The Audix CX-111 is the sister mic to the previously released CX-101 (PAR, 1/99, p. 72) and offers some enhancement over the CX-101’s flexibility and superb value. At $599, the CX-111 costs $100 more than the CX-101, but is still squarely in the range of affordable mics for the home/project studio owner.
The CX-111 is a side-entrance, large-diaphragm condenser microphone. The primary visual difference between the 111 and 101 is the 111’s perforated metal windscreen, a distinct departure from the classic interwoven mesh found on the 101. The CX-111 is about the same size as the CX-101 – 8″ long, 2″ in diameter and weighs 17 oz.
The CX-111 is only available with a cardioid pattern. This is most likely a factor in maintaining the mic’s low price. With a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, a dynamic range of 109 dB, and a floor noise of 17 dBA, the CX-111 is an able performer. Its 10 dB pad and bass rolloff switch are the performance differences that separate it from the CX-101. The CX-111, like the CX-101, comes with a sturdy road case and a suspension mount.
I used the CX-111 in a variety of settings with clients and on my own. On one occasion, I used the Audix to cut some backing vocal tracks with a female singer/songwriter who is working on a CD project. I explained to her that I was reviewing the mic and said we could record a portion of a verse and that she could come listen to the track on the monitors to see if she wanted to continue using the mic.
Needless to say, we ended up using the 111 on several songs. We both enjoyed the mic’s modest presence peak and honest bass. It had just the right amount of sparkle without sounding too bright.
Several days later, I was tracking some keyboard overdubs for a local rock band who are also working on a CD project. The keyboard player was using a canned Hammond B3 sound that I was recording direct, in stereo. We both thought that the keyboard’s rendition of that classic sound was rather sterile when heard under the microscope of reference monitors. I suggested roughing up the sound a little bit.
I sent a direct line out to a small tube amp that was mildly overdriven. I then placed the Audix in front of the amp and went back to dial it up. I have to admit, the sound in the booth was wicked and piercing. Then again, the sound in the control room was wicked too. That is what a microphone is supposed to do, isn’t it? Garbage in, garbage out.
Although the solo sound of this setup was a tad disturbing, it worked perfectly when blended judiciously with the direct sound of the keyboard. It gave the tracks the classic grit, such as that heard on tunes like “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” The CX-111 captured all the raunch and percussiveness that was coming out of the amp.
Given the CX-111’s 145 dB SPL rating, I decided to try it on some electric guitar tracks. When placed in front of a screaming Mesa Boogie Mark IV, the 111 weathered the storm. Although not as focused as something like an SM57, the CX captured a nice sound on tape. The mic provided a low-frequency punch that would sound good on bluesy material. With the CX-111’s higher tolerance, I would recommend it over the CX-101 for high SPL guitar tracks.
The perforated metal grille did not seem to impede the 1″ element’s reception at all. Even on close, intimate vocals there was a rich, full-bodied sound that warranted using a pop filter. My only complaint with this mic was its suspension mount. The tension screw for the tilt adjustment came loose repeatedly, which required that I reposition the mic.
The CX-111 is a great transducer for vocals and acoustic instruments. It even sounded good on electric guitar and amplified organ. It doesn’t have the inherent brightness that some other mics in this class seem to have. With a list price of $599, this Audix is a great value and destined for home studios everywhere.