These two large-diaphragm condenser microphones from Behringer are likely to be among the first condenser microphones that audio engineers on a budget lay their hands on. What’s the fuss about? Are these good microphones? And how do they differ?
The Behringer B-1 and B-2 are Behringer’s top of the range microphones. As part of the B series, they are true condensers (unlike the C series). The B-2 comes in two generations – the original and the Pro. The B-2 and B-2 Pro are basically indistinguishable and the name seems to reflect a redesign of some of the internal components. Behringer receives a lot of criticism online but I think much of it is unjustified and people are just repeating myths. Some Behringer mics aren’t great but the B-1 in particular is one of the good ones and represents excellent value for money.
The key difference is that the B-1 has one diaphragm while the B-2 has two. This means the B-1 permanently has a cardioid pickup pattern, while the B-2 is switchable between three different polar patterns. This makes it a more versatile microphone, but the inevitable compromises in the switchable design mean it has slightly worse sensitivity and noise characteristics.
|Behringer B-1||Behringer B-2|
|Condenser, 1″ single diaphragm||Transducer type||Condenser, 1″ dual diaphragm|
|Pressure gradient||Operating principle||Pressure gradient|
|Cardioid||Polar pattern||Cardioid, omnidirectional or figure-of-8|
|Gold-plated balanced XLR connector||Connection||Gold-plated balanced XLR connector|
|-34±2 dBV||Open circuit voltage at 1kHz||-36 dBV (cardioid)
-37 dBV (omnidirectional)
-35 dBV (figure-of-8)
|20 mV/Pa||Open circuit sensitivity||16 mV/Pa (cardioid)
14 mV/Pa (omnidirectional)
|20 Hz – 20 kHz||Frequency range||20 Hz – 20 kHz|
|-10dB (switchable)||Level attenuation||-10dB (switchable)|
|6dB/oct at 75Hz (switchable)||Low-cut filter||6dB/oct at 150Hz (switchable)|
|138 dB||Max SPL (1% THD @ 1kHz)||138 dB (cardioid)
139 dB (omnidirectional)
137 dB (figure-of-8)
|13 dB||Equivalent SPL||17 dB
|81 dB||Signal-to-noise ratio re 1 Pa||77 dB
|> 1kΩ||Load impedance||> 1kΩ|
|∅ head 58mm
|Dimensions||∅ head 56mm
∅ shaft 50mm
|0.45 kg||Weight||0.55 kg|
In practice, you are probably unlikely to hear these differences. Don’t be fooled into thinking the B-2 is “better” because it has Pro in the title, or costs more. These are two different microphones for different purposes. I would suggest buying the B-1 unless you have a specific need for omnidirectional or figure-of-8 pickup.
Omnidirectional close-miking of instruments and voices is useful to avoid the proximity effect, if you have a nice-sounding room. The figure-of-8 pattern makes this microphone useful in a mid-side setup or a Blumlein pair.
Of course with any microphone review, words are meaningless and it’s all about the sound. In my tests, I was generally unsatisfied with the quality of the B-2 as part of a mid-side setup. I later did a direct comparison by recording female vocals with the B-1 and B-2 in turn. I thought the B-2 sounded thin, metallic and harsh. The B-1 was smoother by comparison. In the end, I thought the B-2s were unsuitable for my work so I sold them and bought a Sontronics STC-3X instead. That is much smoother for use in a mid-side pair.
In summary, I think the Behringer B-1 is a keeper but the B-2 is one to skip. The B-1 is a better choice for cardioid pickup and for omni or figure-of-8, there are many choices.