Say M-Audio and you probably think of plastic keyboards or USB audio interfaces, but M-Audio’s latest creation is a multi-pattern, large diaphragm studio condenser microphone, with a retro design and a military-grade vacuum tube.

The Sputnik is not M-Audio’s first microphone — they make a line of budget-minded condensers — but M-Audio is crowing about it in a big way. By budget, we’re talking US$699.95 list. But it’s the mics to which M-Audio is comparing the Sputnik that might get some interest. M-Audio claims that “top Los Angeles recording engineers . . . observed [in side-by-side comparisons] that Sputnik exhibited the coveted low and low-mid qualities of the Neumann U47 and the upper-mids and highs of the AKG C12.” Want more classic mic name-dropping? M-Audio compares the upside-down tube capsule to the Telefunken 251.

Now, warning: if you happen to run into someone in sales from M-Audio, they might try to stun you in your tracks by reciting phrases like, “Sputnik’s Class A amplifier circuit is an all-discrete transconductance design based on thermionic studies by researchers at Harvard and the American Institute of Physics.” But, mic rocket science aside, it’ll be interesting to see if this mic can live up to its claims. If it sounds anywhere near as good as they say it does, it could make a nice splurge for a home musician. With that in mind, the kit comes with a power supply, shockmount, and even a flight case.

Mic gurus? Already got a favorite condenser in the US$700 range? Let us know in comments.

  • http://www.seelectronics.com BassTooth

    http://www.seelectronics.com

    i purchased the SE-3 stereo pair while i was in school and got like a 30% discount. will run you just under $800. comes with a hard flight case, shock mounts and a steel bar for pairing the mics. other than that the rest of my mic collection is 1 Shure SM81, 4 Shure SM57's, 2 Shure SM58's and an Audix D6. i use the stereo pair for basically everything.

    -BassTooth

  • Egan

    That is an area which has not scaled well into computer/ music project studio budgets. I noticed this when a friend noted he had no mic, but had software, audio/ MIDI I/O, synths, FX plugs, etc. Besides a Sure SM58, what choices do we have?

    Still, most people can't tell a good mic, vs. flat condenser on a recording…. so, where do you draw the line? For more low end, EQ, or "proximity" effect, but this is the last frontier…. Inexpensive ways to get outside sound, in the box, on a budget… hmm

  • Richard Lawler

    > Besides a Sure SM58, what choices do we have?

    Really? There’s a world of nice mics from the likes of Rode, AKG, AT, SE, Studio Projects and even M-Audio too in the range between an SM58 and the $700 price of the Sputnik. “Sound on Sound” regularly reviews mics in that range.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Yes, I’m with Richard. It’ll be interesting to see whether the M-Audio mic is worth it for its retro design. Don’t forget higher-end Shure, mics from Blue . . . really, there’s not any reason you can’t build a whole mic cabinet for US$700, let alone find one mic you like for that much.

  • Tim OBrien

    I already own M-Audio's Solaris, which has a similar case design to the Sputnik. Quite a nice large-diameter condenser with 3 polar patterns (cardioid, omni and figure-8) and it only set me back $250USD. Very nice sound…

  • joelpatterson

    Sight unseen I'm getting two of these. Of course, I found a place where they're only $470 each… which is still alot of money. But is really nothing… if…

  • http://andreayonibone.org Andrea

    Anybody know if there is a serial number stamped on this Sputnik thang? There's one on the box, but the mic itself is a mystery to me.

  • Billy Crow

    This makes less sensense every time i don't like reading it.