Studio Projects B1

Condenser Microphone

Published in SOS June 2005
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone

The B1 may seem like just another cheap Chinese mic, but it punches well above its league.

Paul White

studio b1.s

Studio Projects are part of the PMI Group, which now owns the Joemeek brand and distributes a number of other products including Toft Audio Designs. They're often seen at trade shows with their range of Studio Projects mics set up alongside industry-standard high-end models, where the visitor is invited to compare them, and they openly admit that their aim is to capture the essence of the German microphone sound at an entry-level price.

To achieve this, their mics are designed in the USA by Brent Casey, and then built by 797 Audio in Beijing using high-quality components, including Wima capacitors. 797 was the original government number for the facility in the days when it was under government ownership, but today 797 Audio build mics and capsules for a small number of different companies around the world.

Rather than trying to disguise the fact that these mics are made in China, Studio Projects put the 797 Audio logo on all their mics, in part I'm told to ensure better quality control from the factory as a result of their name being on the mic. Each microphone is tested at the factory and again by Studio Projects in California prior to packing and dispatch.

Fixed-cardioid Capsule

The B1 is the least expensive mic in the range and offers a fixed-cardioid pattern with no pad or roll-off switches. The centre-terminated, large-diaphragm capacitor capsule (approximately one inch in diameter) requires a standard 48V phantom power supply and feeds a FET cascade input with a direct-coupled transformerless output.

The diaphragm itself is made from Dupont Teijin three-micron, gold-evaporated mylar. Housed in a satin-nickel plate-metal enclosure with gold-plated XLR connector pins, the B1 has a fairly wide cardioid response that remains tonally true beyond 45 degrees off axis. As with all cardioid mics, it also exhibits a proximity bass boost when used up close, and this can be used creatively to add weight and warmth to close-miked vocals.

A dual layer metal basket protects and screens the capsule, which is itself shockmounted, and the Studio Projects logo denotes the live side of the mic. The B1 comes complete with shockmount, foam windshield, and soft plastic storage pouch, but to keep the cost down it is supplied in a cardboard box rather than a fancy camera case or wooden box.

I'm unsure what the foam windshield is supposed to be for, as these things are usually pretty ineffective against popping and also tend to compromise the high end, though they can be useful in reducing wind noise when used outdoors. I feel it could mislead the inexperienced user into thinking they can work without a separate pop shield, which when recording vocals is most definitely not the case with any microphone of this type.

Unusually, the shockmount features a custom plastic moulding that clips to the lower end of the mic suspended within a metal ring using standard fabric-covered elastic belts. The mic is a tight fit in the cradle, but once it's in, it's not going anywhere!

Subjective Impressions

My practical tests confirmed that the B1 is more than adequately quiet, and similar in sensitivity to the other large-diaphragm models I used for comparison. It has an open, subjectively uncoloured sound, but with a welcome density at what I tend to think of as the 'chest' frequency of male vocals. If there is a presence peak, it is suitably subtle. Tube mics and some compressors also create this impression of density, and it sounds particularly flattering when you're close-miking vocals.

However, one very pleasant surprise was the way this mic interpreted acoustic guitar. Most capacitor mics will render a fairly clean and natural-sounding recording of an acoustic guitar if correctly positioned, but this model added some flattering weight to the sound and seemed less critical of positioning. It also seemed to smooth out the rough edges without losing any detail — the top end comes over as open and detailed, but without being harsh or scratchy. Although the overall effect may not be quite so refined as that of a £1000 mic, it's really not as far behind as you might imagine.

Given the level of performance of which this microphone is capable, I'd say that it would suit the vast majority of home-studio vocal or instrument applications (including guitar amplifiers), and if you can't get a good sound out of it, then the chances are that the room acoustics or the mic position are at fault, not the mic itself. Clearly it isn't the best mic in the world, and you wouldn't expect it to be for only around £70 in the UK, but I'd be very happy to use it as a main vocal mic for serious recording projects. There's nothing not to like — the tonal balance is nice, the off-axis response is more even than most mics manage, and the build quality is solid enough. The budget Chinese mic market is hugely competitive, but the B1 is one of the few mics that has made me sit up and take notice. In fact, I'm seriously thinking of adding one to my collection, if just for what it does for guitars!

Specifications
studio b1 SpecSheet.s
The frequency response and polar pattern diagrams showing the technical performance of the Studio Projects B1.
The frequency response and polar pattern diagrams showing the technical performance of the Studio Projects B1.
The frequency response and polar pattern diagrams showing the technical performance of the Studio Projects B1.
No response curves are provided with this microphone, though I managed to get some from the designers that show the mic to have a very subtle presence lift centred at around 10kHz combined with a gentle bass roll-off below 100Hz. The published frequency response specification simply says '20Hz to 20kHz'. The noise level (EIN) is 12dBA (giving a signal-to-noise ratio of 82dB), which is slightly quieter than is typical, and the sensitivity is -34dB (reference 1Pa), which is pretty standard for this type of mic. The maximum SPL is an impressive 137dB, which is higher than normal and certainly enough for any conventional vocal, acoustic instrument, or amp-miking work, which is what the mic is really designed for.
Studio Projects B1 £67
pros
Open but smooth sound.
Effective shockmount included.
Very inexpensive.
cons
None at this UK price.
summary
The B1 is one of the cheaper large-diaphragm capacitor mics available at the moment, but there's nothing about the sound quality that gives away the price.
information
£67 including VAT.
PMI Audio UK +44 (0)1803 215111.
+44 (0)1803 215111.


SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£460,171

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