Sponsored by Audix

Setting up a quality recording rig is rarely a simple task no matter how you approach it - deciding on the gear is enough of a challenge but when it comes to financing it all it can get extra tricky: there is a lot of stuff to buy, from microphones to monitors and computers and everything else in between, not to mention the costs of acoustic treatment if you’re planning a studio proper. These days, even software can drain the wallet pretty fast. Setting everything up to professional standards while avoiding corner-cutting can be a challenge, but fortunately there are a few gear manufacturers that manage to pull off a very impressive price-to-performance ratio - and among them, Audix is one of the first that pops to mind when it comes to microphones.

Audix is a veteran of the professional audio industry with a history that stretches back almost 40 years and a track record of solid and dependable products. All their products are designed, assembled, and tested by Audix in their Oregon (USA) facility, and they offer genuinely high-grade gear - at an affordable price.

In this article we’ll take a look at Audix’ stable of workhorse microphones and how they can contribute to your recordings without breaking the bank, and we’ll also talk about some of the accessories they also make - such as cables and headphones.

Condenser Microphones

A131 Large-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Every studio probably needs at least one condenser microphone - they are one of the fundamental building blocks of modern recording, capturing the finest details and nuance of virtually any source you can think of. Prices for these mics can range from a hundred to many thousands of dollars of course, but many engineers will be looking at this investment from a “bang for buck” perspective, and with that in mind Audix developed the A131. This is a large-diaphragm condenser featuring a classic cardioid polar pattern, superb off-axis rejection, a natural frequency response with a neutral, uncoloured sound, low-noise and an internal shock mount that makes mounting the A131 a breeze - a simple clip is included and that’s all you need.

The A131 is an excellent choice for recording any voice-based work, but it’s also a solid pick for acoustic guitars and drum overheads, and it’s also not uncommon to also try an LDC such as the A131 in front of a kick drum or guitar cabinet. Although the A131 is an excellent all-around choice that will work brilliantly on many sources, in most studios it will probably get more use on vocal recordings than on anything else. With that in mind, Audix placed an internal pop-filter featuring a double woven steel mesh grille and a bit of ultra-thin acoustic foam to prevent the most common “pop” plosives caused by “P” and “B” sounds in some words - not to mention that it’s doing double-duty in that it also protects the precious gold-sputtered capsule within from moisture particles.

That said, if you’re dealing with a really loud singer or someone with a voice that’s exceptionally prone to loud ‘pops’, we strongly suggest investing in the PD133 Pop Filter, which further minimises vocal artefacts and greatly helps in delivering pro-quality takes.

ADX51 Electret Condenser Microphone

A proper recording setup ideally also has a reliable small condenser mic: Audix fills this need nicely with the ADX51. With a frequency response that’s consistent throughout its cardioid pattern, the ADX51 is a fine choice for drum overheads, acoustic guitar, piano or any application requiring a high level of detail and articulation. It also provides a cost-effective path to setting up a stereo pair that delivers accurate recordings - for a sensible outlay.

The ADX51 features a -10 dB gain pad and a low frequency roll-off filter at 150 Hz, which (if needed) should facilitate its use on preamps without such pads. Despite its compact size it is still deceptively rugged, with a machined brass body coated in a stylish black finish, featuring a gold XLR connector and steel mesh grille. It also includes a clip, foam cover and carrying pouch.

Dynamic Microphones

I5 Dynamic Microphone

Audix scored a home run with the i5: it is arguably their most successful microphone to date in terms of popularity. Often referred to within the GS community as the best alternative to an almost ubiquitous instrument microphone, the i5 is a true workhorse excelling on snare drums, guitar cabinets or any loud-sound source that needs a strong presence in a mix. The i5 boasts a cardioid pattern for off-axis rejection, a frequency response ranging from 50 Hz to 16 kHz, and Audix’s trademark VLM diaphragm that faithfully captures transients and can handle loud sources with ease. The i5 also features a heavy duty steel grille that can even take a stick hit without breaking, so it’s safe to put basically anywhere!

D6, D4 and D2 Instrument Microphones

A highly specialised dynamic microphone, the D6 was designed mostly with kick drums in mind. Thanks to the same VLM diaphragm used on the i5, it is a natural sounding mic that can easily handle bass-heavy sources from 30 Hz to 15 kHz. Although the D6 is meant for big booming sounds, it is a rather compact & lightweight (thanks to its aluminum frame) and easy-to-place microphone with a focused cardioid pattern that helps isolate the source from unwanted external sounds. Audix also offers the D4 and D2 dynamic microphones, which alongside the D6 are meant for instruments. They’re tweaked accordingly for different instrument sizes, and with this setup in hand we can easily record the most popular instruments with ease - even the loudest ones thanks to their excellent high SPL handling. Although they all share the Audix VLM diaphragm, the D6 has a cardioid polar pattern whilst the D4 and D2 share a hypercardioid design, with augmented directivity and further isolation for sources outside their pickup range. The D4 is an excellent choice for mid-to-large sized percussive instruments, floor toms, bass cabinets, and larger wind & brass instruments such as saxophones and trombones. The D2 shines on smaller rack toms and percussive instruments such as congas or timbales, and it can also be used on guitar cabinets or for capturing smaller brass instruments.

All-in-one packages

Audix Studio Elite Sets are an excellent alternative for those looking to grab not only a 'proper' pack of microphones for tracking drums but also a neat all-in-one solution for recording studios. One such bundle is the Studio Elite 8, their most advanced microphone pack that includes a i5, one D6, two D2s dynamic microphones for smaller toms or percussion, one D4 dynamic microphone for medium-sized toms/percussion, and a pair of SCX25A large-diaphragm condensers. It also comes with all the clips and clamps necessary for mounting them and a rugged hard road case to keep all your mics safe and tidily organised. Audix also offers other microphone sets with smaller configurations, so make sure to check them out - there is bound to be one that meets your needs and your budget.

Microphones and applications

Recording is both art and science, so there are no hard rules on when or where to use a microphone. However, there are a few broad guidelines that may help with microphone choice. For instance, when placing a microphone on a loud sound source (e.g. a snare drum or guitar amp) it is likely that a dynamic model such as the i5 will fare better than other types of microphones (unless it has a -10 or -15 db pad to reduce signal). Another rule of thumb to keep in mind for recording multiple instruments at a distance: condensers are usually the best choice for that. The same thing applies to situations where a coherent stereo image is required, such as pianos or drum overheads: a pair of small condensers will almost certainly perform better than a pair of dynamic mics. The chart below has a few suggestions, but keep in mind that experimentation is not only encouraged in our craft, it is often required (!) - so try out different microphones on different sources whenever possible and tell us about/post your results on the GS forums!

What to get?

For project studios, a combination of the A131 with the i5 might suffice for most recording needs: they would enable you to track vocals and most instruments, save for those requiring multiple microphones, such as drum kits. If you do need to record drums, there are two solutions for that: a combination of A131 or ADX51 pairs, i5 and D6, or alternatively, one of the Studio Elite sets. It all depends on the size of the drum kit, creative vision and of course your budget. Remember, Glyn Johns only needed three mics to record some of the most iconic drum sounds of all time, so it all comes down to your creativity and ingenuity.

Patching it all up

When it’s time to connect all these lovely microphones to your preamps or interface, Audix recommends you do it in style with their CBL20 premium XLR cables: these feature quality long-lasting plugs, attached to wiring made from quad-conductors for lossless signal performance, braid-shielded to reduce interference, and jacketed with 6mm flexible PVC plastic to ensure that they will be in service for years. As hinted at by the name, the CBL20 cables are 20 feet long, which is plenty for most studio applications.

Personal Monitoring

Last but not least, we’re going to talk about monitoring, as being able to hear what’s happening in real-time is obviously a crucial element of the recording process. The A150 studio headphones have all the characteristics of a proper monitoring headphone: a closed-back design for isolation, big 50mm drivers to deliver a clear sound at all levels, and built from quality materials for excellent reliability. The A150 also features soft cushion cups with 90-degree swivel for single-ear monitoring, a detachable cable and a semi-hard carrying case to protect them from the perils of the road. A great choice for musicians, engineers and DJs.

We hope that this provides you with some food for thought regarding your studio shopping list - as you can see, Audix makes cool stuff that just about any engineer can use and it’s worth checking out, whether you just want to add one or two new flavours to your mic locker or set yourself up with a whole comprehensive new system that will handle any studio scenario.

For more information on any of the products within, please visit Audix at https://audixusa.com/.