Since the invention of the condenser mic, small diaphragm condensers (also known as SDCs and pencil mics) have been the go-to microphone for recording drum overheads, acoustic guitar, and even full orchestras. SDCs have two characteristics that set them apart from every other mic out there; their unmatched transient response and accurate top end. Small diaphragm condensers are the best microphones for capturing the top end and attack of an instrument with accuracy.
But while their strength is in transients and top end pickup, their weakness is in capturing low end. Because of their small and tight capsule design, SDCs often lack low end that can be important when recording sources like orchestras and drums. Even many vintage SDCs had their own low-end limitations. To add more low end into their recordings, many engineers would often pair a large diaphragm condenser or ribbon mic with an SDC to capture more information. This would solve the issue of capturing more low end, but it also created a plethora of others not limited to positioning two mics and making sure they were completely in phase.
There was no mic in the middle that could live in both worlds… Until now.
A New Kind of Condenser
The 013 FET is a unique microphone. It’s often referred to as a small diaphragm condenser because its physical profile is similar to a typical SDC. But in reality, the 013 has a much larger capsule than most other SDCs out there giving it significantly more low end.
Back when condenser mics were first being developed, Neumann established what is now considered the standards that define an SDC and LDC. According to Neumann, “In most microphone books you’ll find this explanation: “Large” means the capsule’s diaphragm (or membrane) is 1 inch (25.4 mm) or more in diameter; “small” means it is ½ inch (12.7 mm) or less.”
The 013 capsule is 25mm; too large for an SDC and too small for an LDC. This puts the 013 squarely in between. It was designed to have the best elements of both SDCs and LDCs with a realistic transient response and accurate top end with a balanced and extended low-end. This makes the 013 Series microphones the most versatile mics in the entire Soyuz line. They can be used on anything from drum overheads to piano, acoustic guitars to upright bass, and snare to orchestras. It’s even a good choice for some vocalists.
Listen to the 013 FETs on drum overheads
Listen to the 013 FET on male vocals
Low End with Transients
Piano is often one of the most difficult instruments to capture because of its complex transients and frequency response that covers the lowest of the lows and highest of the highs. This makes it a perfect source for recording with the 013 FETs.
Bleed that Blends Right In
The 013 FET does an excellent job of focusing in on what’s directly in front of them and rejecting surrounding noise, but a true testament to their use is their pleasing off-axis coloration. What we mean by this is that any sounds that do bleed actually feel smooth and pleasing instead of brittle and trashy.
For instance, some engineers who position mics close to toms on a drum kit may put a gate on the track to filter out any sound that isn’t the immediate drum hit or transient, but with SDCs you’ll find that spillover from cymbals and other elements almost sounds like another set of overheads and tucks in wonderfully to further build your overall drum sound.
SDCs can keep the feeling of a live performance in the studio. You can close-mic an upright piano in a live room with guitars, bass, and drums, without compromise. Reap all the benefits of clarity and detail from a condenser while being able to reject other instruments with control in the mix.
This makes working with them in a live recording setting fantastic as you get a sense of separation with the track and any bleed that leaks through only seems to glue your instruments together in a satisfying and rounded way.
Toms, Acoustic Guitar, and More
The 013 FETs make great tom mics because of their balanced, low end, accurate transient response, and off-axis rejection. In his recent video, Ryan Earnhardt shows three examples of unexpected places that the 013 FETs shine including on toms.
When you’re looking for a versatile mic that can be used on almost anything, 013 Series microphones are a great choice because they benefit from having the best characteristics of both LDCs and SDCs.