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Innovations: Mojave Audio MA-D—A Smooth Alternative

Dusty Wakeman, CEO of Mojave Audio, shares how—and why—the company's new MA-D dynamic microphone came to be.

Mojave Audio MA-D dynamic microphone.
Mojave Audio MA-D dynamic microphone.

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of Mix. Innovations is a monthly column in which different pro audio manufacturers are invited to discuss the thought process behind creating their products of note. Dusty Wakeman is the CEO of Mojave Audio.

Originally started in a garage by my longtime colleague and prodigious microphone designer David Royer, Mojave Audio has always held outstanding design and innovation as foundational elements of our brand. Since Mojave was founded in 2005, all of our microphones have been designed and built according to David’s exacting specifications, which emanate directly from his lifelong passion for music and audio.

While we are best known for our condenser designs—such as the MA-37 and MA-1000 large diaphragm tube condensers typically used in controlled recording studio environments—we have always wanted to design and develop ‘our take’ on a dynamic microphone. To embark on this journey, we had to ask ourselves what we would do differently—and what we could possibly offer a segment that is already extremely crowded with many other dynamic microphone offerings.

Dusty Wakeman, CEO, Mojave Audio
Dusty Wakeman, CEO, Mojave Audio.

From our perspective, there is still a lot of room for innovation to occur in the dynamic microphone space. In fact, some of the more iconic dynamic microphones were designed back in the 1960s—an era when inferior PA systems were commonplace, and microphones were often used as a tool for rescuing poor audio rather than attaining premium sound. Back in the day, having a presence peak was a good thing because it could help a vocal cut through the mix.

Most modern dynamic microphones still feature a ‘presence bump’ around the 5 kHz to 8 kHz frequency range, often coupled with an exaggerated dip just above the 10 kHz range. This led to our question, “What if we could develop a microphone that had a smoother presence, with a little more ‘air’ on the top end?”

Creating this “smooth alternative” for live sound professionals firmly established our design trajectory and became our primary goal in developing the MA-D. By eliminating the presence peak and by introducing a shallow peak around the 10 kHz area, we knew we could attain a smoother response with more “air” at the top end—ultimately producing something of a HiFi sound that is uncommon among dynamic microphones.

One of the obstacles we had to overcome was finding a suitable cartridge that met David’s rigorous design specifications, since most of the cartridges we tested imparted the very presence peak we were trying to avoid. This became a multi-year process that involved a lot of testing, listening and refining. Ultimately, moving to a lighter voice coil material and a thinner diaphragm became a big part of the solution.

The diaphragm we chose for the MA-D is made of thinner material, and the voice coil itself is lighter and wound with thinner wire. These material choices, combined with a careful and more thoughtful design, result in a smoother sound and better transient response than other dynamic microphone designs. Ultimately, we were able to achieve a relatively smooth frequency response from approximately 100 Hz all the way up to 8 kHz, with a broad and relatively shallow peak at around 10 kHz.

At the end of the day, we are pleased to have been able to design and produce a dynamic microphone that could proudly bear the Mojave name. Our new MA-D cardioid dynamic microphone delivers a full frequency response, yet without the midrange harshness that so often accompanies most other dynamic

microphones. While it was initially designed for vocalists and this is indeed its primary application, our new MA-D microphone is able to capture increased richness and musicality on any number of instruments, including drums, guitar, brass and many others.

For Mojave Audio, MA-D is an important product milestone since it breaks the mold and introduces a “smooth alternative” for a myriad of live sound professionals. We are hopeful that both new and existing customers of Mojave recognize the MA-D as an innovative solution that is versatile, dependable and nimble in a wide range of live sound applications.