Tony Buchen is a celebrated veteran of the Australian recording industry; only compared most veterans, his career is relatively short.
His illustrious catalogue boasts artists ranging from Aussie legends like Megan Washington and the John Butler Trio, to buzzy indie artists like Spookyland and Montaigne, to international acts like The Falls and lesser-known emerging acts like Sydney based Wells and Oh Reach.
With a penchant for vintage gear and a hands-on approach to producing music, Tony Buchen is today one of the most distinguished producers in the country. He continues to working with genre-spanning artists, arranging strings and playing bass in bands.
As well as being an incredible musician in his own right, Tony Buchen has forged a career in the studio, working with an eclectic range of artists at home and abroad. Here are his 5 favourite mics.
Neumann U 47
Buchen: Boring and predictable I know. But no mic manages to capture musical performance with both clarity and attitude as the U47 does – two things which tend to be mutually exclusive in the microphone obsession narrative.
The Wagner U47w is the finest and truest re-make of the classic mic I’ve heard and deserves mention.
Neumann CMV 563
Buchen: These mics get a bad rap but I love them especially as overheads on drums, strings and the odd vocal.
Made by Neumann’s East German outpost in Gefell it possesses many of the hallmarks of Soviet era design and build: practical yet full of quirks and unrefined compared to its West German cousins. Perfect for making recordings of character it sounds gritty and important.
Buchen: Probably the biggest sounding mic ever made. Imagine a perfectly restored old Chevy with a brand new V8 under the hood – it’s based on the impossibly warm RCA44 (think Ella Fitzgerald/Fats Waller) but with active circuitry allowing it to reach huge levels with the noise floor of a high end condenser.
This mic kind of reinvents the wheel a bit – especially seeing you would usually tend to avoid using old Ribbon mics on quiet sources.
Buchen: Often confused with a standard 414, the c12a is its tube predecessor and is built around a CK12 capsule (the same as the revered AKG C12).
I don’t love it on vocals but so sweet on pretty much anything else from strings to guitar amps to piano.
Buchen: I haven’t yet met a vocalist who hasn’t’ fallen for this little guy. Designed as a TV interview mic its omni pattern made it perfect for being held beneath the chin for a clear view of the face doing the talking (or singing – see any Tom Jones et al TV performances from the 70s to see it in action).
The mic can be smashed or whispered into and it offers a mysterious character that when compressed and saturated with the right gear acts like a dial that turns up the excitement and attitude of pretty much any vocal that’s fighting to be heard in a big track. The new old stock ones sound best but are getting harder to find.