Gear reviews

Lauten Audio Oceanus LT 381

Review by Andreas van Engelen

At NAMM 2006 Audio Lauten showed her lifelight with a new tube microphone, the Horizon. Within a few years three new models showed up, the Torch (a pipe), the Clarion (FET) and Oceanus.

Brian Loudenslager, produces hand built  microphones under the name Lauten Audio in the United States.
Object of the test is Lauten Oceanus LT-381, flagship tube microphone.
As a first indication is the unexpected size of the shipment. In the box is a deluxe flight case with microphone, mixer and power supply with switchable microphone patternscardioid, omni-directional and Bi-directional (figure 8). Both the dimension and weight of the microphone are great and the manual suggests a firm stand.

With a (Gotham) connection cable, the Oceanus is preferably switched on 10 minutes before use. The shock mount is round and large. Delicious dimensions. Visual indication of proportions for the spec-lover of course nonsense, but a singer or voice-over artist has a certain bond with a microphone. They feel as responsive microphones. Shape plays a role, if only because a good product rarely leaves feature or parameter underexposed.

Microphones and pre-amps are often an instrument with a certain sound or color to match. This test departs from the ‘straight wire’, the most natural source of the record, with key points as maintaining frequency, substance, color and ‘energy’. Also there is the goosebumps factor and the difference between the perception of an acoustic live performance and listening to a recording of that.

The microphone is used by a singer whose voice I know well and over the years have heard many different ways. Trial and error selected a microphone that would make it hard for the Oceanus to compete with.

Given the relatively short recording time, we tested three microphones at the beginning. The “usual suspect” was chosen in the blind test by the artist, producer and two engineers and the chosen Oceanus disappeared into the trunk. During the second day session was a slight but nagging doubt that made us rery the Oceanus.

There is a direct effect or charm, and an ‘over-time observation. Some classical music interpretations have a wow factor, but eventually put it against some more subtle subdued versions. Some monitors flatter immediately, others start after only two weeks to “work”.

The new record was a recording with the preferred microphone “in the mix” compared to the (almost) unanimous choice of the previous day.
This lead to the conclusion that the sought after effect (more ‘presence’) and provided a much better blend with other instruments. (Two acoustic guitars and bass in this case.) Everybody was surprised, but nevertheless convinced! The nagging feeling got it’s confirmation by a second opinion test, where the outcome was again unanimous. The facility engineers would never have tried to persuade the artist. The Oceanus did so itself, truly within the context of the entire musical mix.

This was reassuring because this is a totally new microphone design and at the point of this test the most jubilant review was that of Stone Temple Pilots producer Douglas Greane. A strong band is another ballpark, this is a recording of an acoustic ensemble with a literature energetic feel . That makes the Lauten Audio Oceanus LT-381 a versatile microphone. Other trials report positive results with acoustic guitar and piano so that microphone is not only applicable to a wide range of singers and styles, but also to enclose acoustic sounds.

The microphone seems to own a ‘new’ sound. We started this review with the straight wire ‘reference’, the pure and authentic sound basis. Perhaps because the tubes architecture is a dynamic edge to the sound. The basic sound is clear and substantial “as is”. Many builders microphone trying to pursue a sound of a vintage or stellar microphone but more affordable. This is a microphone you can and may want to compare, but it was not designed to be a look-alike. It is a brand new microphone design.
One might suspect that Brian Loudenslager preferred to look into natural sound and psycho-acoustic response rather then into clone or competition marketing. 

Brian Loudenslager: Make no mistake, it could well be that we have 15 to 20 prototypes before we brought our first model, the Horizon to the market. Before I founded Lauten Audio I built microphone for different companies and because of that a good understanding of the entire manufacturing spectrum. We also have methods and processes developed to produce competitive quality. Yet all assembly and finishing all crafts. There are 50 people involved in the whole production process. Design is done of Dr. Chen, Mike Terry and myself.

Animation of Dr. Chen’s software for designing and calculating sound membranes.
Dr. Chen studied in the Netherlands, Utrecht and Wageningen, and uses mathematical equations and specially written software to design and capsules to simulate before they are made. He has a degree in Physics with focus on aero-dynamics. 

I wanted to understand why some people it sounds as good or bad, you often hear that microphones ‘hard’ or ‘too bright’ you. Others call it fresh again, in short, it seems that this can be attributed to large decreases in the high frequency range. So we left from the point of view ;what do people want to hear?’, not based on research into existing microphones. We have worked with our ears. Thus we arrived at realism with human nature. Actually got the concept for this microphone from my dissatisfaction with existing microphone designs. Together with Mike Terry, I worked on the microphones until we experienced goosebumps. The research and design of Dr. Chen was very well applied here. We left not a stone unturned! Mike (Terry) brings a wealth of experience of working in top studios with top-class acts, Dr. Chen is the scientist who pushes the boundaries in design and testing, both in (psycho) acoustic design, as in as in microphone testing technology.

Four of the five Lauten audio microphones are supplied with NOS tubes. In the research process, they are compared with JAN, Sylvania, RCA, Mullard (M-8100), we finally found a suitable tube, 6J1 Beijing Electron Tube Factory. Since this sounded like the Mullard tube (that was not available in reliable quality ..) it was chosen for this scientific and military certified ‘tube’ with an extraordinary sound quality.

The purchase of a microphone is both an emotional thing individually as a business investment. It is a difficult challenge to buy something that is between expensive and cheap and then make an assessment. The choice of Oceanus is not a concession. Neither broad applicable but excels nowhere! It is a sound choice for a type that is very close to the original. It is therefore advisable to find a dealer where you can try in our own studio microphone WITH other microphones. Test the Oceanus mic against any other you want. It is always a personal choice but this mic is a must-test ‘for your next (or first) microphone purchase.



Circuit Transformer-less Vacuum Tube
Type Dual-diaphragm condenser
Polar Pattern Cardioid, Omni & Figure-8 (variabel)
Freq. Respons 20Hz tot 20kHz
Dynamisch bereik 100dB minimum
Impendantie <200 ohms
Max. geluidsdruk 0.5%THD@1000Hz: 120dB
Sensitiviteit 16mV/Pa OF -36±2dB 0dB=1V/Pa 1000Hz
Connectoren 7-pin XLR & 3-Pin Standaard XLR
Voedingsspecificaties Eigen power supply 100 tot 230v

One Response to “Lauten Audio Oceanus LT 381”

  1. Mira says:

    Well written. I´d like to try one. Seems like an interesting mic.


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