The Audix M1290 ($399) condenser microphone is a member of the Audix Micro series, the newest line of microphones from Audix. The company claims that these microphones are the world’s smallest condenser microphones with an integrated preamp and detachable cable. Even though the M1290 is only 3.5 inches long, it’s packed with king-sized features.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound.
Key Features: Choice of omnidirectional or hypercardioid capsules, small size, numerous mounting accessories
Contact: Audix at 503-682-6933, Web Site.
The microphone comes packed in an elegant rosewood box with a brass latch and hinges. Open the box and you’ll find a plush interior that mounts the microphone, its 12-foot mini XLR – XLR adapter cable, a windscreen and clip. The microphone looks elegant. Its machined brass housing has a black “e-coat” finish with gold lettering, and is 3.5 inches long with a diameter of less than half and inch and weighs only a single ounce. Each microphone has its serial number etched on the finish.
The M1290 has a cardioid pattern, the M1290 – hc has a hypercardioid polar pattern, and the M1290 – o is an omni. With a frequency response of 40 Hz – 20 kHz (I bench tested it), the signal to noise ratio is 75 dB. Maximum SPL is less than 138 dB. The microphone is fully balanced, with an output impedance of 250 ohms, and can run through 150 feet of cable before the frequency response starts to degrade. Phantom power (48V) is required from your mixer or other source.
Other optional accessories are a rubber insulated shockmount clip, a clip for hanging the microphones overhead for area miking and choir reinforcement, and 25-foot and 50-foot microphone cables. The Micros are also compatible with the Dvice and Dclamp accessories from Audix, which allow for a wide variety of instrument miking.
The first instrument I put in front of the microphone was a Bluegrass fiddle. Always interested in the characteristics of different microphones, the fiddler was happy to experiment. We put it on a boom stand because it’s important to him to be able to adjust the distance between the fiddle and the microphone as a way to supplementing his dynamics, even though this microphone is small enough to mount on his fiddle with a clip. You could mount it on an upright bass as well, even a banjo.
Often when I use condenser mics on the fiddle, I have to notch some of the high end to avoid that twang and screech that is definitely not there when he plays acoustically, but not with the M1290. It handled the high end of the fiddle just as smoothly as it did the low end, and so the fiddle sounded more natural with less equalizer manipulation. Once the fiddler got used to the mic’s pattern, he was able to control his dynamics quite smoothly, and I was able to use a softer touch on the compressor.
Next I used the mics in my studio as a stereo pair. I needed to sample some percussive sound effects for a theatre production – glass breaking, door slams, knocking on the door, a champagne cork popping. The capsule is capable of handling some high sound pressure levels, so I was able to get the microphones very close to the sources without peaking..
Then I put the pair to use on a personal project, recording my one-year old niece for posterity as a present to her mom and dad. I mounted them on a stereo pair bar and onto a boom that I held in my hand. Even though I followed her wherever she went, there was virtually no handling noise. The size of the mics was also just as important to this little project. Larger microphones would have intimidated this little girl and I would not have gotten anything out of her, but the M1290s were so small that she eventually forgot they were there.
Finally, I used the mics to reinforce a small choir, hanging them from above, and they sounded just great. The mics picked up the basses and the sopranos equally well, and I was able to get quite a bit of gain before feedback. The nice thing in this application, again, was the very low profile of the mics. They’re so small, they blend right in.
Despite their small size, the Audix M1290 microphones sound good and are rugged enough to go on the road yet elegant enough to use on a high-level executive podium. In fact, there are scores of uses for a mic this size with great sound quality. In my opinion, at the suggested retail price of $399 they are a bargain.