By Dan Richards for VS Planet, 2000

The C1 arrived today!

First impressions..

The box was well pack and much bigger than I expected. Even though I waited a month, Warren at www.macmidmusic.com was nice and professional. I'd recommend them for any purchases.

$209 was the price of the mic. With shipping, the total was $223.

Opening the Fed Ex package. Firstly, what you see and get are way more than expected for a $200 mic. The first thing I see is a well-printed catalog of Studio Projects mics – w/ 797 Audio company history as well as the other mics in the product line. And of course, there's a warranty card.

Next, there this beautiful little flight case. Warning, your girl may want to use it for a purse. This thing is cool, and alone would probably run $70 or so. BUT, the literature and the picture say the case should have locking latches. I did not get the case in the pic and it does not have the spiffy combination lock. I'll call Warren about this. Still, the case I have is very nice.

Next, I open the case. There's the mic – it's a big fucker, a very nice EA-1-type shockmount [ Neumann's shockmount is $150 by itself ]. There's also a nice big windscreen cover.

All this adds up to WAY more than you'd expect for this kind if money – even if the mic wasn't as good.

Now, on to the mic. This thing is pretty, over 8" long and as thick as your wrist. Very-well constucted – this is not cheap stuff, none of it.

I set it up easily on a stand and plugged it into an HHB Radius 40 –which I left on the same settings I'd been using for a recent project.

The C1 has a cardiod-only pattern and there are no db pads available on this model. It's bigger brother, the C3 , allows for multi-patterns.

So, let's turn it on. As I stand in front of the mic and just speak, I immediately realize I am in U87 territory. The proximity results of the C1 and U87 are virtually identical. There's a sweet spot on the mic from about 4" - 10" away that acts just like a U87. I auditioned the mic w/ a pop filter from these guys.

The mic is hot, more so like a TLM103. I instantly got about 4db more signal than w/ my AKG414. Another thing I'm noticing is that I hear the mic picking up much more noise from outside and in the room than my 414. The reason I like the 414 is because it only picks up sounds in a close proxmity – which helps since I have a studio in a apartment. But I also love the 414. Anyway, back to the C1.

I cut a track of lead vocals w/ flat EQ all the way through the chain. The mic responded beautifully. It has this "sheen" that is characteristic of Neumann. There is a nice presence on the vocals. Every little nuance is heard. There is no "edge" or cheap sound. This is smooth. This is an expensive sound.

Next, I tried a vocal track w/ +3db boost at 1.5K and 5K on the Radius. Boy, you could hear it in the mic A bit too much.

Next, I tried and EQ setting I almost always use on every vocal track I've ever recorded w/ a U87 [which is over 20 of them ]. + about 2 db boost at 1K and 8K [ though my usual boost is 10K, but that is not available on the Radius ]. Not quite right w/ this EQ. So, I switched from 8K to 12K. Here it is! This is a U87! No lie.

Now, keep in mind that even different U87's sound different, but if I close my eyes and just sing through this mic, I would have said U87.

I next tracked some trombone. Really nice smooth sound, no blast. The mic is hot and of course if I had a pad I'd use it, so I tried different positions and was able to get a nice smooth sound. The 414 has sounded terrible on trombone, and I've been recording it w/ an EV N/D257 – which has been sounding great. For horn pops and section work, I'd still probably choose the EV, but for creamier melodic stuff, I'd go w/ the C1.

I next tried acoustic guitar. This was pretty nice, but even a U87 has never been a mic I've liked to use on guitar. Actually, the C1 sounded better than a U87 on the acoustic. It seemed to be more forgiving of mic placement and proximity.

Conclusion: This is one of the most exciting purchases I have ever made. I am truly in the presence of a great, classic-sounding mic. Now, keep in mind that even a U87 does not sound great on everything – nor on all voices – but as far as I'm concerned, I have a U87 in the house now. Being that a U87 has been THE standard mic in studios for years and has been responsible for more vocal tracks on records than any other mic, a mic that works and sounds virtually identical is a good, shrewd investment for any studio owner. Actually, the C1 is quiter than a U87 – and due to its transformerless circuit, line noise and interference from computers and other devices is not a concern.

The C! is sensitive – and like I said it picks up more of the room – so, that if you have a shitty, boxy-sounding room, you'll hear it w/ the C1. On the plus side, using this mic can help you to make your room sound better by giving you excellent feedback on the sound of the room and the materials.

I have staggered Sonex in my studio and also a live end w/ a mirror and a dead end w/ a big curtain. I cut the tracks w/ the C1 facing the curtains.

Bottom line: If you are looking to make your first large condenser purchase, this mic is light years ahead of anything else for under $1000. I would highly recommend it over the TLM103, which'll run you over $700.

If you are woking w/ a female singer, get a C1. Period.

If you have a large condenser and are looking to buy another one. Look no further.

If you are looking for a nice pair a large condensers for stereo recording, get two of these beauties.

If you already have a Neumann U87 – which run over $1700 – you may not be interested in the C1, as it will only duplicate what you already have. Better to go w/ something different - like an AKG 414.

Last word: Run, do not walk, to your nearest computer [ which is probably in front of you ] and ORDER THIS MIC.

You will NOT be disappointed. For $200, this is THE choice for an inexpensive condenser. As a matter of fact, this could be THE choice in ANY price range. This mic – while not perfect for everything – is as good a large condenser mic as I have ever heard.

Yes, you can get a $200 mic that acts, sounds and feels like a $2000 mic.