AKG C1000S – The Tape Op Review

TapeOp Issue #35/May, 2003 | by

With fellow engineer Scott Craggs giving away all his secrets in the MXR review, I figured I should come clean and give away one of my recording secrets too. My all-time favorite guitar amp microphone is the AKG C-1000S electret condenser.

Whenever I close-mic an amp, I try to put two different mics on the cones to give myself more options when I mix. One usually becomes the primary mic in the mix while the other is usually relegated to “side mic” duties for some pseudo-stereo spread. Alongside my trusty C-1000S, I’ve tried many different mics — cheap to expensive, standard to whacky. Shure, Neumann, Schoeps, Sennheiser, Royer, Earthworks, RØDE, RCA, Radio Shack, even built-ins on portable tape recorders — you name it. In essence, I do a shootout between the C-1000S and a second mic every time I record an amp. The C-1000S almost always wins. Something about the quality of its creamy midrange response makes it really cut through in a mix — without sounding woolly, brittle, or harsh!

A guitar track recorded with the C-1000S measuring lower in peak and average levels will have higher perceived volume, more presence, and less mud (to get in the way of drums, bass guitar, and vocals) than a guitar track recorded with another mic at higher levels. In other words, guitars recorded with the C-1000S — once they’re mixed in with the rest of the instruments — sound bigger than guitars recorded with other mics. In some situations, other mics have come close to exhibiting the same “less is more” character. For example, on very distorted guitars, I found that a Neumann U47fet going through a Great River MP-2NV sounded similar to a C-1000S through a Neve 1272 — enough so that I had a hard time differentiating the tracks. And speaking of mic preamps, the C-1000S sounds great through various Neve, API, Trident, Joemeek, Allen & Heath, Yamaha, and Sony preamps. For some reason, it sounds awful through the Great River MP-2NV… so much so that I almost returned the MP-2NV when I tested it with the C-1000S. Also, the C-1000S overloads easily, so it’s not the right mic for extremely loud guitar work.

Where can you hear examples of the C-1000S on guitar? Check out any of the studio albums released in the last four or five years from Karate, Helms, Victory at Sea, and Rosa Chance Well; Chris Brokaw‘s tracks on his split with Viva las Vegas; or Thalia Zedek‘s latest EP. All of these recordings feature the C-1000S as the primary guitar amp mic. If you like the guitar sounds on these records, check out the C-1000S for yourself. ($200 street;

More about the AKG C-1000-S studio condenser microphone.