For their newest project, Samar Audio set themselves the challenge of creating the ideal cardioid microphone. Have they succeeded?
Mark Fouxman of Samar Audio is the quintessential 'boutique' audio designer. He's immensely knowledgeable, supremely talented, slightly obsessive and, in the best possible way, opinionated. One opinion he holds particularly strongly is that the multi-pattern capacitor microphone is an unfortunate compromise. If you want figure-8 pickup, you should use a microphone with a natively figure-8 polar pattern, and the same applies to omnidirectional capture. Designers of cardioid mics, meanwhile, should focus on their main objective, rather than embracing versatility at the expense of accuracy.
For many years, Mark has poured his energies into the first of these three categories, creating a range of stunningly good ribbon microphones. Samar ribbons are not only works of art to look at, they also boast a usable frequency response extending well beyond 20kHz, backing up Mark's claim that a well-designed ribbon offers the best approximation to the ideal figure-8 mic. He hasn't yet turned his attention to omni mics, which he says are best realised using small-diaphragm capacitor capsules, but has now focused on the only pickup pattern to which he thinks the large-diaphragm capacitor mic is well suited.
Originally, the TF10 was to be marketed under the brand name Omni8, reflecting the theoretical basis of the cardioid pattern as a halfway house between omni and figure-8, but Mark has since decided to keep it as part of the Samar line. Its cosmetics have also changed since the...