Samar Audio Design AL 95 by RPC
Last Tuesday, a box landed on my desk. Upon opening, I found foam peanuts and two nondescript black cases. Inside the cases were SAMAR AL95s serial numbers 11 and 12!
Since I already own a pair of SAMAR VL37s, I’m going to compare the microphones here. I’ve thought that the MF65 and VL37 look like what Brancusi might have sculpted had he been tasked with designing microphones; they’re gorgeous to look at. With the exposed screws and the rust patches on the side plates the AL95 comes across as much more utilitarian. I’m intrigued by those threads at the bottom of the case, though – has Dr. Fouxman got something up his sleeve?
The AL95 weighs a LOT less than the VL37 – 140g vs. 355g. And with the frame essentially being the motor, it’s VERY magnetic – let a pair of these get together and you’ll have some trouble prying them back apart! They fit very nicely into ziplock snack bags and I’d recommend putting them in some kind of bag or sleeve when not in use – they’re bound to attract tramp metal.
The one disappointment of the package is the shock mount. It’s obviously meant to hold a tapered microphone body; it only holds the AL95 at one end and none too tightly at that. Fortunately, a Shure A55M shock mount fits the AL95 perfectly.
As to the sound…wow. I just had a chance to make sure they worked before I used them to record a chamber music concert. The sound can best be described as “effortless” – the music just passes right through them into the preamp. Here’s a short sample of a Blumlein pair on soprano and piano. (96/24) https://www.dropbox.com/s/sbvj4xb51g...sard3.wav?dl=0
On their second outing, they recorded saxophone quartet, wind ensemble and pipe organ. Here's a bit of sax quartet. (48/24) https://www.dropbox.com/s/1z2tqsqtqx...lanka.wav?dl=0
UPDATE: Mark Fouxman replied to my concerns - I'm posting his reply below.
"Thank you for your feedback! I will address the rust and shock mount problems.
Most likely, it is a surface rust due to temperature changing during shipping, which created condensation. It is very easy to wipe off with ScotchBright. If you don't have a piece please let me know and I will send it your way. From now on we will be shipping the mics in ziplock bags with silica packs, to absorb any moisture and prevent the problem.
The shock mount is indeed not the ideal, however, we could not find any other solution without raising the price and this mount is the only one with shock absorption ring available--the smaller size version, which would fit the body perfectly unfortunately has been discontinued. On the low part of the body you can see threading. That one is for our optional mount we are working on at the moment. This one is very effective, slick, elegant, and unobtrusive. It should be available very soon. Also, we made that threading interchangeable with most of the import spider mounts, which can be easily found online. Rycote, of course, is also an option."