Review: Milab VIP-60 – Mixdown Magazine

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Lyrics by Paul French

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The mid-1980s was a real turning point in the context of the recording studio and its technological ark. It was the moment when the valuable lessons of the revolutionary 60s and the tasteful sonic refinement of the 70s met head-on with the beginnings of digital, along with major advances in acoustic design and the practice of monitoring, contributing to smooth production styles. that defined the mid-80s and beyond.

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The power ballads, the Teddy Riley R’n’B, the wholesome, corporate adult pop of the time, the Tracy Chapmans, the Sades, the snare drum sound of Jeff Lynne. From 1985 the means of production seemed to take a much more sophisticated and measured approach and this was reflected in the gearing choices of the time.

It was in this context that the VIP-50, from a semi-obscure Swedish manufacturer by the name of Milab, first entered the studio’s wider consciousness and landed directly in the hands of desperate engineers from find an edge over the competition.

With its polygonal, volvo-esque chassis, plethora of dials and unique rectangular diaphragm, the VIP-50 sported a singular aesthetic unlike anything else before. Once plugged in, it instantly sheds any preconceived notions arising from its appearance, proving to be an incredibly useful premium studio capacitor, perfect for flattering evaluations of detail-rich sound sources of all types, but especially for vocals, where its wideband pickup and unique “tilted” vocal blended perfectly with the “more is more” processing styles of the era.

Famous defended by Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson Dangerous sessions, as well as finding its way onto records like Ray Charles, Jeff Buckley and Drake in between, the VIP-50 has more than earned its place in the pantheon of classic pickups since its initial release in 1985.

37 years later, Milab is back with the all new VIP-60, a large diaphragm, true condenser condenser, and spiritual heir to the beloved VIP-50.

Boasting an updated capsule design and new and improved topography, the VIP-60 takes the familiar sound of its predecessor and brings it into the 21st century – staying true to the practical, utilitarian flavor of the original but with some significant improvements that only expand its functionality and relevance.

Sound-wise, it’s hard to discuss the original VIP-50 without mentioning the “ribbon-like” quality of its capture and that’s something that’s been carried over and developed into this latest incarnation.

Milab’s preference for rectangular condenser capsules (itself something of a rarity in the world of critical studio microphones) was certainly a key factor in the unique mojo of the original, and the new improved 2900 capsule of the VIP-60 follows this same trajectory, albeit with some notable improvements in some key performance areas.

One thing that has changed significantly since 1985 is the background noise standards and this is something that Milab has rectified, dramatically improving the VIP-50’s 18dB A rating to a 14dBA rating more suited to the time. This in turn brings the VIP-60 in line with other current-gen iterations of other classics like Neumann’s U87AI or Schoeps’ V4U.

With the cutoff set to flat and with our mic placed in midfield, the unique personality and inherent class of the VIP-60 is instantly brought to the fore. It’s certainly not overdone and chirpy (at least not in the way one would normally associate with traditional transformerless capacitor designs), but this even-handedness and robustness of tone is undoubtedly one of its greatest strengths.

Even with its impressive flatness in the mids and subtle roll-off in the highs, there’s still plenty of transient information and fine detail on display, but that seems more down to capsule speed than frequency or volume. resonance. The result is a microphone that’s both highly detailed and pleasing to the ear, while providing a real sense of depth and perspective that gives you plenty to work with on the job.

In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the VIP-60 is one of the best microphones I’ve come across for heavy processing, taking on heavy compression and large portions of EQ like a duck to water. .

One of the most notable charms of the VIP-60 is the wide array of controls located on the front of the mic itself. With switchable options for cardioid, wide cardioid, hypercardioid, omni, bidirectional, 200Hz and 500Hz high pass filters, and -10dB and -20dB pads, it’s safe to say there’s lots of adjustment possibilities and features offered here.

One feature that particularly resonated was the switchable high-pass filter, which being oddly indexed at 200Hz and 500Hz (as opposed to the more traditional 80/90/100Hz you tend to see on most microphones of this type ) was a bit of a headache at first sight. As atypical as it may be, it was an absolute masterstroke for recording baritone or muffled vocals or any other application requiring minimal space between sound source and capsule. The ability to control the proximity effect at the mic, combined with the super useful pads, made it incredibly adept at close-up cardioid recording.

In cardioid mode, the tight on-axis panning was also remarkable, with an impressive amount of rejection to the sides and rear which, combined with the decidedly “uptown” nature of its capture, makes it a great option for anyone. those looking to squeeze professional quality sound out of a less than professional acoustic environment.

If you’re the kind of engineer who has a few different preamp flavors to pair with the VIP-60, you basically have a mic for almost any occasion. The combination of built-in flexibility, professional sound quality and its ability to handle heavy processing all combine to make it one of the most versatile and useful mics in recent memory and a timely upgrade. to a cult classic. Well worth the price of admission.

Visit Milab for more information. For local inquiries, contact Factory Sound.

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