Over the last decade, Audix has been building a strong reputation in the live sound and recording world. With exemplary transducers like the classic OM5 vocal mic, the SCX25 versatile condenser and, more recently, the D6 kick drum mic, they have earned status as a trusted source for quality microphones. With an already established high-end condenser in the VX-10 ($599), the company has introduced the VX-5 ($299) as a lower priced alternative.
The VX-5 is a supercardioid condenser that is housed in a rugged die cast zinc fuselage. As is the case with many of the company’s vocal mics, the finish is a gloss black with graphics engraved in white. The unit has a frequency response of 40 Hz – 16.5 kHz (±3 dB) and it comes equipped with an onboard 150 Hz high-pass filter and a 10 dB pad. With the pad engaged, the VX-5 can withstand SPLs of 140 dB. Like many of the OM series vocal mics, the VX-5 has a slim chassis (23mm) that flares out to accommodate the element and windscreen.
I used the VX-5 at a recent gig at Washington DC’s legendary jazz club, Blues Alley. I was mixing for vocalist John Signorello as he fronted a superb big band. The stage at Blues Alley is very shallow so Signorello had drums, bass and piano to his right and a full sax section to his left. Behind him were trumpets, bones and percussion. If that weren’t enough, tenor saxophonist Richie Cannata (of Billy Joel and Beach Boys fame) was playing immediately to his right. All this was occurring just a few feet from the house speakers and a blaring stage monitor. Given the hostile environment and the vocal clarity I was looking for, I thought this would be a good a place as any to press the VX-5, with its tight pickup pattern, into service. Baptism by fire you say?
With such a tight pickup pattern, I was able to get a reasonable monitor level for John. Soloing the vocal channel revealed a substantial off-axis reduction considering the hostile environment. At first glance, I thought that a 150 Hz rolloff would take a huge bite out of the body of a vocal but with the VX-5’s HPF engaged, it sounded sparkling clean with just the right amount of bottom. Knowing the swings in Signorello’s vocal delivery (he shouts sometimes), I opted to engage the 10 dB pad. Both of these features proved beneficial as Signorello summoned transients and pressed the mic right to his lips in an effort to rival the 10-piece horn section. With the HPF engaged, the proximity effect was very tolerable.
Later, in my studio, I tried the mic in a more controlled environment. I was still enamored with its smooth sonic character and thought that it rivaled some other handheld condensers costing much more.
Audix has hit on a good thing. The VX-5 is a great sounding condenser at a dynamic mic price. If it proves durable over the long haul, this mic is destined to be among the company’s elite models.