Okay, you might have thought large-diaphragm condenser mics were getting cheap - but now PPA blows everything out of the water with the $99.95 ID-One. Of course it's another one of those inexpensive Chinese- made, fixed cardioid-pattern mics, in fact the insides looked a lot like the bottom-of-the-line ADK mic. I thought it would be fun to give this little bugger the kind of workout that Ezra and I give all my mics, and I was initially unimpressed, but also surprised by a few things that it sounded good on. On a loud guitar amp, even with a 10 dB external pad (there isn't one on board), it generated enough internal crackle to be useless. On acoustic guitar the low end of this mic seemed out of control, making the signal very muddy. On spoken voice I swear I heard a sock over it and the lows were quite boomy again. By the time we got to a snare drum I wasn't expecting much, but damn, it sounded kinda cool with a thick thud on the bottom like off some heavy '70's record. On cymbals it was harsh and not too inviting. On piano, where we expected it to fail, it wasn't bad, and would work okay. When we tried it on a bass amp I was most surprised, as the over-hyped low end response made the amp sound really good, and it beat out the other (far more expensive) mics we were checking out. My verdict would be that the ID-One is a great deal for a small or home studio that needs more colors, and despite the sometimes painful low-end bump could probably serve well in more scenarios with a bit of EQ cutting in the bottom (there is a high pass switch but it is inexplicably mounted on the circuit board inside the mic - for the sake of this review we didn't turn it on as it was covered by the mic body). And it really did sound pretty good on bass guitar, especially for $100! (www.pacificproaudio.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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