Matching microphones with sound sources is kinda like transposing on a non-tempered keyboard; there are magical combinations and disastrous ones. I jumped at the chance to check out the new Josephson C617SET, having recently used a DPA (its nearest competitor) on acoustic guitar and drums. I liked the DPA as an overhead but found it too "metallic" on one particular combination of acoustic guitar and musician.

And so, for the first test, I paired the Josephson with the DPA on a thin-sounding acoustic guitar. I was hoping for the least "jangle," and got it with the C617SET. A ribbon mic might have been a good second choice, but it would most likely have challenged the gain of the "average" preamp. On my website (www.tangible-, under "Product Reviews," I posted samples recorded with the DPA and Josephson mics. You can hear for yourself that the C617SET is smoother in the presence region; it pretty much is the reference for a truly flat mic and about the smoothest condenser you're likely to ever hear. (The online review includes a response chart-the deviation from 20 Hz to 20 kHz being a mere 0.5 dB.)

You'll love how efficiently the C617SET converts acoustical energy into an electrical signal. In three words, it kicks ass-extraordinary from pianissimo to pianoforte! If recording soft and delicate sources has revealed a "weakness" in your preamp/mic combination (as noise), then the C617SET should be your first choice. With the standard capsule (supplied for this review), this Josephson omni pretty much delivers the lowest possible noise of any microphone.

The C617SET is also incredibly tolerant of high sound pressure levels-something you'd expect from a measurement-grade mic. When used as a drum overhead, about ten feet above and somewhat behind the kit, a Digi 002 (at minimum gain) was just at the threshold of overload. The Audio-Technica AT8202 in- line pad is recommended for preamps without "tolerance" or built-in pad. You can listen to the individual track, as well as how it lies in the mix, on my website. Please note that the "very consistent peaks" were the result of not having a pad.

I love omnidirectional microphones for many reasons, like the ability to capture the entire sound of a complex instrument. The lack of proximity effect reduces some of the low-frequency guesswork, and since an omni mic picks up everything, there's no such thing as crappy off-axis response. Oh yeah, and I don't have to beat up a compressor to get some "room" into my tracks.

The range of microphone personalities is vast. Most condensers have a rising treble lift, many dynamic mics have an upper-midrange presence peak, and by contrast, ribbon mics have an understated top end. Using your "best" mic on lots of overdubs might impart too much of the same type of character on too many tracks. If so, then perhaps it's time for something more neutral. Your mic cab deserves at least one Josephson C617SET as reference. You'll eventually want a second.

($1840 MSRP;

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

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