samson c02 review - decibel peak

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Reason Studios Reason 11 Review

That's why I wrote this Reason Studios Reason 11 review.

Editor's Rating:
4.5

The first pair of overhead microphones I ever bought was the Samson C02.

I was just looking for an affordable pair of pencil condenser microphones to record my newly acquired acoustic drum kit (Mapex Tornado). I did lots of research and finally decided to go with the Samson C02s.

Did I make the right choice?

I’m sharing my Samson C02 review with you to give you an idea of what I like and what I don’t like about these microphones. I’ll also compare the C02s to some of the other microphones I was considering.

Lastly, I’ll be answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

If you’re looking for an affordable pair of overhead microphones, you’ll definitely be pleased with the Samson C02s. However, you’ll want to keep reading to find out if there isn’t anything better out there for you…

What I like about the Samson C02

Let’s start by discussing what I LIKE most about the Samson C02s.

Of course, it’s my opinion and I’ll be basing it on my intended use for these small-diaphragm condenser microphones. That’s how you’ll measure if the C02s are right for you!

The Samson C02s come fully-equipped

One of the best parts of this dual-microphone bundle is its accessories.

samson c02 review - samson c02 included accessories

Besides the matched pair of C02 microphones, you’ll also get…

  • 2x microphone windscreen
  • 2x microphone shock-mount clip
  • 1x padded storage case

Admitedly, the windscreens look kind of ugly… Not that it really makes a difference though!

However, the microphone shock-mount clips DO make a difference.

Some of the other pencil condenser microphones I looked at only included a basic microphone clip. When it comes to SENSITIVE condenser microphones, you’ll need more than that.

That’s especially true if you’ll be mounting these next to your drum kit.

The shock-mounted clips that come with the Samson C02 package effectively isolate the microphones from any vibrations caused from your drum it. I know this from experience!

I also appreciated the padded storage case since I didn’t need to purchase one.

Not that I know of any cases that are designed to fit specific microphones…

That’s why I believe it’s SUPER important for the manufacturer to include one. Not all of the overhead microphones I looked at included one, so I don’t know what I’d do with those…

The Samson C02s sound great in untreated rooms

One of my biggest concerns when purchasing a pair of condenser microphones was the sensitivity.

The room I currently work in has some pretty noticeable flaws…

However, the enhanced directionality of the Samson C02s provided enough isolation for my drum kit. That’s why pencil condenser microphones are better than large-diaphragm condenser microphones in these situations.

I’ve used the C02s to record drums and congas without getting too much ambient noise in the mix.

Granted, percussive instruments are MUCH louder than vocals and acoustic guitars.

What I’m trying to say is that you’d be better off using a dynamic (moving-coil) microphone like the AKG P5S if you were working in these conditions and wanted to record anything other than percussive instruments.

That’s why I say that the Samson C02s are ideally used as overhead microphones.

They even sound great in the “recorder man” microphone configuration.

Of course, keep in mind that the observations I just made would be just as applicable to other pencil condenser microphones. I’m just reporting on the experience I’ve had the the C02s.

Basically, I find that they provide excellent directionality for the price.

What I don’t like about the Samson C02

Alright, so there isn’t as much to say about microphones as other pieces of equipment, but I also wanted to create some contrast in regards to the Samson C02 pair.

As much as I like these microphones, there’s ONE thing that I don’t like…

The frequency response is slightly restrictive coming in at 50 Hz – 20,000 Hz. Now, that’s pretty typical when we’re talking about overhead microphones, but I would’ve personally been better off with 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz.

Why’s that?

It’s because I was looking for a pair of pencil condenser microphones to record drums with ONLY 2 microphones.

Before you ask… YES, it’s more than possible (READ THIS).

However, you could imagine how being restricted in the low-end can make that impossible.

If you really wanted to make a two-microphone configuration work for your drum kit, you’d definitely need an extended frequency response. For example, using the “recorder man” configuration would also allow you to capture a decent amount of low-end from the kick drum.

That’s where I think the Samson C02s are lacking, at least for my personal needs.

Looking back, I would’ve been better off with the RODE M5 (which we’ll be talking about soon).

Does that mean that the Samson C02 isn’t good? NOT AT ALL.

The C02s are more specialized, that’s it.

If you were using them in a four-microphone configuration, I think they’ll actually be better because of that. That being said, I don’t recommend the Samson C02s to record drums using only 2 microphones.

Samson C02 vs RODE M5

Personally, I think I would’ve been better off with the RODE M5.

samson c02 review - Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones

Let’s compare the Samson C02 with the RODE M5 to highlight the key differences…

Samson C02RODE M5
Polar PatternCardioidCardioid
Frequency Response50 Hz – 20,000 Hz20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Dynamic RangeN/A121 dB
Maximum SPL134 dB140 dB
Self-Noise22 dB19 dB
Matched PairYesYes
Included AccessoriesPadded Storage Case, Shock-Mounted Clips, WindshieldsMicrophone Clips, Windshields
Warranty2 Years10 Years

Samson C02 vs RODE NT5

Another popular RODE microphone for overheads is the NT5…

samson c02 review - Rode NT5 Compact Cardioid Condenser Microphone, Single

Let compare the RODE NT5 with the Samson C02 to better understand the differences.

Samson C02RODE NT5
Polar PatternCardioidCardioid
Frequency Response50 Hz – 20,000 Hz20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Dynamic RangeN/AN/A
Maximum SPL134 dB143 dB
Self-Noise22 dB16 dB
Matched PairYesNo
Included AccessoriesPadded Storage Case, Shock-Mounted Clips, WindshieldsPadded Pouch, Microphone Clips, Windshields
Warranty2 Years10 Years

Samson C02 vs Behringer C-2

Sometimes, I feel like Behringer was trying to copy Samson with the C-2…

samson c02 review - Behringer C-2 Studio Condenser Microphones, Matched Pair

Personally, I don’t feel like the Behringer C-2 comes close to the Samson C02. Let’s take a look!

Samson C02Behringer C-2
Polar PatternCardioidCardioid
Frequency Response50 Hz – 20,000 Hz20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Dynamic RangeN/AN/A
Maximum SPL134 dB140 dB
Self-Noise22 dB22 dB
Matched PairYesYes
Included AccessoriesPadded Storage Case, Shock-Mounted Clips, WindshieldsPadded Storage Case, Shock-Mounted Clips, Windshields, Stereo Array
Warranty2 Years1 Year

What others are saying about the Samson C02

When I was researching the best overhead drum mics for the money, I was surprised that the Samson C02 wasn’t mentioned that often. If you read any customer reviews though, you’ll only hear positive things about this valuable, yet affordable stereo microphone pair.

Many reviews claim that there aren’t any other “budget” overhead mics that can compete.

The general consensus is that the pair of Samson C02 is perfect for anybody looking to start recording music at home without breaking the bank. I personally own them along with an AKG Perception P5 S and that’s it! It should be more than enough for beginners.

Here’s what some folks are saying:

  • The Samson C02 stacks up against the Shure SM81
  • The Samson C02 knocks the Rode M5 out of the park
  • Using outboard preamps unleashes the C02’s potential
  • The Samson C02 covers LOTS of ground

Perhaps some of us have looked past them because of their unbelievable price point?

Either way, I usually expect this type of “bang for your buck” from RODE. It looks like Samson was capable of beating them at their own game this time!

Samson C02: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some commonly asked questions about the Samson C02…

Does the Samson C02 need Phantom Power?

YES. The Samson C02s are active condenser microphones, so they require 48V Phantom Power.

Summary: Samson C02 Review

I hope that you found some useful information in my Samson C02 review.

You should now know if the Samson C02 is the right microphone for your studio.

It’s true that there are MANY people praising the Samson C02 and with good reason! However, if you have a specific application in mind, you’ll need to think twice about the type of microphone you need.

The low-frequency cut at 50 Hz can be an advantage to some, but a disadvantage to others…

So, what are you planning to do with the Samson C02? Let us know in the comments!

Feel free to ask me any questions there as well. If you need assistance finding another microphone better suited to your situation, I’d be more than happy to recommend something as well!

Thanks for reading, now go record something awesome!

Samson C02:

Hercules MS432B Microphone Boom Stand:

Pig Hog PHM10:

If you were looking for the best overhead drum mics for the money, I think you’ll be more than satisfied with the pair of Samson C02. Recording drums using just overhead microphones has been done many times and the results can be stunning if you’re using the appropriate microphones. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve mastered microphone placement for maximum control. If you’re interested in acquiring these skills, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter to have access to my latest content. I appreciate your support, thanks for reading!

Sources:

http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/microphones/condenser-microphones/c02/

http://www.rode.com/microphones/m5

http://www.rode.com/microphones/nt5

https://www.behringer.com/product.html?modelCode=P0263

4 Responses

  1. You’ve done a fantastic job of reviewing these mics. I was looking at these as a space set, OH’s for drums or for camera work taping live shows.

    I’m currently using Apex 185 pen mics for drum OH’s and stereo mics for live video work. These are fantastic and honestly underrated.

    I’ve used many Samson products before with lots of success, and seeing as the Samson C02’s are half price for $100CAD they caught my eye.

    I do appreciate that the Apex’s start at 20Hz, I’m still trying to think if this may or may not be a deal breaker, at $100CAD it’s almost enough to over look.

    Going to check out some of your other info! Keep up the great work.

    1. Hello Jsun!

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you found the review useful.

      I hadn’t heard of the Apex 185 before reading your comment. It looks like a pretty good deal as well!

      It might be true that the Apex 185 is stated to go from 20 – 20,000 Hz, but the truth is you’ll need to get pretty close with any condenser microphone to really capture sub-frequencies.

      One of the things I like most about the Samson C02 is its ability to reject ambient noise.

      It’s surprisingly directional, so they did a great job on the design.

      If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reply. Thanks for stopping by, have a good one!

      – Stefan

  2. Feedback is a very important thing when it comes to drums, when in a studio, you need to mic almost all your instruments to get the best out of it. I play drums a lot but nit professionally, getting a quality overhead drum mic is a bit of a challenge even in church. Thanks for sharing this article, I’ll definitely find a way if getting one of these.

    1. Hey BeyondCol,

      Depending on the type of church you’re playing in, you’re right. It may be a challenge to use condenser microphones as overheads. If there’s a lot of reverberation, I recommend checking out the AKG Perception P5 S.

      You could technically use two of them as overheads (less definition though) and also mic every other drum with one of them (snare, toms, kick, etc…). It’s much better for live situations because it’s dynamic. Condensers are probably too sensitive for your situation.

      Let me know if you need any help!

      – Stefan

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