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Manley reference cardioid

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone

4.45 4.45 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

A modern sounding that microphone that excels

5th December 2011

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone by madehumble

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Manley reference cardioid

This is my personal review of the Manley Ref C tube microphone. The microphone comes package with a power supply, microphone cable(multi pin for use with microphone), and a aluminum flight case. The microphone itself is well constructed, it comes in a black and metallic red paint coating with Manley engraved on the front and Manley's info printed on the back. It also has a -10db pad switch on it and custom shockmount made onto the microphone. The microphone is very easy to setup. And also easy to position. But the looming question is how does it sound? Well, as you know this is a tube mic, and most people associate a tube mic with being very vintage sounding or warm. Well, this mic is the totally opposite. This mic has a very modern sound, it has a very well defined midrange, nice bottom end, which round may be a better term for it. It also can be very bright, but use with the right preamp such as a Neve 1073, the brightness is tamed and this mic becomes truly magic on vocals. It also has a nice hi-end lift, which gives the mic a nice in your face sound, without being harsh or sibilant. It's primary use is on vocals and that's what I use it for paired with a 1073 preamp. But beware, this mic has the hottest output of any mic I have ever used, and this is not a joke!!!!! The only con, I can find with this mic is that it is not a multi pattern mic, it is a cardioid only microphone and for 2700.00 this may be a problem for some. But if you looking for a microphone that will deliver that modern, clear, radio friendly, pop type of sound, this microphone will do it. Another plus is it doesn't need that much eq in a mix. So in summary, this mic has a great sound, is well constructed, with the only con being features for the price of admission. But if you can get pass that and are looking for a mic that has that big radio sound or want to add a modern sounding mic to your collection. This is the mic that should find it's way to your microphone cabinet.

6th December 2011

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone by guitarz

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Manley reference cardioid

The Reference Cardiod cames packaged in a small flight case with the Power Supply and shock mount. The micro is very well built and finished.
I've been running it for over one year and never had any problems, so for me it has been very reliable.

This is a Tube Microphone but it has a modern type of sound. Its more on the bright side but not harsh in any way. I really like the in your face sound it has. Sounds similar to me to the SONY C800G.

I've been pairing it with several preamps the ones that work best with this mic are:
API 512
Great River NV-500
They all sound a different taste of great the API having more of the forward mids they are known for, the AVEDIS the vintage high end (neveish) sound and the great river a mix of detailed and vintage sounding neve.

Main use is on vocals, tried it in steel string acoustic guitar but it didnt work for me.

There are several tube mods you can try to change the character of the mic slightly and give you a broader pallete if you're up to it, in the newer versions its just a simple tube swap.

I think that for the price is a really good buy and a very good complement to your microphone cabinet.

19th March 2014

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone by jray4

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Manley reference cardioid

I say a little bit, because really, at $2700 you get a lot of mic. Sure Cardiod only, but it is a very real mic. I tend to use it on instruments more, because it's a little too honest for most singers I work with.

It is not a holy grail mic, and if this was the only mic in your locker, you would be hurting. I'm actually surprised how much I still use my old 414's and Rode NT1A's. To be honest the top end is a bit bright on the Manley. Some say it's a replica of a U47 in cardiod only mode...This is absolutely NOT TRUE...This is a modern microphone...Mine came stock with a Sovtek 12AX7A tube...Eh...I'm a guitar geek, and I would have picked a JAN or something. Whatever, it sounds great. I emailed Eve Anna, she said that Sovtek has the most reliable tubes they've tried. It would be ignorant to second guess her genius. May I add, she answers pretty quickly, from her IPhone. That's RAD!

In summary, if you are in search of...
* Wide frequency range with bright, but not sibilant top end.
* Great looks, for artist inspiration.
* A mic strong enough to limit the amount of preamp character.
* Vintage Neumann quality circuit inspiration, in a modern build.

This is your mic. Accept no substitute. Again, good mic to add to an existing collection.

28th October 2015

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone by Glenn Bucci

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Manley reference cardioid

Manley Reference Cardioid is a tube condenser microphone built by Manley Labs since 1990. The capsule is a 34mm K67 design which has a dual backplate.Only the front membrane is metallized as the rear half has a clear membrane. It has a 6 micron gold sputtered diaphragm. The capsule is manufactured by Feilo in China, and then is subjected to fitting and testing in the US. Manley takes great lengths in comparing every new mic to ensure consistency and its performance. If it does not pass their rigorous tests, the capsule gets discarded. Unlike some other microphones with Chinese capsules, there is no shrill sound in the top end with this Reference Cardioid mic.

The microphone comes in a plastic case with foam lining that includes a power supply, a multi pin microphone cable, shock mount and leather capsule dust cover. The microphone is black and has the name Manley engraved into it. It also has a -10db pad on the bottom of the housing. The nickel laminated output transformer was designed and is built at Manley Labs.

The microphone uses the same tube stage as the Manley Reference Gold mic, though the capsules and polarizing voltages are different. The microphone uses a low noise 12AT7 tube that provides a clean smooth sound. The outside of the mic has a good looking black anodized aluminum casing and open weave stainless steel grill for the capsule. To prevent unwanted vibrations from being picked up from the capsule, they mounted it onto a neoprene rubber shock mount. Frequency response is from 10Hz to 30 kHz. Actual output impedance is 200 Ohms.

It is usually a good idea to put a pop filter in front any microphone and the Manley Reference is no exception. Its character is bright, detailed, smooth, and never harsh. The Manley Reference Cardioid microphone is one of Manley Labs best-selling products and perhaps its ability provide a finished pop vocal sound is one of the reasons. This mic has modern sound with detailed midrange, full low end and a smooth bright top end. Paired with a cleaner type pre, the mic provides a clean, detailed top end and a touch of smoothness. However there is a gentle character as well. If you use a more colored pre, you can obtain a rounder tone with a little less sparkle on top. I found it worked equally well on male and female singers. I did not find more sibilant concerns with it compared to other bright mics like the Blue Kiwi or Neumann U87ai. On acoustic guitar, it provided a detailed clean smooth sound that sounded good on steel and classical guitar.

Tube microphones in a similar price category include the Brauner Valvet and Valvet X. The Brauner’s microphones provide a more honest sound from the source and do not enhance the sound like the Manley does. The Manley also does not pick up room sounds as much.

The shock mount is attached to microphone when you remove it from the foam case. There is a unusual but effective connector design where you screw one of the dual threaded connectors to the inside of the shock mount with a rubber ring. The other threaded connector is then attached to a mic stand. There is a swivel knob that allows you to adjust the position of the mic. This design works very well, but it's a little cumbersome to take it on and off every time you want to use the mic. If you leave the connector on, you can't lay it back in the case and close the top too easily. Thankfully Manley also includes a dust cover for the microphone as well. I found the microphone has a low noise floor and is quieter than the Rode K2. If you’re in the market for a higher end tube mic with a modern sound, I recommend taking one for a test drive. I warn you though once you hear it in your studio, you may find it difficult to let it go.

Pros: Well built, smooth top end with a nice sparkle, modern tube microphone that gets that polished sound.
Cons: A little cumbersome to take on/ off the swivel connector to the shock mount every time you want to use it.

  • 2
31st October 2017

Manley Labs Reference Cardioid Microphone by limbs

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Manley reference cardioid

I absolutely adore this microphone. I use it strictly for vocals, and it has been worth every penny. It's put every other condenser I've heard to shame. I haven't listened to the real 47/67/251/C-12, but I've heard every iteration of the U87 and modern Neumanns, and most of the clones as well. There is no comparison. The vocals just sit on top of the mix, every syllable is perfectly articulate, it is just point and shoot. It's made my life easier. Imagine if someone gave you a wonderful gift, and that gift was the ability to record smooth, articulate, spacious vocal tracks. I've been chasing that ability for a long time, experimenting with mics, placement, outboard, etc. and this one was automatic. I have it permanently chained into a BAE 1073, and I don't think i'll ever sell them. Just a wonderful instrument, heads and shoulders above every single microphone I've ever heard on vocals. I have heard shootouts where a Telefunken U47 sounds smoother and more pleasing, but in a busy mix, I would have to cut some bass and boost some top - in this sense, the Reference Cardioid is essentially a U47 post-eq. There's a natural compression that makes vocal recording, due to the consistent articulation throughout phrases. I advise using an analog compressor for vocals, because I haven't heard a plugin with the immediacy and ease-of-use of something like an LA-2A. The chain of the Manley > BAE 1073 > LA-2A is my favorite vocal sound I've heard thus far, and I am so happy to own these tools. It is one of the few pieces of gear that's made my art and my career easier. All of my clients want to sing into this one, all the time, because it's how they sound in their head. I don't mind that the capsule is made in China - all that matters is that it sounds like a million dollars.

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