When I gave a Project Studio Expo presentation in October 2014 at the Audio Engineering Society convention in L.A., my topic was "Where to focus on your studio gear when purchasing with a limited budget." What I basically did was tell people to buy mics. Think about it — of all the audio and musical gear you have purchased and sold over the years, mics are usually the items you most likely keep. Why? Because even the cheapest mic can have a use in a session. It's not unusual to see a $4000 mic next to a $100 mic, right? Even the "worst" mic might have a fun use as well. So buy more mics. You cannot go wrong!

So when I read a fairly upbeat review of a $150 ribbon mic in Mix magazine, I dropped a line to CAD and asked for a mic to check out. Luckily they sent out the whole set of the CADLive "Live Performance/Guitar Cabinet Microphones." These mics all look kinda like some cross between a Sennheiser MD 409 (or e 609) and an AKG D 12, with a long, thin body and square heads covered in mesh. If, like me, you cannot remember product numbers to save your life, with a bit of knowledge, you can look into the mesh and determine what type of mic you are dealing with. The D82 features a ribbon foil that is 8 micron thick, making it quite durable. Initially I tried it on loud electric guitar and was disappointed — it just didn't sound right. I know, I'm spoiled by higher-priced Royer and AEA ribbon mics. With a little moving around of the mic, and pulling it back off the amp some, the tones did line up better. It really shined in classic percussion and tambourine overdubs, and my clients dug the feel of the mic. The D80 super-cardioid dynamic mic was a guitar amp winner right out of the box. On the same loud guitar overdubs, it became the sole mic, and nearly an entire album's lead guitar got tracked through it. That's enough to keep it in my book. The D84 LDC mic didn't get the same workout as the other two, but when it sufficed for a quick backing vocal overdub at the last minute and the track fit into the mix perfectly, I was pleasantly surprised.

I know this isn't one of those "we tried every mic on every source" reviews. But what I am telling you is that for $355, you can add a set of three complementary and useful mics to your collection. I'm buying these from CAD right now, and you should seriously consider doing the same. You can never have too many mics. 

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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