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Five mikes that shook the world to its soul.


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Originally posted by C JoGo

Our room , nor chain > does not deserve the contenders here
:p
Can't condone the purchase of a mic that may cost more than my DAW:freak: Jeeze:D

 

I probably have more money wrapped up in microphones than any other single area of my entire studio. Mikes and monitors. One captures the sound sources, and the other lets me hear what I'm doing... that's why I consider those two areas to be of critical importance. :) Of course, the rest of the signal chain is also important, and it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link... but if the very first link in the chain is weak, then everything that follows it is going to be weak.

 

I know it's possible to get good recordings with fairly inexpensive gear, and there's a lot of options available to us today - there's certainly a heck of a lot more decent budget level stuff available now than when I was first starting out back in the late '70's. And I know a lot of us will never be able to afford or justify the expense of some of these vintage tube microphones... but there is a reason why they have appeared on so many classic recordings; it's because they sound incredible. And many of the microphones that are available today have been shaped and influenced by some of these classics, so IMO, a basic knowledge of their history and characteristics is certainly worth having. And since many of us might not get a lot of opportunity to hear and use them in person (and I certainly have not heard all the descendants and clones), I thought it might make for a good topic for discussion.

 

I view microphones in a manner similar to how a photographer might consider his lenses... they're my window to the world, and the devices I use to capture my images. With that in mind, I might be able to get a great snapshot with a camera phone and be perfectly satisfied with it... but it's not the same as viewing the world through a Leica... and once you've used the Leica, you might give you a different perspective, and change the way you evaluate the image quality and features of the camera phone. ;)

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Originally posted by Han

Tonight I was zapping on TV and stumbled over a german channel where Paul McCartney was having a kind of 'masterclass'', explaning about recording and songwriting.


The place was loaded with U47s an 87's. He was demonstrating a Mellotron, I saw a Studer J37 I guess and Paul was playing a Steinway grand, which was miked with three U87's if I saw it well.


And quite funny, Pauls voice sounded very good, the grand sounded absolutely crappy.


He also did a couple of songs with acoustic guitar only and he sang to a U47 and the guitar was also picked up by a U47, which sounded pretty good.


I've never seen so many U47's in one place.

 

Well, he can certainly afford them. ;) And as I said earlier, he's used to using them - most of the Beatles vocal stuff was tracked with '47's and '48's. They used them on other things too.

 

One of the main reasons why I do not own a U47 is the cost of a replacement VF14. I just don't feel good about buying a mic with a tube replacement cost of $1,500 - $2,500. :( But I do love the sound of them for some things, and have always wanted one... so I'm definitely interested in the opinions of others who have a clone or similar styled mic that uses a different tube - especially if you've done any side by side comparisons or are familiar with the sound of the U47.

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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe

and once you've used the Leica, you might give you a different perspective, and change the way you evaluate the image quality and features of the camera phone.
;)

 

Photographing with a camera phone is like recording with a Dictaphone mic!! Ack!!! :D

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Originally posted by fantasticsound

While I'm thinking of it, speaking of sonic qualities and mic age, I think it should be mentioned that Telefunken USA had the opportunity to purchase NOS RCA ribbon material. If you have an RCA 44 or 77 in need of refurb they can provide original material and do the rehab. They're also building a reissue of a Telefunken
cardioid
ribbon, at this time using the same material.

 

 

In fact, I do have a 44DX, while in working condition, could stand a facelift and colon cleansing. I will have to check that out...thanks!

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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe

I probably have more money wrapped up in microphones than any other single area of my entire studio. Mikes and monitors. One captures the sound sources, and the other lets me hear what I'm doing... that's why I consider those two areas to be of critical importance.
:)
Of course, the rest of the signal chain is also important, and it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link... but if the very first link in the chain is weak, then everything that follows it is going to be weak.


I know it's possible to get good recordings with fairly inexpensive gear, and there's a lot of options available to us today - there's certainly a heck of a lot more decent budget level stuff available now than when I was first starting out back in the late '70's. And I know a lot of us will never be able to afford or justify the expense of some of these vintage tube microphones... but there is a reason why they have appeared on so many classic recordings; it's because they sound incredible. And many of the microphones that are available today have been shaped and influenced by some of these classics, so IMO, a basic knowledge of their history and characteristics is certainly worth having. And since many of us might not get a lot of opportunity to hear and use them in person (and I certainly have not heard all the descendants and clones), I thought it might make for a good topic for discussion.


I view microphones in a manner similar to how a photographer might consider his lenses... they're my window to the world, and the devices I use to capture my images. With that in mind, I might be able to get a great snapshot with a camera phone and be perfectly satisfied with it... but it's not the same as viewing the world through a Leica... and once you've used the Leica, you might give you a different perspective, and change the way you evaluate the image quality and features of the camera phone.
;)

 

Funny Phil >> I sold my Leica & Rollei stuff, to buy audio gear.:D I hear what you are saying --the mic is one of the biggest link--but I also believe a lot more of the "early sound" was the room and pre/board/tape circuitry...and some damn good players & engineers :thu: I have a U87 with triple-wood veneer ..I'll upload a pic

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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe


quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Originally posted by Han

Tonight I was zapping on TV and stumbled over a german channel where Paul McCartney was having a kind of 'masterclass'', explaning about recording and songwriting.


The place was loaded with U47s an 87's. He was demonstrating a Mellotron, I saw a Studer J37 I guess and Paul was playing a Steinway grand, which was miked with three U87's if I saw it well.


And quite funny, Pauls voice sounded very good, the grand sounded absolutely crappy.


He also did a couple of songs with acoustic guitar only and he sang to a U47 and the guitar was also picked up by a U47, which sounded pretty good.


I've never seen so many U47's in one place.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Well, he can certainly afford them.
;)
And as I said earlier, he's used to using them - most of the Beatles vocal stuff was tracked with '47's and '48's. They used them on other things too.


One of the main reasons why I do not own a U47 is the cost of a replacement VF14. I just don't feel good about buying a mic with a tube replacement cost of $1,500 - $2,500.
:(
But I do love the sound of them for some things, and have always wanted one... so I'm definitely interested in the opinions of others who have a clone or similar styled mic that uses a different tube - especially if you've done any side by side comparisons or are familiar with the sound of the U47.

 

I can't say for certain, but if most (or all) the songs were from Chaos & Creation then he was watching "Chaos & Creation in Abbey Road" which aired on the BBC late last year, if memory serves. The vast collection of vintage mics probably belongs to Abbey Road. ;)

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Originally posted by fantasticsound

I can't say for certain, but if most (or all) the songs were from Chaos & Creation then he was watching "Chaos & Creation in Abbey Road" which aired on the BBC late last year, if memory serves. The vast collection of vintage mics probably belongs to Abbey Road.
;)

 

Quite possible - but I do know Sir Paul has a rather nice home studio setup with quite a lustworthy collection of gear. :) IIRC, there are several clips that were shot in there for the Anthology project.

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You know Phil,

 

I have an interesting mic here...a UM57. I haven't had a chance to play with. I've been told its kind of a cross between a U47 and a U67. The capsule is from the 47 and the electronics are from a 67...

 

Anyone ever come across one of these?

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Originally posted by gearmike

You know Phil,


I have an interesting mic here...a UM57. I haven't had a chance to play with. I've been told its kind of a cross between a U47 and a U67. The capsule is from the 47 and the electronics are from a 67...


Anyone ever come across one of these?

 

It's a Gefell. I don't have any experience with that mic, but I have heard it referred to as a "poor man's" U47. I've never heard any references to it being similar to the U67 before. My understanding is that it used the M7 capsule though.

 

You might find this link interesting Mike:

 

http://aes.harmony-central.com/117AES/Content/Gefell/PR/UM75.html

 

If you do get a chance to fire up that UM57, I'd love to hear your thoughts / impressions / opinions. :cool:

 

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I think Motown Hitsville had some U57s happening.

 

The Lawson L47mp is another descendant. I like mine. It's well made, sounds good, or spectacular on some voices. I even put it up for kick drum about 5 feet out in the room on a few things, I hear they're somewhat popular for kick drum in Nashville at some studios.

 

I still get a lot of use out of the AT4047fet, who's name suggests a homage. One of the values in mics still..

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Originally posted by gearmike

Nope,


Not a Gefell, its an actual Neuman. Looks like a mini C12 kinda.


Here's a shot of it.


Gefel references the
Legendary Neumann UM57
on their page for the UM75.


I've got the power supply and cable. Actually I have two of 'em here...just don't have time or a project to throw 'em on at the moment...

 

 

If I wasn't in mix and review mode at the moment Mike, I'd have you bring them over and we could give 'em a whirl. Maybe after things settle down a bit in a couple of weeks - if you still have them on hand. I'd definitely love to hear them. :)

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Originally posted by gearmike

Sounds like a plan! When I slow down and you slow down, I can bring a boat load of toys over to play with!


This time you gotta provide the Goat Beer though!
:thu:

 

Just tell me where to find it. I actually was thinking about you the night before last. I still had two of those left and decided to pop one open... delicious! That is REALLY good beer. :cool: Thanks again Mike.

 

Looking forward to hangin' out. :thu:

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So I guess we've covered the U47 pretty well. If we're going to stick with chronological order, then the next mic of the "big five" to be released (in 1951) was the M49. Shall we go on to that next?

 

This one has an interesting story - the Neumann that wasn't actually designed by Neumann...

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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe

So I guess we've covered the U47 pretty well.

 

 

I'm a bit late with this, but I've been reading the "Joe Meek's Bold Techniques" book, and came across an interesting little tidbit there about the U47. It mentions that a steel vacuum tube VF 14 M was used for the impedance converter/amplifier, a pentode being operated as triode. That may be of some interest to others.

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The VF14 is a steel (black colored) tube. I've seen several different types of steel tubes over the years, and even had a few RCA steel clad 6V6's years ago... they sounded like poop BTW. :D And from what I remember, that's accurate - the VF14 is a pentode, but is wired up as a triode in the U47. If you're looking for a VF14, you want a "Select" type tube, which has been tested for low noise.

 

One of the issues with substitute tubes in the U47 is the plate voltage and heater (filament) voltages. IIRC, the mic usually has to be modified to get those right when putting in a different tube.

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I recently purchased a U47 tele long body and U48 and some others we can talk about too.

 

The U47 is incredible. In fact i bought the U48 to compare the U47 to, thinking i would sell one or the other afterward. Problem is, the 48 has a KK47 capsule and the 47 has a nice old NOS m7 capsule(both with vf-14 tubes). I'll tell you what... if i have to sell my sister i'm keeping them both!

 

The 47 is breath taking. I mean it sounds GREAT on everything!

I recorded a cello with it and almost died!

Acoustic guitar made me weep!

Vocals just make me shake my head, EVERYTIME.

And it's not just the trakking, it's the mixing.

The sounds just work, they are clear and huge and delicious.

 

Man, i just am so proud of myself when i hear things i recorded with the 47.

It is ridiculous how quickly i became better at my craft by getting that mike and hearing what it could do.:D

 

The 48 i had for about a week and it started making some noises, so it is back getting cleaned up at the cost of the seller, but it sounded great as well, slightly different top end but i won't speculate how different till i have more time with it.

I cannot wait to do some MS with these things. I'm pretty sure i will pee my pants.

What else about the 47?

It is lighter than i thought it would be.

I didn't like it as much as a ribbon for a room mike(but i only tried it once)

The mike is so sensative and has amazing off-axis response and i only recently understood how crucial that is.

 

 

I dunno, it just has character out the ass, great character.

I get sounds from that mike that i have heard for years on my favorite records, it is truly thrilling and rewarding using the thing.

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Just a couple more notes on the 47 and acoustic guitar.

 

Something that has always bugged me about acoustic guitar recordings is that sort of pushed up against the wall, squashed dynamic thing that happens. I don't know how else to describe it other than the dynamics of the way the strings ring are compromised and the cycle is not really captured properly.

 

Anyway, 47's are the {censored} for acoustic as far as i am concerned. The minute i heard it i knew, "ok, this is how it is supposed to sound" and i knew right then how they got some of my fav sounds on old records, it is that recognizable when you know it.

No EQ, close, far, doesn't matter.

 

A good test to tell what kind of job you have done on an acoustic is to send it down near the bottom in volume in the mix. Can you still hear it? Is it mud or all brittle? Can you still feel the dynamics of the pluck?

The 47 represents the sound evenly across the frequency spectrum and you can feel the dynamics even at very low volumes WITHIN a mix. It's not something suited for words. But i can post examples or tell you which records to listen to if you want.

 

On a side note, a friend of mine recorded an album and i was impressed with the acoustic sound on it and thought it sounded like it was in the 47 ballpark, it was a Rhode classic II . I have repeatedly heard those are good mikes from good sources too.

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Congrats on the new mikes Halljams! :cool: Great posts - I will be interested in reading your thoughts on the comparisons between the U47 and U48 since they are using the two different capsules - M7 (original) and KK47 (later models).

 

If you don't mind me asking, can you give us a price point for reference? I don't want to get too personal on this, and if you'd rather not say, I completely understand... but can you tell me if my price range information is in the right ballpark?

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