Studio Projects C1 Microphone

What do you do when you have a successful product that has been well reviewed and quite well received in the marketplace?
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What do you do when you have a successful product that has been well reviewed and quite well received in the marketplace? Some manufacturers would probably just continue to sell that product indefinitely, but in the case of Studio Projects (and specifically their C1 microphone), they've chosen to update and upgrade it in order to keep pace with the continuously evolving value-priced condenser microphone marketplace.

Features

FAST FACTSApplications

Studio, live sound

Key Features

Cardioid pattern; 1.06-inch, 6-micron Mylar diaphragm; 10 dB, 20 dB pad; high-pass filter (75 Hz, 150 Hz); ships with flight case, foam windscreen, shockmount.

Price

$359

Contact

Studio Projects/PMI Audio
877-563-6335
www.studioprojects.comThe newly-revised Studio Projects C1 ($359) maintains the overall design of the original C1, but incorporates some immediately visible improvements such as a two-position high-pass filter (6 dB slope filter at 75 Hz and 150 Hz) and dual-position pad (10 dB and 20 dB) replacing the previous model's single-position high-pass and pad switches. In addition, the mesh grille material has been strengthened relative to the previous C1.

Self-noise has been lowered to 17 dB (A-weighted), frequency response is stated as 30 Hz – 20 kHz with no deviation stated in the specifications, and the sensitivity is given as 14mV/Pa. The diaphragm is a 1.06 inches

center terminated 6-micron diaphragm Mylar unit. Unusual in a sea of inexpensive microphones with shoddy transformers (that seem to ring like a bell at some frequencies), the C1 is a JFET output transformerless design.

Like many of today's condenser microphones, the C1 comes in a nice aluminum “flight-lite” case and includes a newly designed shockmount and foam windscreen. Kudos to Studio Projects for including replacements elastic cords for the shockmount to combat the dreaded (yet inevitable) “shockmount suspension sag syndrome.”

The overall fit and finish of the microphone is quite nice, well above the level of the typical Chinese “clone” microphone. Eschewing the somewhat garish colors and cheap-feeling paintwork of some other products, the C1 has a much more tasteful (dare I say classic) muted champagne finish, which can keep visual company with most things found in even a high-end mic locker.

In Use

The included microphone shockmount is very different than the traditional shockmount normally included with most microphones, not to mention most Chinese-built microphones. The first aspect of it that I immediately appreciated is that the shockmount screws into the microphone. I can't imagine what you would need to do to make the microphone fall out.

Secondarily, with a little bit of thumb-nut-juggling, it's possible to position the microphone anywhere in a 360-degree sweep without unscrewing the microphone from the shockmount, as the microphone can be rotated around the spine of the shockmount.

As far as its effectiveness as a shockmount is concerned, it was comparable to most “normal” shockmounts, but fell shy of the acoustic isolation offered by the very best. Of course, it should fall short of the very best. A Neumann shockmount, for example, costs quite a bit more than the whole C1 microphone package.

With an FBB Custom fretless bass played through a SonicCord Toad amplifier, the C1 was just the right mic for the job, as it added a nice bit of sparkle and presence to this fairly dark-sounding combo. A quick check of the high-pass filter(s) showed them to function as expected, though you'll want to make sure to turn the gain down when activating the HP or pad switches to prevent pops and thumps (good practice with any microphone).

I found the C1 to be a nice choice as a drum overhead microphone when placed a sufficient distance away from my GMS maple drum kit. Since the tonal balance of the microphone is a little on the “tipped up” side, cymbals can sound a bit hot if the microphone is placed too close to the kit. I would have liked to hear a pair of C1s used as room microphones, but only received a single review unit. That said, the C1 sounded better than other low-dollar microphones I've recently used in terms of the way it captured low-level ambient information.

From a foot or so back, the C1 captured the sparkle and transient attack of a Rainsong acoustic guitar in a pleasingly realistic way, especially for finger-style playing. The C1 was very sensitive to pick choice, clearly highlighting the tonal differences between duller picks such as the Dunlop Tortex and the traditional celluloid-style Fender pick.

Vocals were a little bit of a mixed bag. Since the C1 has a fairly sizable presence peak extending from about 3 kHz up to 12 kHz, singers that have either sibilant or “bright” voices will probably not find the C1 to their liking.

The included windscreen (while not particularly acoustically transparent) did help to tame the excessive sibilance on a male singer I recently recorded using the C1. In all fairness, both the singer and I generally prefer a much darker microphone on his voice. While equalization reined things in somewhat, ultimately I prefer to match the microphone to the source, when and where possible.

On the other hand, singers who are in need of a presence boost may very well have found a new favorite microphone, as the C1 will allow even very dull sounding voices to cut right through the mix. I achieved excellent results using the C1 on a last minute voiceover for a regional cable television advertisement; the inclusion of a quality pop filter provided more than just the usual diaphragm protection in that it also imparted a sense of “ease” to the overall presentation.

It's important to for me to emphasize that the C1's rising top end response does not mean that the microphone sounds in any way thin or emasculated. In fact, the C1 imparts a slightly bigger and brighter than life sound that may or may not work perfectly depending upon your desired application.

I found the C1 to work well with both tube and solid state preamps, sounding particularly good with the new Neve Portico Series dual microphone preamp.

Summary

The Studio Projects C1 is a definite contender in the inexpensive microphone marketplace. Its combination of good looks, useful features, and “modern” tonal balance make it an excellent choice at its price point.

REVIEW SETUP

UREI 809 and Fostex NF-1 monitors; Legacy PointOne subwoofer; Pass Labs x250 amplifier; Audio Developments AD146 console; DAV Broadhurst Gardens mic preamp, Neve Portico Series mic preamp.