The Karma K-Micro Silver Bullet is a small-diaphragm condenser mic designed to fit into tight spaces and tight budgets. At just under 2’’ long, the tapered body does resemble a bullet (like a .50 caliber, but this is Tape Op, not Soldier of Fortune). With no room for an internal battery, the K-Micro requires 48V phantom power, and it comes with a specially-sized mic-clip. But in a pinch, many clamp-type clips will work, especially when you consider the added length provided by the XLR barrel that connects to the male end of the mic. The mic is purchasable in a matched pair (K-Micropack) or seven-pack (K-SB7). The latter includes a hard-shell carrying case.
The K-Micro provides a clear, fairly accurate representation of whatever you put in front of it. I find that it has a slight top-end rise, but not enough to call it harsh or sharp. It also stands up to more sound pressure level than I would have expected. However, the Silver Bullet is not bulletproof, and close-mic’ing Marshall cabinets, snare drums, and kick vents can overload the mic.
In use, the first place you’ll want to try the K-Micro is anywhere you’re short an SDC. On drums, it’s good for hi-hats, snare bottoms, and my favorite, spaced behind the drummer, a few inches from his or her ear. This can give you a really cool dimension beyond the standard overhead placements. It’s nice on acoustic guitar, especially in an X/Y pair a few feet up and away from the sound hole. On percussion, it worked well on bongo, washboard, and shaker. I wasn’t fond of its response on tambourine (and to be fair, I usually resort to a ribbon for that duty). In any event, try to position it a little farther from the source, and experiment with the angle, as the off-axis response can de-emphasize some more strident frequencies. We had the most fun using the K-Micro as an effect mic. Try a pair on a backing vocal track, and distort one while blending it beneath the clean take for a track that adds some spice to an arrangement. From screaming vocals, to down-the-hall drum mics, to mic’ing the backside of a 6’’ amp speaker on a guitar solo, the K-Micro can capture sounds that are unique and creative. And isn’t that something we’re all trying to do with our projects?
For fun, I recorded a whole drum kit using the K-SB7 seven-pack, an SM57 on snare, and a Beta 52 on kick, and the results were reminiscent of some New Wave drum sounds from the early ‘80s. Really neat. I also used a K-Micro at a live gig where I drummed for singer-songwriter Mark Dignam. The mic is so small that I kept it under my ride cymbal, sticking out past the lip. I was able to play two egg shakers in front of it, and the audience was looking around to see how I was making the sound.
We can always use an extra pair of small-diaphragm condenser mics, but all too often, we don’t have the budget. I think $59 MSRP for a pair of the K-Micros is very fair, but the current introductory price is only $26! I can’t see a reason why all Tape Op readers don’t have a pair of these in their arsenal. They’re just too useful and decent sounding not to run out and get a pair right away. (Matched pair $26 direct; seven-piece $79; www.karmamics.com) –GH
I recently got to try out M-Audio's new large- diaphragm condenser mics. The two are well constructed and moderately priced (though not as dirt cheap as the many bargain-basement Chinese condensers...