My recording studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone, sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic from freelance engineers, and plenty of records are tracked under intense time constraints and budgetary stress; most records are completed in under two weeks. The wear and tear can be brutal on old and fragile mics. In ten years, we went through extensive (and pricey) repairs on two Neumann U 67s, an SM 2, and an M 49. I started looking for new and reliable high-quality condenser mics I could provide for clients that stood up to the giants of the past. The demoing process was depressing. With modern large-diaphragm mics, the anxiety of influence is visible everywhere; we are drowning in recreations and restatements. It is perpetually 1951. I started longing for a bolt out of the blue. Enter Josephson’s C700A ( Tape Op #62). This pressure plus pressure-gradient microphone, with its consumer-unfriendly dual outputs (one for each capsule), radical flexibility, and completely original future-now look, is as blue as they get. I bought it immediately. The C700A is so relentlessly hi-fi, I’ve never had an engineer complain about it (and that says everything). Within a year, I owned nine Josephson microphones.
Okay, so on to the C715. The first thing you notice is a grille made of a hard, open-cell, metal-alloy foam that looks a bit like anodized loofah. This unique grille design was first introduced on the C720 (Tape Op #71). It negates the requirement for a supporting basket structure and greatly reduces internal reflections and acoustic resonances, thereby allowing for more accurate reproduction. Josephson is a supremely ambitious group of people, completely rethinking basic microphone design. That’s the kind of spirit I love and believe in.
The capsule was based on the old Sony C37 capsule and was designed, in part, to provide an alternative to bright and strident modern LDCs. The top end is gentle, with a slight bump in the midrange making for a more “forward” sounding microphone. But the top is certainly there, and the C715 takes additive EQ very well, especially in the upper reaches of a GML 8200 or Millennia NSEQ. The mic has a burly SPL limit of 136 dB at 1 kHz. Damn, that’s useful. We had great luck recording trumpet, trombone, and bass clarinets, as well as using them as close drum overheads. But the mic also performed wonderfully on vocals (male and female) and cello. (Is there anything more revealing of a mic’s limitations than a good string player?) Moreover, the C715’s pickup-pattern control sweeps continuously between cardioid and omni, allowing the engineer to dial up ever-useful sub-cardioid patterns.
From the insanely underpriced C42 to their stellar omni C617, the mics from this reliable and likeable company are easy to obsess about. If there’s a more underrated gear manufacturer out there, please email me, and I’ll buy everything they make too. ($3795 street; www.josephson.com)
–John Vanderslice, www.tinytelephone.com
by Chris Garges
The Altec/Western Electric 633A is the classic microphone known as the "Salt Shaker," so named for its small cylindrical body with rounded edges and series of small holes across the top. It's an...