Pros: This is a fairly good entry level condenser microphone.
Cons: It has a tendency to be a bit boomy.
NADY SYSTEMS PCM 100 CONDENSER MICROPHONE
If you are in the market for an inexpensive condenser microphone, which also has a retro looking vibe to it, the field is pretty narrow. Most microphones that have a 1950's appearance tend to be dynamic vocal microphones. One of the exceptions to this rule is the Nady Systems PCM 100 Classic Condenser Microphone. Read on and see if this microphone just might be one that you would be interested in adding to your short list of microphones that you might like to audition the next time you are visiting your local musical instrument store.
The Nady Systems PCM 100 retails for $99.95, which is quite inexpensive to start with for a condenser microphone. However, it can also be had at a discount for as low as $69.95 from most national musical instrument chain stores, as well as from a reputable large Internet dealer.
The Nady Systems PCM 100 is an electret condenser microphone, which of course means that unlike a dynamic microphone, the PCM 100 will require phantom power in order for it to operate correctly. It is also a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern, which means that it is most sensitive to picking up sound sources that are coming from directly in front of the microphone, and it is less sensitive to picking up sounds that emanate or originate from the sides or the back of the microphone. This is obviously an important feature in most live or studio situations, as a person typically wants the best isolation for a sound source in order to insure its purity, as well as to cut down on the potential for feedback.
Perhaps to some, the most appealing feature of the Nady Systems PCM 100 is that it has a very retro look to it, and is similar in appearance to the microphones popularized by artists such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash back in the 1950's and 1960's. Personally, I have never much cared for the retro look. To me the appearance of a microphone is quite secondary, as what I am most interested in is the quality of the sound that a microphone can deliver. With that in mind, I shall focus the rest of this review on just that, namely the quality of the sound that the Nady Systems PCM 100 Classic Condenser Microphone can deliver.
The Nady Systems PCM 100 has a frequency response of 30 Hz. to 18,000 Hz. That is a pretty wide range, although a number of other condenser microphones in this price range, and certainly those a little above this price range, can deliver an extended frequency response of 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz. That is a serious point to consider, especially when it comes to recording musical instruments with ultra low or ultra high frequency ranges. Another point to keep in mind is that the Nady Systems PCM 100 has a frequency response that is tailored to bring out vocals. This is also an important thing to keep in mind. This means that the Nady Systems PCM 100 does not have a uniformly flat sensitivity along its frequency range, and it colors or adds a bit of warmth and presence to sounds in the human vocal range. This is of course a good thing if you are using this microphone for recording or amplifying vocals, as it can really bring out a vocal in the mix, but it is not a desirable characteristic in some cases where one is using it to record certain musical instruments. This is an important point to consider when making a purchase, as it is clearly wise to purchase a microphone that has the sound characteristics that are suited to the type of sound source that you are seeking to amplify or to record.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that the Nady Systems PCM 100 has a maximum sound pressure level (SPL) of only 127dB. This means that above these levels, the PCM 100 is apt to distort or be overloaded. This is really not a very high volume level for a microphone, and it limits the use of the PCM 100 in recording or sound reinforcement applications. For instance, if one were to consider using this microphone for recording a loud electric guitar cabinet, I would suggest placing the microphone about 2 feet back from the speaker cab. Of course, the further back the microphone is from the source of the sound, the greater the likelihood for picking up other sounds that are simultaneously going on as well. Another point to consider, is that the further the microphone is from the sound source, the greater the effect that the ambient qualities of the room will have on the recording that is being made. This can potentially be a real problem for home recording studios, where it is more likely that the room that the recording is being made in is not ideally acoustically treated, or specifically designed for recording purposes, such as might be the case in one's bedroom or basement studio. I bring this point up because it is unlikely that a good studio is going to be using a microphone that is this inexpensive for serious recording purposes, as the Nady Systems PCM 100 is actually priced just at or above the price range of an entry level condenser microphone.
Another potential problem to keep in mind with the Nady Systems PCM 100 microphone is that it is designed for mounting an a microphone stand, and it does not have the capability to be used with a shock mount, as many other condenser microphones are. This is a problem, as the Nady Systems PCM 100 seems to be sensitive to picking up vibrations that can potentially travel up the microphone stand, especially during live performances. I also found that although the Nady Systems PCM 100 has a cardioid polar pattern, this pattern is not very tight at all, and it picked up more sounds that were not emanating from directly in front of the microphone than I would have expected. This is clearly a potential problem for a home recording studio, as it increases the likelihood of picking up extraneous sounds on the track that the PCM 100 is assigned to, which can make clarity during a mix down a real problem. I also found that the Nady Systems PCM 100 has a tendency to be boomy, and to feedback as well, which again is a sign that the cardiologic polar pattern is not as tight as would be desirable. This microphone works best when the singer's lips are very close to the grille of the microphone, but this also adds to the boominess of the microphone because of the proximity effect. There is a low cut filter with this microphone, but I found that it did not really do much to cut down on the boominess.
The bottom line for me is this. The Nady Systems PCM 100 is an inexpensively priced condenser microphone with a retro look, and it performs about as well as one would expect for a microphone in this price range. However, I would advise anyone who is serious about making a clear recording in their home studio to consider spending a few more dollars and getting a slightly more expensive condenser microphone. I would also say the same for a person who is considering a microphone for live performances. Spending about $25 dollars more will get you an entry level condenser microphone with more versatility, an extended frequency response, and a greater deal of clarity.
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.