An Affordable Reference Mic You Can Build Yourself

Reference mics are vital tools for audio work. They’re prized for their flat frequency response, and are often used for characterizing the audio response of a room or space. OpenRefMic aims to be an open source design for producing reference mics without paying exorbitant retail prices.

The heart of the build is a preamplifier that runs off standard 48 V phantom power, and is responsible for both biasing the electret microphone element and acting as a buffer for the mic signal. It’s designed specifically to work with the PUI AOM-5024L-HD-F-R mic capsule, chosen for its good performance and low noise characteristics. However, other electric mics should work, too. The hardware is wrapped up in a 3D printed case which can readily be made on most basic printers. It’s complete with a press-fit grille that holds the mic capsule in place.

The prime goal of the project is low noise; the project creator, [loudifier], notes that most commercial reference mics focus first on flat frequency response and then reducing noise. OpenRefMic performs well in this area, and its lack of a perfectly flat frequency response is countered with calibrated equalization. It also works with regular pro-grade XLR cables and phantom power, rather than needing fancy laboratory-spec cables and interfaces.

The final result is a credit to [loudifier], who demonstrates a strong understanding of the principles of reference mic design. We’ve seen some other great low-cost reference mics recently, too!