Large-diaphragm, multi-pattern tube condenser mic
The MA-300 comes with a shockmount, power supply, cable, and “dual” case. The MA-300 large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone is the follow-up to Mojave Audio’s (mic designer David Royer’s condenser brand) MA-200. The 1”-diameter diaphragm is a mere 3 microns thick, which contributes to the MA-300’s excellent transient response. (Typical diaphragms are 6-10 microns). Externally, the MA-300 closely resembles the MA-200, with a flat black body and nicely contrasting chromed head grille; the fit and finish exhibit a very high standard of quality that belies the reasonable price.
The MA-300 adds several features missing in the MA-200, including switches for a -6dB@100Hz bass roll-off filter and -15dB pad, and most significantly, a fully-variable multi-pattern control (mounted on the mic’s power supply “brick”) that can go from omni to cardioid and figure-8 polar patterns, and anywhere in between.
Bundled accessories include the power supply and 16' seven-pin connecting cable, shock mount, and double “camera style” case—a smaller case to hold the mic itself, and a large case to hold everything.
Exceptional Sound It’s hard to write about this mic without sounding like an advertisement. It’s smooth, accurate, very versatile, and works well on a wide variety of sources. It’s is a quiet mic by tube condenser standards (self-noise level of 14dB), and with the -15dB pad switch engaged, handles up to 135dB SPL—it loves loud guitar amps. Combine it with a ribbon, print each to a separate track, and enjoy the tonal options at your disposal during mixdown.
On hand percussion (e.g., shakers, sleigh bells, and tambourine), the MA-300 captures the note attacks without spiky high frequencies. It’s also great on acoustic guitar (especially ones that sound overly bright with other condenser mics), and makes an excellent choice for drum overhead and room-miking duties—particularly because the remotely-variable pattern lets you dial in the room-mic coverage’s “width.”
While an excellent general-purpose instrument mic, the MA-300 handles male and female vocals with equal authority and class. This isn’t a harsh-sounding mic; the midrange character is full and rich, and the top end, while exceptionally detailed in its transient response, is never strident. Sibilance is generally not a problem.
The sonic resemblance to the classic vintage U67 is hard to ignore. According to Mojave, the MA-300 uses a hand-selected K67 style capsule; while known for its highfrequency emphasis, the smooth highs are due more to the high component quality, not an electronic de-emphasis circuit, as used in the U67. You’ll find a mil-spec JAN 5840 tube and Jensen output transformer—a company known for their high-quality iron.
Consistently Great If you had handed me this mic with no markings, told me to use it for a few months, and didn’t tell me its origins, I would have assumed it was a world-class mic in the $3K price range. Yes, it’s really that good. While some may have concerns about a mic manufactured in China, the MA-300 squashes any doubts with solid design, quality parts, and stringent, multi-level quality control.
The MA-300 isn’t just an MA-200 with more patterns—the ability to remotely widen or tighten the pattern really adds to the flexibility, as do the pad and bass rolloff switches. But it’s the sound that knocked me out, especially at this price point. The MA-300 offers a much-needed alternative to the past decade’s flood of brightly-voiced condenser mics; it’s a true modern-day microphone classic.
Phil O’Keefe is a recording engineer/producer, multi-instrumentalist, and associate editor of HarmonyCentral.com. His articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician, and Guitar Player magazines.
STRENGTHS: Outstanding transient response. Warm, “vintage” characteristic. Continuously variable, remotely selectable multi-pattern control. Handles up to 135dB SPL with -15dB pad. Rich, detailed midrange. Performs above its price class.
LIMITATIONS: Aside from no mic being perfect for every situation and sound source, there are no significant limitations.
$1,295 MSRP mojaveaudio.com