Audix has been making quality dynamic and condenser microphones for years. The venerable OM-5 handheld vocal dynamic holds its own with the big boys, and the SCX-25 lollipop condenser is my favorite acoustic guitar mic for recording old Martins and Gibsons. I know a number of engineers who are big fans of the D6 drum mic.
Product Points
Applications: Studio, live sound

Price: $179

Key Features: Cardioid pattern; dynamic element; 50 Hz - 16 kHz frequency response; 140 dB SPL; includes carrying pouch and mic mount.

Contact: 503-682-6933 or visit Web Site.


Plus

+ Open sounding condenser with good presence

+ Good for recording or PA

+ High SPL handling

+ Assembled in U.S.A.

Minus

- Not as easy to hold for as a '57

The Score: Audix aims its versatile, high-quality dynamic i-5 microphone into a niche with some long-time dominant other players

With the i-5, priced at $170 retail (under $100 street price) Audix takes square aim at the SM57 niche of low-cost, dynamic cardioids. Street priced at under $100, the i-5 comes boxed in a pouch with its mic clip.

Features

As with most handheld dynamics, there is not much to the i-5. It is slightly shorter than a '57 and the head is wider with two side rows of vertical openings with a screen underneath. The top contains a black screen. For those who prize a '57 for vocal use, the i-5 is not as easy to use in a stand because it is shorter.

Spec-wise, Audix claims a 50 Hz to 16 kHz frequency response with no frequency tolerance listed. As with most Audix mics SPL handling is high -- about 140 dB.

In Use

I used a pair of i-5s to record a Fender Deluxe 90 solid-state guitar amp and a '65 Twin Reverb, playing my two jazz guitars: a custom shop Gibson L5CES and a review guitar from W-D Music -- a Stromberg Montreaux, a laminated spruce/maple hollowbody with Kent Armstrong pickups. The mics were routed to a Night Technologies PREQ 3 and recorded to an Alesis MasterLink at 24-bit/96 kHz.

Normally, I would record those kinds of guitars with condensers, but I wanted to see if the i-5s had more upper-end character than a typical dynamic. Guess what? The warm, sounding hollow-body guitars sounded great with the i-5s. The top-end had much more presence than I would expect from a dynamic, but it was not exaggerated. The bottom end was clean, but not rolled off. And you could get this sound by locating the mic three inches from the amplifier. Man, who needs a condenser when you can get this sound out of a dynamic.

I also tried the i-5 on a Martin 000-16SGT, 12-fret acoustic guitar just to see if the dynamic had enough presence to bring out the essence of the mahogany and spruce. The recorded material was very good. The i-5 does not have the sweet overall presence of the Audix SCX-25, but it opens up, more than most other dynamics I have used, the character on the top end without being brittle.

We also put the i-5s to test with one of PAR's live sound engineers, Dave Rittenhouse of RCI Sound Systems, in Columbia, Md. He put the duo out on a couple of gigs, and said they had much more of a versatile character than a SM57. He noted however, that it did not have that midrange growl character that those who mic for PA and record loud electric guitar have gotten use to with SM57s. He also said the Audix could really take the high SPL levels, and worked nicely as drum overhead mics.

Summary

Audix has again come up with a winning microphone with the i-5. Versatility and good sound are key to its consideration as a professional dynamic that engineers will use. A highly recommended dynamic! By the way, the I-5 moniker comes from the fact that Interstate 5 runs right past the Audix factory. That is as good a way to name a product as any.