The Micparts S-25 is a side-address condenser mic available as a kit. All that’s required is solder, a soldering iron, and some basic hand tools. The JFET in the kit is even manually biased by Micparts. If you don’t have two hours to spare for the build, you can also purchase the mic prebuilt, at additional cost. I received a prebuilt pair to review, so I can’t comment on the difficulty of the kit, but the manual does state that the kit is suitable for a first-time DIYer.
The S-25 utilizes a Transound TSB-2555 medium-diaphragm capsule, together with a circuit based on the Schoeps CMC 5 design (which is the most popular mic circuit in the world, according to Micparts), but with many component improvements and optimizations in place. The capsule and circuit are housed in an aluminum body that is sleek and lightweight. Included is a fairly sturdy and versatile swivel mount, as well as a nice zipper pouch. A 30-day warranty is provided, and everything is hand-assembled in California. The capacitors are sourced from Germany, which is a nice nod to the Schoeps legacy. A switch for a −10 dB pad is mounted on the circuit board, hidden inside the mic — which is easy to miss unless you assembled the mics yourself.
I found the S-25 to be super versatile and transparent. I used the pair of them in my home studio in a variety of settings. For this review, I will focus on a few applications.
My first use of the S-25 was to record trombone and tuba. The resulting sound was great! Even without the pad engaged, the mics handled the bass-heavy sound pressure levels just fine. I like the clear tone of the S-25’s mid-sized capsule; it doesn’t sacrifice highs and lows. The frequency response of this mic sits right in the middle of typical LDCs and SDCs, which makes it very useful indeed.
I used the S-25 on a ton of background vocals. The results were always warm-sounding harmonies that sat easily in the mix with minimal EQ.
To record acoustic guitar, I set up the S-25 pair in an X-Y configuration. The preamp was a Universal Audio Apollo (silver) [Tape Op #95] with Neve 1073 EQ and Fairchild 670 compressor plug-ins enabled, and a high-pass filter set to 80 Hz. Like everything else I put in front of these mics, the sound was clear. I play a vintage Gibson LG-2 fingerstyle, and the S-25 didn’t add as much vibe as I would have liked. However, I then plugged one of the mics into the preamp of a Universal Audio 2-610S [#27], with no HPF, and the result was much more to my liking. The input gain was pushed high to get some tube warmth. The S-25 pair also handled simultaneous vocal and acoustic tracking quite well, with minimal bleed, and a nice, even sound. I use a kind of “vertical” X-Y arrangement for this that I gathered from watching old Pete Seeger videos.
My biggest surprise was using the S-25 on snare. I typically default to using a Shure SM7 [Tape Op #36], but I was overdubbing a part, so I grabbed the S-25 and pressed record. It came out sounding very true and present, like the snare I was hearing! I could definitely see using the S-25 for the snare top on a full kit, either in tandem with a dynamic, or on its own.
The Micparts website claims, “The S-25 is a professional quality condenser microphone with a remarkably musical frequency response.” I find this to be true, and the S-25 is both versatile and affordable. For a small home or project studio, this mic, or a pair of them, would be a great option if you are looking for a single solution that will take anything you throw at it. For larger studios, this mic would be a welcome addition to the mic locker for acoustic instruments, overheads, or just as extra mics that sound great when you need them. The prebuilt versions are only available for a limited time and in limited quantities.