We try out two diminutive studio mics from respected US brand Audix.
Audix are famed for making rugged, high‑quality microphones that can withstand the rigours of touring. Founded in California in 1984, the company are now based in Oregon, and over the last four decades have made some incredibly good microphones. Keeping their design and manufacturing in‑house has enabled them to keep production costs low, so their products tend to be pretty affordable. I have become a particular fan of using the D6 as an inner kick‑drum mic; it’s perfect for getting that scooped, heavy sub/papery beater sound required on a lot of the heavier music that I record.
Their latest offerings are the A131 and A133 large‑diaphragm capacitor microphones. These are essentially the same, except the A133 model has switches for a 10dB pad and a high‑pass filter (rolling off from 150Hz, at 6dB per octave). Both mics have a fixed cardioid polar pattern and use a 3.4‑micron gold‑sputtered diaphragm capable of withstanding an impressive 140dB SPL (or 150dB with the pad engaged). They offer a specified frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz; no tolerances are given, but Audix’s graph shows the response to be particularly smooth from around 250Hz up to 16kHz. The extreme highs and lows roll off gently, below around 50Hz and above 20kHz, which should make them ideal for many live and studio applications.
These mics are seriously compact, measuring only 13.6 x 5.5 cm, and the machined aluminium body feels very robust and well made. The provided clips are also very discreet, yet hold the microphone firmly. It’s easy to manoeuvre the microphones into tight spots or extend them over a drum kit with a long boom, without the stand drooping. Each microphone comes in a sturdy and durable‑looking zippered case.
For this review I was sent one of each microphone, and I put them through their paces on various sources during a typical recording session.
On first listen I was instantly impressed. These microphones produced a detailed yet very smooth sound, effortlessly. As spaced drum overheads they were accurate and not exaggerated, the gentle low‑end roll‑off working well alongside the close kick and snare mics. The low mids were not overly pronounced and the cymbals were clear without sounding harsh.
Once our rhythm track was down I moved the mics over to the acoustic guitar, placing them again as a spaced pair, about a foot from the guitar, with one mic pointing at the body and the other around the 12th fret. I find that it can often take some adjustment to get the mic positioning right on acoustic guitar — many microphones can sound overblown and even distort in the lows if placed too close — but the A131/133 combination sounded very natural straight away. The frequencies were very nicely balanced, giving a warm low end, midrange clarity and transient detail without being too spiky.
Moving on to vocals, the Audixes continued to shine. Their natural sound worked well on backing vocals against the more present, forward‑sounding U87 that we used on the lead vocal, while the gentle roll‑off of the A133’s 150Hz high‑pass filter worked particularly well for a male baritone backing vocal, sitting the vocal in the track perfectly without much trouble.
Finally, due to needing to work from home during lockdown, I have become more involved in remote voice‑over work and podcasting over the last year, and so was able to try the A133 in this application too. I found there was very minimal handling noise whilst adjusting the mic, and it was not overly sensitive to plosives or sibilance. The roll‑off once again suited a male voice, achieving a very natural and usable sound.
On first listen I was instantly impressed. These microphones produced a detailed yet very smooth sound, effortlessly.
I really like the detailed yet smooth and natural sound of these microphones.
Audix may not have the profile or glamour of some of the ‘old guard’ manufacturers, but their products have a strong brand identity, with an almost unassuming air about them, and there’s no doubt that Audix can craft fantastic‑sounding microphones. These are around the same price as some higher‑profile mics, but if you’re looking for a great‑sounding, no fuss, durable workhorse condenser that is reasonably priced, it would be well worth checking these out.
You can hear the Audix A131 and A133 in action on the sessions described in this article, using the SoundCloud MP3 player below. Alternatively, download the accompanying ZIP file of hi-res WAVs and audition them in your own DAW.
These Audix mics are up against some very able competition, from both new and old names alike. Around the same price you could also consider the Neumann TLM 102, Shure KSM 42SG, Lewitt LCT 540 SZ, and Austrian Audio’s OC18.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Very natural sounding.
- Can withstand 140/150dB SPL.
These are well‑made and great‑sounding microphones, ideal for a wide range of instruments in both live and studio settings.
A131 £475, A133 £525. Prices include VAT.
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