I recently got to try out M-Audio's new large- diaphragm condenser mics. The two are well constructed and moderately priced (though not as dirt cheap as the many bargain-basement Chinese condensers out there). The Luna mic is the simplest of the two. It has a fixed cardioid pattern and lacks the roll-off and pad switches available on the variable-pattern Solaris. Both of these mics have a definitive, rather elegant, lollipop look to them, which makes them easy to spot compared to their look-a-like competition. I used them as drum overheads at home, and though they may not have the warmth and character of your high-priced tube condensers, they certainly will stack up to and surpass many other $300- $500 condensers out there. I also used the Luna to do a last-minute vocal track for an album on which the rest of the vocals were recorded with a Soundelux U99 and a Neumann U 67. The Luna compared favorably, though it had a slight lack of midrange richness evident in the U's. (But imagine the price difference!) The M-Audio mics have a pretty natural high-end compared to the hyped highs of some of their peers. M-Audio has a knack for making good-sounding gear and keeping it in the price range of the project-studio owner. If you are looking for a solid, large-diaphragm condenser, give these mics a serious listen. (Luna $250 MSRP, Solaris $350; www.m-audio.com) 

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

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