Audix Co-founder Cliff Castle shows off some prototypes for mics.
On a surprisingly sunny day in Portland, OR, I took a trip down to Wilsonville to visit with local microphone manufacturer Audix. Upon arriving , I sat down with Cliff Castle, co-founder of Audix, to talk a bit about the history of the company and how they'd come to find a home in Oregon.
Twenty-five years ago, Audix was founded in Redwood City, CA. After many years of business in that area, Castle began to feel a bit crowded as more and more new companies opened up in the area. So he decided to uproot the company and move it to Oregon while he remained in Southern California with his family. Oregon seemed like a good choice for his company, he says, because there was room to grow, and the pressure of the Bay area would be a thing of the past.
After several years of working remotely from his company, Castle decided he needed to be in Oregon too, so he took his family and settled down in nearby Tualatin. Now with many years of success behind them, Audix is celebrating its 25th anniversary by releasing a silver version of their i5 microphone.
As Castle stated in a recent release about the anniversary, "Looking back, we are so proud of the products and services we have contributed to the music and sound industries. We appreciate the support of our customers, dealers, distributors, and sound engineers. To commemorate our 25th year, we chose to make the i5-SILVER because it represents simplicity, elegance, and performance. And besides that, it just looks awesome in silver!"
Castle took me on a walk through his company’s production line, which was quite impressive, and we looked at the many machines that produce Audix mics on a daily basis.
"Most people might know us for our drum mics, but we've got so much more," Castle said as he handed me a small harmonica mic that he was inspired to make after many requests from musicians. It's truly amazing that machines can produce such specific sizes and shapes out of a steel pole, but that's the reality of the industry.
After a couple more twists and turns around the building, we ended up in what looked like a sound-checked stage. I fully expected a band to suddenly rush out, pick up the instruments, and start in on something from Santana's catalog.
"This room is where we sound-check our microphones in a live setting” Castle explained. “We want it to be as real as possible, so we know how our mics sit in a live mix."
Audix's headquarters is equipped with a sound-check room for testing the mics
The stage had countless instruments, a full PA, and a soundboard using digital snakes. It was nicer than most clubs in Portland. Castle then brought me over to the side of the room where a small Sonar-based recording studio was nestled.
"This is where we record sound-checks and other stuff to see how our mics sit in recording mixes,” he said. “It's one thing to hear a mic's response on its own, but, unlike other companies that take just a lab approach to their testing, we really want to hear how it interacts with other sources in a mix," Castle explained.
This dedication to the sonic spectrum really showed how passionate Audix is about their mics.
Shortly after the tour, resisting the urge to jump up on the stage and play with everything in sight, I bid Audix goodbye and promised to visit again soon. It's great to find such a friendly local company that's really dedicated to its business. While they're not the largest microphone company in the US, they're certainly one of the most passionate about its products. Audix lets its mics do the talking and from what I've heard, they've got a lot to say.