Earthworks Audio is the microphone company founded in the late 1980s by audio pioneer David Blackmer of dbx fame, which started as a measurement microphone company, developing proprietary acoustics and electronics technology combined with a rugged mechanical design. Leveraging the original concept and its merited reputation, the New Hampshire-based company evolved with a full range of microphones for musical instrument recording, followed by a growing range of installation-focused solutions, and more recently entering the highly competitive vocal microphones with the stunning Earthworks SR314 (handheld) and the SV33 (studio) models.
The original designs, and unique qualities of these latest vocal microphones helped place Earthworks firmly in the radar of an expanded market. Once the pandemic hit, the Earthworks production team quickly shifted focus to help isolated remote workers feel more connected, exploring successful elements from the company's latest vocal capsules.
"Whenever anyone records or broadcasts with an Earthworks mic, the reaction is always the same. You viscerally feel just like you’re in the same room," says Gareth Krausser — COO of Earthworks. "That connection is needed now more than ever."
And so, "connection" became the guiding principle for the Earthworks development team. The goal was set to create elegant streaming microphones that simply "Sound Like Life," and the way these microphones are used and perceived. They have to look and feel as good as they sound. "We designed the last USB microphone that you’ll ever want," says Krausser. "This is the one that belongs on camera with you — reflecting your style and brand."
The result is now available in the form of the ICON condenser USB microphone, a cardioid design with an impressive stainless steel body that, like the SR314, is concurrently retro- and futuristic-looking. And because a lot of podcasters and musicians already have invested in pro-audio interfaces with good-quality microphone preamps, Earthworks is also launching the ICON PRO model, using a conventional XLR connector.
Appealing directly to the home user who needs to look good and sound great online, either recording a Youtube video, or doing web interviews, the new Earthworks ICON USB Microphone offers studio-quality, consistent results with its integrated pop filter and the characteristic fast response (14 μs rise time speed) of the company's designs. As Earthworks also details, the ICON USB was tuned specifically for streaming, podcasting, interviewing, gaming, web conferencing, and content creating, offering an optimized sound signature of an expensive, larger diaphragm, condenser. And its off-axis rejection prevents room noise from entering the audio stream.
Useful features for these applications include an integrated visual LED status indicator, intuitive analog mute & gain control, and headphone output with sidetone (allowing users to hear their own voice). Also important for these home applications, the ICON USB doesn't use foam, allowing for easy cleaning and sanitizing of the stainless steel windscreen.
As part of the look, Earthworks partnered with Triad-Orbit to design and build a custom desktop microphone stand that ships as part of the full ICON experience. The stand is sleek yet robust enough to hold and balance the stainless-steel microphone. For maximum flexibility, the integrated M2-R swivel ball joint can be disconnected and re-mounted on any studio mic stand or boom arm.
The ICON PRO microphone looks and feels similar to the ICON USB microphone but it is hand-tuned with an extended frequency response and the capsule has a faster Rise Time Speed of just 11.67 microseconds. That extra speed makes the vocals even richer, fuller and more detailed. Because it is an XLR broadcast microphone requiring 48 volts of phantom power, it offers extended headroom and dynamics. And the ICON PRO ships with an integrated Triad-Orbit M2-R adaptor as well.
Both microphones will ship from major online resellers in early December 2020. Since all components are machined and hand-assembled in Wilton, NH, the initial launch will cater to US distribution. ICON retails for $349 and ICON PRO sells for $499.