have what you would typically call a “radio voice” but this mic got me closer than I’ve ever been. Aston advised me that many people seeing the show at a recent convention fell in love with the Dark preset. I could see that. It’s rich and reverberant, boosting the natural bass in your voice and rolling off some of the treble. I personally enjoyed V1 the most. It keeps some that warmth but adds a crispness that fit my voice best. Damien Gula, my colleague reviewing the mic from MMORPG.com, sat on the fence between the two, unable to decide. As musicians, both he and I loved the Guitar setting for both acoustic and electric. My all-mahogany Seagull has never tracked so good.
There’s no escaping how expensive the Aston Stealth is compared to most microphones streamers and day-to-day content creators are likely to consider. For that reason, it’s really not for the entry-level streamer or even hardcore gamer. This is something to use when putting on a production. There isn’t a game streamer out there who wouldn’t sound better on a mic like this, which makes it an easy recommendation to make even with the extra cost. You’ll sound better out of the gate and have more versatility than you know what to do with. Both of those are very good things on an investment product like the Stealth. If you’re ready to step your game up and really make an investment into your work, this is the microphone to buy.