Michael Stavrou (better known in studio circles as ‘Stav’) is a world-renowned producer, recording and mix engineer with an illustrious career spanning almost five decades. His passion for recording music sprouted from the tender age of three when he asked for a tape recorder for Christmas – by the age of ten he was obsessed.
This passion flourished in his teenage years and into early adulthood with a flurry of jobs in different radio stations around his hometown of Yorktown, Virginia, but it didn’t quite scratch his recording itch. Through a series of extraordinary events, Stav landed the job of a lifetime at George Martin’s AIR Studios in London – what he calls “the biggest hit factory in the world” – in 1974, and the rest is history.
Stav has worked with the cream of England’s finest, including Sir Paul McCartney alongside Martin himself. Upon deciding that he had worked with all the famous names he could never have dreamed of, Stav decided to dedicate his life to discovering and fostering up-and-coming artists and more established acts who could benefit from his keen ear and extensive skill set more than anybody, something he continues to do today.
Stav is also the author of Mixing with Your Mind. A book that every producer, engineer or studio owner should have a copy of.
Engineer and author Michael Stavrou (aka Stav) has climbed to the pinnacle of studio craft, so when he speaks, people tend to listen. Here are his 5 favourite mics.
Neumann U 47 FET
Stav: More versatile than its valve counterpart and better bang for a buck. It’s soft middle, clear top end, and extra bass rounds everything out and makes it sound more hi-fi. It’s got two pads: a 6db pad between the capsule and the first bit of electronics plus a 10 DB pad between the electronics and the mic lead. This means it even handles the level from a bass drum without damage to the mic or the console keeping it clean. And is great for any vocal or electric guitar also.
Stav: The Vintage V 67 from Latvia is one of my latest discoveries that really brings out the character of vocals. It is modelled after the Neumann U67 the with a unique sputtered gold diaphragm that does magical things. It also seems to focus in on the heart of the sound ignoring many room acoustics.
Stav: The RØDE NTR Active Ribbon Microphone is another new discovery that kills as drum overheads. RØDE has always done a great job and this little nugget is no exception and I expect it will be making an appearance on many recordings to come.
Beesneez Arabella Producer
Stav: The Beesneez Arabella Producer series valve microphone made in Australia is the epitome of that big fat warm valve microphone sound. It’s extremely sensitive with plenty of tops and clarity. You just have to make sure you get a good one. These are handmade and perhaps not as consistent as robot manufactured mics.
Stav: Neumann KM84 – the original vintage one is the only thing for that silky string sound, classical guitar, anything that sounds so good that you don’t want it to change, particularly in the classical world – harp – classical guitar – cello.
Stav: These are all quickly followed by the Neumann U87 for its solid versatility and performance on just about everything, and the AKG 414 for its near perfectly even figure of eight pickup which is the only thing I use from mid-side.