Condenser microphone
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The Studio Projects CS5 offers an astounding amount of control, with selectable pads, filters, and polar patterns.

To say that the Studio Projects CS5 ($1,149.99 [MSRP]) is a full-featured microphone would be an understatement. This hefty large-diaphragm condenser mic offers five selectable polar patterns (cardioid, wide cardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8) as well as four pads (-5, -10, -15, and -20 dB), four lowpass filters (3, 5, 7, and 15 kHz at 6 dB per octave), and four highpass filters (50, 75, 150, and 300 Hz at 6 dB per octave). The pickup patterns, pads, and filters are selected with thumbwheels positioned around the top of the mic's body. This array of options, together with the ability to handle SPLs up to 136 dB without a pad, makes the CS5 a true multiapplication tool for recording.

I received a pair of CS5s, each packaged in a foam-lined aluminum carrying case along with a windscreen and a halo-type shockmount. The stand-adapter can be screwed onto either the top or bottom of the mount, allowing you to easily position the CS5 as needed. The mount is sturdy and can handle the weight of the mic (1.7 pounds) without drooping.

Studio Scene

I put the CS5 through its paces while recording the upcoming release for engineer Steve Orlando's band, the Jingle Punx. During these sessions, the CS5 was used to capture male and female vocals, electric guitars, trumpet, and drum set. I also used it to reamplify vocals, drums, and guitar solos.

For heavily distorted electric guitar, I set the mic to cardioid, engaged the -10 dB pad, and placed it as close to the amp grille as possible. Orlando switched in the 50 Hz highpass filter and the 15 kHz lowpass filter to help clean up a somewhat mucky aspect of the sound and tame the bright overtones. The resulting sound was full and chunky. The CS5 also performed well as overheads and as room mics on drum set, sounding bright and clear with plenty of detail and fullness, especially on the toms. This mic is relatively flat in the midrange, and with the help of the onboard filters, there was no need to add EQ while tracking.

On a female vocalist with a mellow voice, the CS5 sounded clear and smooth. However, it wasn't particularly flattering on a male singer with a harsh-sounding voice: it accentuated his voice's high, nasal quality. The other male singer fared better because his voice was less harsh, and its gravelly timbre was well represented by the CS5.

The Studio Projects mic sounded nice on trumpet. I placed the CS5 about two and a half inches from the bell with the 7 kHz lowpass filter engaged. Without the lowpass filter selected, the sound was too bright. With this setting, however, the CS5 took on the darker quality of a ribbon mic. Orlando compared it favorably to the Cascade Microphones Fat Head, one of his favorite ribbon mics, saying that while the Fat Head had a bit more fullness in the low end, the highs (with the CS5's 7 kHz rolloff engaged) were fairly similar.

For reamplifying vocals, drums, and guitars, the CS5s were set up in an ORTF arrangement at a height of 7 feet and placed 35 feet away from a Crate P.A. system. The mics were angled up at the ceiling, with the wide cardioid pattern selected on each. The 75 Hz highpass filters also were engaged to remove low-end rumble. With their relatively flat frequency response, the mics worked well in this application because they didn't add unwanted color to the sound.

Swiss Army Mic

The CS5 can be tailored to suit a variety of sound sources and high-volume situations. With its array of selectable patterns, pads, and filters, not to mention a street price of around $850, the CS5 offers maximum versatility at a reasonable cost. What's not to like about that?

Value (1 through 5): 4
Studio Projects