AKG C1000s Multipattern SDC Review

AKG C1000s is an inexpensive all-around mic with a switchable cardioid / hypercardioid pattern. It has a signature bright sound that creates an illusion of higher fidelity but also helps to clear up the sound in a live environment. Definitely not the highest quality mic, but if used correctly it can produce very decent results for instruments and female vocals. For videographers, of course I don’t recommend it. There are simply no viable mics at this price range, so don’t even hope for a cheap booming solution. This mic requires a bit of patience to set up – positioning will play a crucial role in getting a good sound out of it.

Features

Not so long ago, AKG C1000s has been robbed of omni mode and continuous variable pattern. Now, you can only switch between cardioid and hypercardioid – but the good news, it became a lot cheaper. It’s important to note that switching requires unscrewing the mic’s head and inserting a polar pattern converter that looks like a perforated plastic cap. Aside from this polar converter, the package also includes another cheap looking cap that is promised to ‘boost’ the high range. This makes it sound even brighter but technically it’s not a booster. It is a simple hi-pass filter so it actually reduces the lows, also resulting in lower sensitivity.

akg-c1000s-squareThis mic has two powering options – phantom power and two AA batteries. It draws quite a bit of phantom power, so don’t even think of powering it from digital recorders. However, it is much more efficient when running off internal batteries, which are claimed to last for 120 hours. A handy on-off switch is there to converse the energy. Finally, there is a low cut switch (that will further help males sound like castratus, though it can be safely used on cymbals) and 10 dB attenuation pad.

Sound & quality

Most of the small diaphragm mics available on the market have a flat frequency response, so they sound more or less similar. There are of course many differences, but essentially they share the same character. However, AKG C1000s does not sound like the rest. It’s quite a bit brighter and creates an impression of a more expensive sound. I personally enjoy it, and find it very useful for live performance. This mic clears the things up and helps musicians to cut through where flatter mics don’t.

On the other hand, I can achieve a similar sound by applying EQ on some flat mic, so for me it isn’t a great deal. But, if you want to have this brighter sound out of the box, then getting C1000s is fully justifiable. Nevertheless, this pleasant sound character and versatile multifunctionality may work together to divert your attention from something that is lacking, and that something is quality. Self-noise figure of 21 dB-A coupled with unusually low sensitivity of 6 mV/Pa could be considered only average at best. It would be ok back in 2000s but for today’s standards it’s fairly noisy!

Placement

AKG C1000s is no doubt a versatile mic, but it’s also sensitive to placement. You should never get too up close and directly on axis, otherwise you will likely get that brittle, harsh and distorted sound. Small diaphragm mics usually need some space to breathe. Moving slightly off axis will also help to reduce popping and control the brightness. It may actually take a while to find the best sweet spot for your application, considering there are many things to play with… However, once you nail it down, you’ll find it quite rewarding. When set correctly, it should sound as good as expensive pencil mics only not as quiet.

Build

This mic is obscenely huge and massive compared to other pencil mics. It may be solid and even durable but it feels cheap. The glittery paint may look attractive at first but over time, it will get ugly with dents and scratches. The grille is not only the ugliest I’ve seen, but it’s also not very functional and the wide frontal openings actually expose the internal foam. The cheaply looking plastic polar & frequency converters are the final blow for me. Aesthetically I hate this microphone; nevertheless, the internal electronic parts and the connector appear to be quality and deserve a credit.

Pros

  • Ideal for live environment
  • Pleasant bright sound with lots of clarity
  • Decent quality for female vox and instruments
  • Switchable cardioid & hypercardioid patterns
  • Plenty of features, versatile
  • Can be powered by batteries

Cons

  • Mediocre self-noise and sensitivity
  • There are cheaper rivals, see CAD e70

Review score
  • Very good! - 8/10
    8/10

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