Gear Review… AKG C3000B Microphone

17 Jul

A "sound" microphone. Ah, I crack me up.

Hi folks,

Time for another gear review.  This time it’s the AKG C3000B large diaphragm condenser microphone.

I bought my AKG C3000B about, probably, ten years ago now and have used it fairy frequently since then.  It’s your typical entry-level professional condenser microphone with no real bells and whistles but it is a trusty and flexible piece of kit, nonetheless.

It has a 1 inch, gold-spluttered diaphragm housed in a zinc cage with a finer mesh inner cage.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t act as much of a pop stopper (not that you’d expect it to) so you’re going to need a separate popper stopper if you’re using it for vocal work.  There is a -10dB pad switch on the side of the housing and a low-frequency roll-off switch.  And that really rounds out the feature set.  As I said, this is a basic entry level model.

The earlier C3000 was a popular microphone but the C3000B shares very little technology with that model – AKG seems to have borrowed the name just to juice a few more sales out of it.  It doesn’t really sound like that C3000, either.  However, the C3000B has a distinct and not unpleasant character of its own.

I’ve used it for vocals mostly but have also miked up bass and electric guitar cabs, acoustic guitar as well as snares and hats with it.  I’ve used it as a room mic on a number of occasions, too.  In all circumstances, it has performed well.  And this is one of the great things about the C3000B.  It really is about as all-purpose as a condenser mic can get.

The frequency response is relatively flat.  It dips a few dB on a steady slope from about 130Hz down.  There’s a 1 or 2dB lift from about 2.5kHz to 5.5kHz which can, in the right conditions, give a nice presence lift to your sound.  However, the mic can be a bit temperamental in poor quality environments and has a tendency to sound a bit thin unless it’s in a well-treated acoustic space.  That’s probably symptomatic of the fact that it has a large diaphragm transducer and a cardioid polar pattern.  I don’t think I’ve ever used a professional large diaphragm condenser that doesn’t sound bad in a boxy room – they simply pick up too much room sound.  My Neumann KM185i, on the other hand, handles boxy rooms quite well (but it is a small diaphragm, hypercardioid model and it’s worth about 5 times what the AKG is worth).

I recently had a conversation with an emcee who was looking to begin buying some recording gear.  Obviously, his main concern was the microphone (as was mine when I started out, though if I could go back in time I would have kicked my ass and forced myself to buy acoustic treatment instead).  I made two recommendations to him, given his relatively small budget.  The first recommendation was a Rode NT1A – a great entry level mic with similar flexibility to the C3000B but, perhaps, a slightly warmer sound.  The second recommendation was the AKG C3000B.

I guess, if you can still recommend a budget mic after 10 years of use it has to have something going for it.



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