Review: KAM Instruments C3 Microphone

Top-Flight Quality On A Budget

KAM C3 Microphone. Courtesy KAM Instruments

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As you've undoubtedly read here, many of KAM Instruments' products have tested surprisingly well. It's no surprise that the C3 is no different. They offer superior sound quality, thoughtful features, and a price that's not out of reach for many project studios or live sound engineers. The C3 is one of KAM's newest pieces -- a large-diaphragm condenser microphone perfect for studio vocals, instrument reinforcement, and many other tasks.

It looks nice and sounds great, but how does it stack up against the competition?

Build Quality

Out of the box, the C3 catches your eye as an absolutely stunning, sleek microphone. Based on a simple design, the C3 comes standard with a very nice shock mount and carrying case. Otherwise, the C3 comes simply packaged; it's not flashy, and doesn't need anything else other than the iron-clad shockmount.

The C3 has held up for me in months of studio time and, the most important test, time on the road with a touring band (used in a variety of functions). I've gotten very comfortable with the C3, and find it to be an excellent tool.

KAM claims that the C3 has an almost flat response from 20Hz to 20kHz, and in my testing, this certainly isn't inaccurate. Before we talk about the sound quality of the C3, though, let's take a look at why cheaper microphones tend not to sound the best.

Looking for a good stage-ready vocal mic? Check out the KAM Atmosphere review.

Cheap Only In Price

Many times, cheap microphones make compromises in the capsule construction or preamp circuitry that elevates the noise floor, makes the diaphragm work less efficient, and generally creates a bad environment for perfect sound quality. This results in brittle mids, overextended highs, and inaccurate lows.

While the C3 is an inexpensive mic, KAM's lengthy R&D process has resulted in a microphone with a great sound signature -- many times what you paid for. I've become a big fan of the C3, using it on just about everything; it's one of the few microphones in my arsenal that I've considered buying multiples of, simply due to the versatility.

The C3 has an absolutely killer sound signature, with a response from 20Hz to 20kHz, and while it's highs are slightly elevated (+3.5 db at 10Hz), that really helps out when recording studio vocals using a pop filter. Unlike cheap-sounding microphones, these extended highs aren't brittle or overbearing. They're right where they should be, and a little creative EQing tends to fix any issues you might have.

Looking for information on how to better use microphones? Check out our guide to all things mics!

Aside from the nice high energy information, the C3 offers a silky-smooth mid-range that makes guitars, cymbals, and male vocals shine and pop in a mix effortlessly. Low end is tight, well-defined, and makes an excellent impact when used properly. The C3 offers a low cut filter (offering a gentle slope at 100Hz) and a -10db pad, very useful when using the somewhat hot C3 in live sound environments.

I found the C3 to really shine on cymbals, especially high-hat; it sounded killer on drums, toms and snare being the best examples. There was also a great deal of success using the C3 on guitar cabinets in well-controlled live environments.

The KAM C3 is available directly from KAM Instruments, and retails at the bargain price of $175. This is a great microphone that should be in every arsenal: inexpensive, feature-packed, and great-sounding.

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