Several years ago I was looking around for a tube mic for my studio. There were very few "non-vintage" offerings out there, and I ended up buying a used Manley Cardiod Reference mic, which I never regretted. Nowadays there's quite a few tube mics on the market and they're affordable - like the CAD VSM 1 which sells for about $800. It has a cardiod-only pattern, 16 and 8 dB pads, low-cut, a power source (of course) and a really nice case and shock mount. Is it good? Yeah. I put it up against the Manley for vocals and it was a bit more mid-rangey, which was good for the rock track we were working on. It wasn't quite as crisp on the high end, but wasn't lacking any treble. We ended up using it for the song and it worked out great. I tried it on guitar amps with excellent results - good detail and plenty of crunch. This is a great mic for the price, and if I had access to this a few years ago I might have skimped on the extra $1200 I spent for the Manley, but now I want both!

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

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