AKG C 3000B, March 2000 - Mixonline

AKG C 3000B, March 2000

LARGE-DIAPHRAGM CARDIOID MICROPHONE
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Several years ago, when AKG unveiled its C 3000, it was nearly an
instant success, providing decent performance at a price that is quite
low for a large-diaphragm studio condenser. Now, AKG has replaced the
venerable C 3000 with the C 3000B, another large-diaphragm model that
retails at an affordable $498, including H100 shock-mount.

Despite being labeled as the "replacement" for the C 3000, the C
3000B is quite different, both in appearance and in sound. Unlike the
familiar black look of its predecessor, the two-piece molded body of
the C 3000B sports the same satin finish used in AKG's SOLIDTUBE and C
4000B. Like the C 4000B, the C 3000B uses an electret condenser capsule
but in a fixed cardioid pattern.

Under the hood, the C 3000B capsule features a 1-inch-diameter
gold-sputtered diaphragm with internal shock protection. The capsule is
mounted in a unibody-style frame with gold contacts connecting directly
to the circuit board that contains the mostly surface-mount
electronics. Recessed switches on the mic body engage a -6dB/octave roll-off slope at 500 Hz and a 10dB pad
that's ahead of the preamp, providing for a maximum SPL of 136 dB.

The H100 shock-mount included with the mic offers excellent
isolation from rumbles, bumps and stomps. To mount the mic, you slide
it into a rotating collar that turns to cinch the mic into place.
However, the difference between "open" and "locked" is a mere 11/420th
turn of the ring. Although it never slipped during the testing, I would
have felt better if the ring needed a greater turn to lock the mic. For
another level of protection, I wrapped a couple of turns of rubber band
around the mic stalk, near the XLR, after it was in the mount.

My first test of the C 3000B was a recording of hammer dulcimer. The
mic provided a balanced sound that neatly captured all the delicate
harmonics of the instrument, with just enough 8 to 12kHz HF rise to
keep the "zing" in the top end. The C 3000B has a slight dip around 5
kHz that gives it a sound more reminiscent of a C 414 set at cardioid
than that of the original C 3000.

I found that the shock-mount impeded getting the exact positioning I
needed when using the mic on a rack tom, but the mic fit into a generic
31/44-inch mic clip; in fact, a raised ridge on the mic stalk kept the
mic securely in the clip. This close-in position revealed a fairly
delicate—rather than sledgehammer—proximity effect, affording a natural reproduction
that was full without being boomy. I started out with the pad in place
but turned out not to need it; the pad's effect on the mic tone was
neutral.

AKG refers to the C 3000B's polar response as an "acoustically
optimized cardioid." I would describe the pattern as more supercardioid in nature, with fairly tight
directivity. This was great for keeping snare bleed out of a hi-hat,
and a defined sweet spot that provided consistent levels was noticeable
on vocals. This would be no problem with vocalists who stay still
during the performance, but if your singer dances or jumps around
during a recording, you'll need a mic with a wider cardioid
pattern.

Moving the mic back at least 10 to 12 inches from the vocalist
offered a smooth, natural response—I didn't like the C 3000B's
sound in an extremely close radio-style situation. Clearly, this is a
mic that does best with a little air between it and the subject. The
mic's off-axis sound was quite agreeable. Move more than 45 degrees
off-center, and the HF drops off more steeply than the mids; move even
90 degrees to the side, the mid frequencies were never weird or honky.
For handling vocal pops or plosives, an external pop filter screen was
a better choice than the HP filter, which—kicking in at 500
Hz—was just right for rolling off lows from overhead cymbal mics,
where the directionality of the C 3000B's pattern could also be used to
advantage.

Overall, the C 3000B offers a lot. It's rugged enough for the
hazards of live sound, has a low 14dBA noise floor that keeps pace with
24-bit studio recording systems and its $498 list should appeal to just
about anybody.

AKG Acoustics, www.akgusa.com