March 18, 2008
Review by Jay Matheson
•TS-1 small diaphragm tube condenser microphone
•AC power supply
•TS-1 shock mount
•25-foot 7-pin microphone cable
•AC power cable
•Aluminum carrying case
•One year warranty
•Transducer type: Gold sputtered; 3 microns thick
•Vacuum Tube: 5840
•Output impedance: 200 ohms
•Sensitivity: -35dB (@ 1 KHz, re 0dB=1V/Pa)
•Maximum Output: 130dB SPL
•Frequency Response: Cardioid capsule 70Hz - 20 kHz +/- 4 dB
Omni capsule 30Hz - 20 kHz +/- 4 dB
Hypercardioid capsule 80Hz - 20 kHz +/- 4 dB
Like everyone else I love a great deal on a useful pro level gear. The good people at Chameleon Labs have recently broken a few price verses pro level performance barriers since the introduction of their very successful 7602 Pre/EQ. Although not a glamorous as large diaphragm condensers and tube mics, small diaphragm mics are an essential component of any studio engineers toolbox. We received a pair of TS-1's for evaluation a few months back and gave them a try on the usual sources drum overheads, acoustic and electric guitars.
The TS-1 comes in a hefty briefcase with foam shock-mounting for all included components. The power supply is solidly constructed and even includes a standby switch to increase tube longevity. The microphone itself is a no frills design with a matte silver finish. It features small holes for tube ventilation and a medium weight construction with no pad or high pass filters. A screw on omni and cardioid capsule is included as well. For test purposes we used only the cardioid capsule. The clip for the mic is built into a simple, sturdy shock mount.
As with all small diaphragm condensers supplied in pairs our first test is always as drum overheads. Overheads provide both the sound of the shells and the cymbals and some seem to accentuate cymbals more than others. With the pair of TS-1 that were supplied to us we noticed that the entire kit was captured more than our usual overheads which are Neumann KM100's. If you're looking to capture an entire kit with a pair of overheads these are great mics for the job. They sounded beefier than expected with full mids and a fairly smooth top end.
We had several opportunities to record acoustic guitar with the mics over the several months that they were at The Jam Room and they worked well in both stereo and mono micing of acoustics. The TS-1s always seemed to have plenty of output and yielded the same full smooth sound that they did on drum overheads. With electric guitar cabs the Chameleons provided a great second mic alongside a 57. The mics performance on mids and low mids was a great thickener and tone enhancer. With loud cabs a pad could have made life a little easier. When using as a single mic on a cranked small combo amp, the TS-1 gave a classy midrange that let the tracks sit well in the mix alongside brighter SM57 guitar tracks.
A great sounding mic for many applications very smooth top with well defined mids.
None considering its price, a pad would be nice though.
This mic seems like one of the best bang for the buck small diaphragm condensers around. Great for drum overheads, stereo sources, guitar amps and acoustic instruments. Very natural sounding and well built. If you have mic related problems with harshness and small sounds, the TS-1 could be the answer to your small diaphragm problems.
Chameleon Labs TS-1 Small Diaphragm Tube Microphone
at Front End Audio