Testing Microphones with Rockstars from Apollo Run and OK Go

When it came time to review Blue's Spark Digital microphone, we could have put a few mics in a row, sang a little, played a little guitar, then scrutinized the sounds. Or we could have talented musicians from two amazing bands create an all-new song for us.

Guess which one we picked?

Here's how this came about: I wanted an extra set of ears to help me evaluate Blue's new USB mic, the Spark Digital, so I called my friend John McGrew, lead singer of Apollo Run, and asked if he'd sing into it and tell me what he thought. "Sure, come over tomorrow." Then an hour goes by. "Actually, if you can give me a day, I could write some music and we could record a little song for testing." Hell yeah, sounds awesome. A few more hours go by. "Hey, actually, it sounds like Dan Konopka (of OK Go) is interested in mixing it and doing some production. Would that be cool?" Uhh, yes, John. That would be very, very cool.

Illustration for article titled Testing Microphones with Rockstars from Apollo Run and OK Go

From there everything happened absurdly fast. John had already recorded the synths by the time I came over. "So, it's basically about a Zombie apocalypse." Perfect. We set up the mic in his living room, and he started oohing and ahhing into it with what sounded to me like random, atonal melodies (I didn't have a monitor so I couldn't hear the music). After about 20 minutes he handed me the headphones. The guy had just busted out a "zombie choir" with eight-part harmonies like it was nothing. Graham Fisk (Apollo Run's drummer) came over, consulted on beats and recorded some additional vocals, then they sent what they'd recorded so far to AR's Jeff Kerestes, who laid down the bass.

It then went to OK Go's Dan Konopka. As you may have noticed, OK Go is one of our favorite bands. Dan mixed all the tracks then asked John if he could try something with the drums. Sure thing. So Dan took the track over to the studio and laid down some drums on the very sweet-sounding kit you'll be hearing on OK Go's next album. He then sent it over to his buddy Mike Schoonmaker at Gigantic Mastering to master it. We got everybody's opinion of the mic's sound-quality along the way.

When we got the song back, we liked it so much we decided it needed a music video. John, Graham, and I got together last Wednesday night in Graham's basement. It took roughly two hours to shoot the whole thing, then I cut it together over the weekend. The whole thing was fast and dirty.


The result of all this is Godspeed: An Anthem for the End of the World. It's silly. And yes, it's probably the most complicated way to do a simple mic test, but I wish we could do them all this way. It basically started out as a joke, but through a series of friends doing each other favors for no other reason than it sounded fun, this song was born. It's sort of an over-the-top Muse tribute, just in time for the end of the world on December 21st, and you're hearing here on Gizmodo for the first time.

And yes, we did some A/B comparisons for the mic, too. The full review is coming soon.


Huge thanks to John McGrew, Graham Fisk, and Jeff Kerestes of Apollo Run, Dan Konopka of OK Go, and Mike Schoonmaker at Gigantic Mastering. Godspeed is available here for a buck, and Apollo Run's latest album Here Be Dragons, Vol. III is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play Music, Rdio, and Spotify.


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"The whole thing was fast and dirty." Ah, yeaaaaahhhhh

BTW, bought the song.