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Handheld Capacitor Mics


Bring studio sound to the stage with these live‑oriented capacitor microphones.

Dynamic microphones are the go‑to choice for many live engineers, and for good reason: they generally offer sturdy construction and high SPL handling, meaning they stand up well to the demands of live use. However, the extended high‑frequency range and improved transient response of a capacitor‑based design can often deliver much more natural‑sounding results on many sources, not least vocals. In this month’s Spotlight, we take a look at a range of handheld capacitor mics that have been designed first and foremost for use on stage.


SpotlightAKG say that the C5 will deliver a vocal tone that will cut though the loudest mixes, and also offers a choice of two tonal options thanks to an included presence boost adaptor that can be fitted to the capsule assembly. A solid die‑cast body and rugged grille construction help the C5 stand up to use in a live enviroment, and the inner casing has been designed to protect the capsule from corrosion and humidity. The mic features a cardioid polar pattern, and its frequency response ranges from 60Hz to 20kHz, with self‑noise specified at 25dBA.

£209 including VAT$216

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SpotlightAnother offering from AKG comes in the form of the C7, which features a similar physical design to the C5 but offers a supercardioid polar pattern and improved technical performance. An open‑space capsule design reduces air turbulence and inner reflections at the rear of the capsule, which AKG say yields an extremely consistent polar pattern throughout the entire frequency spectrum, resulting in excellent feedback and spill rejection. The frequency response extends lower than the C5, ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz, and the self‑noise is also improved, measuring at 21dBA.

£235 including VAT$299

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Audio‑Technica AT2010

SpotlightThe Audio‑Technica AT2010 has been designed specifically for close‑miking vocals, and aims to bring the articulation and intelligibility of the company’s renowned 20 Series mics to the stage. The mic employs the same 16mm low‑mass diaphragm found in the AT2020, offering an extended (40Hz‑20kHz) frequency response and superior transient response that promise smooth and natural‑sounding vocals. A cardioid polar pattern helps improve rejection of unwanted sounds and combat feedback, whilst a multi‑stage grille is said to offer excellent protection against plosives and sibilance without comprimising high‑frequency clarity. An all‑metal construction ensures the AT2010 stands up to the rigours of live use, and an included Quiet‑Flex stand clamp ensures it stays firmly in place whilst offering noise‑free adjustment.

£99 including VAT$119

Audix VX5

SpotlightThere are currently two handheld capacitor designs in the Audix range. The first, the VX5, has been designed for stage, studio and broadcast applications, boasting a controlled supercardioid pattern that helps to isolate vocals in noisy environments whilst avoiding feedback, and a smooth 40Hz‑16.5kHz frequency response for a natural, studio‑quality sound. An acoustically ported steel mesh grille contains a multi‑stage pop filter, and a pair of switches provide a high‑pass filter and ‑10dB pad. With both switches engaged, the VX5 will handle SPLs in excess of 140dB.

£249 including VAT$249

Audix VX10

SpotlightThe second offering in the Audix range improves upon the specifcations of the VX5, and was designed with the aim of setting a new standard for live sound applications. The VX10’s high‑frequency response extends to 20kHz, and self‑noise is improved, too, measuring 19dBA (compared to 26dBA for the VX5). The mic has a cardioid polar pattern with an off‑axis rejection figure greater than 20dB, and although the VX10 doesn’t share the pad function found on the VX5, Audix offer a low‑output model (VX10LO) aimed at louder environments or particularly powerful vocalists.

£599 including VAT$599

Austrian Audio OC707

SpotlightAustrian Audio say that the OC707 offers all of the important characteristics of a studio microphone, but can withstand the rigours of everyday stage use. The mic employs the company’s OCC7 capsule, which is hand‑built at their factory in Vienna before being measured and tuned using an in‑house anechoic chamber. It boasts a linear frequency response (35Hz‑20kHz), low self‑noise figures and is capable of withstanding SPLs up to 150dB, maintaining a natural and open sound even when subjected to extreme volumes. There is also a built‑in second‑order high‑pass filter at 120Hz. The design utilises Austrian Audio’s proprietary Open Acoustics Technology, which mounts the capsule in a way that allows sound to reach it from all sides with the aim of reducing resonances and preventing reflections. Minimal contact points between the capsule and the enclosure also help to combat the transmission of mechanical noise.

£449 including VAT$479

DPA d:facto

SpotlightDPA say that their flagship handheld capacitor model has been designed specifically to deliver the most transparent vocal sound possible. A supercardioid pattern offers high rejection of sounds arriving at the sides and rear of the mic, and also remains consistent across the frequency range to help avoid feedback issues. The d:facto can be purchased with either a Linear (4018VL) or Softboost (4018V) capsule, the latter providing a broad 3dB emphasis at 12kHz that helps vocals to cut through a busy mix. Helpfully, the mic boasts a modular design which allows the capsule to be attached either to the d:facto Handle for wired XLR operation, or a number of adaptors designed to connect to wireless systems from the likes of Sennheiser, Shure, Sony, Wisycom, Lectrosonics and Line 6.

€1056 including VAT$1100

DPA 2028

SpotlightThe 2028 makes DPA’s signature natural sound and impressive technical performance available at a more affordable price point. The supercardioid pattern and linear off‑axis response remain, and a solid body and grille construction make sure the mic stands up to use in a live environment. Rather than a modular design, the 2028 can be puchased as a wired model, or as a capsule and grille assembly fitted with an SE2 or SL1 adapter, which provide connectivity with Sennheiser or Audio‑Technica, Lectrosonics, Shure and Sony wireless systems, respectively.

€600 including VAT$600

Earthworks SR314

SpotlightEarthworks may be best known amongst live engineers for their high‑end drum‑mic kits, but their line‑up caters to a range of other instruments, too, and includes a pair of handheld vocal mics. The first, the SR314, boasts a tight and consistent cardioid pattern along with a flat 20Hz‑30kHz frequency response, and can handle SPLs up to 145dB without introducing any distortion. The mic sports a striking look, and is available in stainless and black finishes, with the latter offering the choice of a stainless or black mesh grille. For those who prefer to go wireless, there’s the SR3314, a capsule‑only version that can be paired with a range of transmitters from Shure, Audio‑Technica, Lectrosonics and Line 6, and the SR5314, which can be used with Sennheiser systems.

£699 including VAT$699

Earthworks SR117

SpotlightA more recent addition to the Earthworks range is the SR117, which boasts some impressive specifications at a significantly lower price point. The company say that despite the cost, no compromises have been made in the mic’s design, which boasts a neutral response and controlled supercardioid polar pattern helping to deliver clear‑sounding vocals with the best possible feedback rejection. There are wireless capsule options here, too — the SR3117 can be used with Shure, Audio‑Technica, Lectrosonics and Line 6 transmitters, and the SR5117 is compatible with Sennheiser systems.

£238.80 including VAT$199

Ehrlund EHR‑H

SpotlightLike all of Ehrlund’s mics, the EHR‑H’s capsule features a triangular diaphragm that dampens resonances more effectively than traditional circular designs, resulting in an improved transient response and increased transparency at mid and high frequencies. The frequency response features a slight presence lift at around 6kHz, and remarkably, extends all the way up to 87kHz! High‑quality electronic components are used throughout the design, allowing the EHR‑H to maintain a transparent and neutral tone, whilst a tough construction ensures the mic stands up to the demands of live gigging. Self‑noise is specified as an impressive 9dBA, and the mic will produce a THD figure of 0.5 percent at 131dB SPL, and won’t clip until the level hits 155dB.

£625 including VAT$799

Electro‑Voice RE420

SpotlightEV say that the RE420 boasts a rich, detailed and full‑bodied sonic signature that is capable of capturing expressive vocal performances in exceptional detail. Its cardioid pattern offers excellent acoustic isolation and feedback rejection properties, but still provides a comfortable working range around the front of the mic. Breath and wind noises are kept at bay by a pop filter design that utilises two dense foam layers with an air gap,and an internal shockmount makes sure that handling noise is kept to a minimum. Frequency response extends from 50Hz‑20kHz — a switch placed inside the grille allows users to engage a 150Hz high‑pass filter — and the mic can handle SPLs of 149dB for 1 percent THD.

£309 including VAT$329

Electro‑Voice RE520

SpotlightThe RE520 shares many design features with the RE420, but features a supercardioid polar pattern. The same grille, pop‑shield and internal shockmount are present, as is the switchable high‑pass filter, and the overall sonic character remains much the same. Due to the difference in pattern, maximum rejection is achieved at the rear sides of the mic rather than directly behind, and maximum SPL handling is specified slightly higher, at 150dB.

£309 including VAT$329

Lewitt MTP W950

SpotlightLewitt’s flagship MTP W950 underwent extensive beta testing during its development, where it was put to work on the road with some of the world’s most high‑profile acts. The final design promises premium studio‑quality sound, along with impressive resistance to spill and bleed — Lewitt say that the mic offers 90 percent rejection of sound sources to its rear. The windshield design provides protection against plosives and moisture, and the mic boasts a “cupping‑safe” design that helps it maintain a natural tone regardless of the user’s mic technique. A trio of switches beneath the grille offer a choice of cardioid and supercardioid patterns, along with ‑12dB pad and 120Hz high‑pass filter options. The capsule assembly can be removed and fitted to a range of wireless systems from Shure, Lectrosonics, Sony, Line 6 and Mipro, or Sennheiser systems via an adaptor.

£689 including VAT$699

Lewitt MTP 350 CM

SpotlightThe MTP 350 CM has a similar physical design to the MTP W950, but with a reduced set of features at a lower price point. It still offers the sonic benefits of a capacitor capsule, with a frequency response that has been tailored to provide clear and detailed vocals, but with a fixed cardioid pattern and no built‑in pad or high‑pass filter options, as well as being a wired‑only design. There is also a switched version available, if required.

£139 including VAT$159

Microtech Gefell M900 / M910

SpotlightMicrotech Gefell’s M900 and M910 are housed within the same body, but offer cardioid and hypercardioid polar pattern options respectively. The capsules employed feature a ceramic backplate, which is more stable in response to temperature changes than the brass designs used by many manufacturers, and there is also an onboard switching power supply which allows the capsule to be polarised at a higher voltage than that of the phantom power supply, resulting in increased sensitivity and reduced self‑noise.

Both models offer a 40Hz‑18kHz frequency response, and are equipped with a ‑10dB pad that will allow them to withstand SPLs of 143dB (M900) and 145dB (M910).

£1614 including VATM900/M910: $1500

Miktek PM5

SpotlightThe Miktek PM5 shares the same capsule, electronics and proprietary output transformer as the company’s C5 SDC mic, offering a linear frequency response that delivers balanced, natural‑sounding vocals. A solid die‑cast body construction ensures that the mic stands up to use on stage, whilst a steel grille protects the capsule as well as housing a multi‑stage windshield designed to tackle plosives.

Although primarily designed for live vocal use, Miktek say the PM5 is perfectly at home in the studio, and can be put to work on sources such as acoustic guitars, pianos and drum overheads.


Milab LSR‑3000

SpotlightMilab’s LSR‑3000 takes the cardioid capsule from their best‑selling VM‑44 SDC and places it in a solid brass body that has been built for a life on the road. The company say that the mic will capture every subtle detail of a vocal performance whilst providing excellent feedback rejection and low susceptibility to handling noise.

A pair of switches kit users out with an 80Hz high‑pass filter and a ‑12dB pad, the latter of which allows the LSR‑3000 to handle an SPL of 150dB without any audible distortion.


Neumann KMS 104 / 105

SpotlightNeumann’s KMS 104 and 105 offer cardioid and supercardioid options, respectively, and aim to bring the sound of the company’s renowned studio mics to the stage. Both are equipped with true capacitor capsules and promise to deliver a superior transient response that is said to result in more immediate‑sounding vocals than dynamic designs. The design has been optimised for close‑miking, and features a fixed high‑pass filter to compensate for the proximity effect, as well as being able to withstand SPLs up to 150dB without clipping. A hardened steel grille not only offers plenty of protection for the capsule, but also incorporates a wire gauze pop filter which has been carefully designed to ensure it doesn’t cause any sibilance issues or affect the capsule’s directivity. Although the mics have been primarily designed for stage vocals, Neumann say that their high SPL capability and wide dynamic range make them well‑suited to instrument duties, as well as coming in handy for studio and broadcast applications.

£619 including VAT$729

Peluso PS‑1

SpotlightThe supercardioid Peluso PS‑1 comes packed with features that have been implemented with stage use in mind. The capsule is suspended in place by a pair of flexible silicone discs that help to minimise handling noise, and is protected by a rugged metal grille housing a windshield that offers protection against plosives and moisture. Switchable low‑ and high‑pass filters can be engaged to reduce the level of unwanted noise sources, and an 18dB pad allows the mic to accommodate louder sources, helping the PS‑1 to withstand SPLs up to 146dB.


Rode M2

SpotlightRode’s offering comes in the form of the M2, which utilises a half‑inch capsule suspended in an internal shockmount, housed in a rugged all‑metal body designed to withstand the demands of live use — in fact, Rode are so confident in the design that they offer a 10‑year warranty. A tight supercardioid polar pattern helps to reject off‑axis sound sources and combat feedback, whilst a 35Hz‑20kHz frequency response ensures clear and natural‑sounding reproduction of vocals. The M2 also features an on/off switch that can be fixed in place with a locking screw.

£116 including VAT$179

Sennheiser e865

SpotlightCombining the rugged design of Sennheiser’s 800‑series range with the extended frequency response and improved transient performance of capacitor‑based designs, the e865 promises studio‑quality sound in even the most demanding live situations. Its supercardioid pattern helps to combat spill and feedback issues, whilst the 40Hz‑20kHz frequency response is said to offer natural vocal reproduction. Consistency throughout the polar pattern also allows the mic to deliver good results when used at varying distances, or with sources moving slightly off‑axis, and it can handle SPLs of up to 150dB. There is also an optional silent on/off switch.

£219 including VAT$249.95

Shure SM86

SpotlightShure may be best‑known for their dynamic microphones, but their range of stage‑focused models now includes a selection of capacitor models, too. One such example is the SM86, which promises to provide live users with studio‑quality sound on stage. It features a cardioid polar pattern, and a frequency response that extends from 15Hz to 18kHz with a curve that has been tailored specifically for vocals. The construction is as robust as you’d expect from a Shure SM model, and a built‑in three‑point shockmount system helps to minimise handling noise. The grille also incorporates a two‑stage pop filter to tackle plosives and wind noise. The SM86 comes supplied in a carrying pouch with a clip and thread adaptor.

£165 including VAT$189

Shure Beta 87C / 87A

SpotlightShure’s Beta series offers a range of premium designs, many of which are upgraded versions of their popular SM‑series models. Although the SM87A is now discontinued, the company still offer the Beta 87C and 87A, a pair of capacitor mics aimed purely at vocal duties. The only difference between the two lies in the polar pattern: the former is cardioid, and the latter is supercardioid.

Both offer a wide frequency response that exhibits a low‑frequency roll‑off to compensate for the proximity effect and a slight ‘presence’ rise to help vocals cut through a mix, whilst a consistent polar pattern ensures minimal coloration of off‑axis sources. The rugged body incorporates a shockmount system to help absorb mechanical and handling noise, and a built‑in pop filter offers reduction of wind noise and plosives.

£339 including VAT$207

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