Hot Mic Picks from 2003 Tradeshow Coverage5/20/2004 8:00 AM Eastern
If you're like us, you're addicted to microphones—new or old,condenser or dynamic—and with an ever-increasing supply ofinteresting new debuts, we're constantly scouring the world forinteresting new mics.
With this in mind, we thought it would be fun to spotlight themicrophones that our editors have selected as hits of major pro audioconventions over the past few years. These tradeshows are presented inreverse-chronological order (with the most recent events first) anddirect links are provided to each manufacturer for quick access to moreinformation.
AES Fall 2003
New York City—October 10-13, 2003
Reported in the November 2003 Mix
The 1965 Sony (www.sony.com) C-38 was the world's first FET mic,which after a few minor changes—windscreen shape (C-38A) and theability to accept either 9VDC battery or phantom power(C-38B)—sold more than 65,000 units worldwide. Now, the fameddual-pattern (cardioid/omni) condenser C-38B is back as a faithful$2,200 reissue.
Telefunken North America's (www.telefunkenusa.com) Ela M 270 re-creates perhapsthe rarest tube mic of all time: a stereo version of the Ela M 251. Thehandcrafted 270 is not for everyone, but listing at $19,995, it's niceto dream. The company also announced its Ela M 14 (a cardioid-only tubemic with CK12 capsule), priced at $2,995; the Ela M 12, a C12 replicapriced at $6,495; and the U47M, which reprises the classic TelefunkenU47 in several versions with various tube options from $5,500 to$7,500.
Another U47 clone came in the form of Wunder Audio's (www.wunderaudio.com) $4,000 CM7, with an EF14 tubeand 6-micron diaphragm on a German M7 capsule.
Dirk Brauner (dist. by www.transaudiogroup.com) showed VMA, an upscale (!)version of his $5,000 VM1A tube studio mic. Priced about 30% higherthan the original, the new model has a switch that kicks in alternatecircuitry for a choice of original or a more “vintage”sound.
Thinking stereo? AEA's (www.wesdooley.com) R88 puts a matched pair oflarge, figure-8 ribbon capsules (angled at 90°) in a singlehousing for Blumlein or M-S stereo recording. Price: $1,895.
Neumann (www.neumannusa.com) celebrated its 75th anniversaryby unveiling a 300-page “coffee table” book with 500 colorphotos detailing its history. Neumann also showed the mid-priced, TLM127 large-diaphragm, multipattern condenser mic with a remotepattern-switching option and impressive 7dBA self-noise.
PLM (dist. by www.independentaudio.com) unveiled the DT40(five-pattern) and CT40 tube mics, based on Pearl's classic,large-diaphragm, rectangular condenser capsule, paired with Nuvistortubes.
The Lawson (www.lawsonmicrophones.com) AIR mic is ahypercardioid condenser model specifically for vocal recording, with anew large-diaphragm capsule designed by Gene Lawson.
New mics at SE Electronics (www.seemics.com) include ICIS (a $999 tube modelwith fixed cardioid pattern) and Gemini, a $1,499 cardioid with dual12AU7s.
The DigiMic? Not exactly—BLUE Microphones (www.bluemic.com)teamed up with Digidesign to offer a special-edition mic, suppliedexclusively with future Digi product bundles. Dubbed the Bluebird, thenew mic is a large-diaphragm, cardioid condenser with low-noise Class-Aelectronics, Blueberry hi-def cable, shockmount and pop screen.
Audix (www.audixusa.com) has updated its SCX-1small-diaphragm condenser mics. The new SCX-1PR bodies havemultiposition pad and bass rolloff switches for more versatility.
Nashville—July 18-20, 2003
Reported in the September 2003 Mix
New mics were everywhere! Yamaha (www.yamahadrums.com) redefines the termlarge-diaphragm mic with its Subkick, which uses the microphonicproperties of a 10-inch woofer mounted inside a 10-inch maple tom shellthat sets up in front of any kick drum, outputting ultralow frequenciesto a standard XLR jack. This signal can be used alone or combined witha traditional kick mic for more variety.
M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) Luna mic is a striking design,featuring a large lollipop-style top with a cardioid 1.1-inch condensercapsule. Peeking under the “stem,” I was impressed to noteits all-discrete, Class-A FET electronics. Luna's now shipping at$249/retail.
Audix's (www.audixusa.com) OM-11 is essentially a re-issueof its classic OM-1, which is not only a great dynamic vocal model, butone of my all-time fave snare mics.
SE Electronics (www.seelectronics.com) unveiled its H3500 cardioidstudio mic with a huge body that houses its large-diaphragm condensercapsule. Retail is $599. SE also showed its $249 half-rack Ghost TB101,a single-channel tube preamp/DI/compressor/3-band EQ.
Trident Audio's (www.oram.co.uk) M-101 is a large-diaphragm,multipattern condenser that's UK-made and features custom JohnOram-designed electronics.
CAD (www.cadmics.com) adds two side-address condensersto its popular Equitek mic line. The e1002 is a supercardioid model,and the e2002 is a three-pattern (supercardioid/omni/figure-8) mic;both feature onboard re-chargeable batteries that provide a hugecurrent reserve or allow up to six hours of remote use without phantompower.
Las Vegas—April 5-10, 2003
Reported in the June 2003 Mix
Sanken (dist. by Plus24, www.plus24.net) showed cool new mics: The CS-01short shotgun has a bargain $799 price; the $1,850 CO-100K omnicondenser has a true 100kHz bandwidth; and the $2,650 CUW-180 is astereo condenser with twin cardioid capsules mounted on 180°swivels.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands—March 22-25, 2003
Reported in the May 2003 Mix
Neumann (www.neumannusa.com) celebrated its 75thanniversary, with a cool Sound Engineering Contest 2003 (the winnerreceived a chrome-plated pair of M149 tube or Solution-D digital mics)and debuted the BCM104–the first in a line of broadcastmics–and the TLM127, a mid-price studio mic. Shipping thissummer, the TLM127 is a low-noise (7dBa), large-diaphragm, multipatterncondenser with an onboard switch for cardioid or omni and aremote-pattern switching option to be offered in the future.
No preamp required! ADK Microphones (www.adkmic.com)unveiled its Stealth Pro Audio line, featuring a studio mic withonboard Class-A, line-level output electronics. The first models aredue later this year, with a 192kHz digital out version in early2004.
Musikmesse/Pro Light+Sound 2003
Frankfurt, Germany—March 5-9, 2003
Reported in the April 2003 Mix
Neumann (www.neumannusa.com) kicked off its 75th anniversarycelebration with the 2003 Sound Engineering Contest—aninteractive CD-ROM with 75 questions in categories ranging from mictechnique to identifying guitars/amps/drum machines, or spottingclassic songs by examining their waveforms. Fun? Sure, but the bestpart would be taking the first prize: a one-of-a-kind chrome pair ofM149s or Solution-D digital mics and a trip to the Berlin Neumannfactory for the company’s huge anniversary bash this fall.
Schoeps (www.schoeps.de) expanded its acclaimed Colettemodular system with the CMC6 xt, a microphone amplifier for any MKSeries axial capsule, providing bandwidth beyond 40 kHz.
Oktava (www.oktava.net) unveiled the MKL5000, its firstmultipattern tube mic, with a large-diaphragm capsule mounted above themini-bottle-style housing.
Intended for 5.1 surround recording, Microtech Gefell's (www.gefell-mics.com) new INA 5 support is amultimic mount for five cardioid mics. MG recommends its low-noiseM930s, but it works fine with any quality studio cardioids. Mics can beplaced anywhere along the INA 5's arms for adjusting the field.
New versions of AKG's (www.akgusa.com) popular handheld mics (the D3700,D880 and TEC Award-winning C900) will be available later this year inversions with "M" suffixes, equipped with a removable, wired XLR modulethat's interchangeable with wireless TM40 transmitters, instantlyconverting the mics to wireless operation. By allowing wired mics tobecome wireless, the system permits rental houses, tours or musiciansto maintain smaller inventories: If a big wireless job comes in,existing mics are easily converted; likewise, musicians don't have tobuy two mics when they go wireless. Brilliant!
Anaheim, Calif.—January 16-19, 2003
Reported in the March 2003 Mix
NAMM's coolest mic-design award has to go to BLUEMicrophones' (www.bluemic.com) Ball. This phantom-powered dynamicmic (yes, you read that correctly) is unique-looking even among BLUEmics, especially with its spherical design resembling a blue baseball.The Ball is a cardioid pattern, and stated specs are impressive,listing a 35 to 16k Hz response and 146dB max SPL.
The AT3060 tube microphone from Audio-Technica (www.audiotechnica.com) operates on standard 48Vphantom power—and doesn't need a separate power supply—forfast, easy setups. The mic features a new, large-diameter diaphragm,cardioid-condenser element, a hand-selected tube and a large couplingtransformer. It's available in spring 2003; MSRP: $599.
MXL Microphones (www.mxlmics.com) V69 Mogami Edition is a large,25mm diaphragm, cardioid-condenser mic with 12AT7 tube electronics andall-Mogami internal wiring. The $399 (!) package ships with flightcase, shockmount, power supply, windscreen and Mogami multipinmic-to-PS and XLR audio-output cabling.
The Evolution 609 and legendary MD409 dynamic mics have long been afavorite on electric guitar, amps and vocals. Now, Sennheiser(www.sennheiserusa.com) offers the E609 Silver, aside-address supercardioid mic with a punchy tonal character that'stailored like the original MD409. Retail: $199.95.
Audix (www.audixusa.com) premiered The Micros, the world'ssmallest condenser mics with integrated preamp and detachable cable.The 0.6-ounce M1245 is less than two inches long with an 80 to 20k Hzresponse; the 1-ounce, 3.5-inch M1290 has a 40 to 20k Hz bandwidth. Themics require standard 48VDC phantom and handle 150-foot cable runswithout signal loss. A variety of polar patterns are available, fromcardioid, hypercardioid and omni, to shotguns. Retail ranges from $379to $429.
ADK's (www.adkmic.com) A-48 Vintage Valve is a 9polar-pattern remotely variable tube mic with a transverse-mounted12AX7 tube and a new 1.07-inch diameter, 5-micron diaphragm. The $1,295price includes power supply, multipin cable, shockmount and a flightcase.
Electro-Voice's (www.electrovoice.com) N/D967 supercardioid vocalmic has an ultratight pickup and exclusive, low-profile grille to putthe performer's voice as close as possible to the mic element for up to6 dB more vocal, lower feedback and greater rejection of unwantedsounds. Due to popular demand, E-V reintroduces the N/D367s, a cardioidhandheld with a response tailored especially for the female voice. Bothmics feature high-output N/DYM dynamic elements.
Samson's (www.samsontech.com) new low-cost ($59 and up) drummics include models voiced for snare, toms, kick and overheads. Weliked the secure, shock-absorbing drum-mounting clips provided freewith the snare and tom models. Break the (weight and hassle) bonds ofmic stands!
Speaking of stands, SE Electronics (www.semics.com)debuted the Ghost line of affordable ($299 to $399), supertall,long-reach studio booms. Features include nonslip, ratcheted heightadjustment; a removable dolly with locking wheels and a center hook tohang sandbags/waterweights for extra stability.
Studio Projects (www.studioprojectsusa.com) is now shipping itsLSD2, a stereo condenser with 270° rotatable, large-diaphragm(1.06-inch) capsules and low-noise FET electronics. Retail: $999.