Review: Mojave MA-1000 Vacuum Tube Microphone

A vacuum tube microphone can give you great recordings. But can the Mojave MA-1000 really sound as good as mics costing ten times as much?  

The Mojave MA-1000 is an award winning microphone designed by David Royer. I was told this mic had been extensively tested against microphones that cost $20,000 or more and that it sounds comparatively just as good. Curious to find out how the MA-1000 would perform, I tried it out recording my acoustic guitar with a variety of mic placements. 


The Mojave MA-1000 is a modern tube microphone that features an original new old stock tube, 251-capsule and custom designed transformer built by Coast Magnetics. It works together with a continuously variable polar pattern selector located on the power supply. This allows users to choose between omnidirectional, cardioid or figure eight patterns. The MA-1000 features a 15dB pad and a bass rolloff switch. It comes housed in a rugged black road case, with a microphone Sling-Shock mount licenced from Royer Labs. Looks-wise, it's a gorgeous microphone that would impress any musician or engineer. 

Test Recordings


To test out the Mojave MA-1000, I recorded my acoustic guitar and positioned the mic on a mic stand about 18 inches away from the sound hole. I recorded the output of the Mojave MA-1000 into a Rupert Neve Shelford 5052 Mic Pre and then into my Fireface 8000 sound card, and set the polar pattern closer to cardioid than omnidirectional so that the MA-1000 would mainly pick up sound from the sound hole. The results sounded great: the recording was very clean, rich and accurate. I engaged the bass rolloff switch on the mic to reduce excessive proximity effect due to unwanted bass buildup. 


Guitar recorded 18” away from the sound hole

Next I tried recording my acoustic guitar from about 18” away, with the mic still positioned towards the sound hole and a soundproof blanket behind the microphone. This setup helped me to achieve a recording with less reverb and a more controlled sound. I also tried recording the guitar closer up, about 12” away and found that the MA-1000 helped to capture a beautiful, clear sound. 

Guitar recorded 12” away from the sound hole, with a soundproof blanket behind the mic

Lastly I tried recording both my vocals and acoustic guitar into the microphone. I achieved great results when I raised up the MA-1000 so it was at the same height as my mouth, and turned my guitar slightly away from the mic. The MA-1000 captured my sound with clarity and in detail. It may have sounded particularly good as it was paired with a fabulous Rupert Neve mic preamp! 




The MA-1000 is a pleasure to record with and delivers a smooth and clear recording. I like the fact that the polar pattern can be adjusted as this makes it a versatile microphone that can be used for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, piano and drums. The vacuum tube head-amplifier delivers great quality sound for a fraction of the price of more expensive microphones. Overall, a wonderful mic that captures audio with pristine sound quality. 

Price: US: $2495 / CAD: $3470

Pros: Original new old-stock 5840 tube and 251-style capsule. Variable polar pattern selector. Great quality sound. Stylish look.

Cons: As with all vacuum tube microphones, a warm-up period is advised for optimum performance: usually about ten minutes. While it's not an eternity, recording engineers do need to remember to allow for time to warm up the mic. 


Sara Simms captivates the world as an innovative musician, DJ, turntablist and electronic music producer. She's a multi-instrumentalist who's known for her love of music technology. Sara makes her mark in the music community by crafting diverse sets with styles ranging from pulsating techno to house. She balances technical skills wi... Read More


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