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Let's take a look at this handy microphone.

M- Audio has done it again. With early products like the Audiophile 2496 and the Oxygen 8 MIDI controller, M-Audio built a reputation we can all admire. Not only did the M-Audio team develop powerful, high-quality products that changed the way we do things, they offered them at a price we can all smile at. They have built everything from audio interfaces to MIDI controllers to microphone preamps, but is there anything M-Audio hasnít yet offered us? Without further ado, I take this pleasure to introduce the latest birthing from the M-Audio family: the M-Audio Luna, a low-priced, professional -quality studio condenser microphone.

Contents

Right out of the box, the M-Audio Luna has a striking appearance. Its moon-like, silver screen face captures your eyes as well as this mic will capture your performance. The box itself is a sleek, metal protective case with a foam bed fit for the Luna. The package also includes a strong, but gentle shockmount.

Features

The M-Audio Luna is a single pattern, cardioid condenser microphone. Inside the large, all-brass capsule rests the heart of the beast - a 1.1 in. evaporated gold diaphragm. The craftsmanship of the gold diaphragm and the M-Audio Lunaís Class A FET electronics provide for a warm, vintage tone through the use of modern technology.

The best feature about the M-Audio Luna is without doubt its price. Rarely does a microphone come along that offers professional quality warmth and clarity at such a low price-point.

Applications

One of the best qualities of the M-Audio Luna is its versatility. I had the opportunity to use the Luna to record voice, acoustic guitar, and amplified electric guitar. The results were encouraging...

I tried a few different vocal types on the M-Audio Luna. First, I experimented with a soft, traditional latin style vocal. What I received was a warm, breathy tone that complemented the vocalistís performance - in effect enhancing the natural sound. I also had the opportunity to work with a hip hop artist, who had a deep boomy voice that shook the room when he rapped. Fortunately, this mic goes low - its frequency response goes down to 20Hz (and up to 20kHz), so all of the lower harmonics of his voice were picked up precisely. Between the bass response and the presence this mic offers, the hip hop vocal shined nicely. Although I did not get a chance to use the M-Audio Luna on a female vocal, I would love to hear the characteristics of this mic applied to a womanís voice. The breathiness and presence this mic adds could surely enhance a vocal of any range.

My next test was on a classical acoustic guitar. Classical nylon strings can sound incredibly emotional - their soft round tone and wide-range of dynamics can be difficult to pick up accurately. I positioned the mic at the edge of the fretboard and the sound hole to pick up the string tones and the lower end of the guitar. In this application, it would have been nice to have a bass roll-off switch, as I picked up some low thumps occasionally from plucking the guitar and tapping its body. But I am not a guitar player, so I am sure a better guitar player or better guitar would cancel this problem out nicely... Otherwise, the harmonics and the upper-end resonance that the mic captured from the classical guitar was stunning. In the end, the mic was sensitive enough to pick up the gentle nuances of the classical guitar. This quality can be extended to many other acoustic instruments, I am sure.

Finally, I set up the M-Audio Luna to record an amplified electric guitar with a slight distortion. I was receiving a little hum from the amp, and the Luna seemed to pick this up strongly. Again, it would have been great to have a bass roll-off switch, which would have solved my problems of working with a shoddy amp. I EQ'd the majority of this out later, but it is nice, however, to have all the tools at your fingertips when you need them. Regardless, the Luna still captured a beautiful sound from this amp. One quality that was a constant throughout all of these recordings was the natural presence this mic picks up. Each note in the guitar recording stood out--I often experience a bleeding or dulled tone from some mics, but in this case each note was separate, audible, and attractive.

For the price range, the M-Audio Luna seemed to outperform the other mics I have used. I own an old Oktava MC219, and the Luna edged beyond it in most cases. It will give Behringer and Marshall Electronics a pretty tough fight, and may be a good alternative in many cases. As far as its comparison to mics in higher price ranges, it has got some growing to do. The addition of a bass roll-off switch, an attenuation pad, and perhaps multi-pattern capability would be nice (we have recently learned that M-Audio has developed another mic in this series, the Solaris, which will include these features). I use a Shure KSM32 for most of my vocal/acoustic recordings, and the Luna cannot compete. But for the price, the Luna is a great alternative to many of its competitors.

Summary

For this price, the M-Audio Luna microphone is definitely going to throw a wrench at the competition. If you are a beginner looking for a professional, versatile mic to build your studio with, youíve found it. If you are a pro looking for an inexpensive solution to add new dimension to your sound, look no further. the M-Audio Luna provides a warm, vintage tone that precisely captures the subtleties and nuances of a wide variety of instruments. For the beginner or the professional, rock-and-roller or hip hopper, the M-Audio Luna can make your recordings - without breaking your pocket book.


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