Mixdown's 2018 Christmas Gift Guide: Microphones

'Tis The Season

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and we couldn't be happier about it. But between listening to Christmas songs on repeat and trying to perfect our festive decorations, it's not always easy to make time to find a gift for the musicians in our lives. For those who don't want to see their Christmas cheer ruined searching for the perfect present in a crowd of shoppers on Christmas Eve, we've got you covered. Our Christmas Gift Guide is bursting with gear that we're sure your music mates will love, and this page is especially for anyone in need of a guitar, bass, or ukulele.

Electro-Voice ND86 Microphone

Distributed by: Bosch Communications

Expect to Pay: $290

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Musicians, karaoke aficionados, slam poets – you name it.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The ND86 is a high-performance, large-diaphragm, supercardioid vocal microphone. A supercardioid mic has a tighter pickup angle than most microphones and provides better isolation from room noise and nearby instruments. Furthermore, Electro-Voice have added extra functionality into the ND86 to reduce the amount of audio interference, while increasing isolation from onstage sound.

 

USABILITY:

The ND86 retains excellent acoustic control in even the largest of venues. Its large diaphragm creates a rich and detailed frequency response, delivered in a smooth and detailed sound. The capsule is also shock-mounted, which means accidental bumps won’t be transferred and heard by your audience. Additionally, an internal humbucking coil prevents line hum, allowing you to use this with confidence near your speaker cabinets or EMF-producing equipment racks.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The case is made of sturdy die-cast zinc, with a standard three-pin XLR connector at the bottom. It weighs a comfortable 326 grams and is 182.5mm in height. The Memraflex grille is dent-resistant and will withstand extraordinarily rough treatment.

 

OVERALL:

This is a great gift for any musician utilising the finest instrument known to man – the voice. With such a clean, no-nonsense look about it, the ND86 is a suitable candidate for literally everyone.

 

Blue Yeti Studio Microphone


 

Distributed by: Innovative Music

Expect to Pay: $249

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is the microphone that can do it all, for musicians, podcasters, engineers, interviewers and just about anyone else. It's a breath of fresh air to see a manufacturer focused on delivering a microphone ideal for beginners while still delivering the quality expected by more advanced users. 

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

This is a beautiful sounding condenser microphone that delivers the tonal quality we have come to expect from Blue, with a range of applications.

 

USABILITY:  

This microphone is ready to go right out of the box. Simply install the drivers and it becomes your audio interface and microphone in one. The built-in stand, it makes desktop recording an easy, hands-free operation.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The Yeti Studio is put together into a sturdy casing, with plenty of weight in the unit and stand. This allows it to sit firmly on the desk without risk of unwanted movement.

 

OVERALL:

This is a great package for anyone wanting an all-in-one solution for voice-recording. With the include software bundle, you have plenty of processing options to clean up and improve your voice too.

 

Aston Origin Microphone


 

Distributed by: Link Audio
Expect to Pay: $399

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Ideal for professional and home studios alike, the Origin is ideal for those looking for something different in a condenser microphone. This will quickly become the go-to microphone for anyone adding one to their arsenal.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The Origin offers a really cool take on vintage microphone sounds, with a smooth audio capture that certainly gives some of the big-name classics a run for their money. It has a lovely responsiveness that brings vocals to life, without any harness.

 

USABILITY:

As a cardioid condenser microphone with a large diaphragm, you can use this for plenty of sources. Great for vocals, but equally at home with guitars, pianos and even percussion.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

While it looks a little unconventional in design, the Origin is certainly well put together. The design of the metal weave grille protects the capsule without adversely affecting the sound.

 

OVERALL:

This may not be a microphone you’ve seen in photo shoots or video clips all that often, but behind the scenes it is delivering the goods on quality recordings. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better sounding vocal microphone for even twice the price of the Origin.

 

Neumann U87 Microphone


 

Distributed by: Sennheiser Australia

Expect to Pay: $4999

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Those looking to add what is arguably the most famous studio microphone to their recordings.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The U87 is not a dry microphone; its sound is coloured, and beautifully so. It provides a treated sound straight to your preamp. This makes the U87 incredibly versatile, and one (or a stereo pair) would help any recording along.

 

USABILITY:

Because of the focused mid-range, the U87 is great for guitars, vocals, piano, drums or rooms for an orchestra or choir, or as an extra mic on something like a bass cabinet that needs more attack. The frequency response is 20Hz-20kHz, so you won’t miss a thing, and there’s pad and low-cut built switches to keep your signal happy and healthy. This also make the U87 the microphone of choice for voiceovers due to its extremely low self-noise. Used relentlessly as a drum overhead and room microphone, the U87 has also been used to cut guitars and other mid-ranged instruments because of its sensitivity around 1kHz.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Based on its vintage counterpart, the U67, the U87 is a weighty, robust condenser microphone with a polar pattern switchable between omni, cardioid and figure-eight, and features switchable pad and low-cut.

 

OVERALL:

The U87 is a classic microphone, synonymous with professional recordings and high end studios. It will never let you down.

 

sE Electronics V7 Billy F. Gibbons (BFG) Signature Microphone


 

Distributed by: Sound & Music
Expect to Pay: $169

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

For the singer who wants to stand out on stage, this is the perfect addition to your kit. Or, if you’re just a Billy Gibbons fan, why wouldn’t you want to own and use his signature microphone?

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

This is a big, bold sounding microphone perfect for rock vocals. It’s clear, crisp and clean. You can be sure that no matter how loud or how quiet your voice is, the audience will still hear you loud and clear.

 

USABILITY:

As a super cardioid dynamic microphone, the V7 is awesome. It has plenty of headroom, so you don’t need to push the mixer’s gain to the point of feedback to hear the vocals. With that in mind, it’s perfect for loud stages.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

This is a solidly constructed case that protects a very well-built capsule and electronics. Better than the regular V7 model, this one is finished in a high shine chrome coating that lets the audience know who’s in charge.

 

OVERALL:

You don’t have to be a Billy Gibbons fan to take advantage of the great look and sound this microphone offers. It’s a great stage microphone that delivers great vocals every time.

 

Warm Audio WA-87 Microphone


 

Distributed by: Studio Connections
Expect to Pay: $860

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

This is the ideal microphone for anyone looking to recapture that classic early U87 style sound without the price tag.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The WA-87 delivers a warm vintage sound very much in line with the early model 87 microphones. It has a rich lower to mid-range frequency response that brings vocals to life and adds extra depth to instruments and percussion.

 

USABILITY:

This is a great large diaphragm FET-style condenser microphone. I could see it being used with excellent results on just about any part within a mix or even multiple parts. It could certainly become a go-to microphone in any kit.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

While not carrying the price tag of the original model, the WA-87 is still put together with great care. The casing and grille are solid and well housed within the suspension cradle designed to cater to the microphone’s weight.

 

OVERALL:

I’d be very happy recording with this microphone on a regular basis. It delivers excellent results at a fraction of the cost of its inspiration. This microphone means the classic 87 sound is now more affordable and available to home recording users.

 

Audio-Technica AT2005USB Microphone

Distributed by: Audio-Technica Australia

Expect to Pay: $149
 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Punters on a tight budget looking to splash into the depths of home recording.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Whether you’re plugging straight into GarageBand via USB or using it as a vocal mic at a gig, the Audio-Technica AT2005USB provides a smooth, high-quality audio response, with its mid-range emphasis offering a perfect solution for recording vocals in particular. Not a bad option for podcasters, either.

 

USABILITY:

Few microphones boast the multi-purpose versatility offered by the Audio-Technica AT2005USB. The ability to plug straight into a laptop without an external interface will put the icing on the cake for many potential buyers, while the option to use the AT2005USB as a conventional microphone will certainly appease technology purists. There’s also an inbuilt headphone jack for direct monitoring – what more could you want?

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Audio-Technica are well regarded for the ruggedness of all their products, and the AT2005USB microphone is no different. Constructed from durable yet extremely lightweight metal, this unit can definitely hold its own. The included tripod and mic clip also felt surprisingly sturdy, which is something many entry-level microphone kits tend to neglect.

 

OVERALL:

Honestly, I can find no fault here. The Audio-Technica AT2005USB is a hot pick as an essential piece of gear for anyone looking to get into home recording. A certified stocking filler for sure.

 

Sennheiser e 602-II Microphone

Distributed by: Sennheiser Australia

Expect to Pay: $229

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Aimed at live and studio engineers chasing the bass, the price point of the e 602-II makes it easily accessible for bedroom producers as well.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The Sennheiser e 602-II dynamic cardioid microphone is commonplace on stages all around the world. The forward, warm and dynamic sound comes from the low frequency extension and the fast transient response of the capsule, so you can feel the low end while you hear the transient.

 

USABILITY:

The e 602-II is a perfect choice for bass guitar cabinets, bass drums or lowend instruments such as tuba or low-tuned guitars.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The microphone features a humbucking coil and the stand mount is integrated to provide better isolation on a long microphone boom arm on stage or in the studio. Its rugged construction and lightweight aluminium body make it perfect for mounting without worrying about a drooping microphone stand or boom arm. The frequency-independent directivity ensures the signal is isolated from other sound sources on stage and makes it a no-brainer in a live sound rig.

 

OVERALL:

The e 602-II is a no brainer for engineers of any level, and would be a great addition to any collection or recording equipment.

 

Sennheiser G4-835-S Wireless Mic

Distributed by: Sennheiser Australia

Expect to Pay: $999

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Higher end musicians or sound professionals in need of a top range wireless solution.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Although some people are sceptical about issues of sound quality and signal loss with wireless microphones, with a brand as reputable as Sennheiser, you’ve honestly got nothing to worry about. The G4 Wireless Microphone sounds just as good one foot away as it does from thirty feet, offering a crisp, faithful vocal response perfectly suitable for large scale venues.

 

USABILITY:

With up to 100 metres of RF transmission available, the Sennheiser G4 microphone packs a mighty range, and boasts true diversity transmission for use with multiple signals. You can even link up 12 different receivers and transmitters in the one space without any interference, making the Sennheiser G4 Wireless System absolutely perfect for live ensembles.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Upholding everything that we’ve come to expect from Sennheiser, the G4 Wireless Microphone feels extremely sturdy, and feels more than capable of withstanding even the gnarliest gigs.

 

OVERALL:

Sennheiser are the absolute dons in producing high grade, utilitarian proaudio equipment for the gigging musician, and with the G4 Wireless Microphone, they’ve really hit the nail on the head. Expect nothing but the best here.

 

Sennheiser Handmic Digital

Distributed by: Sennheiser Australia

Expect to Pay: $359

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Journalists, YouTubers, podcasters, voice over artists, musicians, Instagrammers – the list goes on.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

It can be used either on-the-go or for an easy home or studio recording solution via the included table stand or clamp, picking up between 40Hz- 16kHz.

 

USABILITY:

The Handmic Digital is a versatile handheld microphone that connects to your iPhone via lightning cable or via USB to your PC or Mac. The mic also includes a 2m lightning cable and USB cable, so it’s compatible with whatever system you’re running, wherever you are.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Featuring the same rugged construction as many Sennheiser products share, the Handmic will be safe in your bag on-the-go in the included pouch.

 

OVERALL:

The Handmic Digital really is a much more professional-looking and sounding solution for the journalist on the go, content creators, or sound artists and musicians who want an opportunity to capture interesting sounds with ease.

 

Mixdown's Christmas Gift Guide 

Amps

Assorted Gear

Drums 

Guitars 

Headphones

Keys & Synths

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