Josephson Engineering C715 Microphone ReviewSTUDIO CONDENSER COMBINES TRANSPARENT SOUND, UNIQUE FEATURES 4/27/2010 10:40 AM Eastern
Josephson Engineering is a boutique microphone company that takes a no-nonsense, audiophile approach to manufacturing, where a no-compromise signal path and build quality are everything. The company’s latest offering is the C715, which combines notable features—both inside and out. The C715 comes in a matte- black finish, and its most striking aspect is what Josephson calls the “hard, open-cell metal alloy foam” basket that surrounds the capsule. Closely resembling semi-transparent foam, the cage acts as an effective pop filter while providing electrical shielding and mechanical protection for the capsule. The strength of the basket negates the need for an internal housing or supports that can cause reflections within the structure.
The C715 has a mechanical pattern-changing baffle at the back of the capsule that was borrowed from the ’60s-vintage Sony C-37 FET. It’s continuously variable between cardioid and omni and adjustable via an included mini screwdriver. The mic’s electronics are derived from Josephson’s e22S “lollipop” mic, featuring an all-discrete Class-A cascode FET front end driving a custom Lundahl output transformer. The mic creates polarization via a new electrostatic circuit designed by Josephson that negates the need for external power supplies or oscillators. The adjustable stand mount and the 12.5-foot cable are integral. The mic ships in a sturdy, locking, foam-lined, watertight Pelican case.
INTO THE STUDIO
My first experience with the C715—while recording hand percussion—was revealing. When using it on softer sounding material, such as shakers, I had to give the preamp quite a bit of gain to bring in an acceptable level. For this session I was using a Digidesign C24 controller, which has preamps that are adequate for most jobs, but quite noisy at the top of their range. Wanting to be sure the mic was operating properly, I placed a call to the manufacturer and was given the inside scoop on the design philosophy.
The reason for the mic’s low output is the C715’s Lundahl output transformer, which is purposely wound down so the output signal travels at lower voltage and more current. This reduces line loss and also keeps the possibility of overloading the preamp to a minimum. The caveat to all this is, you must have an adequate preamp to gas the mic to proper levels on softer material.
Next, I listened to the mic placed about a foot off the bridge of an upright bass run through Neve VR preamps. Like the first experience, the preamps didn’t have enough gain so these were swapped with a Rupert Neve–designed Summit Audio MPE-200. The results were much better, as the bass’s plucked attacks sounded full with plenty of attack, low end and “fuff” from the player’s hands on the strings.
When placed in front of a screaming Fender Supersonic amplifying a Telecaster, the gain issue was not a problem. The preamp on the Neve VR was all the way down and the mic handled the substantial SPLs without a hiccup. The C715 was very transparent, with the track sounding exactly like the amp in the room.
On a male vocal powered through an SSL 4000 Series preamp, the mic was an excellent performer. Most interesting was the lack of need for an external pop filter: The basket deftly contained the plosives. The output was slightly compressed via SSL’s compressor and the sound was beautifully balanced and full, with an uncluttered bottom and midrange and silky top end with T’s and S’s perfectly rendered.
EASY TO LOVE
This mic was a joy to use and excelled in most applications. My least favorite use was as a room mic, placed 12 feet behind a drum kit, which was disappointing both times that I tried it. Up close, this mic brings new meaning to the word “intimate,” revealing detailed nuances on vocals, hand percussion, as a mono overhead for drums and on tenor saxophone. The top end is silky—never sibilant— and hits reverbs perfectly, rendering luxurious articulations.
My only real gripe was that the integrated cable was always too short for most uses in a larger room, necessitating the use of a second cable. Stringing cables together is one of my pet peeves and is a potential problem for clean transmission of signal and phantom power. Other than that, I give this mic high marks, placing it among my large-capsule condenser favorites, like the Brauner Valvet X and Korby Red.
Kevin Becka is Mix’s technical editor.