This review covers the LR Baggs Anthem pickup and microphone system for acoustic guitar — a natural sounding alternative to many of the other options out there.
What Makes for Good Sound in an Acoustic Guitar Mic?
Being an acoustic instrument, ideally you’d want to amplify the most natural qualities of the guitar. Especially for a high-quality acoustic that sounds great on its own, you’d want to highlight its best qualities as if the listener is just sitting in the room with you.
In many cases, acoustic guitar pickups/preamps/mics can color the sound in unflattering ways, making it sound honky or boxy due to placement, design, or both. Sometimes they’re too thin and brittle, and other times they’re too woofy and muffled. The ideal pickup/mic system offers a rich, balanced tone that enhances and presents the guitar’s best qualities.
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Acoustic amplification inherently forces some compromises, but LR Baggs has certainly led the pack in terms of keeping it clear, noise-free, and organic.
LR Baggs Anthem Pickup Review: The Ultimate Acoustic Pickup?
LR Baggs Anthem Installation & Usability
What may be a drawback for some is that the LR Baggs Anthem system is a fairly serious installation. The Tru-Mic condenser portion of the kit mounts inside the guitar’s body below the bridge plate. The Element pickup/preamp portion of the system mounts to the underside of the soundhole, while a 1/4″ jack needs to be routed and affixed to the outer edge of the guitar.
It’s advisable to consult an experienced tech if you’re unfamiliar with the process yourself.
How Does It Sound?
The Tru-Mic and Element pickup together form the full sonic image of the acoustic guitar. The condenser microphone creates a PZM or boundary microphone style of capture, and represents the guitar’s frequencies from around 250 Hz and above. The Element pickup in the soundhole fills in the gaps at 250 Hz and below for extra body and thickness should you need it. You can then blend the two conveniently from the Element preamp’s controls.
The best way to describe the Tru-Mic sound is as a high-quality condenser microphone in a studio setting. It’s quite balanced and clear — ideally what you’d want from an acoustic microphone. One of the greatest advantages of the Tru-Mic is also it’s feedback suppression. It’s able to effectively mitigate noise and feedback, which is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to acoustic guitar pickups.
LR Baggs Lyric vs Anthem: Which Is Best for Me?
The Lyric is similar to the Anthem minus a soundhole pickup. It’s essentially just the internally mounted Tru-Mic and preamp with soundhole control over volume and presence. It’s slightly less expensive than the Anthem since it lacks a pickup, but installation is the same.
Our Verdict on the LR Baggs Anthem Pickup
The LR Baggs Anthem is a premium amplification solution for acoustic guitars, including an internal condenser microphone and soundhole-mounted pickup and preamp. As a permanent installation on a nice acoustic guitar, this would certainly help it sing in live situations.