Audix's acclaimed range of microphones is designed and built entirely at home in the USA — and it's an approach that seems to be paying off...
Audix started out in 1984 and now operate from the state of Oregon, on the west coast of the US. Rather than 'source offshore', Audix have their own manufacturing facility, in which they make extensive use of automation and CNC machining to keep their prices affordable, while ensuring a high level of consistency — an approach that, in this respect at least, parallels that of Rode in Australia. Their CX212 microphone is a conventional‑looking, side‑address, multi‑pattern model, based on a dual-diaphragm capacitor capsule, and designed to meet a number of studio, live recording and even live performance needs.
With a specified frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz, the CX212 can be switched to cardioid, omnidirectional or figure‑of‑eight patterns, and a built‑in a low frequency roll‑off filter can be switched in to help reduce unwanted low‑frequency pickup or vibrations below 300Hz. The shape of the response curve changes slightly as you switch patterns, but is nominally flat, with a modest presence bump at around 12kHz. Both switches are miniature toggle types and are located just below the basket. This mic is able to accommodate sound pressure levels of up to 132dB (measured at 0.5 percent THD with the pad switched in, and in addition to the obvious application as a studio vocal mic, it is also well suited to acoustic instrument recording applications, including acoustic guitars, drum overheads, and strings or choirs. Audix also recommend the mic for voice‑over work, miking guitar cabinets, and recording tuned percussion such as bells, chimes, marimba and vibes.
The FET preamp is built from discrete components, which is usual for a mic of this type, and a standard 48V phantom power supply is required for operation. The mic's sensitivity is specified as 21mV/Pa in cardioid mode (at 1kHz), and the equivalent input noise (EIN) is a respectable, although not exceptionally low, 18dB A‑weighted.
Mechanically, the CX212 is quite conventional, with the outer brass sleeve being removable to expose the electronics. This sleeve is normally held in place by a circular, machined base that screws onto the threaded output transformer and XLR housing. Two glass‑fibre circuit boards, supported on metal side-rails, hold all of the active circuitry. The capsule is clearly visible through the basket-mesh screen and is 1.07 inches in diameter, with an edge‑terminated gold‑on‑Mylar diaphragm, which is a popular format for mics of this type. All external metal parts, other than the XLR output, are finished in satin black, and the XLR pins are gold plated to avoid corrosion. The CX212 measures 6.78 inches (172mm) long, weighs 17oz (480g), and comes in a wooden case, along with a rigid stand‑mount that fixes to the threaded XLR outlet. A shockmount is also supplied, in a separate box.
If I were asked to sum up the performance of this mic as briefly as possible, I'd have to say something like 'conventional but good'. It has no obvious tonal leanings, and it works well on most sources, including vocals, but it is difficult to describe in words what sets it apart from other mics of its type. There's an inherent 'rightness' about the sound that makes the source feel properly focused, but with so many large‑diaphragm condenser mics available in this low‑to‑mid price bracket, the differences can sometime feel rather subtle. Nevertheless, I think Audix have got pretty much everything right with the CX212, because it flatters vocals in a very understated way, and projects a very natural‑sounding tonal balance. The high end is airy and smooth, courtesy of that gentle presence hump, and because the mic isn't designed to sound obviously coloured, it works well on a range of acoustic instruments, including the inevitable acoustic guitar. I also checked it with an electric‑guitar amp, where it worked fine, although by preference I'd use a mic with a more subdued high end (possibly a ribbon) in this application. There's good consistency of sound between the various patterns, and the off‑axis rejection in figure‑of‑eight mode is excellent (something that can be used to advantage in difficult spill situations).
Although the mic market is now extremely crowded, the Audix CX212 offers the benefits of Audix's high build quality, as well as a high level of audio performance (not to mention a three‑year warranty), so it really does have to be considered good value. You may wish to compare it with some other mics in the same price range to see what suits you best if it is for use with your own voice, but given that this is a multi‑pattern model, it seems a good choice as a studio all‑rounder, where it may have to deal with a wide range of instrument and voice types.
There's no shortage of alternatives in the low‑to‑medium-cost mic market, where the Audix puts in a respectable performance. The Audio‑Technica 2050, AKG Perception 420 and SE Electronics SE Z3300A spring immediately to mind, and there are plenty of other viable options from companies such as Rode and MXL.