Review: Avantone CV-12 Tube Condenser Microphone

Can this studio microphone live up to the hype that surrounds it?

Item: Avantone CV-12, Multi-Pattern Tube Condenser Microphone

Price: £440 (UK), $499 (US)

Mic Rating: 3.5/5

At A Glance: Avantone’s CV-12 is a studio microphone that is inspired by high-end tube microphones – particularly the AKG C12 – and aims to offer a true professional performance for singers on a budget. Avantone claims that the microphone will meet or surpass the performance and specifications of much higher priced mics and it is said that the mic has even been used by the singer Taylor Swift (although this appears only to have been on some early tracks and demos). The CV12 is based around the Chinese made Apex 460 microphone that Avantone has upgraded, including their trademark “Cabernet Wine-Red” finish. It comes with a power supply, shock-mount, wooden box, and carrying case.

High Notes: Like with AKG’s C12, its power supply lets you select from range of polar patterns from a tight cardioid to a figure-8. This is useful if you want to alter the amount of room sound in your recordings, as you can simply move the dial to increase or decrease the spread of the microphone’s pickup. The CV12 provides the “warm” sound that many users will be expecting from a tube microphone. This helps add some extra body to vocals as well as smoothing out some of the high frequency sibilance. There is a -10dB pad for recording louder sources such as drums, and switchable 80Hz bass roll-off to help stop unwanted low frequency rumbles.

Off Pitch: The microphone is relatively more expensive in Europe than in the USA; as a result it does not offer as such value for money and puts it against stronger competition. The low frequency boost of the microphone won’t necessarily suit all voices and the high frequency boost isn’t quite as refined as on higher cost microphones.

VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: Overall I was a little disappointed with the performance of the CV-12. This is however mostly due to the dramatic claims by Avantone that its “performance is comparable to some of the fine vintage tube mics of the 1950s & 1960s”; as in my opinion it clearly isn’t. That said, it is still a good sounding vocal mic and performs well considering its price. On the other hand, it faces strong competition from other similarly priced tube microphones such as M-Audio’s Sputnik or Rode’s K2 – both of which I feel offer a slightly better quality of sound than the Avantone. The CV-12 is a microphone that is definitely worth auditioning if you have a budget under $500, and it might be a perfect match for your voice, however if you think that it will sound close to a genuine AKG C12 then you might be disappointed.

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