FIG. 1: Because it supports interchangeable capsules, you can expand the sonic palette of the Red Microphones Type B with Blue Microphones Bottle Caps or vintage capsules from Neumann.
Red Microphones (a division of Blue Microphones) was originally created to serve as a source for vintage mic parts. The first branded mic from Red Microphones is the Type B, which combines a transformerless, Class A, discrete solid-state preamp with a large-diaphragm, lollipop-style cardioid capsule. The capsule on the Type B is removable, allowing you expand your tonal palette with more specialized capsules.
The standard Type B capsule has a 6-micron, gold-sputtered Mylar membrane that is designed to be a versatile, multipurpose pressure-gradient condenser. The Type B package also includes a Blue Cranberry mic cable and a shockmount.
Lock and Load
Though the Type B is a full-fledged condenser microphone in its own right, its raison d'être is its ability to use interchangeable capsules. The Type B supports spring-loaded, bayonet-style capsules (as opposed to the threaded capsule found on mics such as the original AKG C 451). To attach the capsule, simply line up the cylindrical housing at the capsule bottom with the key on the mic-body mount, push down, and twist to lock it in place. The manufacturer says that capsules can be exchanged even while the mic's power supply is on.
The Type B design is compatible with capsules such as the Neumann M7, M8, M9, and 55k, which fit older Neumann and Gefell mics, including the CMV 563 and the line of mics Neumann made for the state agency RFT before German reunification. More importantly, because they're easier to get, the Type B supports Blue's series of Bottle Caps. As the name implies, those capsules were initially designed for the company's Bottle microphone. Among the Bottle Caps are medium- and small-diaphragm cardioids, a large-diaphragm figure-8, large- and small-diaphragm omnis, and three large-diaphragm cardioids with different characteristics than the standard Type B capsule.
Red Microphones, through its Web site called Vintage Microphone (www.vintagemicrophone.com), lets you rent the Type B mic. If you decide to purchase it, the rental amount is deducted from the sale price.
A Little Rise
I first tried the Type B on a male vocalist. Because I received two mics for review, I was able to test them through two different preamps simultaneously: one was a transformer-based, solid-state model designed to exhibit some coloration at certain settings; the other was a clean, quiet tube preamp. I placed the mics in front of the vocalist with the capsules about an inch apart, pointing slightly downward, and somewhat toward his chest. The singer sang toward the opening between the two capsules.
The Type B responded well through both preamps. The sound was clear but without too much of the upper-mid presence peak that is often found in cardioid condensers. It's there, of course, as the frequency response graph showed — a somewhat surprising rise of about 8 dB centered at 6 kHz, spanning from 3 to 10 kHz.
In the studio, the 8 dB rise sounded more gentle than I would have expected. That could be attributed to the low-frequency peak centered around 50 Hz, and the 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of rigid insulation that were fanned out behind the singer to dampen high-end reflections. Nonetheless, I was pleased that the Type B yielded a pleasant sound from the singer's voice through both types of preamps.
Red Mic, Blue Mic
I was also curious to test the Type B on vocals and acoustic guitar in combination with a Bluebird, Blue's similarly priced multipurpose cardioid condenser mic. For that test, I ran the mics through two channels of the same preamp, each at the same settings. Even though the mics have similar specs, the Bluebird sounded brighter, with slightly less low-end response. It also seemed to have a slightly hotter output than the Type B.
There were a lot of mids present when I tried the Type B on acoustic guitar. Again, the mic's sound isn't overly peaky, and it doesn't overrepresent the top strings. If you are looking for something sparkly to put on top of a mix, you'll want a brighter microphone. The tone of the guitar itself, however, sounded nice through the Type B.
Used as a distant mic for an upright bass placed approximately six feet away, the Type B nicely captured a full sound while capably representing the airy upper registers and ambience. I also used the Type B as an overhead mic for drums and on the kick drum. The mic didn't display any problems handling the sound pressure when placed one foot in front of the bass drum, which was the maximum distance I could afford at the time. As an overhead mic, at a height of 7.5 feet and directly above of the drums, the Type B sounded great, even when compared with the single small-diaphragm condenser I often default to for that job.
Because of its long neck, the Type B can be difficult to place in a tight spot. Other than that, I wouldn't hesitate to use the Type B in most situations.
If you stick with the basic cardioid capsule that comes with the Type B body, you will have a great-sounding, versatile mic at a great price. In fact, it is a bargain when you consider that many of Blue's Bottle Caps cost more than the entire Type B system itself, making it tempting to purchase a second mic rather than a more specialized capsule. Either way, you can't go wrong: the Type B is a very good buy.
Rich Wells oversees the Supreme Reality, a recording studio/band/waste-management concern in Portland, Oregon.
OVERALL RATING (1 THROUGH 5): 4.5
PROS: Great sound on a number of different sources. Lacks spiky upper-mids common to many modern cardioid condensers in its price range. Ability to change capsules.
CONS: Physically a bit long and bulky for some applications.
TYPE B SPECIFICATIONS Capsule 1", pressure-gradient, gold-sputtered Polar Pattern cardioid Frequency Response 20 Hz-20 kHz Output Impedance 50 Ω Noise Level (A-weighted) <7.5 dB Maximum SPL 138 dB (0.5% THD into 2.5 kΩ) Sensitivity 200 mV/pa (1 kHz into 2.5 kΩ) Dynamic Range 130 dB (2 .5 kΩ load) Power Requirement +48V phantom power Size 7.87" (L) × 1.77" (D) Weight 1.04 lbs.