What’s up y’all! I'm currently writing while on tour with my band Hirie in support of Sublime With Rome and Dirty Heads on the High & Mighty Tour ☀️ If you caught any of my recent social media posts before the tour you might be aware that the fine folks over at Front End Audio sent me a very high-end active ribbon mic made by SandHill Audio (all the way from Finland).
The 6019A is a robust ribbon that can handle a lot of sources with ease while imparting a natural “heftiness” to the sound. Right off the bat, I was impressed with the packaging: a beautiful wood case engraved with the SandHill logo, with form-fitted foam inside to protect the mic. The esthetic of the mic itself is of a rugged quality, with a powder-coated grey metal housing - the addition of a ball-joint for the mic stand attachment was very useful in positioning the mic.
In terms of the sonics, I found it to be very pleasing/natural and a good compliment to the (only other) ribbon mic in my arsenal, the AEA R84. Whereas the R84 usually needs a healthy dose of gain for most sources (introducing the potential for added noise) the 6019A is an active unit and more than handled all of the applications I threw at it.
The first source I tried it on was drumset from a room mic perspective (positioned about 7 feet out in front of the kit). I really loved what this mic captured, and its slightly darker and more aggressive nature perfectly suited the Metallica & Motley Crüe covers being recorded for my client. For this session, I ran it through one of my Universal Audio x8p mic inputs and threw an API Vision Channel Strip on the Unison preamp slot in the UA Console software. I had the gain set at 11 o’clock and the hi-pass rolling off starting at 30Hz.
The next session I used the 6019A for was a quick percussion overdub sesh for a song I’m producing for an artist named Amanda Juline (@amandajulinemusic). Amanda is a Chamorro (Guamanian) island-style reggae artist based in Denver, and this particular tune called for some “light” percussion. I used the 6019A for tambourine, cabasa, and clave - it captured each source with detailed accuracy. While recording the cabasa, I noticed that it seemed a bit darker than I would’ve preferred - but I realized that my hand covering the beads was on the side that was facing the mic, so I decided to try facing the other way so that the beads were exposed to the mic and it really opened up the top end of the instrument. Thinking back on this, I think I can credit this decision to the fact that the SandHill ribbon’s detail exposed a change I needed to make (in this case to the mic positioning).
The final session I used the 6019A on was for a last-minute session my band Hirie booked at Tribal Seeds studio with an artist/producer by the name of DENM. I had met him the previous week when we shared the bill opening for Dirty Heads at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado and also been listening to his new album a bunch so I was stoked! I was also a bit nervous since I hadn’t run any sessions at Tribal Studio in a while, and the session was the day before we left for tour so packing for that plus the session had me kinda frazzled.
I wasn’t quite sure if we would be trying to track any horns along with the drums & bass, so I reserved the 6019A for the sax in the control room where I would be engineering from - we ended up tracking the sax as an overdub out in the live room, and the ribbon performed beautifully (as expected). I really liked the amount of bite that it captured with the sax - since the ribbon transducer element has a much lower mass than say, the transducer on a dynamic mic, this translates to a faster attack/pickup.
We also tried adding a little didgeridoo to the song - I don’t think it made it onto the final mix, but the 6019A worked out great in reproducing the low end of the didg as well as the shifting upper-end harmonic content.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the SandHill 6019A - I believe it has a unique voice among the ribbons I’ve tried and is well suited for a variety of applications even well beyond the sources I was able to try it on. It’s available for $1,769 at Front End Audio, and would be a great addition to any mic locker!