The Studio Projects B1 condenser microphone is a large diaphragm cardioid microphone in a pressure-gradient transducer employing high quality transformerless design and extremely low noise.
Studio Projects’ B1 will enhance any professional or project studio application at an unbelievable low price. As a result of uncompromising dedication and today's advanced production abilities, Studio Projects has broken the barrier of quality vs price for today's recording studio environment.
Being versatile is the key in the recording arena, and the Studio Projects B1 is no exception. Equipped with a true 1 inch 3 um gold sputtered large diaphragm in a pressure gradient transducer capsule, the B1 will deliver the finest quality of vocal and instrumentation recordings in a wide variety of applications while offering a natural extended transparent high end, yet offer the thick bodied low end expected from a quality microphone.
My first condenser mic was a Samson C03 which I always found to be thin and tinny. After using that and an AT mic for a while, I ended up selling all my equipment when I moved. Then, two years later I decided I needed to record again so I did my research and ended up with this bad boy for around $70 bucks. I was planning on saving and upgrading to something like a Rode NT1-A asap, but once I heard this through a decent preamp, I had second thoughts. I'm mainly recording acoustic guitars and vocals on this and I've been really impressed with the clarity of this mic on both. Would definitely recommend for the price.
This was my first condenser mic. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I plugged this guy in, after having used primarily dynamic mics, it was nice hearing the enhanced high-end of a condenser. My initial tests on acoustic guitar turned out very nice at the time, the freq response seems to flatter acoustic guitar in general. Never really cared for the mic on my voice as it tends to be pretty sibilant. Really like this mic on room mic for drums as well, always did a good job there.
One thing I noticed when I opened this mic up was it had nicer components than many of the cheap mics. Nothing too fancy, but it was nice seeing use of WIMA poly film caps instead of ceramics.
I have to say, that you'd be hard pressed to find a much better utility condenser for the price. There may be some others that work better for one thing or another, but this one always seemed to be a good low-cost utility mic.
After a while I got other mics that did the same kinda thing as this mic but better, so I decided to try swapping out the capsule for a different one to see if I could get use out the mic again. I'd read that it's common with these inexpensive Chinese-made condensers for them to use a 67-style capsule with a circuit that is more designed for a flat response, like a 47 capsule. So, I decided to buy a K47 capsule from microphone-parts.com. This made the mic like a whole new mic, it has a much warmer, rounder response that has been a nice additon to my collection in recent times. I haven't used it on a ton of stuff, but so far it's sounded nice on certain voices, and it was really nice on snare once already. Just thought I'd throw that out there for any slutz who have one of these laying around and want to breathe some new life into it.
Again like the poster before me here; this was my first LDC and I have to say for the price I'm quite a big fan of it. I've had it for maybe 5 years and I've bought more expensive mics since then, but my B1 still gets some use from time to time.
I've actually been using it on sessions this week I've been doing for a friend and I've been using it as an over the shoulder mic on acoustic guitar and I have to say it's been doing a mighty fine job of smoothing out a rather boxy sounding acoustic and in this situation it's sound was preferred over a M-Audio Sputnik placed in front of the guitar (admittedly a subjective matter, but it doesn't sound out of place with mid range gear).
I've generally found I like how it sounds acoustics, average on (my) vocals, useable on most other sources and using different mic'ing techniques/positions will get you any tonal adjustments that you need. For a budget mic, it does a good job and it was a good mic to learn with.
Just to verify where I am on the sound engineering scale of knowledge; I've studied music and sound engineering to degree level across a period of 5 years, my home gear is all good quality mid range stuff, I've worked on some projects across that time (mostly my own bands and music) but not loads, I'm not a professional engineer yet but I'm working my way there as an assistant at a reputable studio and I consider my ears to be pretty good and still improving.
Sound Quality: The SPB1 is a FET large diaphragm condenser that is definitively on the brighter side of the spectrum, with a prominent high-shelf that starts to build around 3 kHz and sparks at 10 kHz, slightly rolling out after that. The 10 kHz region is definitively critical here and will greatly favor sibilance in a less than desirable fashion. Low frequency content is captured in a very decent way and it holds up nicely until the 80-100 Hz region, falling a bit after that. This microphone can handle quite high sound pressure levels and it's capable of heavy duties such as recording loud guitar cabinets. The noise levels are very acceptable and it performs well even on more quiet sources. Overall the SPB1 displays some nice definition, decent articulation but it can get sibilant quite easily, making it not-so-great when recording certain sources such as female voices.
Ease of use: This microphone doesn't have a very wide sweet spot and it's not very forgiving when positioning it - some reviewers might tell a different story but from my experience this is a picky microphone when it comes to positioning. In that regard I have a hard time when trying off-axis positions and my best recordings came when the mic was closer and on-axis with the source. If you're only recording voices it will quite easy to use if your singer/narrator doesn't move his head too much, but when recording acoustic sources it will take some practice to get the best out of it as positioning may be a problem. My experience with the SPB1 tells me that isolating/closed back headphones are of great help here: turn up the headphones so you can hear well what the mic is capturing and it will be much easier to get it on a nice spot for recording. One other aspect worth of mention is that because of its brighter tone the SPB1 performs better when coupled with a darker preamp, but this might come more as a personal taste: when recording it with a transparent or brighter preamp you'll most likely end up cutting a lot around the 6-10 kHz region in the mixing stage. If you're recording vocals be sure to have your favorite de-esser around when mixing because you'll definitively need one, as the sibilance gets quite annoying depending on your singer and female vocalists will make you suffer with all that top end. In that regard, preamps with on-board EQs can be quite helpful and you don't need to be afraid to slice off a bit of those highs, avoiding a decent chunk of processing further down the road.
Features: The SPB1 features a -10/-20 db gain attenuation pad and a high-pass filter that can be set to 75 or 150 Hz. The microphone is shipped on a hard cardboard box that holds up well over time and does a decent job at protecting the microphone. It also comes with a zippered carrying bag, a shock mount and a windscreen foam. Thanks to its active output you can have longer cable runs without any signal loss. The foam also softens a bit of the bright characteristic of this mic and can be useful when recording sources with strong high-frequency blasting such as cymbals or when using the microphone on open-air/outdoor situations. Studio Project's choice of shock mount is a bit odd and relies on rubber bands that are rather flimsy and might require some improvisation further down the road when the rubber bands inevitably breaks. However, Studio Project's proprietary shock mount system features a nice locking mechanism that ensures the mic is safe even when turned upside down, which is a very common recording practice.
Bang for buck: Given the price this is a very nice sounding microphone that is more than capable of pulling out some very decent recordings. Despite its character being rather bright it is definitively usable on a decent number of sound sources such as voices (vocals, voice over or broadcast, preferably male), brass, mono drum overhead, guitar cabinets and acoustic guitars. If you're short on money and need a LDC that can pull out a decent number of tricks, the SPB1 is definitively worth your attention.
I should also mention that there are some possible modifications to be made on the SPB1 that might be able to soften its highs, making it rounder and more pleasing.
While it's a very good mike for the money, it still is a cheapo mike. It can be a reliable workhorse (i have 2, both have survived some beating) on both vocals and instruments, just dont expect "classy" or "extraordinary". I would recommend it as a first mike to start decent recordings. The elastic holder is usable, but can drop the mike in some situations.
A mic that deserves another listen for those who consider it cheap sounding. It's innards are actually WIMA caps etc and the design was well conceived. A total bargain and although it has that presence rise, it sounds very neutral to me.
Get a Mk1 one for about $50 on Ebay etc and I guarantee it will always be useful.