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Brauner Valvet Voice Mics Keith HowlandChicago guitarist uses Valvet Voice Limited Edition tube vocal microphone (February 07, 2005)
Keith Howland, guitarist with Chicago, recently took delivery of a Brauner Valvet Voice Limited Edition tube vocal microphone. Currently in an intensive period of writing and recording material for the band's next planned studio album, the first in 15 years to comprise all-original songs, Howland reports that the mic is in almost constant use in his personal studio, just north of Los Angeles.
"I've been using the Brauner for my vocals on some demos," Howland reveals. "And a couple of the guys from the band have come over to work on stuff together, so they've sung through the mic as well."
Developed and individually hand-tuned by German microphone craftsman Dirk Brauner, the Valvet Voice Limited Edition microphone, hand-assembled from Class A amplifiers, custom built Lundahl transformers, and JAN tubes, has been designed with transparency, detail and a response curve optimized for vocal applications. Yet, as Howland has discovered, the microphone's warmth and intimacy are also ideal for other applications.
"Larry Klimas, a great sax player, came over recently. The Valvet Voice surprised me. I used the mic on his tenor sax and I thought it would be too bright, but it actually sounded great. Larry joked, 'I'll just be taking that mic home with me!' after we cut some tracks with it." Howland adds, "I'm also using it on acoustic guitars."
The guitarist, who already has a very good selection of microphones in his studio, really didn't expect the Brauner to be noticeably different when he auditioned it. "I thought I was going to struggle to hear the nuances, but it was so obvious. It was like a Mercedes versus a Toyota when I put that mic up!"
"It literally was no contest," he elaborates. "The Valvet Voice is so transparent and open. I thought it really captured my voice in a very flattering way. I am a baritone with some range, and a mic with an open top end works well for my voice. The Brauner really has that open top end."
"I just did a vocal the other day that was kind of intimate, where I really got right up on the mic for the proximity effect," he relates. "It really warms up nicely when you get up on it. And when you back off a little bit it gets wide open. It's pretty amazing."
Howland is understandably enthusiastic about the prospect of the upcoming band project. "We've got a lot of good material. It feels like the timing might be right for Chicago to have a record that does something. That sort of thing is coming around again - it's that 20-year cycle. The early 80s are back!
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