Before choosing this, I even went to the live sound specialist on duty as Guitar Center, and we perused through the prices and functionality, best bang-for-buck ratio, clearness of sound, and quality of construction. This happened in about two minutes, as he recommended this microphone and another immediately for my criteria (Instrument cardioid microphone). One was around $140, and this was $100. The closing variable on it was that the $140 one had a plastic grille, and this was all metal construction, and owners of the other had frequent replacements ordered as the grille always broke within weeks of actual band abuse. This is how my experience went.
PS!!!!!: Try not to use this mic for vocals, as it is so clear that you can hear your own breathing. Use this only as an ambient mic for speeches and things where you need to record from different sources of sound, or for an instrument mic.
Model Year: 2008
Price: $99.99 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitar Center
Very sturdy, all metal construction. Every visible piece is metal. Have not had anything move a millimeter on it since I bought it. Matte black finish, and has not had a single minor scratch either. Great weight, heavy but not too heavy, makes you feel like you own a piece worthy of your money. It even comes with a carrying pouch and a STICKER!!! *Gasp*
The sound quality is amazing. The clearest sound I have heard from a cardioid mic this size and price for a looooong time. I have cranked the headphone volume on my portable recorder and I can hear as loud and as clearly as I would with my ears, ambient sound is very clear, you can even hear breathing from about ten feet away.
VERY EASY. No buttons what-so-ever. Plug it in and it's on and capturing. No on or off switch, even though that is still very easy to operate, which makes it easy for even a kindergartener to use, provided that you plug it in for them. :)
Reliable for live playing? Very much so. Is Audix known for making quality gear? Yes, I think so. How heavy duty is it's construction? VERY HEAVY.