M-Audio’s Sputnik on the Launch-pad

Vintage style tube mic spreads glasnost      18/04/06

M-Audio’s Sputnik on the Launch-pad
3-2-1 Liftoff

M-Audio’s latest large diaphragm studio toob mic - the Sputnik – presumably so named coz it looks like 1950’s Russian satellite technology, has now been launched for real and can be expected to land very soon. It’s a good job, as I’m in danger of running out of Russian space-puns. For those who missed our MESSE story (see below), the Sputnik mic circuitry is designed around a military-grade 6205M vacuum tube - a pentode wired as a triode yielding output behavior like that of a perfect current source (making it tolerant of a wide range of load conditions). The tube operates at high voltages - allowing an enormous dynamic range - but with less heat dissipation than other designs. This means, in part, that users can easily hang this mic upside down or orient it upright without having to worry about overheating the capsule. M-Audio also mounted the tube itself upside down to facilitate shorter connections that, in turn, make for more controlled impedance and less stray capacitance - a design trait shared by German mics like the revered Telefunken 251. The Sputnik also employs a socketless design eliminating the potential for impedance mismatch, signal deterioration and contact corrosion. Research shows that tubes go bad within the first 10 hours. So M-Audio hand-pick military-grade tubes to ensure the highest specs, consistency and reliability, then burn them in for a week. The Sputnik’s frequency response is 20Hz – 20kHz ±1.5dB; the sensitivity is 30mV/Pa (-30.5dBV) and the max. SPL at 0.5% THD is 132dB (or 142dB with the 10dB pad). It also features a low-frequency roll-off and multiple pick-up patterns (cardioid, omni, figure-8). Sputnik includes a professional shockmount, dedicated power supply, 7-pin mic cable, grounded IEC power supply and a custom flight case. “M-Audio has been consistently proving that a world-class mic doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars,� says Adam Castillo, marketing director at M-Audio. “With Sputnik, we looked closely at the mics that well-established working professionals use consistently for critical recording tasks, and we used that as our starting point. Our track record in using the latest manufacturing advances to make affordable studio technology enabled us to deliver one of the best microphones at any price.� Sputnik is now shipping and carries an MSRP of $699.95.

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