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CAD88 & CAD89

Dynamic Microphones By Paul White
Published November 1994

Paul White checks out these American mics and finds they compare very favourably to other popular dynamics.

When it comes to choosing a dynamic mic, you either buy one of the tried and tested classics, such as a Shure SM58, or Sennheiser MD241, or study the numerous catalogues and brochures from the world's dozen or so top mic companies, wade through endless lists of model numbers that give absolutely nothing away about how the mics perform, squint interminably at the polar pattern diagrams (usually printed so small that you can't make out the dotted line from the double‑dotted line with dashes in it) — and then you go out and buy an SM58 anyway! Sad, isn't it? (unless of course, you happen to be Shure).

In truth, however, there are many excellent microphones on the market hiding their lights under the bushels of anonymous shapes and anonymous‑sounding names. The two mics on review here are from USA company CAD, and unless you happen to have taken an interest in their rather distinctive‑looking capacitor mics when they first appeared, you could well be forgiven for never having heard the name, let alone being familiar with any of their products. Nevertheless, the company do build some excellent mics, and now that UK distribution has been taken over by John Hornby Skewes, perhaps anonymity will soon cease to be a problem.

My previous experience with CAD mics has been limited to their capacitor models, but the two mics on review are both dynamic cardioids, and at around the £145 mark, they need to be able to hold their own against the top models from the big names. The CAD89 is primarily a hand‑held vocal mic, while the CAD88 is designated as an instrument mic. Both have cast alloy bodies, finished in matt black with gold legend, and a gold ring just below the basket. There are no on/off switches, and you have to find your own XLR lead, though you do get a soft carrying case and a stand clip.

Because these mics are likely to be used in a live situation, the capsules are mounted in a resilient rubber‑like sleeve (apparently part of the patented INR shock‑mount system) and protected by a foam‑lined metal grille (again finished in matt black), which is trademarked as Flex‑Form. The foam lining may be pulled out for cleaning in mouthwash if you're hygiene‑minded!

Each mic comes with its own individually measured frequency response chart. The CAD89 is characterised by a response which rises gently from around 1kHz with a broad presence peak of about 6dB in the 4‑8kHz region. Unusually for a dynamic mic, although the top end starts to roll away after about 12kHz or so, the response is still only around 7dB down at 20kHz.

Because the CAD89 is the vocal mic, it is fitted with the almost obligatory spherical basket (adding further to the anonymous appearance), whereas the CAD88 instrument mic has more of a barrel‑shaped basket. The overall frequency response of the 88 is not dissimilar to that of its vocal counterpart — indeed, there are so many similarities in shape as to lead me to believe that both capsules are identical, and that any differences are either due to slight manufacturing variations between one capsule and another, or down to the influence of the differing baskets.

My impression of the finish, technical spec, and quality of construction is that these mics compare favourably with the more established brands, but how do they actually sound — especially alongside the competition?

Sound Test

I was impatient to see whether the two CAD mics did indeed sound the same, so the first check was to try the two mics side by side. As expected, they sounded absolutely identical, on voice and on as many other sounds as I could check them with. A logical second step was to compare one of the CADs (the 89 in this case) with my old SM58, though to be fair on the SM58, it is at least ten years old, and has lost most of its paint, due to being used as a hammer almost as often as it's used as a mic. Surprisingly, the two mics were very similar — the CAD offered just a hint more clarity and brightness, while the SM58 was just a hint warmer. However, these differences really were minuscule, and considering the age of my SM58, I wouldn't read much into it; mics can become slightly dull with age as assorted grot builds up on the diaphragm. The sensitivities of the CAD89 and the Shure SM58 also appeared to be identical — with the same console settings, three independent listeners couldn't say which mic sounded louder.

My impression of the finish, technical spec, and quality of construction is that these mics compare favourably with the more established brands.

With spoken word, the pop shield coped adequately, though speakers or singers prone to popping would still be better off using an external pop shield for studio work. Similarly, the capsule suspension is quite forgiving of handling noise, but in the studio, I'd recommend mounting the mic on a stand wherever possible.

So, what do I really think? I actually like these mics very much; they have a clean, relatively uncoloured sound, they don't sound stifled in any way as some cheaper dynamics tend to do, and the good top end performance helps put a little more air around the sound than you might expect from a dynamic mic. At the same time, they provide the kind of punchy delivery that you expect from a good dynamic mic. Both CAD models are as near identical as makes no difference, so both are suitable for vocals and general instrument use, such as electric guitar, drums/percussion (but not really bass drum), and most wind instruments. As with any dynamic mics, they lack the sensitivity and extended high frequency performance to do full justice to things like acoustic guitar, but even so, they'll make a passable stab at the job.

When it comes to judging value for money, I'd say the price of both mics is fair; it isn't unduly high, but then neither are CAD giving them away. The street prices aren't going to be far off the cost of an SM58, and though the two rivals do sound very similar in many respects, there is enough of a difference to give you an incentive to buy on sound, not just on price.


  • Microphone CAD88 CAD89
  • Applications Instruments/Vocals Vocals
  • Type Dynamic Cardioid Dynamic Cardioid
  • Frequency Response 40Hz‑16kHz 40Hz‑16kHz
  • O/C Sensitivity 2mV/Pa at 1kHz 2mV/Pa at 1kHz
  • Output Impedance 150Ω nominal (balanced) 150Ω nominal (balanced)


  • Clean, punchy sound.
  • Good cosmetics and construction.


  • No price advantage over better known (but not necessarily better) models.


A pair of extremely nice sounding dynamic mics — but which of the two you buy depends mainly on what shape of basket you prefer!