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Five mikes that shook the world to its soul.

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Microphone Name:




Year Introduced:




Year Discontinued:




Price when New:


$325 in 1953.


Current price range:


Vintage price ranges vary significantly based on many factors, including condition, famous prior owners or users of the individual mic, etc. Typical price range - $8,000 - $15,000.


Descendants and variations:


C24 (basically a stereo version of the C12 with some other minor changes), C12A, C12B (smaller bodies, Nuvistor tube and other significant changes), C-412, C-414 series. The C-412 and C-414 (in all of its various incarnations) are FET microphones. All of these microphones used the "CK-12" capsule, although the last C-414 to use the original, hand assembled, brass bodied CK-12 (as found in the C12) was the C-414EB, which was discontinued in 1982. Later versions of the 414 and the two C12 "reissues" ("The Tube" and C12 VR) use redesigned CK-12 capsules with nylon housings, and many engineers feel that these capsules are generally sonically inferior to the original brass bodied beauties.


AKG also OEM'ed the original C12 to Siemens, who marketed it as the SM 204. While AKG also was the OEM supplier of the Telefunken ELA M251, contrary to some reports, it is not simply a rebranded C12, but actually a different microphone with some significant design differences.


Capsule used:




Tube used:


GE 6072A. Essentially a 12AY7, these 9 pin, 12 volt tubes are far easier to obtain (and much less expensive) than the VF14 of the Neumann U47.


Modern clones and similar styled microphones:


Telefunken USA Ela M12, Korby KAT12, Peluso P12, Wunder Audio CM12.


Milestone recordings:


Singers who have used the C12 include Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie, Denise Williams, Johnny Mathis, Robert Smith (The Cure), Vince Gill, Mick Jagger and James Ingram. The USA For Africa "We are the World" recordings reportedly used several C12's. Geoff Emerick says he used a C12, set to figure 8 to record many of McCartney's middle era Beatles bass tracks.


Sonic characteristics and commentary:


Like the M49, the C12 features remotely selectable polar patterns (nine total) that are selected not with a switch on the mic (as with the ELA M251 and U47) or on the power supply (as with the M49), but on a seperate box that sits inline between the mic and the power supply. AKG's capsules were different than Neumann capsules in a couple of significant ways. First of all, the CK-12 is a edge terminated capsule, as opposed to the M7 and K47's center terminated design. Also, AKG developed and used a dual backplate design (originally invented by Siemens engineers Kalusche and Spandock) as opposed to Neumann's single backplate configuration.


Designed by AKG engineer Konrad Wolf, The C12 is all about the top end; it offers a significantly different sound than the classic Neumann microphones, with a slight cut at around 1 - 2 kHz and a healthy amount of presence boost that starts at about 3 kHz and ramps up to a peak at 6 kHz and an even bigger one at 12 kHz, resulting in a sound that is bright, open and airy sounding - but never harsh. If you can't get a voice to cut through a mix with a C12, try a chainsaw. Sibilance can be an issue on some singers, but on others, the top can have a smooth, creamy, pastel shaded sparkle. Surprisingly, it works very well on many female singers, IMO, probably due in part to the 2 kHz dip. But make no mistake - this is definitely a bright mic. But it's "bright done right". With most estimates of production numbers sitting in the 2,500 range, it's also a pretty rare microphone. Couple that rarity with a great and unique sound and huge user demand and you get one of the most expensive and sought after vintage microphones in the world today. But at least the tubes can be found for less than a house payment. ;)

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btw, the NEW U99S isnt included in this article, this is a U99 [ser#1199]. the new U99 has a different tube than the EF86. i notice david bock didnt seem to get the soundeluxmics.com URL in his aquisition of the company so i cant find details this second on the tube used now.... i cant even find the mic on retailers sites now. i did see it in the new mix mag i think.


so far there is the U99, U99b, and U99s versions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting Alpha. I have not heard the newest U99 yet. They changed the housing on it too - it looks like the same housing as my E250, but black.


Speaking of the E250, it looks like it got discontinued fairly quickly, and / or replaced with the E251C. I wonder what the differences are between the E250 and E251C? I'll have to ask David about that. I was pretty surprised that the 250 didn't get more love - I think it's a really good sounding mic - great for a lot of hard rock vocalists.

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Hi Phil


I've owned a U87 and recorded with a C-12. The first time I let a rapper into my studio, and put him on the U87, he just about pooped his pants... I guess that he'd been using a radio shack mic on his Pitiful Portable Picnic Player.


The U87 was a mainstay in my studio for many years... I recorded some killer female vocals on it, and acoustic guitar, among many other uses.


I have seen mic setups in TV shows, (I'm always watching for mic setups on the Grammys or Leno to see whats happening,) and I saw a pair of vintage Neumanns, they could have been U87's being used as drum overheads on Charlie Watts when the Stones played on some show, like Leno maybe...


Someone on page 1 of this thread asked about the relationship between a the Telefunken and the C-12. I've read articles that suggest that AKG made the Telefunken Mics or capsules for them,and that they were C-12 Caps...


BTW Have you ever used the AKG TLII? I did a side by side test of a TLII and a C-12VR reissue, and recorded them on parallel tracks... The waveform signatures were virtually identical with some differences in amplitude. I had heard, back when these mics were released, that the capsules in the two mics are the same, and that only the electronics differ and the tube of course.


Whether the Vintage C-12 is actually close in sound to the C-12 VR, I couldn't say, because I've never had the two mics side by side. But the TLII and VR sound fairly identical to my ears... Put the TLII through a tube Pre and you have the more expensive mic.


This makes sense to me because the Two AKGs were released at exactly the same time.

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Well, the C12VR sounds different than a vintage C12... that's not just my opinion, but seems to be shared by a lot of engineers. IIRC, the 414 TLII uses the same "new" version (a modified / revoiced version of the newer, nylon housing equipped CK12 capsule - not the original brass ringed CK12 of the pre-1982 CK12's of the older 414EB and earlier AKG microphones) as the C12VR, and was designed to have more of a vintage sound to it, so I'm not that surprised that you find the C12VR and TLII to have similar characteristics. :)


On the subject of Telefunken: The "old" Telefunken company (not the current Telefunken USA company) never made large diaphragm condensers. They OEM'ed microphones from Neumann and AKG. When you see a vintage Telefunken U47, it is a Neumann U47 with a different nameplate badge on it. In all other respects, it's a Neumann. Same thing with the Telefunken ELA M251. It's a microphone that was built by AKG and branded with the Telefunken name. The C-12 was an AKG microphone, and AKG's design. As far as I know, the vintage C12 was never released with a Telefunken "badge" on it, although the current Telefunken USA company does make a reproduction of the old vintage C12. I've never heard it except at trade shows (not the best place to make critical evaluations of a product's sonics), so I can't say for sure how well they nailed the sound of the vintage microphone, but other than these new / reproduction mikes, I have never heard of or seen an original (1950's era) "Telefunken" branded C-12. The only other original, 1950's - 1960's built mic that I am aware of that was an AKG built / rebranded C12 was the Siemens SM 204.


Welcome to the forums sunsinger, and thanks for the post. :cool:

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Very cool. I'd love to have a nice pair of U67's.


Yes, the only thing better than a nice old 67 is a matched pair of them :lol:


Coney Island studios in Burbank has a nice matched pair, and of course the ones at the Village are exceptional.

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