Behringer C-2 vs C-4

I’ve been using a pair of Behringer C-2 small diaphragm condenser microphones for several years now, and I’ve been extremely impressed. This week I had cause to buy another pair – but I noticed that since I bought my C-2 microphones, Behringer have introduced the C-4. So what’s the difference?

Behringer C-2 and C-4
Behringer C-2 and C-4

The blurb on Behringer’s website is identical, except to say that the C-4s are black rather than silver, and blend in more discreetly with stage surroundings. Both microphone kits come with the same accessories: a pair of microphones, wind shields, microphone clips, a stereo mounting bar and a hard carry case.

The specifications are also similar, but not identical. I’ve emboldened the rows that differ.

C-2 C-4
Transducer type Condenser, 16mm Condenser, 16 mm
Polar pattern Cardioid Cardioid
Connector Gold-plated balanced XLR Gold-plated balanced XLR
Open circuit sensitivity (@ 1kHz) -41 dBV (0 dBV = 1 V/Pa) -38 dBV (0 dBV = 1 V/Pa)
Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Level attenuation -10dB (switchable) -10dB (switchable)
Low-cut filter 6 dB/oct @ 120 Hz (switchable) 6 dB/oct @ 120 Hz (switchable)
Max SPL (<1% THD @ 1kHz) 140 dB 136 dB
Equivalent noise level (IEC 651) 19 dBA
Signal-to-noise ratio 75 dB
Nominal impedance 75 Ω 75 Ω
Load impedance > 1 kΩ > 1 kΩ
Supply voltage +48 V +48 V
Supply current 3 mA 3 mA
Φ Shaft 20 mm 23 mm
Length 94 mm 94 mm
Weight 90 g 60 g

Annoyingly, Behringer have failed to publish the noise characteristics[1] of the C-4, so we can’t make a judgement on that. However, there are anecdotal reports that the C-4 has lower self-noise than the C-2. Noise aside, there are three key differences.

  1. The C-4 is 3 dB more sensitive than the C-2, at the expense of having a 4 dB lower maximum sound pressure level
  2. The C-4 is slightly fatter at its fat end (it’s not straight-sided like the C-2)
  3. The C-4 is significantly lighter, at just two-thirds of the weight of the C-2
Behringer C-2 and C-4
Behringer C-2 and C-4

Difference 1 is exactly why I purchased the C-4s. I wanted a slightly more sensitive microphone for use with choirs and classical instruments. SPL is not a limiting factor here. I would favour the C-2s for use as drum overheads or in other loud applications.

Difference 2 is irrelevant although in my opinion the C-4s look a bit silly.

Difference 3 is a huge disappointment for me, though. For the benefit of those people who have handled neither of these microphones, the C-2 is cast of thick solid metal. It’s heavy and sturdy; it feels a lot more expensive than you might think. It reminds me of holding something heavy like a spanner. Unfortunately, the C-4 has a much thinner metal shell. It feels cheap, fragile, light and like it would dent if I dropped it.

But the real test of these microphones will be in a recording. I’ve only owned the C-4s for a few hours so I haven’t yet had the opportunity to use them in anger. You can hear some the choral recordings I’ve made with the C-2s on the St Mary’s Choir website. When I get round to testing the C-4s in the choir, I’ll comment at the bottom of this post and provide samples.

For now, suffice it to say: if you have no need for the extra sensitivity of the C-4, I recommend you stick with the C-2 for its vastly superior build quality.

[1] If anyone else is able to get their hands on the noise characteristics of the C-4 I’d love to hear from you!

43 Comments

  1. Heath
    August 2, 2013
    Reply

    Hi. How did they turn out?

  2. August 2, 2013
    Reply

    I’ve been really busy recently so I haven’t had a chance to do a proper head-to-head test under controlled conditions. However, I did record a few tracks for an acoustic band and I used the C-2s and the C-4s for acoustic guitar and baritone ukulele (and B-1s for acoustic bass and vocals). They all sounded good to me but you can see for yourself:

    The choir I usually work with are on hiatus until September now so I expect I will record the next choral evensong in October, and this is the real reason I bought the C-4s.

  3. heath
    August 2, 2013
    Reply

    Thanks. Useful. I’m thinking of getting the C4s for some cheap n cheerful (but hopefully good) orchestral recordings (all ensemble sizes) using, perhaps, a stereo XY pattern. So, I’m wondering if they’re up to the task. Thanks again and good luck.

    • Heath
      August 3, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for that info. It’s opened up quite a field of further investigation into mic techniques. I have recorded an orchestra before using just the uni mics of a Tascam DR100 with surprisingly good results. I’m hoping for even better sound with properly configured external mics. Looks like I’ll have to go for the C4s because the C2s are in short supply here in the UK. Pity about the C4’s build quality, but, like you said, the extra sensitivity might make up for it.

      Thanks again and good luck with your work.

  4. Angelos
    September 20, 2013
    Reply

    which of these two do you believe is better on ambient sounds?

    • September 20, 2013
      Reply

      There really isn’t much difference between them. The C-4 is a bit more sensitive so you might prefer that.

  5. Heath
    September 20, 2013
    Reply

    Hi again, Jonathan. I bought the C4s a few weeks ago. I have to say that they weren’t really up to the task. I happen to have a single Oktava MK-12-01 cardiod mic and the sound difference between it and the Behringer’s is night and day, to be honest. I found the C4 to be boxy – as in a mid-range frequency boost that was not unlike listening to a sound source through a seashell. The highs lacked very much detail, and the lows were muddy.

    There was a lot of hiss, and the mic did not have much off axis sound rejection. There was also a kind of reverberant/hollow effect seemingly being imparted from within the mic body itself. This lessened with the low cut switch applied, and, indeed, the mic performed slightly better all round with low-cut. Even so, the mic was leagues below the Oktava in performance. I sent the Behringers back for a refund and will probably put the money toward another Oktava to form a pair.

    Sorry to come back with this. I appreciate your blog, and your kind replies, but I would honestly advise you to try an Oktava. I think you might be surprised. Only problem is that a single one of them costs twice as much as two of the Behringers. But I think they’re worth the extra. It’s that old adage yet again: you get what you pay for.

    BTW, I’m not a shill for Oktava or anything. This is my honest user experience. In fact, you might even try an AKG Perception 170 mic (single) at around the same price as the Behringer pair. I haven’t used it myself, but it has received some pretty good reviews. I would guess that they’re better performers than the C4s.

    Best wishes to you and thanks
    Heath

  6. September 20, 2013
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I know some say that Behringer kit has mixed quality control issues so it’s possible you had some mics from a bad batch. Personally I’m satisfied with mine and have not really noticed any of the issues you describe. There’s a bit of hiss, but nothing that concerns me too much. However, I expect next time I buy microphones I will aim slightly further up the market. The next microphones I am likely to buy will probably a set of dynamic drum microphones, so expect an article about that in the future!

    I think you’re absolutely right, the take-home message is that you get what you pay for. Behringer certainly isn’t the best quality but I think it is the best quality for the price. It just depends on what people’s needs are.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

  7. October 6, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Heath – assuming you’re still following this thread!

    Tonight I used the C-4s for the first time for their intended purpose – recording a church choir. I have to say, they’re awful microphones and everything you said about them is true. My recording has hardly any high frequencies and a hollow sound, as if the choir were singing in a tunnel. I hate them (the microphones, not the choir!) and I’m bitterly disappointed in the C-4s.

    I’ve been using C-2s to record the choice in XY and ORTF setups for several years and have always been very pleased with the results. The C-4s have nothing in common with the C-2s.

    It’s probably too late for me to return the C-4s now but I will probably sell them on and buy another set of C-2s because they have never let me down and have a great natural sound to them.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

    • October 6, 2013
      Reply

      Just to illustrate a point – here’s a recording from tonight’s service with the C-4s. I boosted the high frequencies in EQ quite a lot, and it still sounds “stuffy” somehow. Won’t be using the C-4s again!

  8. October 6, 2013
    Reply

    And this recording was made back in March, using the C-2s. It has transparency and a sense of space. The consonants come through clearly and it is a much better recording.

    Both recordings were made from exactly the same place in the church, both using the ORTF technique.

  9. Heath
    October 7, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Jonathan. Sorry to hear that you got stung. My guess is that the C4s are just not designed for the sensitive, nuanced recordings needed for choirs, orchestras etc. Rather, they’re a cheap home studio solution for drum overhead recording where tonal subtlty is perhaps not a premium requirement. Fair enough, but even then, they may fall short.

    I never got as far as trying them with an orchestra. I received them in the morning, recorded some simple vocal tests along with my Oktava at various distances, A-B’d the results, and I was filling out the Amazon returns form by noon!

    Based on your experiences with the C2s, I’m tempted to buy a set, maybe for some light outrigger ambience recording. They’re even cheaper than the C4s, and I could always return them for a refund. But is it even worth the hassle? Maybe they’re just TOO cheap. At those kinda prices something’s gotta give.

    BTW, coincidentally, I attended a major orchestral concert of Stockhausen’s music earlier tonight at the Royal Festival Hall in London. I took a peek at what they were using to record it – an elevated ORTF stereo pair plus literally dozens and dozens of Sennheiser cardiods (probably costing about a grand each) mic’ing individual instruments and sections. I guess they can afford ’em. :D. Even so, just a decent pair of cardiods placed advantageously should yield good results for your purposes and mine. But I’d hesitate to use ANY Behringer mic for that. Behringer make great mixing desks – I’ve got one and it’s a fantastic workhorse. But mics….? Perhaps not.

    Best wishes and luck
    Heath

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      I had assumed the C-4s had the same pickup as the C-2, just with a different preamp to give it a bit more sensitivity. But it seems to be a totally different microphone, built to a budget.

      I haven’t got a bad thing to say about the C-2s so I’m happy to recommend them to people. But if you’ve already got some Oktavas that you’re happy with, you might as well go with those.

      I plan to keep on using my C-2s for the choir and maybe buy another pair. I’ll keep the C-4s for drum overheads or sell them. Apart from the C-4s I’ve always been very happy with Behringer mics.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

      • Mj
        July 24, 2016
        Reply

        Hello, I was just wondering if you think the C2 would also be best for recording vocals in a cheap home studio ? It would be only one person singing at a time, thank you in advance !

        • July 24, 2016
          Reply

          The C-2 is not a vocal mic and I think you’ll struggle to get satisfactory results. If you’re on a budget, try the C-1 for vocals, or if you’re a bit more spendy the B-1 is excellent.

  10. Adam Skeaping
    October 15, 2013
    Reply

    How about Behringer C-5? More expensive, but comes with the killer advantage of omni capsule, so if you’re recording acoustic music on a tight budget, it’s definitely worth trying spaced omis as a main pair. And if you don’t become a spaced-omni convert on the spot, you can still use the cardiod capsules which probably sound just as good as the C-2..
    For me, the difference between similarly priced/specced omni and cardioid is huge. The omni has real bottom end, and an effortless and natural feel that just isn’t possible with all the in-capsule freakery that’s necessary to achieve a directional response (fig-8 ribbons excluded of course). Buy a C-5 and compare the two capsules on something like solo guitar (of course the omni has to be closer for the same sense of perspective). If you’re impressed, buy another and become a spaced-omni freak.
    For classical music recording, using spaced omnis as the main pair beats anything else I know for natural feel and sense of the environment’s acoustic.
    Note that I’m talking about single-diaphragm pressure mics — switching a dual-capsule mic to ‘omni’ is not the same thing at all, because, although particularly in mics like AKG 414, the omni pattern sounds a less constipated than any of the other patterns, there’s still all that in-capsule porting to mess up the sound compared to a proper pressure mic.
    Of course, an omni C-5 can’t compare with an expensive omni mic, but if you’re strapped for cash, and recording acoustic instruments, it’s worth a try.

    • October 15, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for your insights – that’s extremely useful information. I had considered the B-5 (is that what you meant, rather than C-5?) but I wondered how good they’d be. They’re more expensive but you get two capsules so I figured the cardioid would be the exact same capsule as the C-4.

      I have read about using spaces omnis for capturing classical/church music. My main concern is, although our church has good acoustics, the congregation can’t sit still so there is a lot of coughing, rustling of paper, creaking of pews, etc. Do you think spaced omnis would pick up more of that?

  11. Richard
    January 10, 2014
    Reply

    I just ordered C-4s from Amazon and then found this site. On the basis of the examples above, I immediately cancelled and re-ordered C-2s. I have to record a soprano and piano accompaniment in 7 days time, so I hope they arrive promptly. I was a sound person with ATV in the late sixties, but haven’t done much since then. All I have is an unmatched pair of dynamic mics, hence the punt with cheapo but matched condensers.

    • January 10, 2014
      Reply

      I think you’ll be pleased with the C-2s over cheap dynamic mics. They’ll sound good for piano but they wouldn’t be my first choice for a soprano. See how you get on, but personally I’d use a stereo pair of C-2s for the piano and something with a larger diaphragm for the voice – perhaps a Behringer B-1, or C-1 if budget is tight. They’ll give a smoother sound.

      Best of luck, and let me know how you get on!

      • Richard
        January 30, 2014
        Reply

        > Best of luck, and let me know how you get on!
        I’m really impressed with the C-2s. I used them in XY, about three feet in front of the singer, who was actually a contralto. This put the piano about four feet immediately left of the pair, which gave me a reasonable balance. The voice is a bit dry and ‘in your face’ for my liking, but she is delighted with the result, which is just intended as a record for her and her family, before her voice fails. I have another session lined up, and have borrowed a Rode NT1-A, which I might try in a MS setup, with the C-2’s used for the figure-of-8.

  12. Adam Skeaping
    January 10, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks Johnathan for correcting my typo. Of course, yes, I meant B5. Recently recommended it to a talented lad starting out as a classical engineer, who made a very nice recording of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment doing a Beethoven symphony. The whole thing just using a spaced pair B5s, plus addition of a tiny bit of spot mic just to focus the timps. Sounded great to me.

  13. orva agbe
    June 24, 2014
    Reply

    Tnx a lot for d info, u have really helped me to make an informed decision. Tnx again

  14. Mathew
    January 8, 2015
    Reply

    Can i use C2s for vocal recording? Such as a radio show?

    • January 8, 2015
      Reply

      If you mean for speech, then yes you can use C2s for that. However it’s not what they are designed for and you would get better results with a C1 or B1. The C2s are better at close-up work with acoustic instruments or “ambient” recordings like a choir, several metres away.

  15. Mathew
    January 9, 2015
    Reply

    Thank You! I want this for record my guitar, and i was interested if i can use it when i need to record speech, not to frequently.

  16. JD Schultz, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA
    March 27, 2015
    Reply

    Although rather quite experienced with microphones for sound reinforcement and communication, my recording experience goes back to the days of Shure 55s and Ampex R-R. I have only recently begun home/portable digital using my Tascam DP03 with two MXL 910s for piano and vocal. I have fallen in love with condensors, and am considering a pair of C2 or C4s. Your point-by-point analysis is by far the best available after many hours of surfing. You side-by-side recordings made my choice a real no-brainer. THANK YOU!

  17. John Monro
    September 4, 2015
    Reply

    Interesting comparison.
    One correction though, the -41dBV is a smaller signal than -38 dBV, so the C-4 is 3dB LESS sensitive than the C-2.

    • September 4, 2015
      Reply

      You’re correct that -41dBV is a smaller signal than -38dBV. However in my article I said the C-2 was 3dB less sensitive than the C-4 so I think you’ve got the two mics mixed up 🙂

  18. September 4, 2015
    Reply

    just happened upon this thread and figured I’d throw in my experience. I’m glad I read it since I don’t own the c4 and now I won’t. I tacked the c2 pair on to an order (about 3000 dollars worth of high end mics and various other equipment) because why not and am blown away by the c2 for the money. I haven’t come across many uses for them with all of the better options I have in the studio but for testing, they sounded quite good on an acoustic guitar. They don’t have anything spectacular about them but they’re fair enough in reproducing the source and respond well to eq. For example, they may lack some sparkle in a recording but it’s easy to make up on your eq. Now live, I am so happy I have them, as I can use them as drum overheads for metal bands and if they get beat up, oh well. I can’t say that about my se5’s or any of my other capacitor mics. (except the Nady scm800 or something like that? Whatever the name, I recommend them on a budget. I love them on bass cabs.) the c2 also comes in handy if say I have something better overhead in the studio but the drum line is very hi hat intensive. I’ll add the c2 right above the edge of the hat to catch that intricate hat work.

    • September 4, 2015
      Reply

      Good to know, thanks. These are not the best mics in the world, but they are extremely versatile and for the money, hard to beat. No matter what job I’m on, I always have a pair of C-2s nearby.

  19. Michael
    December 30, 2015
    Reply

    Hi, would the C2’s be good for recording a solo violin?

    • January 4, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, they are ideal for acoustic instruments like this. If you want a stereo recording, I suggest using both mics in an X-Y layout about 30cm from the violin. For more “room sound”, move further back.

  20. Alif
    April 12, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jonathan
    thanks you so much for your experience about behringer c2 and c4

    I am Alif from Indonesia, I am guitarist acoustic classical nylon
    I play fusion fingerstyle, I play with a acoustic band.
    I am just purchased Flamenco guitar and I have a plan to doing external microphone system in every gig. because it’s very annoying if I using plug in system (pick up, piezzo, internal mic, tranduser) I’ve been doing this for 3 years and the sound was crap especially when I am doing struming.

    after I check many option about microphone, the microhpone with the price very close with my budget is behringer C2, Behringer C4 or Behringer B5.
    I know that this microphone will not the same like DPA, Neuman or something
    but I am really curious how is it sound with my guitar.

    anyway, also I have Behringer Ultragain Mic200
    so I will use it when I have a microhpone.

    my question is
    1. in my situation which one better for me between Behringer C2, C4 or B5 for acoustic guitar live performance application?
    2. if you said Behringer C2 or C4 which is streo system, can you give me advice how to set up with Behringer Ultragain Mic200 ?
    because there’re 2 line chanel from 2 microhpone should I plug 1 line chanel to behringer Ultragain Mic200 and the other one directly to the mixer ?
    but as you can see that Behringer Ultragain Mic200 have 2 Input, 1 XLR jack and 1 ordinary plug 1/4 jack.
    so can I use those input in the same time for streo microphone system?
    to make 1 line chanel output to the mixer.

    Thank you So much

    Alif

    • April 12, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Alif,

      Skip the C-4, it isn’t very good. Choose between the C-2 and B-5, depending on your budget. The B-5 are better, but they are about 5x more expensive.

      The Ultragain Mic200 only supports one microphone. If you want to do stereo, you will need two Ultragain Mic200 preamps. Or, you can connect two microphones directly to the mixer.

      However, for live use I wouldn’t do stereo as it makes you more prone to feedback. Just use one microphone pointing in the sound hole. Use stereo only for recording, not live.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  21. Alif
    April 12, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jonathan

    thank you so much for your respond,
    okay so the point is better to use Behringer C2 or B5 in my situation.
    yeah I was check the price, all that microphone is in my budget,
    B5 is 5x expensive than C2?
    in my country
    C2 around 70 $ USD
    B5 around 83 $ USD
    what do you think ?

    anyway if I buy Behringer C2 is that okay if I use single mic and connect to my Behringer Ultragain Mic200 ?
    as your advice that streo system in the live performance application for guitar acoustic will makes more feedback.

    one more question, sometimes I play with different band but still with acoustic concept, we play 9 people in this band I am using plug in system so far.
    my friend in this band play acordeon and concertina.
    my question is
    1. which one better Behringer C2 or C4 for acordeon, concertina and Bodhran (traditional Irish Percussion) ?
    you can see on this video

    in that video we play acoustic only the guitar plug in to the amply
    and I am still using piezzo system on that video.

    the audio of this video we doing recording very simple in the guesthouse during the music trip program

    Thank you so much
    Alif

    • April 12, 2016
      Reply

      That is good pricing. I think for $70 you get two C-2 microphones, but for $83 you get just one B-5. So really the C-2 are $35 each.

      Yes it is fine to use a single microphone for guitar, connected to your Ultragain Mic200.

      For accordion, I would recommend C-2 rather than C-4. The C-2 can handle loud sounds better. The C-2 is also good for percussion.

      Good luck!
      Jonathan

  22. Alif
    April 12, 2016
    Reply

    ohh yeah I am just realized that C2 I got 2 microphone hehehe
    well thank you so much for your advice Jonathan.
    I was thinking to buy B5 for live performance
    and maybe I will buy the C4 also for recording.

    I will posted here my video when I use that microphone in Live performance

    again thank you so much.
    keep sharing Jonathan

    Cheers,
    Alif

  23. Alif
    April 14, 2016
    Reply

    hi Jonathan thank you so much for the article,

  24. Alif
    April 15, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jonathan

    Today I am just play in the outdoor with my band.

    my friend borrow me cardioid pencil condeser microphone,
    I am forgot what’s the brand.
    so far was fine also it’s not really bad using external microphone system playing with the band.

    but there’re little thing
    as always it’s about feedback
    and my guitar sound wasn’t clear when the other instrument playing.
    then when I asked the technician guy to increase the volume of monitor speakers feedback come again, also when I increase gain or output control in my behringer mic200 the feedback come again.

    here is my situation

    I am playing between violin and cajon(percussion) both of them using microhpone too and the position of monitor speakers exactly at 2 O’clock from my position.
    based on your article link, I tried microphone placement 3 inches from sound hole and 8 inches from sound hole then I took the microphone placement 3 inches from sound hole because it was clear and the sound was I want.
    and in my behringer mic200
    I put gain in the 8 O’clock and output at 9 O’clock, also I turned on the Phantom power +48V, Low Cut, Phase Reverse, and the preamp mode in the Neutral.

    In this situation when I have a solo section in the middle of the song without other instrument playing, my guitar sound was clear enough, but the problem is when the other instrument playing, my guitar sound wasn’t clear. and when I tried increase the volume up feedback come again.

    can you give me some advice to fix this problem?

    I will send video recording of the performance today later
    when they upload it.

    and you can see the stage situation in this video

    in this video I play only with the violin
    and I mixed Piezzo pick up and external microphone using dynamic microphone.

    Thank you so much.

    Alif

  25. tomtom
    April 28, 2016
    Reply

    hello . what a impressive review about cheap but not bad mics . i use the c-2 and in your test there are sounding a bit opener and widener field . thanks and best !

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