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Josephson C720...the future of condensers? Condenser Microphones
Old 7th October 2008
  #1
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peeder's Avatar
 

Josephson C720...the future of condensers?

The sluttiest thing on the AES floor for me by far was the very limited (20 units worldwide) Josephson C720 condenser mic. This was somewhat of a research piece for that company I understand, and it incorporates a couple innovations I personally haven't seen elsewhere (let me know if there are precedents). In any case, I am blown away by this thing.

The first thing you notice is it has this neat "metal foam" aluminum headgrille rather than a traditional wire basket. There is a very fine mesh basket inside for additional protection, but the nice thing with this is there need be no supporting bars that stuff can reflect off of. The capsule is internally shockmounted and they have a U clamp permanently on the thing like a RCA77 or SM7 have to mount it.

But the really explosive innovation to me is that they have each diaphragm of the dual-diaphragm mic individually accessible and amplifiable. This is not a dual-capsule mic like some Josephsons (and Sankens etc.) are, this is a more standard dual-diaphragm multipattern condenser. But even though it is a FET mic, the cable permanently attached (again like a 77) is 7 pin, with an adapter that splits to two XLR males, one for the front diaphragm, one for the back. Inside the housing are two separate, 48V phantom-driven preamps each with their own output transformer.

So what does this mean? It means, in effect, you can wait till mix time to decide what polar pattern you want to use on this microphone.

Erm...let me empahsize that a touch.

You can wait till mix time to decide what polar pattern you want to use on this microphone.

No ****.

For cardioid, just power up one of the capsules hooking up one of the cables to 48V. You only need one preamp channel just like any other mic. For omni, hook both cables up to two mic preamp channels each running 48V, and level match them in phase. Done. For figure-8, just flip the phase on one of the channels. You're there. Hypercardioid, sub/super cardioid, everything in between, just adjust levels to your very particular preference at your leisure in your most optimal listening arrangement.

No longer do you have to hold up the session trying to predict how much room tone or proximity effect you're wanting. You can even use each cardioid diaphragm in phase without summing to mono as a 180-degree stereo micing for room ambience. And the C720 may be the best mic ever for mid in a mid-side arrangement, given that its interaction with the side mic can be dialed in perfectly.

Stuff we've never dreamed of can be done with this. How about unlinked compression or expansion on the two outputs, to make the polar pattern vary with output level? How about volume automation for the same thing?!?

WOW!

OK so we will undoubtedly be seeing tons more mics with this output arrangement, even though it does burn up an extra preamp channel and track. It's almost as if I'm fine staying cardioid if I don't want to...why have a multi-pattern mic that doesn't do this?

And the sound? Wow again!

This may be the single smoothest condenser I've ever heard. To me condensers all have sizzling tops to some extent or another...I've just dismissed it as an artifact of the design. But this mic doesn't sizzle, and it is unbelievably smooth and pure. The purest expression of condenser, and maybe even microphone period, I think I've heard.

Of course I had to compare it to the M149, my existing workhorse LDC, and plugging it (in cardioid) next to the M149 (same) into the API A2D I almost cringed at having used the M149 all this time. The sizzle and unevenness on the lows compared to the absolute purity of the Josephson was an embarassment for Neumann.

To see if preamp made a difference, I plugged them both into the Neve 1073DPD. I generally never run the M149 through the API anyway, and I quickly found out why. Through the 1073 preamp the Neumann returned to form, and while the sizzle was still there, it was controlled and the lows were full. The C720 on the other hand started to sound a touch dark. Preamp matching really does matter!

The next obvious step was comparing the C720 through the 312 and the M149 through the 1073. As you can expect, this was clarity vs. character: do I want that presence push and vibe of the classic Neve/Neumann thing, or do I want stunning realism...

The C720 through just about anything is going to take EQ better than any other mic I've ever used, I can already confidently predict. It's also going to reveal every flaw in my studio, from the acoustics to the electronics.

But wow...WOW...

How can I send this thing back?

Old 7th October 2008
  #2
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geareyes's Avatar
Hey Peeder,do you know at what price point these things are running at?

Are you able to provide any clips?

Many thanks........Mike
Old 7th October 2008
  #3
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peeder's Avatar
 

They're a bit over $4K.

I did further tests since I posted that giddy review and I'm liking the Neumann (via 1073) more on my voice, even though the lows are a bit controlled, they won't need rolling off. The C720 is a bit chilly perhaps for vocals...but then again I prefer tube mics for vocals.

Mr. Josephson told me that the mic could be used for vocals (and yes, it certainly can be if you like that tone!) but that it was perfect for single-mic instrument applications...so you could dial in how much direct vs. room you end up wanting in hindsight. For that this is just about unmatched in my experience.

One issue I'm having is the output is very low...like low as an SM7 kind of low. I'm wondering if that's part of this or not. Quite a change from the very high-output M149.
Old 7th October 2008
  #4
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seaneldon's Avatar
 

We got #13. Absolutely stunning microphone. It does have a lower output than most new condenser mics.

I have a song recorded entirely with the microphone but it ain't "public domain". We were playing it at AES and I could probably pass a short clip along to folks who were curious.

David Josephson and Kelly Kay = bad dudes ("bad" meaning "good" like in the 80's).
Old 7th October 2008
  #5
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IntenseJim's Avatar
 

I hears their mics at AES. Divine. Perhaps more; certainly not less than that.
Old 7th October 2008
  #6
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dang, i missed their booth at the show. thanks for the heads up peeder.
Old 7th October 2008
  #7
Could you clarify the difference between the 720 and the 700s and 700a?

Mercenary Audio - Josephson C700S Stereo Pressure and Gradient Microphone

Mercenary Audio - Josephson C700A Pressure and Gradient Microphone

I've been aware of this line for a while, and I emailed them last spring to see if there was one in my area floating around that I could borrow or rent. No luck. Maybe all us VA locations engineer want to go in on one?
Old 7th October 2008
  #8
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The other 700-series microphones employ a figure-of-eight capsule (or in the case of the C700S, two crossed figure-of-eights) and a pressure omni, the C720 is two cardioids sandwiched back to back. The 700A has a slightly more "real" sound to it, for lack of a better word.

Another major difference is the presence of output transformers in the C720, and the metal foam headgrille.
Old 7th October 2008
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
The first thing you notice is it has this neat "metal foam" aluminum headgrille rather than a traditional wire basket. There is a very fine mesh basket inside for additional protection, but the nice thing with this is there need be no supporting bars that stuff can reflect off of.
In case you're having trouble visualizing what he's describing, here's a picture.

Imagine a very porous igneous (volcanic) rock and you'll be close. You can see the diaphragm's outline inside.

Old 7th October 2008
  #10
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It's called pumice
Old 7th October 2008
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by IntenseJim View Post
It's called pumice
Yes.

Quote:
A very light porous volcanic scoria, usually of a gray color, the pores of which are capillary and parallel, giving it a fibrous structure.
Old 7th October 2008
  #12
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jjblair's Avatar
All I know is that DJ is a rarified genius. He makes one of my favorite sounding capsules currently in production, too. I had a great discussion with him, and went out to dinner with Dave Gordon (and EveAnna and crew). Every audio company should be so lucky to have such a brain trust.
Old 7th October 2008
  #13
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Quote:
It's called pumice
I was thinking it looked more like a Loofah...but I'm sure it sounds amazing.
Old 7th October 2008
  #14
Nice mic, old concept

Peeder, the idea of mixing two coincident capsules in post to get a different pattern has been around for a long time. See for instance this Gearslutz thread on Strauss Packets.

A number of manufacturers have built microphones around this idea. Josephson's own model 700 is one such, but there was also a dual-diaphragm Pearl condenser mic with back-to-back cardioids cabled out -- I don't know if it is still available. Just a few months ago, Sennheiser finally brought the MKH800 TWIN to market, although it had been kicking around in protoype form for a number of years.

No disrespect to David J.; I have a hand-made pair of his Series 6 hypercardioids still in heavy use on string gigs.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 7th October 2008
  #15
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peeder's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post
Peeder, the idea of mixing two coincident capsules in post to get a different pattern has been around for a long time. See for instance this Gearslutz thread on Strauss Packets.

A number of manufacturers have built microphones around this idea. Josephson's own model 700 is one such, but there was also a dual-diaphragm Pearl condenser mic with back-to-back cardioids cabled out -- I don't know if it is still available. Just a few months ago, Sennheiser finally brought the MKH800 TWIN to market, although it had been kicking around in protoype form for a number of years.

No disrespect to David J.; I have a hand-made pair of his Series 6 hypercardioids still in heavy use on string gigs.
Oh well then I can return it and save $4000! heh

(I was just in it for the bragging rights of latest and greatest. )
Old 7th October 2008
  #16
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mr.gefell's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post

I have a hand-made pair of his Series 6 hypercardioids still in heavy use on string gigs.

Probably the best sdc hyper ever made IMO
Old 7th October 2008
  #17
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BobbyPeru's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
You can wait till mix time to decide what polar pattern you want to use on this microphone.
Can we wait until mix to pick the band and players to use too? Seriously, the whole options until mixing thing is getting out of hand.

Bobby Peru
Milwaukee, WI
Old 7th October 2008
  #18
Lives for gear
Possibly more interesting is the Soundfield and other ambisonics mics like the tetramic. . .

Given proper B format ambisonics decoding, you can not only decode any different pattern, but you can decode different patterns pointed in different directions. Such as Stereo up to 5.1 and beyond.

I've never tried it tough. I'd say while tracking with the full final production sound is cool, I sure would like to be able to make adjustments to room mics on a drums set, after I know how dense the overall recording will be.
Old 8th October 2008
  #19
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyPeru View Post
Can we wait until mix to pick the band and players to use too?

nice!

so i basically get a blumlein or m/s kinda flexibility in a single mic? or is there more that i'm missing?

i do appreciate the honesty in writing a glowing review that disparages the hi end hype of ldc's, with a followup that admits to a preference for the hyped ldc. i think we've all had the same kinds of experiences, we think we've found some new nirvana that overrides everything we thought we knew, then the next day realize we actually still like what we like.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 8th October 2008
  #20
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
no, it's intended to be a mono sound, not blumlein nor M/S

either omni, cardoid or figure 8 mono, but selectable post tracking.

narco
Old 8th October 2008
  #21
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peeder's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
nice!

so i basically get a blumlein or m/s kinda flexibility in a single mic? or is there more that i'm missing?

i do appreciate the honesty in writing a glowing review that disparages the hi end hype of ldc's, with a followup that admits to a preference for the hyped ldc. i think we've all had the same kinds of experiences, we think we've found some new nirvana that overrides everything we thought we knew, then the next day realize we actually still like what we like.
Well yeah I do try to be as honest and transparent as I can be...I think this mic does deserve a glowing review and it probably won't get any because it's such an exclusive item. Which btw I don't like the exclusivity, that was a joke.

I'll re-iterate this is a standard multipatten LDC, except, you can select precisely the polar pickup you want whenever you feel like it after recording. Not just three patterns or seven increments but totally continuous variation.

And yeah the purity of this mic is a bit cold...like white halogen light when you're used to tungsten...or even candlelight.

But I might want to have a halogen bulb in my lighting rig! I can stick gels in front of it if I want. And throw some more makeup on the actors.

Decisions...

(OK I'm keeping it... )
Old 8th October 2008
  #22
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narco View Post
no, it's intended to be a mono sound, not blumlein nor M/S

either omni, cardoid or figure 8 mono, but selectable post tracking.

ahh, got it. peeder actually made that clear, i'm still in a fog from last night's bong hit...


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 8th October 2008
  #23
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seaneldon's Avatar
 

Bongs make you feel different.

"Cold" is the last word I'd use to describe the C720, for whatever it's worth. Maybe Peeder needs an electric blanket.

Congrats on the mic, though. She's a beaut.
Old 8th October 2008
  #24
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IntenseJim's Avatar
 

An electric blanket and the name Peeder.....shocking!
Old 11th November 2008
  #25
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josephson's Avatar
About the C720 output

Unlike our C700 series, the C720 uses a very basic transformer circuit following our cascode front end. It's a custom made Lundahl transformer with an amorphous metallic glass core, the same one that we use in the e22S close-up and drum mic. The idea is that things may get *very* loud near a C720 (like they might near an e22). There just isn't enough power in phantom power to drive even a medium length cable with a two or three volts peak-to-peak audio like you can get with a high output mic. So, we use a transformer that drops the voltage (but in the process makes extra current to drive the line, so in the end we get much more dynamic range without pads or polarization voltage resistors). So the e22S and the C720 have an output much lower than our transformerless mics, around 1.7 mV/Pa (an SM7 is 1.1). That's intentional, and you'll appreciate it when things get loud.

And David Rick is right, the separate outputs front-and-back is not a new concept (nor did we claim it to be). I think the first commercial mic to do this was the Neumann QM69 from 1972. There's a Pearl mic that came out in the late 80's that does this, and several companies (Sennheiser, Microtech Gefell at least) recently have launched this idea under the name "Twin." Although I'd rather sell our mics to anyone who wants to use this idea, I'm actually happier that more companies have adopted it, so it won't seem so weird to people who see it for the first time. The figure-8 and omni idea is even older (some old RCA ribbons used a figure-8 and an omni ribbon element, and the Western Electric 639 used a ribbon and an omni dynamic) although our C700, introduced in 1993, was the first we know of to make the outputs available outside the mic.
Old 11th November 2008
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by josephson View Post
Unlike our C700 series, the C720 uses a very basic transformer circuit following our cascode front end. It's a custom made Lundahl transformer with an amorphous metallic glass core, the same one that we use in the e22S close-up and drum mic. The idea is that things may get *very* loud near a C720 (like they might near an e22). There just isn't enough power in phantom power to drive even a medium length cable with a two or three volts peak-to-peak audio like you can get with a high output mic. So, we use a transformer that drops the voltage (but in the process makes extra current to drive the line, so in the end we get much more dynamic range without pads or polarization voltage resistors). So the e22S and the C720 have an output much lower than our transformerless mics, around 1.7 mV/Pa (an SM7 is 1.1). That's intentional, and you'll appreciate it when things get loud.

And David Rick is right, the separate outputs front-and-back is not a new concept (nor did we claim it to be). I think the first commercial mic to do this was the Neumann QM69 from 1972. There's a Pearl mic that came out in the late 80's that does this, and several companies (Sennheiser, Microtech Gefell at least) recently have launched this idea under the name "Twin." Although I'd rather sell our mics to anyone who wants to use this idea, I'm actually happier that more companies have adopted it, so it won't seem so weird to people who see it for the first time. The figure-8 and omni idea is even older (some old RCA ribbons used a figure-8 and an omni ribbon element, and the Western Electric 639 used a ribbon and an omni dynamic) although our C700, introduced in 1993, was the first we know of to make the outputs available outside the mic.
Holy God I love our C720!!!!!!!!

Someday my lonely little project studio will have a C700A. Someday..........
Old 28th November 2008
  #27
One on eBay:

Josephson c720 limited edition condenser microphone #15 - eBay (item 250325658575 end time Dec-14-08 04:50:24 PST)

Where is the drool emoticon? Someone let me know if a 700s pops up one day...
Old 4th February 2011
  #28
Gear interested
 

720 on the Radio

If you'd like to hear a 720 in action daily as a voiceover mic, listen here:

Listen

You might try KXT.org evenings at 8pm Central.
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