If you’re looking for a mic to lend weight to lean sources, the characterful Martian could be just the thing.
Icon mics are manufactured in Latvia, which is already well‑known for other high‑quality microphone brands. The Martian mic reviewed here is part of Icon Pro Audio’s Space series of microphones. While the two alien ‘eyes’ mounted on this mic’s spherical basket might lead you to believe that it is some type of stereo microphone, it is in fact a fixed cardioid‑pattern, mono mic. Like those employed by compatriots JZ Microphones, the handbuilt capsule uses Golden Drop technology, which aims to allow the diaphragm to move more rapidly in response to transients and thus deliver a precise HF response. The capsule is shockmounted internally, and the bespoke cradle provides further shock isolation as well as support for the included metal pop filter. An elegant two‑part aluminium storage case for the microphone itself is included, though this doesn’t hold the shockmount and accessories.
Taking a closer look at the hardware, the standard of engineering is impressive, though I can’t help wondering if those two circular ‘eyes’ were added purely for cosmetic purposes rather than as some kind of acoustic adjustment. It is possible to tilt Martian’s head up and down over a very wide range: a mechanical stop kicks in at just under one complete revolution. The mesh basket comprises two layers, the inner one much finer than the outer. There are also two layers making up the pop filter, which is a very elegant curved metal structure that clips onto the cradle at two points, and can be swivelled to match the angle of the mic’s basket.
The cradle mount has quite an unusual mechanism for securing the mic. A curved arm swings open to the allow the mic to be put in place, then when the arm is pushed back to secure the mic, there’s a neat locking mechanism that requires the supporting pillar at the end of the arm to be twisted to release it. At the rear of the cradle is a US‑threaded standmount that uses a ball‑and‑socket mechanism to allow it to be both tilted and rotated with a thumbscrew to lock it in place.
Internally we find Class‑A, transformerless circuitry, again handbuilt in Latvia, using good‑quality components. Standard phantom power in the range 36‑52 Volts is required. A frequency response of 20Hz‑20 kHz is specified, and the included plot shows a nominally flat response with no specific presence peaks and just the odd wrinkle, especially at the low end. The sensitivity at 1 kHz into a 1kΩ load is 33mV/Pa and the maximum SPL (for 0.5% distortion) is 134dB. There are no pad or roll‑off switches. An equivalent noise level (DIN/IEC A‑weighted) of 10.5dB is specified, which is fairly typical for this type of microphone. The overall weight is 0.77kg and the dimensions 118 x 78 x 149mm. A helpful manual is provided, and this includes a few practical application tips.
I tested the mic with voice and acoustic guitar and found it to have a very warm sound that seemed to smooth out any high‑end transients. If working with somebody who has an unusually bright voice that lacks weight, or with an acoustic guitar that exhibits brittle‑sounding highs, this mic would be a good choice to redress the balance, though with my own acoustic guitar, which sounds well‑balanced in the room, this mic seemed to pull back the high‑end zing from picked notes. I tried several different miking strategies but always ended up hearing a smoothed top end. I found pop rejection to be better than average, even without the pop shield fitted, and of course this being a cardioid microphone, you can adjust the mic distance to fine‑tune the amount of proximity effect. Percussion tests showed the mic to be perfectly capable on transients too, where the warm low end helps add weight. The smooth high end can also be helpful when miking electric guitar speakers.
The Martian could be regarded as a ‘character’ mic... Indeed it sounds not unlike some tube mics I’ve tried.
Despite its nominally flat response, I feel that the Martian could be regarded as a ‘character’ mic, good for warming up the lows and smoothing over‑prominent transients. Indeed, it sounds not unlike some tube mics I’ve tried. Sometimes this is exactly what you need, whereas at other times you might require something more detailed. The build quality is impressive, the styling distinctive and the price very reasonable for a microphone of this quality, but if you’re looking for a mic to record your own vocals, make sure that it suits your voice before you decide — which is sound advice no matter what mic you are considering.
The Icon Martian is a well‑engineered microphone with a distinct personality, both visually and tonally!