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June 2017 Giveaway

Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone Reviews

5.0 stars based on 17 customer reviews
Questions about the Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone?

Questions about the Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Stuart Niven

    You have heard this on so many Top 40 recordings from Back Street Boys to Brittney. If you are looking for that pop presence, that full and intimate sound that almost needs no further processing, this is an amazing choice! This is quickly becoming the "go-to" microphone for the pop/rock producer!

  • Josh Estock

    All you have to do it put the Manley Reference Mic on a stand and all your work is done. It makes everything sound great. I've used many vintage and high-end mics in the studio and NONE have performed like the Cardioid Reference Mic. This beauty now resides in my mic locker and I couldn't be happier.

  • Simon Picazo

    Incredibly accurate yet somehow flattering at the same time, I am amazed! On classical guitar, vocals, and saxophone both live and in the studio I was fully "wow"ed!

  • Bob Furlong

    Coming from the performing side of things, I'm kind of a late bloomer when it comes to A/Bing a lot of really high-end mics. With that said, I've gotten a good number under my belt in the last couple of years, and this microphone changed my life. You don't want to EQ or otherwise tamper with what it gives you, short of maybe some very mild compression. For me, it's the mic I gauge all others by.

  • from Toronto January 28, 2017Music Background:
    Rapper, songwriter, music producer

    Sweet Manley Reference C

    I have been using the u87 for a while now and I started doing my vocals on Neumann microphones. They always have been very good sounding microphones efficient, clear and a pleasure to work with when doing vocals. I have a very deep voice (I do hip hop, r and b and pop) many singers that I would bring into the studio to do vocals would also do there vocals on the u87 with no issues.

    Last night I had the chance to track a song with the Manley reference C, the studio we're I used the microphone had swapped out the normal capsule with another one that they said sounded fantastic, and they had A and B with a Sony c800g Dr Dre favorite microphone and the only thing he dose vocals on. The engineer knew I was coming so he turned on the microphone way before and let the tube warm up. Let me just say that I have found my new favorite microphone!!! It sounded so clean, so great on my voice I felt like a studio beast!!! Can I say I love this microphone ??? I adore it!!! The senior engineer had told me that with the capsule switch it wasent worth it to get the c800g since the Manley came so close to the c800g in terms of sound and quality, I still have not tried the c800g but I believe him!! This is honestly my new favorite microphone I have gotten great results from the u87 but for me this is the one now just awesome!! This microphone is worth every penny, every red cent!!

  • from Staten Island, NY August 4, 2016Music Background:
    Home Studio Owner/Experienced Recording Artist/Songwriter/Recording Engineer

    THE Modern Vocal Sound

    I've used a few large diaphragm condenser microphones in my time for lead vocals, for mostly hip-hop but also some pop, R&B and rock music. I've also used a few different preamps, both tube and solid state. I've used a Soundelux U195, a Blue Baby Bottle, a (medium diaphragm) Blue Spark, the (relatively obscure) JJ Audio Dutch M251, an ADK CS-67 L (probably my favorite for that "old school smooth color" sound). I've used them all variously with a UA LA-610 preamp, the built in pre's on a BLA modified Signature Series Digi 003r and an APA Juggernaut Twin.

    I will not go so far as to say the Manley "blows them all away". But I will say this. If your acoustics are on point (it is incredibly detailed, it WILL pick up a boxy room), this microphone will give you that modern "pop" sound on lead vocals that you've heard on countless records. I realize this statement is somewhat of a cliche when it comes to this mic, but some cliches are repeated for a reason.

    Aside from the aforementioned detail, it also imparts an almost imperceptible smoothness and color at the same time. And cutting through the mix is the easiest it has ever been for me with this mic. I've only used it so far with the Juggernaut Twin, and to my ears it sounds best with the Iron transformers engaged as opposed to the nickel, but to each his own. (My ADK CS-67 L sounds better with the nickel transformers, as it imparts so much sweet color on its own.) As far as its specific "character", it's almost like the same openness/airiness that the M251 has, but with just a bit of the "*****" and/or color that the CS-67 L has.

  • from Atlanta, GA June 18, 2016Music Background:


    I read all the reviews on this mic and decided I have to try it out for myself and I was BLOWN AWAY.
    The hype is real and if you are looking for that polished pop vocal sound out of the box, I HIGHLY recommend the Manley Reference microphone.
    This mic has an excellent build quality with a sleek design and sounds amazing on every instrument.
    If you have the money and can afford the investment, BUY IT. You will not be disappointed in this mic and the money is definitely worth the quality!


  • from Dublin, NH April 1, 2016Music Background:
    Musician, Recording Engineer

    Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone

    There's just no way to get the detail, clarity, presence, and warmth you hear on the vocals of every well produced song, unless you have a mic that can deliver those qualities. There's no way to add those qualities after the fact. Once the detail is lost it can't be artificially recreated. Nobody would ever be disappointed in this mic.

  • from Chicago, IL November 19, 2015Music Background:


    All I can say about this microphone is WOW! Brought it home immediately hooked it up and opened up a session. Myself and the artist were in awe. I should have made a professional upgrade like this ages ago! This mic is paired with my Manley Core what an amazing combo. I have a dynamic Duo now. Now all i have to do is add the UA Apollo 8p to my arsenal and I will have a Big Three in my signal chain! You can never go wrong with anything Manley!!!!!

  • from October 24, 2015

    Wonderful modern tube pre

    This is one of the best microphones I have ever used. With a clean pre, there is clarity, clean, detailed top end and a touch of smoothness. You can obtain a modern pop vocal sound pretty quickly. This mic is. It a colored tube mic but one that is more subtle in a good way.
    Use a more colored pre from Manley, API, or Neve, and you can obtain a rounder tone with a little less sparkle on top. Great shockmount and of course it looks amazing. Highly recommend if your looking for a higher end tube microphone that does not have that shrill top end that many tube mics have that are under $2,000. No mic will be the best for every application or voice, but this o e fits the bill on many vocal and acoustic guitars tracks I have tried.

  • from Madison, WI August 14, 2015Music Background:

    The work Is Done!

    I'm a pop singer/songwriter with a project studio. I was torn between a Bock 251 and this mic. I couldn't quite get my budget up to the $4200 needed for the Bock. I heard good things about this mic. I purchased it--did some vocals and I am sincerely, sincerely blown away. It's clear, present, and for a guy like me, who is frightened to death of EQ'ing things, I really don't have to add much. But sounds great on acoustic guitar as well.

    I must add, I have a NEUMANN TLM 49 mic, which is a VERY good mic as well. This mic is well worth the $1100 more it cost that the Neumann to get. Nice work Manley!

  • from June 17, 2015

    Awesome Sauce

    This mic is amazing! Clear, warm, natural!

  • from Las Vegas, Nevada February 9, 2015Music Background:
    Voice over artist using pro tools 11

    It's all the mic you will ever need!

    This is an exceptionally clean sounding microphone with an exceptionally crisp sound that can hold its own against more expensive microphones costing twice the price.

    The real magic happens when you mate this Microphone to the right PRE AMP.

    A mic like this needs a good mic pre amp and there are several to choose from.

    I happened to purchase the Presonus ADL 600(Anthony Demaria) series and the results could not be better.

    This mic has a high SPL rating of 150 so if you need to, belt into it and marvel how it just takes it in and makes you sound great!

    When I received mine Manley was offering a 5-year warranty as an incentive to register it. An added bonus to a superbly built microphone.

    A lot of singers and voice over people use this microphone for its unmatched clarity and being a tube design, the digital harshness is void.

    If you are looking for a super big buck microphone sound, just mate this to a good tube pre amp and let the magic happen. Granted $2700.00 is not a drop in the bucket, but with this baby you are actually getting more quality than what you are paying for.

  • from Las Vegas January 19, 2015Music Background:
    Voice Over Artist and Commercial Producer using Pro tools 11


    For voice over artists this is the same microphone that the late Don Lafontaine used to record all those movie trailers.
    He became famous for his phrase “IN A WORLD”

    For this man money was no object as he himself admitted he had made millions from voicing trailers, so money was not a factor and he went for the Manley Ref. He could have easily spent 20 grand on a mic, but he went for the Manley Reference Tube.

    Is there a 20 grand Mic, probably somewhere in the world.

    The pre Amp you choose is just as important as the microphone you choose. I recently joined this Microphone with a PreSonus ADL-600 Anthony DeMaria pre amp. This Pre amp is worth looking into. The Manley mates well with this Pre Amp and delivers a clean crisp sound that you can play with and color in any fashion you want using your plug ins on your DAW.

    Would I buy it again? Absolutely! Even if the capsule is made in China, the result is the sound you are going to get.

  • from Birmingham, AL August 26, 2013Music Background:
    Studio Engineer/ Songwriter & vocal arranger

    Love My New Mic

    I never thought I'd say this but I've fallen in love with my new Manley Mic! The sound right out of the box is sooooo clear without any eq'ing. I mean I'm so excitiing to have finally purchased a industry level microphone which will only help add to the quality that I've always wanted coming from my studio! The music industry has changed so much for private studio owners who want to be taken serious in an already deluged industry. If you want to make sure your work is not being overlooked you have to make sure the quality of your music isn't in question! Thanks Manley for making this mic.............I'm now the talk in my town amongst the other studio owners in town!!

  • from Edgewood, WA August 12, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer, Musician

    Nothing but love....

    ....for this mic.
    This has been my go-to vocal mic for close to 15 years. I don't know if it's possible to get any more "real" then this mic. It sound's good on just about every type of singer you will run across. My usual vox chain goes from the Ref mic to a VoxBox to a Vari-Mu, and not that I'm a Manley fan-boy, just not sure how it can get any better then that 99% of the time.
    It shines on acoustic for me also. If I could only have one mic this would be it.

  • from washington, dc May 15, 2013Music Background:
    producer and engineer

    awesome modern mic

    this mic sounds amazing on vocals. it is a perfect complement to my u87. it has a very open, modern, bright but not harsh sound. on my 87 i always have to boost the air up but this gets me there off the bat. i run it through a cl1b and the result is gorgeous. if i were a pop singer, this would be my main mic.

  • from Miami Fl February 23, 2012


    It always depends on who's the one behind the mix...But Capture is the MOST important number one task on my list for this fair price...I say MANLEY REFERENCE MICROPHONE...Vocal chain must be unique...this mic belongs with a great chain... in our case its hooked up to a Rupert Neve Portico and its only blissful excellence in capture...Very crisp, clean vocals with enough grit to stick to any pop, rock or retro production...Hands down Manley!! Love at first Listen...

  • from philadelphia PA November 28, 2011Music Background:
    Recording/Mixing engineer/Artist

    Blown away

    Simply the best........hands down

  • from Lviv,Ukraine August 27, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician,Composer,Singer,studio Djerelo

    Good Mic,but a high price

    This is a good microphone, especially for those who love
    sand vocals ...
    open and bright ... good for pop and rock music ...
    even a little harsh ... but not too ...
    use it for a year with focusrite ISA One
    sound nice ...
    but the price is too high ... and it's a shame

  • from San German, PR August 19, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Eng, musician, producer, Grammy voting member

    Very clear and transparent, but.............

    I tried this mic with 3 preamps. Manley TNT, Rupert Neve 517, Avalon VT 737. Both sides of the Manley gave this mic a very high distorted silbiance even at low volumes at impedance 600 and 2000. Could not get it to work well. The 517 was way better providing a smooth clear transparent sound at a high output. The Avalon came out better than expected. The low output and warm sound added to the ability to shape the sound with the eq actually made the mic and ch strip shine. My conclusion to this is that this mic will work much better with a ch strip than with a straight preamp. I gave it this rating because there is no reason for this mic to have a made in China capsule at the price range it's selling. Makes me wonder if the slogan "made in Chino not China" is really true.

Questions about the Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone?

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