First Impressions: Roswell Mini K47 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Roswell Audio Mini K47 is a large diaphragm condenser (LDC for short) microphone. I was looking for a microphone to help me record acoustic guitar, and I saw this one recommended quite a bit on YouTube.

How did I get on with it? Read on to find out.

tl;dr

I really like the Roswell Audio Mini K47. I feel like I’ve bought a good large diaphragm condenser mic for recording acoustic guitar.

  • It doesn’t have a lot of self-noise.
  • It doesn’t flatter and it doesn’t deceive.

The proximity effect is strong enough that I wouldn’t use it for mic’ing the body of an acoustic guitar for when I’m playing finger-style. I’m just too quiet a player!

Using the over-the-shoulder mic’ing technique, it’s a good complement to a small-diaphragm condenser on the body. And although I haven’t tried it, I’m sure it’ll work well when I try recording when playing with a pick.

Finally, the price allows me to put some money aside to go towards a nice set of small-diaphragm condensers. I’ll be using those for the mic placements / situations where a large-diaphragm condenser doesn’t suit me.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a Roswell Audio Mini K47 large diaphragm condenser microphone. It cost £299 here in the UK.

Why Did You Buy It?

This year, one of the things that I want to do is to record some actual music. I’ve decided to focus on some old tracks (that I’m calling Phase 1), and to record them using acoustic guitar.

I made a start on learning how to do this over the Christmas holidays. I started by using the gear I already had, including the microphones I already own. Then one of those mics developed a fault. It made more sense to replace it than pay for a repair.

Why Did You Choose This Particular Mic?

I absolutely love my Neumann TLM 49. [That’s the mic that developed a fault – Ed] I bought it years ago for recording Tess’s vocals, and it suits her voice really well. It’s just not quite right (IMHO) for recording acoustic guitar.

So, when I was forced to look around to find a replacement mic, I was determined to find something specifically for recording acoustic guitar. It had to be a large diaphragm condenser mic (like the TLM 49 is), because I love the over-the-shoulder recording technique. An LDC works really well as the mic that’s placed at ear height in that kind of setup.

As a home hobbyist, the music community on YouTube is were I go to get schooled. There’s so many amazing folks on there who share their techniques and approaches with the rest of us. Many of them make their living from recording and producing music. So, if they say that something’s good enough to be used on a professional recording, I give that opinion a lot of weight.

Working my way through video after video of how-to record acoustic guitar, there was a microphone that kept cropping up time after time. It was the Roswell Mini K47. So I figured, why not try it?

The price was a consideration. The Roswell is at the top-end of the ‘budget mic’ price range. As long as the Roswell is good enough, the savings there can be put towards replacing my current small-diaphragm condenser mics.

What’s The First Thing You Noticed When You Plugged It In?

It was the noise floor. This mic is nice and quiet 🙂

I’m learning how to record finger-style acoustic guitar. I just happen to be a very quiet player. Until I fix my technique, that forces me to crank up my preamps quite a bit in order to get a good recording level.

Two general rules of thumb about cheaper microphones:

  1. they produce a quieter signal than more expensive microphones, and
  2. they produce more self-noise than more expensive microphones do

It’s kind-of a vicious circle. Because they’re quiet, you have to crank up the preamp; but when you do, there’s plenty of audible hiss waiting for you.

While the Roswell mini K47 does seem to be a quiet mic, it doesn’t produce lots of self-noise. According to the official tech sheet, it’s actually got a lower noise-floor than Rode’s top-of-the-line TF-5 small diaphragm mics – and those are used for recording classical music.

Now, it’s one thing to read that on a tech sheet. It’s another thing to sit there with the headphones on and hear it for yourself.

At this early stage, I’m delighted with how little self-noise it generates.

What’s The Tone Like?

At first, I thought the mic sounded both a little dark and a little boomy. As I tried different mic techniques and used it on different guitars, I realised that it’s actually a pretty honest microphone. It doesn’t flatter, and it doesn’t deceive.

Or, in other words: it sounded dark because that’s actually how my Auden’s sounding right now. When I tried it on a Brook Torridge – which is a wonderfully balanced guitar – it sounded fantastic.

What About That Boominess Though?

Mic placement matters. So does the sound source.

The boominess came about because I was close-mic’ing my Auden with the Mini K47. The Auden has a lot of body to its tone – perfect for the kind of gigs we did before the pandemic. Combine that with a pretty strong proximity effect and there you go: boominess.

I’m alright with it, for a couple of reasons.

First off, if I’m close mic’ing for finger-style guitar, I’m starting to prefer a small-diaphragm condenser (SDC for short) for that. I’ll either use a matched pair of SDCs in an X/Y arrangement, or use the over-the-shoulder technique. And the Roswell sounds great for that (more in a moment!)

Secondly, if I am using the Roswell to record a mono acoustic guitar track, I’m going to be playing with a pick rather than playing finger-style. The guitar will be much louder, and that means the Roswell will be far enough away from the guitar to avoid the proximity effect.

What Else Did You Notice?

I was surprised at how much sound the Roswell picks up from the surrounding environment, even when used as a close mic.

Through my headphones, I could clearly hear every single car passing by outside.

The normal trick for this (if you can’t turn down the preamp) is to move the mic around in the room, so that external sounds fall in the microphone’s null zones; the places where the mic rejects sound sources.

Maybe it’s because I did have the preamp cranked, I don’t know, but the Roswell Mini K47 seemed to pick up a surprising amount of sound from its null zone.

I don’t have the experience to tell you whether the Mini K47 is good, bad, or merely average at rejecting off-axis sound. All I can say is that I didn’t notice this to the same extent with any of the other mics that I’ve used recently.

Final Thoughts

There’s a reason that people who use mics end up collecting them. Every mic hears sound sources differently, and every mic colours the signal that it outputs. As a result, you have to audition different mics to find the one that best suits whoever – or whatever – you are recording.

While the Neumann TLM 49 sounds fantastic on Tess’s vocals, it wasn’t quite as suited to acoustic guitar. Best way I can describe it is that if the recording was a digital photograph, it would be described as over-sharpened.

On acoustic guitar, the Roswell Mini K47 doesn’t have that issue to my ears.

Is it the right choice for finger-style playing? That’s a bit harder to answer. For the over-the-shoulder mic’ing technique, I’d say it’s a great choice. As a mono mic in front of the guitar, I feel the proximity effect is too strong for that to really work out. Maybe if you’re someone who plays quite loudly?

I haven’t tried recording any strumming / playing with a pick yet, but I’m confident that this mic will be great for that.

Overall, the mic is a keeper, and it has convinced me that I must upgrade my small-diaphragm condenser mics too (which I’m very happy about).

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