British-designed and Chinese-built, the Sontronics
Orpheus is an attractive, uniquely styled, multi-pattern,
large-diaphragm condenser (LDC) microphone
that can notably inspire those that stand before it.
And yes, it sounds very good, too.
Orpheus features omni, cardioid, and figure-eight polar patterns
and a 10 dB cut/boost function; these selections are adjustable via
two dedicated three-position switches on the front of Orpheus’ rectangular
and relatively large (4 1/4” x 3 1/2” x 1 1/2”) zinc
alloy body. The large body is mated to the mic’s large
spherical head, a wire basket surrounding its 1.07”
dual-diaphragm, internally shock-mounted capsule:
its portly belly measures 11” in circumference. As a
result, very few local reflections are created by the
basket, lending to the Orpheus’ “open” sonic qualities.
Orpheus handles maximum SPL levels of 125
dB and has an equivalent noise level of 16 dB (Aweighted).
Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20
kHz with bumps down low, up top, and a few in
between: most notable is a 5 dB hump from 40 Hz
to around 100 Hz, a 3 dB rise between 2-4 kHz, then
a 6-8 dB increase from around 7 kHz to 12 kHz.
The Orpheus kit is well packaged in a large wooden box
branded with the Sontronics name and logo; inside, the
mic is cradled in velveteen-covered foam — quite nice.
The mic provides a built-in yoke mount, which is sturdy and
easy to adjust, albeit less than universally positionable; in most
cases, I found that hanging the Orpheus upside down is the best
way to position it for recording vocals, my most common application.
Its XLR connector is on the back of the body, at the bottom.
The Orpheus resided in my personal microphone pool for several
months, where it was used on a variety of lead and backing vocals,
saxophone, acoustic guitars, distant guitar amp placement, and
various room and ambient applications. It was usable in all applications
and, almost half the time, it was the first choice when placed
next to 4-5 similarly priced LDCs. A few times it was chosen over
mics that cost twice as much.
Orpheus’ presence bumps are quite flattering to lead vocals,
both male and female. It offers a comparably full, rich, airy, and
“slightly forward” quality to vocals tracked in cardioid pattern.
While the mic may be aesthetically vintage, Art Deco, in design it is
strictly “pro-grade modern LDC” in operation.
I especially enjoyed the Orpheus on sax, where its frequency variations
emphasized the desirable textures and details of pop sax performances.
In lending his notable skills to a Carolina Beach Music
production I recently recorded, jazz saxophonist Matt Kosma commented
on its overall great sound during playback of his tracks.
(Positive feedback from a highly skilled musician on microphone
selection for his/her instrument is always significant to me.)
In room and ambient applications, I mostly used the
Orpheus set to omni; a bit of heavy-handed compression
made it the “secret sauce” for drum room tracks
in more than one project.
In every application, the striking physical design of
the Orpheus sparked inspiration in performers that saw
and used it — assured, and maybe even challenged, privileged,
or rewarded by its presence. Even sitting next
to a $3k-plus German LDC, the Orpheus generated
questions, positive comments and raised eyebrows.
An LDC that gets ‘em talking about your studio for
only $519 street? Not a bad investment.
Most importantly, the Orpheus is very well built; I
found it to be a clear cut above the average Chinese
mic export. Hats off to Sontronics for conducting offshore
manufacturing with true excellence. Finally, if
any doubts of long-lasting build quality linger, Sontronics
allows potential buyers to rest easy with a limited lifetime warranty
covering its entire product line.
The Sontronics Orpheus offers beauty, build quality, performance,
and value to either budget-conscious professionals with a need to
expand their LDC palette or serious self-recordists with mic money
to spend. The Orpheus is a flexible multi-pattern LDC that can visually
woo those you record (yet not sonically disappoint).
FDW-Worldwide (U.S. distributor) | 608-227-2040 | www.fdw-w.com
Strother Bullins is the reviews and features editor for
Pro Audio Review.