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Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 Microphone
What's in a name? Maybe something other than what you're thinking...

by Phil O'Keefe



Some products are so well known that even a few numbers from their name evoke strong sonic and visual associations, and several of those products are microphones. If I say 87, 57 or 44 and you're into mics, you'll know exactly what models I'm referring to - which is why I think that some people have mistaken the meaning of the "47" in the Roswell Mini K47's name. We'll try to get to the bottom of that, clear up any potential confusion, and see what this interesting mic is all about. Roswell Pro Audio sent a well-matched pair of them for the review, so I could check them in various different types of microphone configurations, including stereo arrays.  







What You Need To Know

  • The Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 is a side-address, large-diaphragm condenser mic, and the very first characteristic you'll probably notice is that it's small. Measuring 150 mm (5.91") long, 44 mm (1.73") in diameter, and weighing 325 grams, it's not the smallest LDC around. However it's noticeably smaller than your typical '87 clone.

  • Speaking of clones - is it one? Okay, let's get that out of the way: No. It's not a clone of a vintage U47 or U47 FET, but like many of those microphones, it uses the classic K47-style pressure gradient capsule - which some mic experts prefer over the older M7 capsule design (used on most of the earliest vintage '47s), in no small part due to the way the PVC diaphragms in the original M7 capsules dry up and break down over time. The mylar used in a K47 doesn't suffer from this issue. So in short, the "mini" in the Mini K47's name comes from the mic's small size, and the K47 refers to the capsule type.

  • The mic's "hot" side is indicated by the Roswell logo, with the rest of the microphone being devoid of any other markings aside from the Mini 47 moniker. There are also no pads or switches. The grille is nickel plated and has a matte finish, which nicely complements the flat black of the Mini K47's body.

 

  • The head basket's grille is double layer, with the thicker outer mesh covering a finer interior mesh. While this helps reduce plosives and wind noise, it doesn't totally eliminate them - to be on the safe side, you'll probably want to use a good pop filter when recording vocals with the Mini K47. Sibilance issues never became a problem for me while auditioning these mics.

  • The construction of the 34 mm capsule looks good, with the distinctive K47 hole pattern in the single backplate readily evident. The capsule is screwed together (rather than glued like an M7) and visually appears to have all the hallmarks of a K47, including center termination. The gold sputtered diaphragm is 3 microns thick.



  • So does it sound like a U47 or 47FET? Again, the answer is no. Although it does share some common characteristics, the rest of the mic's circuitry is quite a bit different. Using a Schoeps-based transformerless configuration, there isn't the sonic influence from the tube electronics and output transformer found in the vintage microphones.




  • The Roswell Mini K47 requires phantom power, with a supply voltage of 48V (+/-4V) necessary for proper operation. Impedance is 114 Ohms, and signal-to-noise is rated at 81 dBA. The frequency response is 20 Hz - 16 kHz.



  • While the Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 is made in China, the components and overall build quality are better than many Chinese-manufactured microphones. Roswell uses a polystyrene input coupling capacitor instead of a ceramic cap, along with WIMA polypropylene capacitors from Germany in the audio signal path. They also opted for a K30A JFET instead of the expected 2SK170. This helps to reduce capacitance, improve the microphone's sensitivity (rated at 18 mV/Pa for the Mini K47) and helps keep the Mini K47's equivalent noise level at a very respectable 13 dBA.

 




  • Okay, so it's not really a '47 clone and it doesn't really sound like one, but here's what it does do - it presents the classic K47 style capsule's sonic attributes in a more transparent and neutral way, allowing the capsule's sonic contributions to take center-stage, not the tube or the transformer.
  • Accessories include a zippered vinyl storage bag, a standard swivel mic mount, and a shockmount. Skip the swivel mount and use the shockmount instead - like most condensers, the Mini K47 is a bit susceptible to stand-borne noise and vibration. The shockmount is effective at significantly reducing or eliminating these issues.



Limitations

  • There is no pad or high pass filter - both of which would definitely be nice to have, but you can probably get around these limitations with features that may be included on your mic preamp.

  • The XLR output jacks on the two review units are a bit "tight" - I suspect they'll loosen up over time with continued use.

  • Due to its sensitivity and lack of a pad switch, it's not a good choice for close-miking kick drum, snare or toms. However, that same sensitivity means it's great for capturing your fingerpicked acoustic guitar parts.



Conclusions

This is the K47 sound in a way you've probably never heard it before. It still has the buttery smooth and detailed top end that lacks harshness, but the bottom end isn't nearly as huge or colored as it is with a vintage '47. However, there's still plenty of energy there to keep the sound balanced - the net result is a midrange that's detailed and slightly forward in comparison, and that's something different than what you'll hear in the majority of "affordable" microphones on the market - most of which are voiced much brighter, with a significant presence peak and boost in the highs. This makes the Mini K47 an excellent addition to just about any mic collection, providing an alternative voicing that works great with a lot of different instruments and some vocals - especially males who can benefit from the Mini K47's midrange emphasis. The sound of the Mini K47 stacks well with other microphones without too much of the buildup that can occur when using the same types of overly-bright microphones on everything.


For novices, this is a very capable mic that won't break the bank but that, with its midrange emphasis and focus, will probably sound quite a bit different than the other microphones with which they're familiar. They'll appreciate the Mini K47's versatility and how it can turn in solid recordings on a wide range of different sound sources. Seasoned engineers with dozens of microphones in their collections who are more interested in what a mic excels at rather than trying to use a single model for everything, will discover their own favorite applications at which the Mini 47 truly excels. For me, it's guitar amps, acoustic guitars, and drum overheads.

 

Regardless of who you are or what you place in front of it, the Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 is an exceptional value - I believe it's one of the best microphone deals currently available in the pro audio market. Definitely recommended. -HC-

 

If you have questions about this review or if you'd like to discuss the Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 microphone, make sure you check out this thread in the Studio Trenches forum, right here on Harmony Central.

We even have some late breaking Mini K47 news from Roswell to share with you, so make sure you check the thread for that too!



Resources

Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 large diaphragm condenser microphone ($349.00 MSRP, $299.00 "street", matched pair $699.00 "street")

Roswell Pro Audio's product web page    


You can purchase the Roswell Pro Audio Mini K47 large diaphragm condenser microphone from

Front End Audio    

Zen Pro Audio   

Vintage King

Reverb.com 










In this video, Roswell Mini K47's are used  on bass, drum overheads and close guitar, while the Roswell Pro Audio Delphos is used as a distant guitar mic, as well as for vocals and kick drum miking.

 

 




__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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