Reviews & Testimonials
Guitar Mic Review from a Slovakian Nylon-String Guitarist February 11 2017
Hello Mr. Bartlett,
Floor Mics Solve Challenge Facing School Music Director January 11 2017
School music teacher Brian Weiland spent over 12 years in a quest for clear, consistent sound reinforcement for his young actors and singers. He tried stand-mounted mics, hanging mics and wireless mics - and finally found what was, in his opinion, the best solution: Bartlett Stage Floor Mics... Read More
Banjo Newsletter/Old Time Way review of the Bartlett Banjo Mic September 29 2016Product review by Dan Levenson in the July 2016 Banjo Newsletter/Old Time Way.
For years (over 20 or more!) my go-to mic for banjo has been the Audio Technica Pro7 (or later equivalent Pro 7a) as the best sound for my on both banjo and fiddle. Well, that changed this year. I have tried other mics over the years but in most every case, I kept going back to my AT’s. The only mic that came close to that until now in sound and performance had been the Gold Tone ABS which I did use upon occasion. Sizewise it was a bit larger but sounded similar.
This year I saw a page on the Bartlett mics. I’m not sure if it was an advertisement or Facebook page – but it intrigued me enough because of its size that I wanted to try one. So, I contacted Bruce Bartlett to find out more. Hey, my mics were just getting older and the technology has come a long way. I know it is just for a banjo (lol) but inquiring minds and all of that. Well, as a surprise to me, Bartlett is not only was making a nice compact mic with at reasonable price ($179 as of this writing) and, like I implied, it was starting to seem like time to upgrade my mics BUT not without a sound comparison. So Bruce agreed to send me one to review both for myself and for you who read this magazine. Only one problem, one mic does not “fit” all. Seems Bruce decided to go the extra step and customize each mic for the instrument you intend to use it for.
After some discussion, and a look at the specifications, (AND because the review was for OTW) I chose to get the Banjo Mic and was I glad I did! This mic is awesome! One of the issues I find it that most mics don’t give me enough of the bottom end of the sound spectrum that make the bassier tones present and the instrument sound as full as I like. This is especially true for us old-time big pot open back players. Note too, that even with fiddle, I prefer a more mellow even to bassy tone as preferred to the bright high end-y sound of most mics intended for either instrument. SO, banjo it was. (Complete spec sheets can be downloaded from their website for you to compare.)
The mic came in a couple of days and I decided to try a couple of methods to listen and record it. First, you need to know that this mic (unlike the AT’s which have a battery pack on board) requires phantom power. That means that the power to run the microphone has to come from an outside source. There is no battery to power it and no power pack for it [but low-cost phantom power supplies are available.] So your soundboard MUST provide that 12-48V phantom source. That meant that I couldn’t just plug it into my little amp or directly into the computer, but had to go through my soundboard – a little Behrenger with the aforementioned phantom power. Not a problem but you do need to know and that means at gigs they will have to provide that power source [turn on phantom power on the mixer].
So I hooked it up through said board and into my acoustic amp, and WOW! I loved the sound. Next to go to the computer from the board and again, clean lovely sound. Full and powerful. Then I ran the AT Pro 7a into both places the same way. Kept the board in the mix. NO comparison. I couldn’t believe how much richer the new Bartlett sounded and how “thin” the AT sounded when put side by side. Just fyi, I did the same comparison on my fiddle and LOVED that enhanced bass and again, clean and rich sound of the Bartlett without that scratchy high end piercing “e” string that so many mics exhibit. Again, a win for the Bartlett. So without further ado, I sent Mr. Bartlett a check for the mic he sent me and will likely get another in the not too distant future.
The only complaint I have at the moment is going to be I need to address the mounting methods for banjo and fiddle. I prefer to mic the banjo from inside (head side) the dowel stick, mic pointed towards the heel a few inches down. AT had clips that would hold the mic which I Velcro-ed to the dowel and likewise for fiddle, a “unimount clip” that held the mic over the fiddle. The Bartletts come with [adhesive Velcro] for banjo [and a foam mount for fiddle] and recommend a flat type of mounting on [or near] the instrument itself. So far I have modified my current mounts to use (photos here) and will look for other options. I did notice a “mando clip” for the Mandolin Mic as well as one for the guitar so I may be able to modify that to serve my purposes. I’ll be in touch with them about it but don’t let that stop you from getting this mic. It’s AWESOME and the sound it what really matters after all.
[The Banjo Mic can be made to sound very different depending on where you mount it -- on the head to duplicate how the banjo sounds out front, or in the pot for a warm mellow sound. - BB]
I’ve posted the computer recorded versions for you to hear the difference. I think it will be obvious. The tune is Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss BUT not the one most folks know. This one is inspired by the Frank Blevins and his Tarheel Rattlers 1920’s recording. He played it in G but I like it better in C or D for the layout on the banjo. I recorded it here in double C.
SO, if you want to be heard and sound like your rich acoustic self, get these mics! You won’t be sorry. Contact them and see more at their website http://www.bartlettaudio.com/. Even their site is an incredible resource for info about mics, placement, tips on using them – even articles on polarity and preventing hum (that one for geeks and for non-geeks!)
Customer Testimonials About Our Mandolin Mic July 18 2016
"I have been playing multi genre music for more than 55 years and have very high musical standards.
I had been searching to find the perfect pickup system for my new mandolin for over a year when I stumbled onto Bruce's site. Upon viewing numerous YouTube videos I was especially struck by the constant recurring phrase from musicians ..." amazing natural sound". That was what I was looking for.
Then I began corresponding with Bruce and was even more impressed by his quick replies, expert advice and willingness to match the perfect mic to my instrument.
I now own a fabulous mando mic, and it simply exceeds all my expectations. Other musicians cannot believe the quality of sound when they hear it.
I now tell every musician I see to try a Bartlett mic. Forget a 5 star rating...try 10 !!!!"
-- Syd Read, Celtic composer and pro mandolin player, Ontario, Canada
"Congratulations from Germany for producing the best clip-on mandolin mic I ever tried. I tried many: Crown GLM, Shure 98, AT 350, Countryman Isomax, RAMSA/Sony, DPA 4099, AMT, DPA 4061 ... Your microphone provides the best sound, warm, deep, crisp, not too close to feedback. Thank you so much for producing a great tool at a reasonable price." -- Robert Hasleder
Bartlett Audio Designs Sound System for School April 22 2016"Hey Bruce, your Stage Floor Mics and sound-design advice for our elementary school musical worked great. Parents told me they could hear their kids well and we're going to continue to use the same setup for many years to come. The mics, speaker placement, and use of a graphic equalizer allowed the kids' voices to be heard equally well in the front and the back of the house. Thanks for taking the time to assemble all the material and instructions for us as well."
Gavin Hurley - Mt. Harmony Elementary School
Music directors appreciate Bartlett mics' pure sound March 28 2016
"These mics are unbelievable. I bought them to mic my string section in my orchestra for musicals at my church and I am blown away. They sound so natural and unadulterated. Very pure sound. This is a fantastic product and I will be recommending them to other church leaders and surrounding orchestras. I appreciate the quality and that they are made in America for an affordable price."
Alum Rock Christian Church
San Jose, CA
FIDDLER Magazine Review of the Bartlett Fiddle Mic January 07 2016
“Bartlett Audio microphones, hand-built in North Carolina, have produced a game-changer in their Fiddle Mic (they also build mics specifically tuned for mandolin, guitar, banjo, cello, and string bass as well as various boundary mics). This miniature omni condenser simply wedges under the tailpiece in a little foam block; there is absolutely nothing to install. This simple but ingenious design in no way affects or dampens the acoustic tone of the fiddle, and it is so light that you will never know it is there. Fiddlers desiring the freedom to move from a microphone stand but maintain the truest, most natural tone possible will be in hog heaven.
I will never go back; the relief from fatigue is alone enough reason to go this direction.
At $179.00 (purchased directly from Bartlett Audio), the Fiddle Mic is less than half the price of the next best thing on the market. Since I play on a pair of Samuel Zymuntowicz violins, the nice price would not matter if it did not deliver a superior performance. We did a mic shoot-out in my recording studio (using a pair of Gene Lawson L-47 Gold studio condenser mics run through a John Hardy M-1 mic pre into a RADAR 6) as the base line), and the Bartlett clearly surpassed three other mini condensers with the proper amount of attenuation in that really nasty 4 kHz range. The woodiness of the fiddle in the 250-400 Hz was rich and warm.
…For the purpose of live performance or reinforcing room mics in a video shoot, I don't think that the Bartlett Audio Fiddle Mic can be beaten. They enhance my enjoyment of performing live, and talking to him on the phone, Bruce Bartlett seems like a good guy, to boot.” – Jim Wood
Bartlett Guitar Mic: "Warm and natural" July 24 2015
I had a chance to try out the Guitar Mic at an event last week. I was playing solo fingerstyle in a room with ALL reflective surfaces. The Bartlett Guitar Mic did its job. Plenty of volume. In fact I backed off a bit so as not to blast the folks at the front.
Not a hint of feedback, and my pre-war Jumbo sounded warm and natural, just like it does when I'm in my music room at home woodshedding tunes.
Thanks for a great product,
A Sound True to the Instrument July 06 2015"Bruce, we used your Fiddle Mic and Guitar Mic in a noisy brewery. Wow, the mics sounded pretty great with next to no feedback at all. We have now played numerous gigs at various venues and we have gotten lots of positive comments, from many of the old-time crowd in Ithaca.
It is incredible how 'true' to each instrument these mics are. We had a rehearsal one night and I had the Fiddle Mic and Guitar Mic set up. Two of my band members came in and could not believe how loud the guitar and fiddle sounded, not realizing they were both 'plugged in'! One of my bandmates borrowed the Fiddle Mic and loved it as well -- I told him he could only borrow it once!
Thanks for the mics, and for all of your help, via my call back in March and your amazingly user-friendly website. --John Hoffmann, Hoffmann Violins, Ithaca, NY"
"The Bartlett was clearly superior to all the clip-on mics on every level. I am very excited to use your mic." -- Jim Wood
Just wanted to touch base and say how well the Bartlett Stage Floor Mics performed this past weekend. We had a cast of over 40 kids for our production of "Annie."
In the past, I always had problems with the big chorus numbers where there are a lot of kids onstage at the same time singing and dancing. Not this time! The sound of the chorus singers was clear as a bell. It carried to the audience beautifully, and mixed very well with our CD soundtrack. Once we filled the hall with the audience, feedback was not an issue. I was a little concerned about feedback during our rehearsals but I think that's because the room in which we do the show is relatively narrow, with high ceilings and full of hard surfaces with little acoustical padding. But, once the audience arrived (full houses each night) I had no problems with feedback.
We used 8 wireless head mics on our lead actors, and I was able to mix those well in combination with your Stage Floor Mics. -- Ron Wilkerson
Bartlett Mic Survives Hit by Hockey Puck January 27 2015
Greg Tye is Director of Broadcast Services for the Toledo Walleye Hockey Club. In their hockey broadcast's audio system they use six TM-125 mics (now called Stage Floor Mic) mounted high on the plexiglass puck shield behind each of the goals, attached with Velcro.Greg told us,
"This past weekend we had one of our mics hit by a puck. The shot sheared the cover off the mic, but it stuck to the plexiglass and STILL WORKS! Amazing. The game was stopped temporarily as the cover fell onto the rink, was picked up by the referee and handed to our camera man [see video below].
The mics are proven tough and sound great. We're very happy with them.This isn't actually the only time the mics have been hit. We've repaired/replaced two cables that were damaged by pucks but the mics still work."
A video of the event is here:
Customer Loves the Fiddle Mic's Sound, Doesn't Need EQ November 03 2014
"Hi Bruce.I play with a small group, consisting of a digital piano.., 2 singers.., and myself on acoustic violin. We are not an overly loud group, and play in a smallish to medium-sized hall.
"I'd done a bit of research and found that your Fiddle Mic has a good reputation. I'm a classical violinist, and clear acoustic tone quality is important to me. I was looking for something that accurately conveyed the tone of my instrument.
"Well, after I got your microphone, suddenly everyone could hear me, loud and clear. I now continually get people coming up to me saying, "Thank you so much for playing today - you sounded great!!". I also get told "you sound so crisp and clear!".
"At first, before I tried it, I wondered if I would need to EQ the tone, and also bought a Headway EDB-2 acoustic preamp... My mic goes straight into the preamp, and then straight into the (very simple) mixer.
"I don't have to do anything to the mixer at all - there is no EQ needed. I don't even use any cut or boost of EQ on the preamp either. I play in high positions on the E string of the violin, all the way down to the lowest notes on the G string - and it all sounds great just as it comes.
"My violin sounds lovely, warm, resonant ... and completely acoustic (even though it's actually amplified). So, I'd just like to say thank you for a great product. Bravo!" -- Jon O'Brien (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
The Swamp Nots Swing with Bartlett Mics June 23 2014
"Both Rich Hartness and I use your mics. This is the best way by far to amplify acoustic instruments."
'Here is a video of us using our Bartletts that I hope you will enjoy. Thank you… Gary Silverstein"
Praise for Bartlett Floor Mics May 21 2014
"I am Todor Gerdzikov, a sound engineer at State Opera house in town of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. It’s been always a challenge to find a good balance between the orchestra and the voices. Usually the orchestra was louder than soloists and/or choir. I tried some shotguns and hanging mics for picking up the voices from the stage, but the result was unsatisfactory.
We bought 3 of your TM-125 floor mics [now the Stage Floor Mic].
And the result was stunning!!! I couldn’t pick up any better the voices from the stage, even from about 45 feet distance. I’ve used them at outdoor performances too.
Last week we performed Verdi’s “Nabucco” at one of the largest halls in Sofia. We were very worried about the sound, having heard from different sources that there’s big problem with the sound. I brought my 3 Bartlett floor mics and when we tested them with the crew from hall, the sound was brilliant!!! I just cut out some frequencies to avoid feedback and get the highest level. They couldn’t believe what they heard. Your mics saved the day!!! A hall that seats 3700 people with stage about 65 by 50 feet and all the sound from the stage was picked up only by your 3 mics.
The hall was equiped with two clusters of Yamaha S215V hung high up on the 65-ft high ceiling, pointed at different directions, about 30 feet further distance from the floor mics. We even didn’t use the maximum level, but had to keep it down. The sound engineer said something like "No it is not possible"... or "Oh man I should get myself a bunch of those mics".
I express my big satisfaction of your products! Well done. Wherever I go I recommend them to my colleagues and everyone is amazed by their performance."
Todor Gerdzikovsound engineer, State Opera of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
Bartlett Cello Mic Testimonial from a Contra Dance Band March 16 2014
Our Contra Quartet played to a packed house last night in Tacoma. Absolute best sound we have ever had. I was thrilled at the Cello Mic sound quality during the sound check. It is the first time that the cello sounded as good, if not better, than the acoustic sound in our practice sessions.
During the sound check, I mounted the Cello Mic for the very first time, right out of the box, according to your instructions: midway between tailpiece and bridge, pointing directly at top of the cello. The foam is a simple, brilliant solution. I threw a little extra loop around a fine tuner with the cable, just to protect the cable from being pulled accidentally.
[Our soundman] was very impressed! I got "the nod" of approval when I first started playing. He said "very full range"...very impressive.
After playing our hearts out all evening, here is what I note:
- Crisp low end. Strong and solid without being boomy.
- Wonderful, cello-like mid tones. This sound in particular captures what I call the "buzzy-tactile-string" quality that is so desired by cellists. It is hard to describe to non-string players, but it is a rich, earthy sound quality.
- Sweet high end. I was totally surprised by this. I don't think the sound guy did much (if any) EQ work, but there is absolutely no harshness in the high end.
Bruce, thank you for the care and thought you put into designing this mike. You have created something simple, practical and extremely high quality that supports natural sound reinforcement, while also elegantly solving the feedback, mounting issues. A brilliant design on all counts."
-- Stephen Cifka
Miking hockey players with Bartlett Stage Floor Mics March 05 2014
Our Stage Floor Mics work well to pick up the skating sounds in a hockey rink. Sound engineer Steve Koubridis used clear tape to mount 10 mics on the clear puck shield in a hockey rink in Winnepeg. Steve said, "The mics worked better than I expected. I was amazed at how much PA they rejected. The mics also captured more of the players yelling at each other and for my taste just enough skate sound. I ran them flat [without EQ]. Overall thrilled."
Mike up the band with Bartlett Mics January 29 2014"Hey Bruce, after having heard how the my new Fiddle Mic sounded, the banjo player and mandolin player in my band bought themselves one. The sound quality is excellent, sounding just like my instrument! Here's a pic of us playing at the River Falls contra dance in Marietta, SC: notice that I'm standing right over the monitor without feedback! There's a lot of mics the same shape, but not at all comparable in sound and quality." -- Joshua Johnson
Creative Uses for Bartlett Audio Instrument Mics November 04 2013
Asheville, NC, soundmixer Weogo Reed has kindly sent us photos and reports on several unusual uses of our microphones. His comments are below.
"I have been using the Fiddle Mic and Guitar Mic on several players in the last couple months. At a dance festival in September Fred Stoll, a mandolin player, used the Guitar Mic, while a young woman fiddler used the Fiddle Mic. On September 21st, mandolin player Sid Heilbronn used the Fiddle Mic on his Mando and was quite happy with it. On October 8th, fiddler Kris Wallace used the Bartlett Fiddle Mic, again, quite happy.
"At the LEAF festival, Rodney Miller had his AT mic on his Fiddle, and we also installed a Bartlett Fiddle mic on a second channel. We went back and forth with them, and he ended up using the Bartlett all weekend. He said something about it sounding velvety smooth in the monitor.
"[Another musician] has been trying several different mics and pickups on his new mandolin, and not getting the sound he wanted (nor what I wanted!). The Fiddle Mic was used as shown in the picture, under the strings, behind the bridge. Here is what he said after the show last night: 'That's the biggest improvement in sound since I got this mandolin'."
Round Barn Theatre Relies on Bartlett Floor Mics September 17 2013
In its production of “A Christmas Carol”, the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres, Nappanee, Indiana used two Bartlett floor mics to amplify the actors.
The microphones provided all the sound for the play, except for some headworn wireless mics worn by the narrator and the three ghosts in the production.
Richard Pletcher, Amish Acres founder and show producer, reported that “the speakers and mics are working amazingly well”. They reproduced the voices with a clear, natural sound, and blended well with the wireless mics.
Bartlett recommended the loudspeaker model and placement. The Theatre installed two ElectroVoice ZX1090B speakers, which include an 8” woofer and 90x40 horn tweeter.
The speakers were mounted across from the 4th row of seats on each side wall, aiming diagonally across the audience. In the photo below, a loudspeaker is just to the left of the coil of rope on the wall.
We’re delighted that our microphones added to the enjoyment of the audience, making it easy to hear every word.
Panache Quartet endorses Bartlett microphones September 01 2013
Panache Quartet (www.panachequartet.com) has just reached an endorsement agreement with Bruce Bartett at Bartlett Audio in Weaverville NC. Now all four fiddlers, Donna Hebert, Jane Rothfield, Andrea Beaton and Veronique Plasse, will wear matching Bartlett Fiddle Mics. Bartlett's fiddle and banjo microphones will amplify future Panache Quartet performances. These mics, built specifically for stringed instruments, have "the best frequency response and true-to-original sound of any on-fiddle mic I've ever used," says Panache's veteran concert and dance fiddler Donna Hebert.
Video Review of Bartlett Cello Mic by John Stuart August 18 2013
Thanks very much to classical cellist John Stuart for doing this video review of our Cello Mic:
Grammy-Winning Quartet Relies on Bartlett Microphones August 11 2013
A two-time Grammy winner, the Turtle Island Quartet is known for its lush string sound and genre-bending musical innovation. Now celebrating its 25th year as a quartet, this Fall the group has chosen Bartlett miniature instrument microphones for their live-sound reinforcement.
Violist Jeremy Kittel says, “The mics are sounding great -- no EQ at all necessary most of the time.” The quartet had previously used microphones that needed a fair amount of EQ at the mixer to reduce harshness, but the new Bartlett mics are tuned specifically for close-miking stringed instruments.
“I recently heard the Quartet perform at the University of Notre Dame” said microphone designer Bruce Bartlett. “It was a thrill to hear these virtuoso players using our mics in concert. The house sound was warm, sweet and easy on the ears.”
Since 1985 the Turtle Island Quartet has created new trends in chamber music for strings -- playing jazz, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, rock, hip-hop as well as the music of Latin America and India. Their latest album “Have You Ever Been” features the music of Jimi Hendrix and Turtle Island Quartet founder and composer-in-residence David Balakrishnan.
With over a dozen major-label recordings and motion picture sound tracks, the group has appeared on the Today Show, All Things Considered, and Prairie Home Companion.
Bartlett designs and builds specialty microphones for acoustic instruments and theater productions. Owner/engineer Bruce Bartlett says, “As long-time fans of the Turtle Island Quartet, we are honored to help convey its beautiful sound to its audiences.”
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