Manley Reference Cardioid Review

Manley Microphone

Looking for a good high-end studio mic?

Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone
Pricey, high-end and well worth it, that’s what sums up the Manley Reference Cardioid. The Manley reference is a super, high end, studio condenser that is a great alternative to U87. Its tone is nice, bright and detailed and will sit in a mix without a lot of additional EQing. It is also widely compared with the gold reference series due to its similar features. The purpose of this Manley Reference Cardioid review is to give a high-end option to professional studio owners looking to build up their arsenal. It is mostly known for its clarity and ‘crispiness’ in sound.  Some might think it is too bright, but for majority musicians and studio owners this is the best thing they could have for vocal recordings. Most popular reviews consider the sound of European vintage tube microphones, such as the earlier U47 as another reference to what the Manley microphone actually sounds like. Despite being a pricey pick, it is a worthy investment. Maybe not for those who carry on a hobby, but definitely for those who’re seeking a professional career in music, as musicians or as producers.

The Manley Reference Cardioid has been used by quite a bunch of famous musicians, such as Avril Lavigne, Randy Thomas and the famous voice actor Don LaFontaine, which shows us the versatility of sound produced by this piece of equipment. It’s not just the vocals, Manley Reference’s rich tone has been preferred for recording drum overheads, guitars and other instruments as well. It has been seen that this microphone is generally used by rock and similar sounding musicians, nevertheless, as the names above prove, there’s a lot more that the Manley reference has to offer to all musicians and studio owners trying to get that ‘something’ in the tone of their music to make it sound professional and just right!

I run a studio in Louisiana and let me tell you if I could only choose one mic, it would be my Manley reference cardioid.
I think it’s a really good mic. Also, I believe shania twain did her “come on over” album with the cardioid or the gold cardioid manley.
I want the vocals “crispy & in your face”.. don´t we all. The Manley Reference cardioid gives that IMO.
The thing that impresses me most is the clarity of the image throughout the frequency spectrum. The lows are tight and well defined while also being big. Many mics with big-bottoms can be muddy down there.

  • All-Tube triode design,
  • -10 dB switchable pad,
  • Frequency response: 10Hz-30KHz,
  • Sensitivity: 17mV/Pa,
  • Noise typically -120dB EIN,
  • Max SPL: 150dB,
  • Actual output impedance 200 ohms,
  • Weight: 2.25 lbs (Mic),
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs (PSU),
  • Size: 4.5″ x 9.7″ x 4.5″ (Mic),
  • Size: 5″ x 8.2″ x 3.4″ (PSU),
  • Selected matched pairs available,
  • Custom transformerless internal preamp version also available to order,
  • Outboard Power Supply is factory set for 100V, 120V or 220-240VAC operation for original destination country’s mains voltage,
  • Operating Mains Voltage changeable with power transformer re-wiring via switch and fuse value change,
  • Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~ 60Hz,
  • Mains Fuse: 250mA @ 100~120V; 125mA @ 220~240V operation,
  • Power Consumption: 70mA @ 120V = 8.4 Watts.


Sound quality100
Worth it?95
Reader Rating36 Votes79
Brilliant sound and Adjusts well with all vocal tones (male and female).
Considerably Pricy
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