C617SET Omni Mic Review
by Eddie Ciletti
Matching microphones with sound sources is kinda
like transposing on a non-tempered keyboard – there are magical combinations
and disastrous ones. I jumped at the chance to check out the new Josephson
C617SET, having recently used a DPA (its nearest competitor) on acoustic
guitar and drums. I liked the DPA as an overhead but found it too "metallic"
on one particular combination of acoustic guitar and its "player."
And so, for the first test, I paired the Josephson
with the DPA on a thin-sounding acoustic guitar. I was hoping for the least
"jangle," and got it with the C617SET. A ribbon mic might have been a good
second choice but it would most likely have challenged the gain of the
"average" preamp. You can see for yourself that the C617SET is smoother
in the presence region – it pretty much is THE reference for a truly flat
mic and about the smoothest condenser you’re likely to ever hear. (The
online review includes a response chart, the deviation from 20Hz to 20KHz
being a mere half-dB.)
AUDIO SAMPLES: Acoustic Guitar, Cellophane and Keys.
You’ll love how efficiently the C617SET converts
acoustical energy into an electrical signal. In three words – it kicks
ass, extraordinary from pianissimo to pianoforte! If recording soft and
delicate sources has revealed a "weakness" in your preamp and mic combination
(as noise), then the C617SET should be your first choice. With the standard
capsule (supplied for this review), this Josephson omni pretty much delivers
the lowest possible noise of any microphone.
The C617SET is also incredibly tolerant of high sound
pressure levels (SPL) – something you’d expect from a measurement-grade
mic. When used as a drum overhead – about ten feet above and somewhat behind
the kit – a digi002 (at minimum gain) was just at the threshold of overload.
(The Audio Technica AT8202 in-line pad is recommended for preamps without
"tolerance" or built-in pad. You can listen to the individual track, as
well as how it laid in the mix, via the link provided at the end of this
review. Please note that the "very consistent peaks" were the result of
NOT having a pad.)
I love omni-directional microphones for many reasons,
like the ability to capture the entire sound of a complex instrument. The
lack of proximity effect reduces some of the low-frequency guesswork and
since an omni mic picks up everything, there’s no such thing as crappy
off-axis response. Oh yeah, and I don’t have to beat up a compressor to
get some "room" into my tracks.
The range of microphone personalities is vast. Most
condensers have a rising treble lift, many dynamic mics have an upper-midrange
presence peak and by contrast, ribbon mics have an understated top end.
Using your "best" mic on lots of overdubs might impart too much of the
same type of character on too many tracks. If so, then perhaps it’s time
for something more neutral. Your mic cab deserves at least one Josephson
C617SET as reference. You’ll eventually want a second…
Josephson C617SET Omni Mic lists at $1840 each with
a street price of about $1740.
A Brief Microphone "Voicing"
Josephson C617SET Omni Microphone Frequency Response
The frequency response chart below details the MK221
capsule only, and as you can see it was manufactured and tested by Microtech
Geffel - the same company still currently making the M7 - the original
U47 capsule design. The chart is calibrated in 1dB steps - note the quarter-dB
dip in the upper midrange (between 5kHz and 9kHz ) and about a half dB
"bump" around 15 kHz. The capsule is almost 1dB down at 20kHz. The optional
MK201 capsule has less output but response to 40kHz!