CARDIOID CONDENSER MICROPHONENot to be left off the low-cost condenser bandwagon, AKG has climbed aboard with the AKG C 2000B. The 2000B is a cardioid-pattern, small-diaphragm condenser (derived from the 3000B), featuring a switchable 500Hz bass roll-off filter, -10dB pad, internal shockmount and a built-in pop screen. According to AKG, the 2000B is suitable for a wide array of live sound, studio and home recording applications, and boasts a better-than-average frequency response of 30 to 20k Hz and maximum SPL level of 140 dB.
The C 2000B is touted as an all-purpose, entry-level mic, so I geared my tests toward home recordists, who, having probably made their first condenser purchase, will use this mic on everything from vocals to guitars to bass.
On vocals and acoustic guitar, the 2000B is a solid performer. With the mic positioned six to eight inches from the vocalist (and about half that distance for the guitar) with the -10 dB on, the mic produced a warm, clear, uncluttered sound with a slight midrange boost. The built-in pop screen worked suprisingly well, blocking out everything except the very worst plosives. The mic's overall sound will be a welcome improvement for those who are moving up from using handheld dynamic vocal mics in the studio. In fact, the singer I was working with, a newcomer to the world of condensers, said with a chuckle, "I can hear my teeth with this thing."
On electric guitar, I miked a Line 6 Flextone, placing the mic about four inches from one of the speakers at about 8 o'clock. For comparison purposes, I also ran a direct line and tracked both into Logic, with the -10dB pad in. The mic sounded clear and crisp, producing a much richer and punchier sound than the direct line. I then engaged in the cheap, but "why not" practice of miking a cabinet in a bathroom for that ever-elusive "bath tub" reverb. I set up the amp facing the tub and placed the mic about 18 inches from the sound source. Set to 0 dB, the mic did an excellent job of capturing the sound of the room, giving an otherwise uncolored guitar sound an extra little sting and presence. With the recent flood of amp-modeling effects packages, it's easy to forget just how good a well-miked cabinet can sound, and the 2000B makes it almost too easy.
I wanted to test the 2000B in a loud sound situation. I set up a 130W Peavey TNT bass amp and let it crank. I inched up the volume, and the amp began to distort long before the mic did. The stated maximum SPL of 140 dB is no joke. The mic, again, did an excellent job in preserving the subtle qualities of signal. With the bass already set up, I then wanted to check the off-axis response to see if I could take some of that 2 to 5k, Hz "snap" out without filters or EQ. The result, again, was just what I was looking for.
However, I didn't like the mic's 500Hz highpass (bass roll-off) filter at all. I like to dirty vocals up as much as anyone, but in each of my tests, engaging the roll-off switch made a great-sounding signal seem thin and shrill. If you need to tweak the proximity effect or deal with breath pops on this mic, try experimenting with placement, wind screens or EQ for more flexibility.
Taken as a whole, the C 2000B is a great-sounding mic, especially considering its $378 retail. The average guitar player/hobbyist will have no trouble getting up and running quickly with the C 2000B. Its construction seems durable and sturdy and considering AKG's other products, this mic should provide years of trouble-free performance.
AKG Acoustics, U.S., 1449 Donelson Pike, Nashville, TN 37217; 615/360-0499; fax 615/360-0275; www.akg-acoustics.com.