Large diaphragm condenser microphone. Shock-mounted 1" gold-sputtered capsule. Cardioid pick-up pattern. Ultra low-noise transformerless FET input. Nickel plated brass body. Pro gold-plated balanced XLR connector. Includes heavy duty suspension mount, foam windscreen, stand converter screw, lightweight padded locking ( handled ) carry case, multi-lingual owner's manual, registration card and warranty.
Behringer "B-1" may be the "biggest bargain mic" available! If you have a small project-studio and need a mic that can handle nearly everything you throw at it, Behringer's "B-1" deserves serious consideration.
Don't take my word for it. Check YouTube. You'll see the "B-1" face off against costly "studio standards" ( -like the Neumann U-87 ) in sound comparison tests. And despite it's affordable ( $100.00 ) price tag, you'll see ( -and hear! ) it not only holds it's own against these pricey mics but often surpasses them in terms of sound-quality!
I knew I was asking for too much! A single microphone that "covered all the bases". Essentially, a mic locker's worth of microphones all in ONE low-cost microphone. A tall order to fill. It had to sound good. And it had to work with narration, vocals, acoustic guitar and a wide range of other instruments as well. Did such an affordable "do everything" mic exist? I was skeptical yet determined to find out.
I searched the internet. I read lots of online reviews. I watched tons of online mic comparisons. After about a week I started noticing something: Behringer's "B-1" seemed to show up in a lot in these reviews. I thought that might be significant. Then, I ran across a review by a professional voice-over narrator. He said the Behringer "B-1" had become his "go to mic" over the years. He gushed about how great the "B-1" sounded ( -comparing it to pricey "studio standards" costing much more ). That impressed me.
The Behringer "B-1" Condenser comes in a lightweight, foam-padded, lockable ( handled ) carry case. It 's supplied with a heavy-duty suspension mic mount, a foam windscreen, a stand converter screw, a multi-lingual owner's manual, warranty and registration card. Very classy! Who'd 've guessed this thing sells for a measely hundred bucks!
Beyond "classy looks" this thing delivers on specs and sonics too! It's nickel-plated brass body has a gold-plated 3-pin XLR connector and uses an ultra low-noise transformerless FET input ( -eliminating low frequency distortion ). The Behringer "B-1" definitely qualifies as a "biggest-bang-for-your-buck" mic!
In another Youtube video, I watched as a band recorded their entire drum kit and vocals through the "B-1". The "B-1's" audio was fed through a low-cost Avid Fast Track Solo USB audio interface and into their computer. The results were impressive. Even with the "B-1" placed three to four feet off to the side the drummer's right shoulder ( -and aimed in the general direction of the drum kit ), the drums sounded great! Well Ok, the kick drum lacked a bit of bass "thump" but that's understandable when you consider the kick drum was 6-7 feet away ( -and WAY out of the "B'1's" proximity effect range ). The vocals sounded terrific too!
Another video I watched was of an Italian narrator dubbing his "voice-over" in the studio. First, through a Neumann U-87Ai, and then through a Behringer "B-1". I could immediately tell the difference: the Behringer "B-1" sounded fuller, more detailed and even a bit more "three-dimensional" than the Neumann. And guess what? The Neumann U-87Ai costs around $3,600.00! Yeah, a $100.00 Behringer "B-1" Condenser outdid a $3,600.00 Neumann. Now, that's impressive!
The Behringer "B-1" is a pressure gradient transducer . It utilizes a shock-mounted 1" gold-sputtered diaphragm capsule and has a cardioid pick-up pattern. The "B-1" is capable of delivering the same full-bodied sound as studio condensers costing many times it's $100 price tag. If there's a bigger bargain in microphones today I'm unaware of it. Simply put, Behringer's "B-1" rocks! Finally, your project studio vocals, narration and acoustic instrument tracks can sound as good as those cut in mega-buck studios!
So, let's get into the specs. The "B-1's" Open Circuit Voltage ( -at 1 Khz ) is: -34 +/- 2 dBV ( 0 dBV = 1 V/ Pa. ), Open Circuit Sensitivity is: 20 mV/ Pa. It's Frequency Response goes from 20 hz to 20 Khz. It's Signal-to-Noise Ratio ( -ref. 1 Pa. ) is: 81 dB ( A-Weighted ). It's Maximum SPL ( -Sound Pressure Level at 1 % THD @ 1 Khz ) is: 138 dB ( 0 dB ) or 148 dB ( -at -10 dB. ). Equivalent SPL ( IEC 268-4 ): 13 dB-A. It's Level Attenuation switch offers a: -10 dB cut ( -switchable ), and it has a Low-Cut Filter with a: 6 dB/ Octave roll-off at 75 hz ( -it's also switchable ).
It's Nominal Impedance is: 50 Ohms, Load Impedance: > 1 K Ohm. It's required Supply Voltage is: + 48 Volts. Supply Current: 3 mA. As mentioned earlier, the "B-1" has a cardioid pick-up pattern. It's has a nice uniform pattern with it's 16 Khz lobe covered to 30-degrees left and right of center axis. With it's much wider 4 Khz lobe, coverage is out to about 60-degrees ( L & R ) of center-axis ( -with it's 1 Khz and 250 hz lobes nearly mirroring it's 4 Khz lobe -as seen below ).
The "B-1's" frequency response curve and cardioid pattern make it perfect for studio use. It's emphasis peak ( -topping out at + 9 dB at 12.5 Kkz ) assures you of good presence.
The "B-1's" frequency response is perfectly flat from 20 hz up to 3 Khz -where it starts it's gradual climb to 12.5 Khz ( -at +9 dB ), after which it slides smoothly back down to 14 Khz before submerging below 0 dB and ending it's run at about 15 Khz ( -down -4.5 dB ). I think Behringer's 20hz - 20 Khz frequency response curve may be referenced to a wider +/- dB rating than the normal +/- 3 dB rating. Regardless, these are perfectly acceptable specs for a condenser costing much more than the "B-1's" $100.00 price tag. That you're getting them from a mic costing $100.00 is pretty amazing! The "B-1's" Maximum SPL figures are not just good but excellent!
A tidy package! With it's included accessories and nifty locking carry case, you'd swear the "B-1" costs much more. If you've done any looking, you'll also realize most microphone manufacturers charge extra for such access- ories. But not Behringer. Very cool!
Initially, I was skeptical that the included windscreen would do it's job without muffling the sound. I'm pleased to report it does indeed stop pops and extraneous silibance -without muffling your highs! All the way round, this mic has proven to be a pleasant surprise.
In a word: Fantastic! I tested the "B-1" with both male and female narration and vocals. They sounded full bodied and articulate ( -with plenty of detail -especially when directly "on-axis" ). And when I say "detailed" I mean DETAILED! You'll hear every vocal imperfection as well as the better qualities of your voice. So brace yourself. This thing is very accurate! And there's a very nice "proximity" effect you'll hear when you're within a few inches of the mic ( -giving you that bassy, authoritative "announcer-guy" voice you hear so often on movie trailer and commercial voice-overs ).
I tried a miking a Yamaha FG700S acoustic guitar with the "B-1". Again fantastic! Again, I got that full-bodied, articulate and detailed sound I loved so much on the vocals. Furthermore, the "B-1" served up a wonderful filigree of trebly details ( i.e: fret noise, finger-on-string slides, sympathetic string vibrations, etc. ). Beyond that, it conveyed a palpable "airiness" ( -giving the guitar it's own three-dimensional envelope of space to exist in ). The mid range was equally lush and satisfying ( -conveying the FG700's "woody" qualities nicely ).
Since pianos have many of these same string, metallic and "woody" qualities, I'm guessing the "B-1" would also sound good on grand piano ( -perhaps employing a stereo pair in a near-coincident array). Next, I tried a recorder ( -a flute like instrument ) with the "B-1". It captured it's airy, fruity tone without any of the harsh, strident dissonances that can plague wind, brass and woodwind instruments when blown forcefully. And I purposely tried to cause those sharp, piercing qualities in my test. To it's credit, the "B-1" handled them without any dissonant "honking" or strident distortion. I was surprised. I hadn't expected the "B-1" to do well with this test. It however proved me wrong. And surprisingly so!
A shockingly good mic at a bargain price! The Behringer "B-1" "aced" my instrument tests -confirming it's wide range of uses. It excels with both vocals and instruments. And while I didn't have a chance to mike up an instrument cabinet ( -to see how it sounded with amplified bass and guitar ), given it's extraordinarily high max-imum SPL ratings, my guess is that it would at least sound accept-able. So, if your trusty Shure SM57 isn't available, try the "B-1" as a stand-in for it. At least it's worth a try!
All my tests were conducted through a Behringer Xenyx QX1202USB mixer using it's 48 Volt phantom power switch engaged ( obviously! ). I used the following settings for the above tests: The mic was input on Channel four ( -one of the mixer's four mono inputs ). The +10/ -10 to +40/ +60 Gain knob was set at the 8 1/2 mark ( -out of 10 ). It's compressor knob was set at the 6 mark ( -out of 10 ). High EQ ( 12 Khz ) was set at the 5 1/2 mark ( -out of 10 ). Mid EQ ( 2.5 Khz ) was set at the 5 1/2 mark ( -out of 10 ). Low EQ ( 80 hz ) was set at the 5 1/2 mark ( -out of 10 ).
The channel's pan knob was centered. The "FX" knob was set at "0". The channel's level knob was set at "7". The "USB/ 2-Track" buttons ( "To Phones/ Control Room" and "To Main Mix" ) were both in the "Up" position. The "FX" "To Control Room" button was in the "Up" ( 0ff ) position. The "Phones/ Control Room" knob was at 6 1/2 ( -out of 10 ). The "Main Mix" fader was at the 22.5 mark ( -out of the infinity to +10 db scale ). No effects were used. These settings were pretty conservative. They could've been pushed further.
The Behringer "B-1" mic. settings were as follows: "Flat" setting ( -on it's bass roll-off switch ). I used the supplied wind screen over the mic as well as the supplied suspension mount and mounted it on an Atlas Sound desktop mic stand. This provided adequate ( -though not perfect ) isolation from bass rumble and handling noise. The slip over windscreen did a very good job of stopping breathe "pop" plosives and silibances ( i.e: "esses", etc. ). I was pleasantly surprised how well this supplied slip-on windscreen worked. And it did so without muffling any highs. Nice!
What's better than a "B-1"? Maybe a "B-2 Pro"! If you need a great low-cost multi-pattern mic, consider Behringer's "B-2 Pro". It offers cardioid, omni and "figure 8" pick-up patterns.
Bottom line: This is a terrific mic! And to answer the questions posed at the beginning of this review: YES, THERE IS an affordable microphone that can "cover all the bases". From vocals to voice-over narration to acoustic guitar and piano. And as my tests show -the "B-1" should also do a pretty decent job with wind instruments too. Bottom line: if I only had $100.00 to spend on a microphone, it would go towards a Behringer "B-1".
I'm glad I snagged one of these while they're still being made. I've been so impressed with the one I have that I'm considering the purchase of a second one ( -for stereo recordings ). The "B-1" completely shattered my expectations of what a $100.00 mic was capable of. If you're considering a mic for your project-studio, you'd do well to add the "B-1" to your "short list"!
END OF REVIEW....