Andrew Stirling, SCV London’s sales and marketing director, has been at the top end of the UK’s studio and audio business for many years.
So when asked why he is so enthusiastic to have the Avantone Pro brand in his stable of products, he says it’s about the sound, it’s worth paying attention. And Stirling isn’t alone.
Though the US brand is priced to appeal to home studio users (albeit the more serious ones) it stands head and shoulders above much of the ‘me too’ competition by virtue of its impressive pedigree.
For example, no lesser mortal than Robert Plant used nothing but an Avantone BV-1 mic on the vocals of his new Band Of Joy album and Plant’s co-producer, Nashville veteran Buddy Miller, says: “The BV-1 was the only microphone we used on Robert’s vocals on the new Robert Plant / Band of Joy record, and we had everything at our fingertips; beautiful old U47s, Telefunkens, every RCA mic known to man. There was no need to spend time A/B’ing – the BV-1 captured everything and sits beautifully in the track. It’s been the “go to” mic at every session ever since I bought it.”
US mega-star Taylor Swift is another Avantone-only user and if those two artists call to mind Nashville, then you are definitely thinking in the right direction.
Avantone Pro’s sales and marketing director, Glen Heffner, is a Nashville keyboard player himself and soon drops into discussing the relative merits of legendary valve mics, betraying that characteristic Nashville obsession with sound quality that has seen our very own Mr Plant become a recording migrant.
As Andrew Stirling says: “From my point of view it’s a very coherent brand. It’s not a ‘me too’ Chinese mic or speaker brand with another name in it. It’s very close to Nashville and a lot of the mics have been designed with Nashville sound in mind. I take the view that some of the best musicians on the planet come from there and they’ve got better ears than most people on the planet too – so if they like it, it must be good.”
Despite that sound quality, Avantone Pro mics typically sell under £500 – so, not SM58 territory, but not Neumann country, either. “The CV-12, which is one of our most popular mics retails for about £450 and I’ve sold 20 today,” Stirling reveals.
Likewise, Avantone’s mini active reference monitors (drawing on the legendary Auratone heritage as a reference) are affordable and much loved for their sound.
“Most people thought that the CV-12, because of the name, was pretty much modelled after the AKG C12, but it was actually modelled after the Sony C800 because of its beautiful top-end, though there were some AKG characteristics in there too,” Heffner states. “As for the MixCubes, we designed them to sound pretty dog - gone good and to work extremely well in any situation. The whole point is you’re able to do a mix that will sound extremely good on just about anything else.”
“Consistency is important too,” Stirling comments. “There are products that look great but where the quality is all over the place. Avantone QCs every single product in the States so we’re getting a very consistent product. We’re always trying to get people to use the microphones. If you buy with your eyes, microphones look alike, but once we get someone using these, they hear the difference. We also ensure that there’s a reasonable profit for the dealer in them too,” he adds, pointedly.
“In the end it’s all about the story and the people. Anybody with an engineering shop can make a good mic but unless they’re plugged into the music scene and getting the feedback from users that these guys have, there’s something very important missing.”
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