Mojave Audio MA-300 Tube Condenser Mic
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Mojave Audio, David Royer's condenser microphone company, has the MA-300 tube condenser multi-pattern microphone. It uses a military-grade, subminiature JAN 5840 pentode tube wired as a triode. Royer says: "The 5840 tube has very low noise, is non-micro phonic and electrically similar to the famed AC701K tube used in many microphones such as the Neumann M-49." This tube is shock-mounted and then soldered right to the mic's internal circuit board. It's NOS (that's new old stock) and should last 20 years. Royer has a vast supply of them and uses them in many of their other mics including the R-122V tube ribbon.
I received a MA-300 for review and found it to use Royer's standard KK67-type capsule. This is a dual, hand-selected capsule that's one-inch in diameter and fitted with two three-micron, gold-sputtered diaphragms. While I inspected the mic's interior, I noticed the large Jensen audio output transformer, a Raytheon JAN 5840, and the overall rugged construction.
I also love the mic's power supply--why are most tube mic power supplies NOT this compact? About the size of a studio direct box, it has a lighted on/off switch, gold-pinned XLR output jack, and a multi-pin XLR socket for the included 20-foot cable. I liked the continuously variable polar pattern control for changing from omni through cardioid to figure of eight. Since the power supply is small, it easily fits on my desktop making it handy to experiment with different polar patterns while I'm getting a sound on a musician or singer who is out in the studio.
My first tests were with quieter male vocals using the cardioid pattern, no roll-off, no attenuator pad and about 35-40dB of gain from my RTZ mic pre-amp. The roll-off is a gentle, 6dB/octave starting at 100Hz while the pad reduces level by 15dB. Maximum SPL for the MA-300 is 120dB with the pad off and 135dB with the pad on. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz, ± 3 dB with the roll-off set flat.
I found a very solid and focus sound with the MA-300 with not a lot of low frequency build-up when my singer got close to it for whispery bits. The tonality is rich sounding without being overly boomy or muffled sounding. Acoustic guitars sound great without doing much of anything--assuming a good sounding instrument. I used the omni pattern at about six-inches out from the 12-fret. Omni captures the whole instrument's sound in a more neutral and consistent way I prefer.
Definitely a new studio workhorse that will sound great on any source, the Mojave MA-300 tube condenser comes in a smaller sized, foam-lined case with power supply, shock mount and all cables included. It carries a 2-year warranty and sells for $1,295 MSRP. Check www.mojaveaudio.com.
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