Studio Projects C1 & C3

Capacitor Microphones

Published in SOS December 2002
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone

A choice of two stylish and affordable microphones, each complete with hard case, shockmount and wind shield.


Paul White

Studio Projects are based in California, but, in common with many other companies offering low-cost capacitor microphones, the manufacturing is actually undertaken in China, in this case by 797 Audio. The two models under review are both true capacitor designs, the C1 having a fixed cardioid pattern while the C3 is switchable between cardioid, figure of eight and omni. Both come in stylish aluminium flight cases and are complete with shockmount and foam wind shield. Unlike most of the Chinese-built mics I've seen, these have a distinctive cylindrical body shape (2.1 x 8.9 inches) that makes them look not unlike tube microphones, yet the preamp circuitry is based on the well-tried combination of FETs with a transformerless output stage. The capsules are a little over one inch in diameter and utilise a centre-electrode, six-micron gold-sputtered mylar diaphragm — a design strategy that follows that of vintage European mic capsules. Dynamic feedback at the capsule is used to make the response more linear at high SPLs (131dB max without pad) and the output XLRs, which are offset from centre, have gold-plated pins to ensure reliable connection. Phantom power of 48 Volts is required.

With a quoted frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz (which is incompletely specified insomuch as there's no mention of how much deviation is present at these limits), the C1 comes equipped with a recessed three-way toggle switch that can select a 10dB pad, a low-cut filter (150Hz, 6dB/octave) or a flat response. Note that the nature of this switch means that low cut and pad cannot be used simultaneously. The sensitivity, at 14mV/Pa, is in the same ball park or better than a number of other mics I used for comparison, and the signal-to-noise ratio is 77dB, again a typical and respectable figure for this type of microphone.

The C3 looks almost identical to the C1, but it is marginally less sensitive, at 12mV/Pa, though this isn't evident from a comparative listening test in cardioid mode. In most respects, though, the C3's main figures are within a decibel of the C1. The capsule comprises two diaphragms in order to implement the three polar patterns.

Sound Quality

Both mics feature a reasonably wide angle of usability where the tonality of the output is fairly constant. To test the mics

Studio Projects C1/C3 £207/£349
pros
Subjectively good sound quality.
Low noise and good sensitivity.
Comes complete with case, wind shield and shockmount.
cons
Pad and filter share the same switch, so can't be used together.
summary
Though not radically different in sound from some of the other Chinese mics I've tried, the combination of a well-balanced sound, distinctive cosmetic design and included accessories makes these Studio Projects microphones very attractive.

, I used them on a vocal session with a singer who had a particularly powerful voice, and, as always, a separate gauze pop shield proved essential to avoid popping. I have to admit that it was difficult to discern any difference in quality from some of the other Chinese-built mics I've tried, but that isn't meant in any way as a criticism. Though none of these mics tend to have quite the same silky-smooth high end as a pedigree studio mic, they do present a solid vocal sound with plenty of detail and presence. The large diaphragm 'stealth flattery' signature is definitely there and, while the top end may be a little more clinical than you'd expect from a tube or transformer model, it is adequately restrained and never crosses the line from transparency to brashness. In fact the overall tonal balance is really very good, and if you use the mic at a moderately close distance to invoke just a little proximity effect, the low end warms up considerably.

The C3 manages to retain a nominally similar tonal character across the three patterns, though you have to remember that the omni pattern doesn't exhibit any proximity effect, unlike the cardioid and figure-of-eight patterns, which show a rise in bass response when used very close to the source. Also, the omni pattern of any multi-pattern mic tends to be the most 'uncoloured' sounding because the mic is operating as a single-point pressure transducer, whereas, in the other modes, it measures the difference in pressure between the front and rear of the microphone. In cardioid mode, in particular, this can lead to some phasey coloration which lends the sound a slightly boxy or nasal quality. However, in a well-designed mic such as this, the effect should be minimal.

Verdict

Both models work very well on vocals and are sensitive enough to use with acoustic instruments such as guitars, hand percussion and strings. I didn't find the sound had any obvious character other than that expected from a large-diaphragm capacitor mic, and to be honest there are other low-cost capacitor mics that sound fairly similar, but I found nothing at all to complain about in the detailed, full and confident sound these mics produced.

Although the Studio Projects models may initially seem a little more costly than their UK competition, keep in mind

Both mics come with an aluminium flightcase, a shockmount and a foam wind shield.
that they come in a particularly nice foam-lined aluminium case with a foam wind shield and a well-engineered shockmount. It always pays to be aware that every model of microphone has a slightly different tonality, and what suits one voice may not suit another, so if you're looking for a mic to use mainly for yourself then it is best to try as many as you can before deciding on one. On the other hand, if you need a mic that will work well with a number of different vocalists and instruments, either of these models will fit the bill nicely.

SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£508,836

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Audio-Technica have added multiple polar patterns to one of their already successful designs, bringing increased versatility in the studio.

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP | Media

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Audio files to accompany the article.

Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

Stereo Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

There's more to this variation on Audio-Technica's flagship microphone than the simple addition of a second capsule...

Peavey Studio Pro M2

Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Peavey Studio Pro M2

Paul White explores the capabilities of the understated-yet-powerful Studio Pro M2.

Schoeps VSR5

Microphone Preamp

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5

Schoeps make some of the most revered mics on the planet, so when they release a commercial version of the mic preamp they use for testing, you have to take it seriously...

Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

Test Measurements

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

The following charts, made using an Audio Precision Analyser, accompany our review of the Schoeps VSR5 microphone preamplifier.

Blue Encore 300

Handheld Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Blue Encore 300

Designed as a hand-held live vocal mic, this mic has a cardioid pickup pattern, and seems very robustly engineered.

Cartec EQP1A

Mono Valve Equaliser

Thumbnail for article: Cartec EQP1A

British 'boutique' outboard manufacturers seem to be rather thin on the ground these days, but if this Pultec clone is anything to go by, newcomers Cartec look set to make a big impression.

Prodipe TT1

Dynamic Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Prodipe TT1

Prodipe say they wanted to offer a high-quality, live-sound, cardioid-pattern dynamic mic at a very affordable price.

Sontronics Saturn

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Sontronics Saturn

Sontronics mics usually sound as distinctive as they look - and this one looks more distinctive than most!

MXL Revelation

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Revelation

Hot on the heels of the impressive Genesis cardioid valve mic, MXL have unveiled their flagship multi-pattern model, the Revelation. Does it live up to its name?

MXL Revelation | Audio Examples

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

These audio files accompany the SOS September 2010 review of the MXL Revelation microphone.

Samson Go Mic

USB Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Samson Go Mic

USB mics are nothing new, but the Samson Go Mic is probably the smallest and cutest I've seen to date. This metal-bodied mic,...

AKG Perception 820

Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: AKG Perception 820

Does AKGs Chinese-made Perception 820 maintain the Austrian companys impressive reputation?

AKG Perception 820 | Audio

Audio Examples

Hear for yourself how this mic performed during the SOS tests.

Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

Ribbon Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

A-Ts brand-new transducer technology has produced a robust design intended to deliver high signal levels as well as that prized ribbon character...

Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Snare & Tom Condenser Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Despite the ubiquity of the SM57 for use on snare, there are other options — and Earthworks aim to help you capture a more natural sound.

MXL Genesis

Cardioid Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Genesis

We put MXLs Genesis through its paces alongside a much pricier model, to find out just how good a tube mic can be at this price.

MXL Genesis Mic | Audio Files

Hear For Yourself

To accompany our July 2010 Genesis review, we recorded a series of standard tests with the review mic alongside a more established mic (in this case, the AKG C12 VR).

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media