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Review: CAD Live Microphone Series

CAD designs and builds truly affordable workhorse microphones that shine especially in live applications.

CAD designs and builds truly affordable workhorse microphones that shine especially in live applications. To date, the CAD e60 cardioid condenser is still one of my favorite affordable all-purpose live microphones that works well on virtually anything, especially loud sound sources.

I’ve wanted to use a “warm and forgiving” ribbon microphone live (especially on guitar cab and some wind instruments), but have never been comfortable bringing out pricier ribbons for some dirty club gig or confident in buying a generic “cheap” one either.

Thus enters the new CAD Live Microphone Series with its flagship ribbon, the D82, priced at an amazing $159 street. It’s a robustly built side-address microphone capable of handling up to 140 dB (@100 Hz). It feels solid in the hand, just like CAD’s other offerings on the higher end of its price list, and should inspire confidence in on-stage musicians, too. The other two CAD Live mics currently in the series—the large diaphragm condenser cardioid D84 and large diaphragm dynamic super cardioid D80 ($159 and $99 street, respectively)— are also fine performers, effectively bringing affordable and abuse-ready large diaphragm condenser performance to the club stage.

In use, the D82 provided a distinct voice for guitar tracks, a “silky” variation on my typical “57 to preamp” approach. As such, it ever so slightly highlighted its sound source. Over the next few months, I quickly found myself using at least one D82 per event and often two, especially in two guitar bands as well as horn-augmented shows. The D82 is super on saxophone; I may have sold a player on buying his first ribbon ever.

The D84 and D80 are also solid microphones and worthwhile of investment if you need a live-friendly LDC. For the money, you can’t beat the $99 D80 super-cardioid; it replaced my kick drum mic for a show, no complaints. Yet for most live apps, I still prefer smaller, less obtrusive models for ease in positioning.

If you’re still ribbon-less, I’d suggest picking up a D82 to get started. If you need more ribbons, these D82s can effectively augment your collection—and no one even has to know that your half-dozen ribbons cost less than $1,000.