512 Audio Skylight: What is it?
512 Audio is a new venture from Texan gear manufacturers Warm Audio. So far the product line includes two mics, a dynamic (Limelight) and a condenser (Skylight), and it’s the latter we have on the bench for review.
Skylight is a keenly priced phantom-powered cardioid condenser with a large 34mm gold-plated capsule. The package includes the mic, a C-shaped suspension cradle and a clip-on dual layer pop shield. The microphone has its own pouch and it all comes packaged in a foam-lined box that is ideal for storage.
Although the overall design is reasonably low-key, Skylight looks really stylish and has a pretty striking headstock with shiny vertical strips over a two-layer grille. The mic is also reasonably large and pretty heavy (600g), and when you hook up the cradle and pop shield you’re looking at just over 1kg, which means you’ll need a reliable mic stand.
512 Audio Skylight: Performance and verdict
Like many budget mics, Skylight doesn’t include any on-body, low-cut or level-cut options, which is always a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, the overall spec is good, including maximum SPL at 144dB and reasonable sensitivity at 8 mV/Pa. There’s no quoted noise figure, although on listening with high gain there was nothing obviously afoot.
Skylight is designed primarily for speech and vocals, and is suitably tuned with a high end boost from around 5kHz. Even so, the mic does not sound overhyped, and our first impressions are that the sound is pretty warm and smooth.
Getting up close
The pop shield has an elastic clip and simply slips over the headstock so is quick and easy to install. It also sits pretty close to the grille (about 15mm). You might think this would render it not very helpful, but it actually works incredibly well, and it removed pretty much all the plosives we threw at it. Factor in the C-shaped cradle, which lets you get right in close to the headstock, and intimate vocal sounds are easily achievable.
That being said, without the pop shield it’s a very different story and it’s quite easy to get it to pop, even from about a foot away. Skylight does exhibit some proximity effect, but this only becomes obvious when you’re quite close, and it’s never overbearing. Even so, it’s fair to say it does contribute to the rather rich and pleasing sound that you get when right in close.
Despite being designed for vocals, we found Skylight’s sound worked pretty well with other instruments. The smooth top end is particularly welcome for anything with complex highs, and although it’s not as revealing or open-sounding as my more expensive mics, it’s certainly workable for many applications beyond the obvious ones of vocals and speech.
Skylight’s target market is podcasters, streamers, gamers and vocalists and they’ve done a good job of getting a sound that suits those users. In the UK you can buy the mic for £190 online and this offers good value for a mic that sounds good and really does look the part.
MusicRadar verdict: Want an affordable large capsule condenser primarily for voice? Skylight definitely fits the bill. It also looks rather fabulous.
512 Audio Skylight: The web says
"The Skylight is a lovely-sounding mic for the price and regardless of 512’s focus on voice – the mic capably captures a range of sounds."
512 Audio Skylight: Hands-on demos
512 Audio Skylight: Specifications
- CAPSULE: 34mm gold plated large diaphragm
- POLAR PATTERN: Cardioid
- FREQUENCY RANGE: 20Hz - 20kHz
- SENSITIVITY: -42dB +3dB (0dB =1V/Pa at 1kHz)
- AMX SPL: 144dB
- WEIGHT: 1.03kg (including cradle and pop filter)
- DIMENSIONS: 202 x 55.5mm
- CONTACT: 512 Audio