MBHO is a well established German company specializing in high-quality condenser mics. Unfortunately, MBHO is not very well known in the U.S. Originally part of the hi-fi company MB Quart in the early '60s, it later became an independent company led by Mr. Herbert Haun. As well as manufacturing its own microphones, MBHO has partnered with the likes of Telefunken, Audix, and Brauner. My first impression of the MBC 603 was that the quality of the craftsmanship is outstanding. All of the parts have the look of being precision-machined-everything from the detail of the honeycomb grilles to the threading between the capsule and body. A real work of modern German industrial art-all the pieces fit together so perfectly, as if the whole thing were molded from a single block of metal. Simple and elegant. The basic sound is what I would describe as being "modern German hi-fi"-very much like the pricey MBL speakers I spent so many hours listening to at the hi-fi shop where I used to work. At first, I thought it was very bright; more so than what I was used to hearing; but a more accurate way to describe it would be "clear." This mic is very clear and true sounding, very unlike the colored flattering sound which is so often equated with German mics such as the Neumann U 87. This is almost suprising considering that the KA 1000 and KA 1100 are large diaphragm capsules. Their sound was much more like what you would expect from small diaphragms: quick transients, crisp top end, an unpronounced proximity effect. The lack of an intense proximity effect with the KA 1000 capsule is one of the things I liked most. I could mic things closely without coloring the sound very much at all. The little bit of proximity effect I did notice was very pleasing, especially with vocals. It almost had a "tweaked" sound, with the highs boosted slightly and the lows rolled off a little bit, like how I'd usually EQ a mic anyway to compensate for the sometimes obnoxious proximity effect other mics tend to have. I don't think I ever had to EQ this mic to compensate for anything. It performed very well on snare drum, especially with a piccolo snare. The quick attack and bright-yet- smooth highs complimented it perfectly; and even though it was close mic'ed without a pad, I didn't experience any clipping in its preamp. By the way, there is a screw-on pad available if that does ever occur. The lows were also very flat and true. Even though they aren't pronounced, they are definitely there; the response of the KA 1000 goes down to 10 Hz, and the KA 1100's response goes to 5 Hz! This is no doubt because the diaphragms are edge-terminated instead of center-terminated like on most large mics. This allows the diaphragm to vibrate more freely, thus increasing its low-frequency response. The excellent low-end worked great with mic'ing bass amps-all the lows were elegantly captured without mud and mush. Full and clear. The only thing that didn't impress me was when I tried it with the KA 1100 capsule as a room mic for drums. Most of the kit sounded fine, but the cymbals were just too bright and trashy. It sounded better after I moved it out of the open room and stuck it in the chimney. (I do alot of recording in an old log cabin, and I love sticking a mic in the chimney, especially with drums.) It just didn't quite do it for me as a distant mic. It was okay at a distance of up to about 4 or 5 feet away, but after that it just started sounding kind of weird. In nearly every other application it sounded beautiful: guitars, bass, vocals, snare, toms... all were reproduced wonderfully. And to make a good thing even better, I found it to be exceptionally noise-free and sensitive; and interfaced well with no impedence problems to several different preamps. The MBC 603 can be had for a mere $375-a real bargain for a mic of this caliber. The KA 1000 and KA 1100 are a little more salty at $728 a pop, but for a little more than a grand you can have a first-class mic that compares excellently against its higher-priced competitors. There is also a full line of small diaphragm capsules available in the $240 range. This makes the MBC 603 body with KA capsule combination seem even more reasonable. MBHO's whole line of microphones is worth checking out: really neat looking PZMs with interchangeable capsules, Jecklin disks, and all sorts of other fun stuff. (www.mbho.de)

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