Live Sound — December 2015
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CAD Audio D89 & D90
Craig Leerman

The bottom line on two dynamic microphones.

CAD AUDIO D89 AND D90 dynamic microphones are part of the company’s new CADLive Series that’s designed for live performance while also fitting the bill for recording applications. They’re outfitted with proprietary Trueflex diaphragms for articulate response and PowerGap high-gauss neodymium magnets for a “hotter” signal.

Both models offer a supercardioid pattern. The D89 is marketed for instrument applications and has a stated frequency response of 50 Hz to 17 kHz, a sensitivity rating of -50 dBv (2.8 mV), and a maximum sound pressure level rating of 150 dB. It’s 6.5 inches long and has a steel windscreen with internal foam filter.

The D90 is a handheld vocal mic with a stated frequency response of 50 Hz to 16 kHz, a sensitivity rating of -51 dBV (2.8 mV), and maximum SPL rating of 150 dB. It’s slightly longer at 7.25 inches and also sports a steel windscreen that’s a bit bigger than the one on the D89.

Both models ship with foam-lined plastic storage cases and include a clip. Out of the box I was impressed with how nice these mics look and with the rugged, heavy-duty windscreens. They’re designed and built for whatever any live stage can dish out. The other thing I initially noticed is that the clip has a wingnut to tighten the angle of positioning. I could easily crank down on the wingnut and lock it into one position or adjust it a little looser for repositioning the mic, which comes in handy for shows with different performers.

Trying Them Out

As with all Road Test gear, the first stop is my bench for evaluation. Plugged into an adjacent portable PA, I quickly found that the D89 has a nice, tight supercardioid pattern with good rejection from the sides and rear. I also found that it has higher output than the D90 as well as a more pronounced proximity effect when you get right on the mic. The D90 seems to have a slightly tighter pattern with better side and rear rejection than the D89, and it also exhibits less proximity effect. Both mics sounded great with the male voices in the shop, with the D90 getting my vote as more natural sounding on the typical male voice.

I grabbed a Fender Blues Jr tube guitar combo and plugged in a Stratocaster. I tried both mics on the amp and listened to them with headphones and through a PA loudspeaker. I also recorded some clean and distorted guitar tones and critically listened over a pair of studio monitors. Both mics sounded very good on the amp, with the D89 having a more rounded sound, especially in the bottom end.

Next I pulled a 13-inch rack tom and a 16-inch floor tom from a maple kit off the shelf and tried both mics with them. Again, the D89 seemed to have a fuller sound in the lower regions, but both mics sounded great. The last shop experiment was with a maple snare drum, where I tried both top and bottom placements, recording both snare hits and rim shots. My favorite recording was with the D90 on the top head about 4 inches away from the drum, but both mics really sounded quite nice on that snare.

My verdict: both are equally capable with vocals or instruments, but the D89 sounds a bit better on instruments while the D90 does a little better on vocals. Satisfied that the mics were working properly, I took them out to several gigs.

Diverse Functions

The first stop was a band playing at a large wedding. I used the D89 on snare, placed about 2 inches away from the top near the rim. It sounded quite good, and this was without a lot of EQ. Rejection of the tom next door was solid. The D90 was provided to the lead singer, who had a wide dynamic style where he would sing softly and then really belt out the choruses. The mic handled this with ease, and the singer loved the way he sounded in his personal monitoring system.

That gig was followed by a corporate event where I mixed a medium-size general program. I was also asked to introduce all of the sessions and read some disclosures. (The moderator who was supposed to be there had missed his flight.) So I placed the D90 on a desk stand next to the console and used it as my VOG (“Voice Of God”) announce mic. The channel EQ was flat, with everything below 100 Hz rolled off. The mic sounded outstanding.

This was followed by a two-day outdoor festival featuring several bands. Normally I try to put the same mic on vocalists who share monitor mixes; that way the EQ is the same for the mix and I have less feedback problems. So because I had only one of each CAD mic, I decided to use them both on instruments.

For day one, the D89 was placed on a trumpet/flugelhorn. Excellent result. I needed very little EQ to get a good tone. The D90 was pressed into service on hi-hat, and while I prefer small diaphragm condensers on cymbals, it did the job admirably. Some of the band members were on wireless systems and would go out into the audience during songs to dance or play solos, and I received several positive comments from them on how great everything sounded. The mics were a big help.

For day two, the D90 moved to guitar amp duty. The guitarist had a small combo that sounded quite thin, but a little low-mid on the EQ made the amp sound pretty good. Because it’s a bit smaller, the D89 was applied for the singing drummer. It attained a solid, rich vocal signature, while the supercardioid pattern helped keep the drums out of the vocal channel.

And over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing several corporate meetings where the D90 has seen a lot of use. It’s served as a table mic for a moderator, as a stand-mounted audience mic, and as a podium mic in place of a larger, bulky wireless handheld. It’s admirably handled everything I’ve thrown at it.

In fact, both mics get very high marks in terms of performance in a wide range of applications, and with their ability to handle high sound pressure levels, they can be used all over the stage, not just with vocals or certain instruments. If you’re looking to add some versatile dynamic handheld mics to your inventory, I highly encourage you to check out the D89 and D90, as well as the entire CADLive Series.

MSRP: D89 – $119; D90 – $129.

Senior contributing editor CRAIG LEERMAN is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas.