CAD M177 + CAD M179

CAD is an American company making mics in a factory in Ohio. They came to prominence in the 90s with the Equitek series of mics that started the trend toward high-quality-for-less-money project studio type mics.
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This new range — the M series — will compete handily with the influx of inexpensive mics coming from the Far East. These mics use high-speed, low-noise op amps instead of discrete FET designs. These are quiet, flat, well-made mics. They are sturdily built and feel substantial in your hand. The -20dB pad and 100Hz low cut switches are quality and easy to operate without having to get a pen or something sharp to jab into them. They come with a nice stand mount, but it would be nice if they had a shockmount. They tended to pick up quite a bit of rumble from the stand/floor since they are almost flat down to 10Hz. Although the 100Hz roll off switch can do wonders.

I tested each of these on some acoustic guitar and vocals. In comparing them to the other mics I have that fit into this category of mic type and price they did very well. I recorded the same piece of music with the two CAD mics (in cardioid), an Audio-Technica 4033, a Rode NT2, a Neumann TLM 103, and a B.L.U.E. Bluebird. The signal path and gain structure was the same for all of them: Millennia HV3D mic pre through a Summit DCL 200 compressor into Pro Tools.

OK. Let’s go: The CAD mics are really quiet. Compared to the 4033 and the Rode these were absolutely clean. They exhibited damned good musicality and good detail with a neutrality and naturalness. They sounded better to my ears than both the 4033 and the Rode NT2. The AT 4033 is a bit bulky and mid rangy and the NT2 a little bit thinner — not so much body. The TLM 103 and the Bluebird did sound fuller with a 3D depth that the CADs didn’t have. But for the price, which is significantly lower than even the Rode and the AT 4033 these mics shine.

The CAD M 179 continuously variable pattern feature is amazing at this price point. I can’t think of any others in this price range. The M 179 has a wheel that you turn to access the various capsule patterns. These include hypercardioid, cardioid, wide cardioid, omni, and figure eight. All these patterns have a détent in the wheel but you can smoothly turn the wheel and get in between patterns to customize the sound that you are looking for.

From their low noise and sweet sound performance to rugged construction and tight design and quality to price ratio these mics are well worth checking out. The only draw back so far has been the lack of a shockmount and I’m sure the folks at CAD have one in the works. (CAD M177, CAD M179 = $169, $199 street, respectively)