Pros: This is a reasonably good entry level microphone.
AUDIX F12 PROFESSIONAL MICROPHONE
There are a lot of inexpensive, entry level microphones on the market today for a musician with a home studio to choose from. However, although there may be many choices available to choose from in the inexpensive price range, that does not necessarily equate to their being many good choices. There are many factors to consider when deciding on purchasing an inexpensive microphone. I shall in this review try to highlight the pros and cons of the Audix F12 Professional Microphone. Read on and see if this microphone sounds like it has some of the characteristics that you might be looking for in an inexpensive microphone.
The Audix F12 Professional Microphone is a dynamic microphone that is designed to record musical instruments. Some of you who are reading this review may be knowledgeable and sophisticated with regard to different types of microphones. However, it may be more likely that some of the readers of this review may be beginners or entry level musicians or home recording enthusiasts, and bearing that in mind, I will review some of the basics about microphone design, and how this relates to the Audix F12.
The Audix F12 is a "dynamic cardioid instrument microphone." Before I get into the specifics of the Audix F12, I would like to give a little background on what a dynamic cardioid microphone actually is, and what these terms mean. The Audix F12 is a dynamic microphone. A dynamic microphone does not require an external power source in order for it to operate correctly, the way a condenser microphone does. Just match the impedance of the microphone, which is 250 Ohms, to the source (i.e., a mixing console) you are plugging it into, and you are all set to go.
The Audix F12 is also a "cardioid" microphone. A cardioid microphone is a microphone with a sound pickup pattern that is most sensitive to the sounds coming from directly in front of it, and it is less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides of it, and to sounds coming from behind it. If one were to plot the sound pickup pattern of a cardioid microphone on a graph, the shape would somewhat resemble a "heart," and thus, it has been given the name "cardioid," which of course stems from the word for heart, "cardiac." How do you best use a cardioid microphone? Because of the directionality of a cardioid pickup pattern, one simply has to aim the front of the microphone directly at the source of the sound you want to record, and extraneous sounds from the sides or background will be minimized. What could be easier.
The Audix F12 is designed to be an "instrument" microphone. Does that mean that it will only be able to pick up the sounds of music instruments? No, not at all, and it will pick up any sounds that within its frequency range of sensitivity. However, this microphone was not designed to be an all purpose microphone. The Audix F12 was designed to pick up, amplify, reproduce, or record the sounds of specific musical instruments, and it was designed with this purpose in mind. The Audix F12 has a frequency response of 40 Hz. to 10,000 Hz., and thus, it was clearly designed to be a microphone that is best for recording lower pitched instruments.
I have been in the recording business for a very long time, first as a performer and producer, and currently as a serious hobbyist. I am very fortunate to have a close relative who works in a large musical instrument store, and it is because of this that I am able to have access to testing out and experimenting with a great variety of different musical instruments, recording equipment, and electronic gear, such as microphones. I also enjoy working with young people, and sharing my knowledge. It gives me great pleasure to help people who are starting out with a home studio to tweak their equipment to get the best sounds. With good equipment, this is an easy chore. With entry level equipment, this same task takes on a whole different dimension. This is how I came to initially be introduced to the Audix F12.
Audix is a great brand, and their top of the line microphones are excellent. However, the Audix F12 has a list price of $149.00, and a discounted street price of merely $49.00. That is the price of an entry level microphone, and there is a world of difference between the sound quality of an entry level microphone, and that of a professional microphone like the Audix D6 which lists for just under $500.00. With the Audix D6, getting a great sound on a recording of a bass drum is easy. That was not the case with the Audix F12, which I was about to find out.
The frequency range of the Audix F12 is 40 Hz. to 10,000 Hz., which makes it suitable for recording drums such as a bass drum, floor tom, or any low end drums for that matter. It would also be suitable for other low frequency instruments, such as possibly a Bass guitar. The Sound Pressure Level (SPL) is 135dB before clipping, and thus it is capable of being placed fairly close to a sound source.
O.K., so how does the Audix F12 sound? This is a complicated question. First the good news. The Audix F12 can be clipped right onto the rim of a bass drum. That is a great feature, and it eliminates the need for a microphone stand. It is also able to handle the shock of being clipped onto a bass drum. The cardioid pickup pattern was also quite tight, which is a great plus, as this lessens the sound bleed of other drums and instruments when one is recording. This is a very important feature at mix down time. The sound that was recorded using the Audix F12 had both good points and bad points. I always like to make a test recording without any EQ and judge from there. Some microphones, like an Audix D6 for example, sounds so good, they require little of no EQ when recording a bass drum. That was not the case with the Audix F12. Until the EQ was set just right, the sound was a bit thin and lacking in definition. Experimentation with different microphone positioning techniques improved matters, but it also meant using a boom to bring the mic closer to the beater head, and off to the side a bit. Leaving the Audix F12 clipped onto the side of the bass drum required the use of EQ and compression to get a good sound. But hey, that is why they were created in the first place isn't it. I was pleased with the attack of the Audix F12. It had a lot of punch, and it was able to pick up some nice overtones when it was close to the head of the bass drum.
I then tried the Audix F12 on the floor tom. I was not pleased. The sound that was being recorded seemed thin. Yes, it was punchy, but it was somehow lacking in character. Different positioning and additional tweaking with the EQ helped, but I was not very happy with the end result. Next, I wanted to see how the Audix F12 would sound recording a bass guitar cabinet. The sound was once again acceptable, but no cigar. Placing the microphone close to the edge of the speaker, and about 3 inches back from the speaker grille seemed to yield the best sound. The closer to the center of the speaker the microphone was placed, the muddier the sound became. The best thing I can say about recording a bass guitar track with the Audix F12 was that the sound was punchy. Going direct, and bypassing the bass amp altogether, yielded a much better sound, and one that was easier to work with during mix down.
O.K., so what is the bottom line, and who and what is the Audix F12 best suited for? I have always believed that it is better to spend the money early on in one's career and get a really good microphone that will deliver a great sound, and that will last for years. In the long run, if you are serious about recording, and want to get a good sound, then it is actually less expensive to spend the money now and get a quality product. Otherwise you will eventually have to upgrade in order to get the type of microphone you want, and you will find that there is a very poor after market for used microphones, especially for lower end ones. If you do not have the budget to get a good microphone to record a bass drum, then I must say, the Audix F12 is one of the better deals I have run across in the entry level category. It is ruggedly built, and it appears to be a microphone that will be tough enough to handle the rigors of the road, were you to choose to use this microphone for live purposes.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.