If you think the Behinger C1 is a little low for your budget, our AT 2035 review analyses the studio mic dubbed as “best affordable large diaphragm”.
The Behringer C1 is a “large-diaphragm” condenser microphone suitable for both live and studio applications. At $49.99 it’s very affordable and would be the first step into the world of home recording for many people. It’s a transformer-less FET mic with a cardioid pickup pattern. The pattern was chosen for feedback rejection and reduction of off-axis noise. It requires phantom power and has a gold-plated 3-pin XLR output connector. There’s no pads, low cuts or any such bells and whistles.
It’s worth noting that while Behringer market it as a large-diaphragm condenser, that point is debatable. Large-diaphragm condensers are generally considered to have 25mm (1″) or larger diaphragms. The C1’s transducer size is 16mm (0.63″). So it’s pretty far from the standard definition of large-diaphragm condenser. Nonetheless it can still be used for many of the same purposes.
Affordable option for recording at home
So who is the Behringer C1 for? A large-diaphragm condenser is a studio staple and can be used on a wide variety of sources. It will sound more broad and hi-fi than similarly-priced dynamic microphones. The C1 would be a good option if you want to get into recording at home for a low price.
Behringer C1 recording applications
The C-1 has a frequency response of 40 Hz-20 kHz. The typical large-diaphragm condenser has a broader response of 20 Hz-20 kHz. So there is less low-end offered by the C-1, and the difference is definitely noticeable. The mic also boosts the highs from 10kHz onwards. It can be used to good effect on male and female vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and as a drum overhead. It hasn’t got a very prominent low end so it wouldn’t be my first choice for drums or bass guitar.
C1 not suited to certain vocalists
If you’re recording a thin reedy vocal and want to thicken it up, this is the last mic you will want to use. It accentuates nasally voices and can have a tendency to sound tinny and sterile. However it provides a lot of clarity and presence. If you want to get clear reproduction and don’t require a thick low-end, the mic can produce good results. Also if you are doing voice-work or vocals, positioning yourself close to the mic can ramp up the proximity effect and provide more bass. Note the C1 can produce a fair amount of sibilance so you will definitely want a good pop filter for vocal takes.
When used on a bassy male doing voice work, it produced clear and reasonable results. On a low female voice (singing and voice work) it cut out some of the unwanted low frequencies. This made the vocals sit better in the mix. My favourite use for the mic was for acoustic guitar. It produced a surprisingly warm result when paired with a finger-style acoustic steel string player. On all applications I used the C1 for, it did the job, but it wasn’t particularly inspiring. Listening back to the results, particularly for the vocals, I’m often aware of the highly present treble in an unpleasant way. The Rode NT1A is often criticised for a similar issue.
C1 suitable for live use, after a fashion
The XLR connection means it would be easy to use in the live arena. The diecast metal mic is fairly sturdy although the included swivel stand mount is plastic and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. It’d do the trick for an occasional gig but I wouldn’t want to rely on it for hard use on the road. My friend owns this mic and the stand mount randomly cracked one day during set-up. Another issue is that the mount requires a screw-driver to move the angle of the mic. Of course you could replace the mount, but the mic’s appeal is with its cheap price. So if you start spending extra money on peripherals, you may as well just buy a more expensive mic.
Behringer offer a 12-month warranty on the C1 if you buy from an authorised dealer. The warranty can be expanded to three years via an online registration within 90 days of purchase. So that provides a bit of protection. There’s also an included hard plastic transport case with a foam lining.
If you don’t need to use the microphone live and don’t have a phantom power source to power it, you may be better served by the Behringer C1U. This model is marketed as identical to the C1, except it has a USB connection instead of a XRL connection. Some users find that the volume of the C1U is too low even when maxed out. This is likely due to the lower power provided by the USB connection. The C1U is priced at $59.99 so it’s $10 more than the XLR model. If you wouldn’t otherwise need an audio interface, then you will save money however as you only need the mic itself to get the C1U running.
Compact home recording option
The Behringer C1 weighs in at 450g (15.87oz) and measures L 169mm (6.65”) x W 54mm (2.13”). It’s fairly compact although a bit on the heavy side for a condenser of this size. The mic is pretty ugly as far as mics go, although if it produces the results, it doesn’t matter all that much. The front of the C1 has a red LED which indicates when phantom power is active.
The max SPL for the mic is 136 dB, which is fairly high. It will handle most applications, including electric guitar, without any issues. There’s no pad included however. So if you intend to use it for extremely high output applications, you may want to look elsewhere.
Affordable option but not necessarily the best choice
The Behringer C1 is a very affordably priced condenser with little in the way of extra features. The XLR connection and requirement for phantom power means you will require a mixer/interface to operate it. Therefore, amateurs looking for a real bargain will probably want to get a USB mic so they don’t have to shell out for more gear. The Behringer C1U is an option here, although the USB mic market place is very competitive.
Depending on your intended application, you could find a better choice. If you don’t mind the very present high end, then the mic could work for you. It wasn’t very inspiring to use for me, although you can’t expect that much from a $50 mic. If you want to ramp up the quality you could increase your budget and snap up a sub-$100 condenser. A good option would be the Audio-Technica AT2020, which has a flatter, more even response.
For the money, this is a good/great mic. The sound of this C-1 condenser mic is more accurate than your basic $15 dynamic mic.
I would recommend it especially for public use as it’s low cost would make it easy to replace if damaged.
Recorded a track of acoustic guitar and I was impressed by the clarity of the sound. For $40, this was a steal!
It has a good enough sound if you’re a beginner. Unfortunately it’s not built to last. The plastic piece holding the screen in broke after about a year and I had to tape it in place.