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CardioidManley Laboratories, Inc Reference Cardioid

Cardioid Tube Condenser Microphone

The Manley Reference Cardioid is a premium tube condenser microphone, built by Manley Labs in Chino, CA. It uses a tube-and-transformer topology and a large-diaphragm capsule.

Reference Cardioid K67 CapsuleThe capsule is a 34mm K67 style: dual-backplate, center-terminated, with the K67’s characteristic backplate drilling pattern visible around the edges of the metallized area of the front diaphragm.

Only the front membrane is metallized; the rear half of the capsule has a clear membrane, as do most single-pattern K67 capsules; this is required for Cardioid pattern control.

Reference Cardioid vs Reference Gold CapsulesThe capsule in the Reference Cardioid differs from the one in the Reference Gold; this is one of the primary component differences between the two mics. The Gold uses a CK12-style, dual-diaphragm capsule manufactured for Manley by Josephson Engineering.

The Reference Cardioid capsule is manufactured by Feilo, then subjected to selection and testing in the US.

The tube, as of 2011, is a low-noise 12AT7. In its history, the Reference Cardioid (and Reference Gold) have been built with other tubes, depending on availability:

Manley Labs

We originally used 6072A until it became impossible to find quiet ones out of the NOS dreck left on the market, then we used 12AX7 for awhile.)

The microphone’s output transformer was designed and is built in-house by Manley Labs staff.

Reference CardioidThe mic has a fixed Cardioid pickup pattern. The only onboard control is a -10dB pad, which is controlled via a tiny switch at the base of the microphone body.

Manley Labs’ test procedure includes comparison of every new mic against the original “reference” microphone to ensure consistency of performance.

The Reference Cardioid ships in a padded metal suitcase with its power supply and cables, a very slick compact swivel adapter, a leather dust cover for the top half of the microphone, and the mic’s integral shockmount (with spare elastics).

(Additional specs on this mic are forthcoming.)

Permalink: Manley Laboratories, Inc Reference-Cardioid

The mic was released in 1991.


Pickup Patterns Pads & Filters
Cardioid (17 mV/Pa; 20 - 30,000 Hz)
  • Pad: -10dB (Via Switch)
Capsule Dimensions Impedance SPL/Noise
Diaphragm diameter: 25mm
Capsule diameter: 34mm
Diaphragm gauge: 6 microns
200 Ohms (Low) Max SPL: 150 dB
Weight Length Max Diameter Interface(s)
1020g (35.98oz) 246mm (9.69'') 51mm (2.01'')
  • 3-pin XLR male (1)
Power Specifications
  • Includes tube power supply

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