You are here

AKG C1000S

Back-electret Microphone By Paul White
Published December 1998

Paul White tries the latest incarnation of an old friend and discovers that beneath the new paint job, the traditional values have been maintained.

AKG's original C1000 was the first back‑electret capacitor mic I ever owned, and the difference it made to my recordings was both obvious and immediate. Whereas dynamic mics always left my acoustic instruments sounding choked at the high‑frequency end, the C1000 produced a far more open, articulate result — but at the same time, the sound remained warm and musical. That was a very long time ago and since then, the C1000 has undergone a number of small design changes.

AKG C1000SLater versions of the C1000 were designated the C1000S, largely because a little plastic widget could be slipped over the capsule to change the polar response from cardioid to super‑cardioid. My own view is that while the hypercardioid response may be better for live work, where spill can be a major problem, the regular cardioid pattern may be more forgiving in the studio, especially for vocal recording where the sound source has a tendency to move.


Cosmetically, the main difference between the latest C1000S and its predecessor is the colour. Gone is the dark grey metallic finish to be replaced by metallic champagne, which makes the body appear marginally slimmer. In most respects, however, the materials and construction seem very similar to those of the earlier model.

The main body of the microphone is machined from a very solid chunk of aluminium, while the front tube is turned from brass — this may be a budget microphone but the construction is thoroughly professional. The output signal appears on an integral 3‑pin balanced XLR socket, and a dedicated stand adaptor is included as part of the package, along with a plastic carry case and the two response‑modifying widgets.

One of the most useful aspects of this microphone is that it can be run either from an internal 9V battery or from regular phantom power (from 9 to 52V), making it useful for location recordings where phantom power may be unavailable. The capsule itself is fitted with a removable foam windshield that sits inside the stainless steel basket, and access to the battery is achieved by unscrewing the two halves of the microphone body. Disassembling the mic in this way also provides access to the capsule, allowing the included PPC1000 pattern adaptor to be fitted or removed. A second (and as yet undocumented) plastic widget is now provided that, I'm told, tailors the high‑end response of the microphone, though I was hard pushed to hear any real difference on vocals. As standard, the mic has a nominally flat response with a very gentle presence peak at around 3kHz.

When run from batteries, a regular PP3 9V alkaline battery is used; the on/off switch on the body conserves battery power when the mic is not in use. As the current consumption is less than 2mA, the battery life is usually a couple of hundred hours or so. Fitting a new battery is easy, but I can't say the same for the HF‑tailoring widget — it's a very tight fit over the capsule and unless care is taken, it would be easy to damage the shockmount while trying to remove it.

Unlike a dynamic mic that tends to tail off above 16kHz or so, the C1000S has a useful response extending from 50Hz to 20kHz. The sensitivity of 6mV/Pa is less than that of many true capacitor mics, but is still adequately sensitive for most recording tasks, including acoustic guitar. Though no pad switch is fitted, the microphone can tolerate SPLs of up to 137dB, which means it can be used close to guitar amps or drum kits with no problem, and the equivalent noise level of 22dB A wtd is very respectable for a mic of this type and price.

In Use

Though there are more open‑sounding back‑electret mics available, I've always felt that the C1000 successfully combined the warmth and weight of a good dynamic mic with enough high‑end detail to allow a sound to breathe properly. In fact I have used the C1000 to record the main vocals on more than one serious album project in the past, though to be fair, I'd almost certainly use something a little more sophisticated now. The new C1000S has much the same comfortable quality as its predecessor, and proves to be a good all‑rounder that can handle vocals and acoustic instruments with equal competency. The solid construction means the mic can be used either live or in the studio, but for recording work an external pop shield is pretty much essential, as the internal foam shield is too close to the capsule to be very effective. The C1000S may not have the same transparency as a high‑end capacitor mic, but for me its real strength is that it seems to combine the best aspects of both dynamic and capacitor mics in a very natural‑sounding way.


The AKG C1000S represents exceptionally good value, not least because sharp competition in the home recording microphone market has forced prices down to the point where the mic is cheaper to buy now than its predecessor was ten years ago. Not only is this a good‑sounding and versatile back‑electret mic, it's also very solidly built and performs well on battery power if required to do so. It's perhaps true to say that because the number of low‑cost quality microphones has increased so much in recent years, the C1000S is no longer the clear leader that it once was, but it still has enough going for it to merit a place on anyone's sub‑£200 microphone short list.


  • Warm, detailed sound.
  • Solid construction.
  • Battery or phantom power.


  • Plastic response‑tailoring devices can be difficult to fit and remove.


A good‑sounding budget all‑rounder, but faces stiff competition from the likes of Audio Technica and Rode.