Lewitt LCT 1040 Review

Michael DelGaudio
02/07/22 4:58 PM Comment(s)

A Tube and Solid State / FET mic all in one!
Let's explore Lewitt's new Flagship Microphone​

Thank you to Lewitt for Sharing the LCT 1040 microphone with me. Learn more at Lewitt-Audio: 
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If the LCT1040 is out of your price range, the Lewitt LCT540 Subzero is an amazing mic for Voice Over: 
And the LCT640 has some incredible functionality (and a great sound):

My job is to be in my booth in front of a microphone pretty much all day. And I've been thinking if I could have just one mic, just one mic for the rest of my career to cover every situation, every gig, what would that mic look like? What does the ultimate mic look like? It's a condenser. Of course, that part it's obvious.

I need all the detail, but I want some trimmings. I want a sturdy case to protect it when I'm not using it. It's got to have a fantastic shock Mount. I want an excellent wind screen built in, but, should it be a FET mic? Maybe a tube mic to bring out some character. It's gotta be cardioid. I mean, voice acting and all, but maybe a wide cardioid would be sweet.

Just get a little bit of proximity effect. But I got a furnace when that kicks in, you get that rumble. So maybe I want a hyper cardioid to try and hide that noise. It'd be somewhere in between something like a more than super cardioid, but not quite hypercardioid or. get that proximity effect when I need it, dial it away when I don't. 

Can't I just to have all the patterns? Should it be clear and transparent for absolute fidelity? That really modern sound? Maybe I want something a little darker. Get that vintage sound that's worked so well, maybe a little character, something with warmth. So it doesn't sound clinical. Some saturation would be nice help cut through the mix when I need it.

I want to be able to dial in just what I want for the situation. Should it have a high pass filter, 40 Hertz, 80, but that furnace, maybe I need 120 Hertz high pass from time to time, a pad switch would help when things get really loud. 6 db maybe 12 DB. Although there have been times when I get all Glenn Fricker and I really gotta get loud and something like 20 to 25 DB would have saved to take. Shut the **** up   Marvin.

Oh, and no, plug-ins I want this mic to be the real deal forever. Not pretending to be something else. I want to be able to take this mic to any studio. Anywhere I work without having to drag a USB stick around with my iLOKand hope they have the right software. I want it to work when I change computers, operating systems, no plugins who knows what the future holds.

So that's my list. I just want to fit to Mike that has every pattern. Is bright and  dark and warm and saturated that works no matter how loud I get and has all the right high pass filters for the situation. I hear you saying Mike, that's at least five different. Mike's probably 10. You're going to need a whole locker to get all that my friend dream on.

I just want one mic to rule them all. Too bad it doesn't exist.

 Until now. Channel my inner Jeremy Clarkson here. This is it what may possibly be the ultimate microphone.

 This is the Lewitt lCT 1040  and Lewitt has been working on this microphone for something like seven years to bring it to fruition. And I'm glad they did.

I remember seeing the little info, you know, little videos about earlier prototypes, and I've been very excited about this microphone and everything I described in my earlier. Is right here in this microphone. I wasn't kidding. If you like its overall tone, this could be the Mike for, I don't know, very merely any situation.

Now Lewitt loaned me this microphone to make this review. I'm not compensated to make the review, but they have no editorial input. They won't see this video before you do. They have no idea what I'm going to say. They don't know if I'm going to like it or not. I'm really going to walk you through as far as I can.

All of the features and functionality show you everything that I know how to make the mic do. But in the end, it's got to go with. Which kind of breaks my heart. If you're interested in this mic, it's going to cost you around $3,500. And I think that same price as us or Euro, if you do want to purchase the mic, I'll have some affiliate links in the description.

It doesn't change the price for you, but would really help the channel out. If you, if you're interested in buying it, it it's, it's up there in the, in the rarefied. It's um, it's right up there with the other flagship microphones, certainly price-wise but let's see what the mic can do. Let's see if it, if it deserves to be in that spot and you'll hear it and you'll make that judgment.

So let's get into it. It's a condenser microphone and a hugely configurable one at that. And it's both a tube mic and a solid state FET mic all at once. Let's start with the mic in fat mode. Now there are tons of configurations for this microphone, but weirdly when you look at it, there are no buttons or switches or anything on the mic.

There's just. Tube window in the front where you can see the tube glowing and a logo on the back. So how do you configure it? Well, like many tube mics. There's an external power source. What they've done is they've added all the configuration knobs to the power supply module, which they call the remote.

Now on the remote, you'll see a nicely laid out user interface right here with clear access to all the functional. There's so many functions trying to squeeze them all onto the body of the microphone, I think would be virtually impossible on the remote. There are five knobs on the left. There are two that control the tone of the microphone in particular, the characteristic imparted by the tube stage of the mic.

And on the bottom left is a dial where you can dial in between the solid state, the FET sound of the microphone. And the tube stage or any combination of both, you can find tune various gradations of the tube stage by moving the dial from all the way on fat, where it is now, all the way over to tube and really anywhere in between.

Now what's cool. Here is on the remote. It's actually outputting two signals. There are two jacks on the back. One is the solid state output labeled fat, and the other is whatever the mix is from this dial on the front, with the knob all the way over unfed, the signals are virtually identical. So now. I'm going to move the tube stage to the clear setting.

And I'll AB this with the FET mode and see how it changes. So I'm going to switch it over to fully in the clear mode. Now I don't expect that you'd add. Even want to have the two outfits to be perfectly matched gain wise. What I can see is probably a more beneficial case is to have the mix channel be your preferred tone and the FET channel be gained down on the console as a backup tape or an effects taker.

Anything else you want to do creatively with it? Similar to how a guitarist might take the pure. Of the track and a wet track with the effects. This, this essentially gives you two outputs. You get the, the tube sound and the, uh, the FET sound. Now there are different settings for the tube. There's clear, warm, dark, and saturated.

And the difference between these is it's subtle. You can hear them quite clearly. When you phase invert. The mixed channel from the FET channel. But I want to say upfront, this is not a modeling mic. You're not going to push the mic into crazy over the top overdrive states. Like you can with plugins, if you really want to manipulate the signal like that, you would still use a plugin.

This system puts at your fingertips, a wide variety. Of common Mick tones with one piece of equipment to find the very best tone for whatever talent or instrument is behind the mic. It's not an effects mic. This is for great reproduction of the original sound. So I could definitely see this being the first mic to try when you're shooting out a bunch of different mix in a, in a new session in the studio, and only after trying all the different combos.

Would you then need to go to the locker? It would not surprise me at all to hear that some studios are saying that this is their new go-to Mike because of its configurability. Okay. So let's move the knob, the tone of the tube characteristic from. To warm and we'll see how the tone changes. I'm going to keep this all the way over on tube for the output and I'll switch back and forth between the fed output and the tube output, just so you can get a sense of the difference in how it sounds.

So while we're doing that, let's talk about the remote for it for a second. I personally think that this is really well thought out for everything that it does initially. It's both the configuration. And the power supply, and I'm not going to pick it up here, but it's surprisingly heavy. It's actually, it's actually the power supply portion.

That's heavy. You might want to put that down on the floor. It's way, way too heavy for a music stand, but that's actually no problem with a push of the button on the front. The remote can be separated from the power supply. So now the PSU can be on the ground and the remote can be up at desk level. You just jumper the two together with a typical XLR cable.

And Lewis says that that cable can be up to 150 meters long. That's pretty cool. Let's make a switch here. I'm going to move it down to dark mode now and I'll keep toggling it back and forth. So you can hear the difference between the FET mode and the dark mode. So you can separate them and that's neat and all, but, but what does it mean for you?

Well, it means that the PSU can be near the mic where it needs to be like any tube mic. This mic means a PSU, but the remote can be back in the control room using your regular XLR cables. So for a total of three XLR cable runs. Two different mix signals, the fat signal and the mixed signal. And the engineer at the desk can dial in that Mike setting, right from the sweet spot in the control room, wherever that is up to 150 meters away.

So you don't have to worry if the control room is far from the studio, or if you're in a huge recording space you're covered and the engineer can make decisions from the control room instead of going back and forth and back and forth, changing microphones. Okay, one more switch. We'll switch over to the saturated mode now and I'll keep toggling them.

Okay. So you get this great big PSU unit, all the configurations on the remote, the roads. But what if you need a stereo pair? Well, that's been considered here too, and I think they've made a really good decision here. First, similar to the LeWitt. LCT five 40 Sub-Zero. If you're familiar with that microphone, the manufacturing tolerances are such that any two LCT 10 forties are a stereo matched pair.

You don't have to specifically think ahead and purchase a matched pair that have been mashed up at the. Any to we'll match. So if you need to spend the money over the course of a year, any two of these microphones will be stereo matched pairs even better. Once you do have the two mikes, you can use one remote.

To control both mikes, just use an XLR splitter to split the XLR that goes from the remote over to the two PSU's of the two mikes. Now both mikes will respond to one. And you'll get matched signals back. I frankly, I think that that could be a game changer. Think of all of the options you have. If you have two of these for stereo pair, now there are two more knobs, one for a configurable high pass filter to get the best sound right at the source.

You can high pass the base set 40, 80, and 120 Hertz depending on your needs. And I'll let you hear what each one of these sounds like. The 40 Hertz high pass. This shouldn't have too much impact on my voice as a, as a voice actor tonally, but it can pull away a ton of base energy. Okay. Then there's the 80 Hertz option.

And this is also probably the most common option in voice work to cut below 80 Hertz. There's not a ton of useful information down there. So when something like an audio book production, this can stop the car subwoofer. Pounding into your back or, or making it really fatiguing to listen to and headphones at 80 Hertz high pass filter.

And then finally there is a 120 Hertz high pass. So this could remove a considerable amount of base and it could be useful in certain situations, depending on how you need to use it. Put that back now. Likewise, there are multiple pads, so you can go from really quiet to super loud. There's a modest DB of, uh, there's a modest pat of 60 B to a massive amount of padding at 24 DB.

You just dial it in with the. So the first one I'll switch to is the 60 B. Now, when you switch, you should pay attention to the operational indicator here. It will take a few seconds for that pad to become engaged as the Mike reconfigures itself. So it's not an, it's not fully padded or any adjustments aren't fully in place until the operational light becomes solid again.

So now I've, now you can hear that the 60 B pad, if I move it to the 12 DB. We can see that operational light come in again, it takes a few seconds. And now we are at the full 12 DB pad. I get a lot quieter.

Finally, I'll switch to the 24 DB pad. So now it's gotten quite quiet so I can put a really loud source.

I'll switch it back and let that padding come, come out here.

Remember to watch that operation light, some changes do require a moment for the mic to reconfigure itself. So as you make changes, watch that operational light to know if it's all the way ready to go again. I'm going to go back to clear mode now. And I'm going to dial in the 50% fat. So now we've got the mix of the tube and the fat effect, just so that we can hear it.

And we'll talk about some more features. Now, like many of the LeWitt mix, the 10 40 comes with an integrated and removable pop filter and this one mounts a little differently than the other Lewitt. And you can see that there's a lot of care given here. There are magnets to secure it in place. So it's not going to go anywhere, but you don't need to slide it over the basket.

Like some of their other mics, it just clicks into place. So if you watched some of my other videos, you know, that sliding the pop filter for their other mix. Kind of create quite an ASM our moment, but not really here. And you won't be scratching the grill. It just clicks into place with some magnet. So you pull it off and you can plug it back in.

This is not my mic, so I'm not going to do a plosive test here. I'm not going to send plosives into it. I don't want to risk damaging the capsule if I'm too aggressive with it, but there's no processing on this, on this audio. So you'll hear if along the way, if I've sent any plosives past this, uh, past the pop filter, you'll hear.

So I'll just have you referenced the remainder of the recording to see if there are any plosives. We can also pull it off to see if there is any transparency change between the pop filter being on and the pop filter being off. We'll see if there's any, any tonality change by pulling this off. Really it's quite see-through and there are two layers of, of metal in this grill.

So it's possible that there could be a tonality change with the pop filter in or the pop filter out. And tonight.

There we go. Okay. So let's switch to another mode. We're going to switch to dark mode at 50% mixed in and we'll go back and forth so that you can hear it. The shock Mount is also worth mentioning, and it is, it's a serious shock mountain, super robust well-made supports the mic extremely. And I'll be honest.

I haven't quite seen a shock Mount like this before. And what I mean, what I'm getting at is in the way that it adjusts, it actually uses quick release levers, similar to how you might raise or lower a bike seat. So I'll do it right now. Hopefully not move the mic too much, but you just release it, adjust the microphone and then lock it back in place.

You see it? No thumb screws here. It's actually. A quick release lever, similar to how you might raise or lower a bike seat. Like I said, it's easy to move. It's got an extremely tight grip and you don't have to crank hard on, on these thumb screws to get it, to be seated. That's really well thought out. It's a really well thought out shock Mount.

 It's a wide body, so you've got to have a little space for it, but it's really well thought out. I mean, I can, when I've been doing my tests, I can put some pretty good handling on this mic without it being really transmissive. I think it's really well engineered for. Okay, let's move now to the saturated effect at 50% tube.

The last two parts to talk about on the, on the remote are the default reverse switch. And the th there's a hold switch on the back. This switch on the lower right-hand corner, labeled default and reverse allows you to choose. Which side is the front side of the mic. So right now I've got the tube facing me, but with a switch waiting for it to come back into, into operation.

Now I'm standing at the back of the microphone and this is the front of the microphone. I can just switch it right. Going to put it back to default. There's a hold button on the back and it has two purposes. First is maybe you can see it here, but the LeWitt logo on the back in default mode is slightly.

If you tap that button on the back, that illumination goes out. It's just like, if you want to, I guess a little bit of a stealth mode, but that little button there, you just tap it once and the mic lights up or the, the, the logo lights up. The other purpose is w is with a press and hold will power the microphone down for a vocalist.

Some vocalists like to have the microphone Upside down and up in the year so that they can fit their, their copy, their music stand or instruments underneath. You can put this up at eye-level and Lewis says that it doesn't matter if the microphone is hung upside down. I guess when some T two Microsoft phones, there's a, there's a concern that the heat from the tube can affect the capsule or could affect the performance of it.

If the tube is upside down, Lewitt says it doesn't matter here. You can put it, you can arrange the migrant. However it's preferable for you. So now we're going to investigate the polar patterns. So I'm going to move the microphone a little bit. We'll see how the shock filter or the pop filter or the shock Mount does.

And once it becomes operational again, I'll now arrange this in an omnidirectional pattern, and now we can sort of investigate the polar patterns a little bit. The polar pattern is adjusted with the other large knob on the microphone. So right now I have the microphone turned 90 degrees. And we're in omnidirectional mode.

So you should be picking me up nice and clear. But what I'll do is I'll try and dial in some of the other patterns and we'll get a sense of how that changes the performance of the microphone. Now, as we turn it, there are sort of detects in the knob that will stop the pattern at sort of the major polar patterns.

But you're not limited to those. You can dial in any of the polar patterns in between. So first thing I'll do is I'll just move it up to a. Cardioid and after a few seconds, we should see the microphone come into operation.

I have to wait for that led to stop flashing, but now we can, now we should be able to maybe detect if there's any sort of change or transformation in the tone, by having it in the wide. Cardioid what we're listening for here. I should still be reasonably loud, but we'll listen to see if there's any tonality change, any loss of high frequency or anything like.

So that's the wide cardioid pattern. I'm not going to move it directly to the next detent. And that is the cardioid pattern.

The cardioid pattern. The most common one for the voice actor is one where sometimes the off-axis response can become important. So even if we have the off-axis response at 45 degrees or at 90 degrees, we should be able to hear a difference in volume, certainly, but we may also hear a diff. In tone. Next, I'm going to sort of move through some of the other patterns just so we can see what the off-axis rejection and responses from the other patterns.

So I'm going to move this next to the super cardioid pattern.

So now we're over at the super cardioid pattern. And we should note that my voice has fallen off quite a bit, and I will move into the dead zone, sort of the, the real dead zone. And I can dial that in even before. But I can move into an out of the, sort of the know of the super cardioid. I'm not now like a hyper cardioid pattern.

And then finally we'll move all the way to the figure eight pattern.

And once it comes into operation, I should strongly be in the null of the microphone. If you're hearing. You're hearing me reflected off the surfaces here in my vocal booth. I'm raising my voice nice and loud so that you can hear me. All right. Let's move it back to cardioid. Okay. So now we're back to the cardioid pattern.

So you can at least hear me, but. Infinite polar pattern adjustment gives you a lot of freedom in setting it up. You could use this as a room microphone and dial in the pattern to get just the right amount of room compared to the signal. You could ensure that a couple of different competing acoustic instruments in the room in the recording studio are sitting in the right Knowles.

That's not really my area of expertise. I primarily use a mic as a voice actor, just me in a room, but there are lots of creative possibilities there and I'm really excited to see what some people come up with. As I rotate up to the top, a cardioid from 90 degrees off axis. Let's just take a moment and listen to the quality.

What sort of high-frequency response I get in the mic I received. There were no polar pattern graphs, so I don't know how the character, I don't know how the character should change as I move from off-axis to on some microphones are very directional in the highs and some have a very wide response for the.

So as I rotate the mic in the front, as I speak, you should be able to hear, or you can note if there are any significant changes as we move from off axis to on axis. If there are significant changes, I'd expect them to be in the highs. But since you can just adjust the pattern, if I move that to a wider pattern, maybe as we move that microphone off to the side.

We still have some of that high frequency response. So depending on how you up this setup, you could potentially have a couple of voices singing into one side of the microphone with the car, with the pattern adjustment, and still get really good clarity, get good tonality out of everybody. So let's talk about cons.

Are there any $3,500 should not be too many, but there are some cons I can think of two right off the top of my head. First you've heard as I switched between all of these different effects. I do wish the effects went perhaps just a little harder pushing the tube a little bit more. I want perhaps something that's a bit more saturated, a bit more warmth, a bit more darkness.

It's the changes you've been able to see. They're fairly subtle detective. But subtle. I think LeWitt, what they've done here is they're trying to balance pushing the tube hard and maximizing its longevity. This is expensive mic. You want it to last 10, 20 years. Anyway, since the tube is not really replaceable it, at least voids the warranty.

If you try and mess with that too. So I don't think the tube is very easy to replace. It's done. It's not pushing the tube super hard from what I can tell. And as a result, the effects are they're subtle. They're not really extreme. That's what. Second, the cable that goes between the power supply and the mic is proprietary.

You have to get a cable from Lewitt. You can't just go to Sweetwater or BNH or whatever, and buy a new cable. So if some knucklehead in the studio messes up the cable kinks, it breaks, it, pulls it out. Anything like that, you can't just run over to the cable closet and grab it. So I suggest that if you are going to be in a high use area, a busy studio, something like that, reach out to LeWitt and see about getting some space.

Before you need them because you don't want to lose a session because of losing a cable third. And this really isn't a con, but just a point to know, even though there are two outputs on the back of the PSU, these are variations on the same signal. They're not outputs from different counties. So I thought at first that the 10 40 might also be compatible with the polarizer plugins from the twin series Mike's from LeWitt, but these outputs are not like the twin system of the LeWitt six 40 Ts.