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Product Reviews

Review: Manley Reference Cardioid Tube Microphone

Rich Tozzoli takes a look at the Manley Reference Cardioid Tube Mic, a high-end piece of gear with a well-established pedigree.

Since much of the production and TV composing work I’ve been doing lately has been back and forth between Clubhouse Studios in Rhinebeck, NY, and my own production room, I thought I would discuss a handful of hardware and software products that have found their way into heavy rotation—one of which is a mic from Manley.

Released in the early 1990s, the Manley Reference Cardioid Large Diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone is a high-end piece of gear with a well-established pedigree. Interestingly enough, none of us in the Clubhouse collection of engineers and musicians had ever used one, so we were excited to put it to the test on a session. Since we were doing instrumental TV music, we tried it as a standalone mic in front of the drum kit in the live room, about 5 feet out from the kit and about 4 feet high.

Handcrafted in Manley’s Chino, CA, facility, it features a cardioid polar pattern, a -10 dB pad switch, all-tube design with triode 12AX7s, a custom-wound output transformer, external power supply with a 20-foot power cable and locking 6-pin connectors, 10 – 30 Hz frequency response, a 6 micron gold-sputtered diaphragm and a max SPL of 150 dB. The black and red brass machine-tooled body feels solid, and there’s a cool T-bar handle and locking clutch to adjust the mic.

Brin Lightens Up with Manley Mic, March 7, 2018

The first thing that struck all of us when listening back in the control room was how massive the kick is. It was so punchy and booming that we had to make sure no other mics were on. Once soloed, we confirmed that this mic is a monster. It has a smooth top and good solid mids, and the bottom is unique to any room mic I’ve heard at the Clubhouse before. Testing it out with some 1176-style compression, it retained its overall punchy character and got even more nasty, in a good way. In the mix, it added a solid sense of punch, and I can see why people have used this mic for years now—it just delivers. I look forward to trying it out on more instruments and voices. Stay tuned for updates!


Manley •

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