The world’s most popular modern tube vocal mic.

The Manley Reference Cardioid Tube Microphone has that “finished” sound right out of the box, making it the favorite vocal mic of top producers and voiceover artists alike.

This is modern pop music’s go-to mic: flattering, present, and larger-than-life. Some refer to the Manley RefC as the “Just Add Talent” microphone.




The Reference Cardioid Microphone shares the same electronic attributes as the Gold Reference Series, but has a center-fixed cardioid-only capsule with a thicker gauge (6 micron) gold sputtered diaphragm. With the similar film thickness and construction, similar high frequency resonance (a little edge), similar proximity effect and pretty good immunity from pops and sibilance problems, our Reference Cardioid more closely recalls how many of the vintage European tube mics such as the beloved U47 sounded like when they were new. Its rich tonal balance and liquid character is consistently admired for instruments such as guitars, drum overheads, saxophone, and especially vocals. With your present mic, if you find yourself leaning on your compressors and boosting 5 or 10K to score a bit more testosterone, then the Reference Cardioid just might be the mic you’re looking for to cure what ails ya. If you seem to be constantly boosting 12-18K and trying to get a clean, intimate sound, then probably the Reference Gold would be the safest bet.

If you want to sound like God, then use the mic Don LaFontaine used! The Manley Reference Cardioid mic. And have a voice like his, too.



  • All-Tube triode design 12AX7 (Previous versions used 12AT7 and 6072.)

  • -10 dB switchable pad

  • Frequency response: 10Hz-30KHz

  • Sensitivity: 17mV/Pa

  • Noise typically -120dB EIN

  • Max SPL: 150dB

  • Output Impedance: 250 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)

  • Shipping weight: 15 lbs

  • Selected matched pairs available

  • 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 internal jumpers 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

Specifications subject to change because they just might.




Why should I order replacement microphone tubes from you?

The microphone grade tube is tested at the factory for lowest noise, using a test fixture we have built that duplicates the Manley microphone circuit. To the best of our knowledge, there are no other tube vendors that have this purpose-built tester. This testing yields very few tubes suitable for use in the microphones.

Tube quality, especially noise characteristics, varies over time and batch-to-batch. At any particular point in time, we may be using a different tube than what is listed. There is nothing "special" about a Sovtek or Ruby, or anything else we use; what is special is the characteristics we grade and select for including the low noise requirement, and the testing required to insure this. 

How to change the O-RINGS:

The mic suspension is held onto the mic by a set of red silicone o-rings connecting FIVE pillars surrounding the mic, one set on the top and the other on the bottom of the mic. There are two sets of stainless steel screws and spacer nuts that hold the silicone o-rings onto these points and all you do is loop the o-rings onto these posts inner and outer. You can double up the o-rings for extra security and put two of 'em on each point and order two sets (20 total) if you'd like to.

If you needs to order more o-rings, you can order a set of them from our parts store, They are RED SILICONE #114 O-RING's.

How to change a TUBE:

Disconnect the power cable at the mic. Do not remove the mic suspension. You never need to. Remove the three phillips screws at the base (red part) of the mic that hold the case on. Grasp the body of the mic with one hand, grasp the base with the other hand. Carefully pull at the base of the mic (sometimes a slight twist will help), and slide the base out of the body just enough to expose the tube. Grasp the tube while holding the tube socket, and wiggle and pull to remove it. Install a new tube and put the case back on.

BUZZ! My mic started buzzing! Those damn bees... 

If you have a buzz through the audio coming from your microphone, that can be a ground continuity problem with the body of the mic making good ground connections. If the mic is buzzing when you are holding it only by its suspension or it is just setting on a table or on a mic stand and it stops when you touch the body and grill with your hand, then you need to check out all the grounding points on the mic.

For all of these tests, you never have to remove the suspension from the mic body. It can stay attached always.

The easiest first thing to check is the two (or three on older mics) flat head phillips screws that secure the body-tube of the mic to the base. With the mic on a towel on a table (so you don't scratch it) lying down sideways, using a #1 Phillips Screwdriver, loosen and remove the body-to-base screws. The Manley Reference Gold Mics do not require this procedure as gold is conductive. On the Reference Cardioid Mic, the black anodize under the flat head screws should be removed exposing the aluminum in the countersunk cone-shaped hole. If it's not showing silver in the countersink hole, use a 1/4" or 3/16" drill bit with your fingers to gently rotate the drill bit in the countersink to scrape away the anodize layer to expose the underlying aluminum. 
Note that current production Manley mics use a stainless-steel 4-40 x 1/4" flathead screw in conjunction with an angled star washer to really dig in and make a good ground connection. Before that zinc-plated screws were used. If you happen to have black-oxide screws in your very old Manley mic, let's replace those with the stainless screw plus the internal tooth countersunk crinkle washer.

Now slide the body-tube of the mic away from the base just a little bit to expose the innards of the base of the microphone. Slide up and wiggle. (The base and guts of the mic are all contained by a sub-chassis.) Repeat the drill bit exercise with the two (or three in older Manley mics) that those body-to-base mounting screws go into so that the bottom of the angled flat head screw digs into the exposed aluminum of the threaded hole. Rotate the drill bit with your fingers to expose the aluminum and create a slight conical seat for the screw.
While you have the base exposed fully, in our older mics, you'll see some tapped holes around the circumference of the base that secure the XLR connector to the base. In really old Manley Gold mics, you'll also have a set-screw holding the 4-pin power connector to the base of the mic. It is important that these connectors are held tight and also that ground is carried to them by the grub screws. Using a 1/16" hex key, or Allen key, find those buried 4-40 x 1/4" grub screws in the base and back them out and re-tighten them to make the ground and physical connection integral again. (Lefty-Loosen, righty-tighty!) In very old mics, black-oxide coated grub screws were used. These days, we would use more conductive stainless steel set screws. 
Our newest mic designs use a stock chassis mount XLR connector held by two screws to the bottom end of the microphone base. Let's make sure those 4-40 Flat Head Phillips screws are stainless-steel (or at least zinc-plated) and not black-oxide coated. Let's also remove one at a time and perform the drill bit clearing exercise under the screw head in the countersunk hole to make sure there is a good metal-to-metal contact for best ground connection.

Contact our Parts Department to get an up-to-date screw kit for your mic by filling in the Service & Parts Request Form.

At this point, after you put the mic back together and retest it, if the buzz is still there, with the mic on, see if touching the screen or top of the screen makes any buzz go away. Hold the XLR cable shell so you are making the ground path between the screen and the XLR cable metal shell. If the screen is loose, it will need to be expoxied back in place with silver conductive epoxy. If touching the case makes the buzz go away then we still have grounds not being made in the base of the mic so go back and repeat the base-screws grounding exercises.

If you have determined that it is not the screws, and it's not the screens, the next step would be to replace the vacuum tube with any good working 12AX7 or 12AT7 or 6072 you have kicking around to see if the tube is the problem. Sometimes tubes just do not rule...

Next step would be more advanced, checking the power supply volts, especially the heater regulator to make sure you have 12V coming off him... looking for a bad cap in the PSU that isn't doing his job of removing ripple, etc. If nothing you try works then we'll arrange an RA# for you to send it in. Give us a holler on the Manley Service Request Form if you need more help or a schematic.

I hear hissy spitting noises. Is my capsule bad?

When the mic capsule is near the end of its life, generally the mic will get noisy. If the vacuum tube gets noisy, generally it will be “white” noise (hiss), and will be constant in nature. Capsule noises can be intermittent and inconsistent. A bad capsule can be fine for a while, but may get noisy after brief usage, or with differences in temperature, humidity, etc. A quick test to determine if the capsule is at or nearing the end of its life is as follows: Connect the mic so it can be monitored with headphones. While listening, exhale gently directly into the windscreen at close range. You can say “HAAA” into the microphone. If there is a big “rushing” noise, whistling noises, or the sound completely fades away, this is a good indication that the mic capsule probably needs replacement, or at least a professional cleaning. Contact us using the Manley Service Request Form if you need us to look at this for you.

The capsule life is affected by age, temperature extremes, physical abuse, and high humidity. Mics in a high humidity environment or those that live close to the ocean generally have a shorter life than those kept in dry climates. Because the grill weave is very open to allow all of the high frequencies to get through, this also allows spit from a close vocalist to get to the capsule. It is recommended to use a Pop Screen / Filter to keep your capsule cleanest.

Where is my mic's serial number?

The Manley Reference Microphone serial number is located on the inner face of the mic suspension plate flanking the hole where your mic stand attaches to the mic suspension.

I need a frequency response plot and a polar response chart!

In 30+ years of producing microphones we have never provided plots and charts as we do not have an anechoic chamber or empirically correct measuring space that would give you useful charts. So we don’t provide half-assed ones either. I have visited a microphone manufacturing facility in China and I witnessed a lady drawing a pretty curve by hand for each microphone they were packing up… yeah, really.