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Why are some microphones so sought after?
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FatBassPlayer
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2nd August 2007
Old 2nd August 2007
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Why are some microphones so sought after?

I've been working my ass off to get myself a vintage mic. Finishing college and saving is a big venture, and before I go out and buy a telefunken u47, or a clone I have some questions.

Is there a reason that this mic is very sought after? I feel like I'm trying to recreate a sound that was big not because of the gear, but because of the singer.

Did the engineers that put a mic in front of the singers of yester years really dwell on the mic, or did they just throw any good quality mic in front of the singer just to get it on tape?

Isn't technology suppose to get better as we progress or did the mic making field peak with the telefunken u47.

Sorry to be so analytical but I AM studying computer science.
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
I've been working my ass off to get myself a vintage mic. Finishing college and saving is a big venture, and before I go out and buy a telefunken u47, or a clone I have some questions.

1. Is there a reason that this mic is very sought after? I feel like I'm trying to recreate a sound that was big not because of the gear, but because of the singer.

2. Did the engineers that put a mic in front of the singers of yester years really dwell on the mic, or did they just throw any good quality mic in front of the singer just to get it on tape?

3. Isn't technology suppose to get better as we progress or did the mic making field peak with the telefunken u47.

Sorry to be so analytical but I AM studying computer science.
IMHO

1.- You do not need a $5k plus mic to get a good sound. The more you spend, naturally the quality becomes better but that nessasarily does not mean its guaranteed to sound amazing on all things.
-When you have a nation financing technology with unlimited resources like Telefunken in the 50's, yeah, the shits gonna be good. Everything was handmade back then. The Telefunken U4m is an authorize repica of the original, sounds damn good, retails for the same as the original more or less. Vintage means antiquity, theres a history behind the vintage, vintage is also use very broadly sometimes. Vintage sometimes does not mean quality.
- Also the market for high end mics currently manufactured is alot less than the middle of the road ones (which sound decent in their own right.) Everything was handmade back then.

2. Any old mic back then was an M49,U47,C12,Elam 251, etc..

3. Technology is great, we got tube ribbon mics now, as well as the Sony C800G, Korby, Lawsen, DPA. But don't forget we are dealing with this esoteric thing called music. You believe what you want. Physco acoustic, preception, opinions, politics, they all play into our final decisions about whats good, bad, in the pocket,banging, or just plain not groovin.

Make sure you do due dillegence before unloading a heap of $$$ on something you do not absolutely love. Modern or vintage.
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2nd August 2007
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Go with new technology first would be my advice. Although truthfully, my first question should be : "What is in your mic locker already?"

What other gear do you have?

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2nd August 2007
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Gear I already have:

Mics
Akg c 3000
AT 4040

Pre:
UA Solo 610
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
Gear I already have:

Mics
Akg c 3000
AT 4040

Pre:
UA Solo 610
Are you sure you are ready to buy a very expensive mic?
FatBassPlayer
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2nd August 2007
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Well, I'm done with college this winter. I have a job lined up as soon as I walk out of my last final and I got a fairly good signing bonus with them already. Even though I'm going to be spending a long part of my life for a company, I'm going to want to do something else to make the mundane work everyday work go by. So I'm investing a bunch of money in my hobby instead of shopping and buy stuff I don't want or need. Some people would go out and buy a nice car, clothes, big tv, and an expensive shoe habit. But I rather buy stuff that fancies my interest.

Do you guys think that I should wait on a big purchase like this? If so, what mic can I get that I can stick in front of a voice, or an acoustic guitar and it will sound good? Should I drop the money on a nice preamp? I have $7,500 to play with.
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
Do you guys think that I should wait on a big purchase like this? If so, what mic can I get that I can stick in front of a voice, or an acoustic guitar and it will sound good? Should I drop the money on a nice preamp? I have $7,500 to play with.
Yes, absolutely. I have a U47 because I make money from the mic. For a hobbist, you should buy quality but not too extravagant just yet.
Here are my suggestions:


-Neve or Bae 1272 $1800 (pair)
-Api 6 lunchbox filled with 6 modules of your choice $2500-$4k
-Neve 1066, 1073, 1081, etc.. New or vintage $6k-$7.5k (pair) you'll basically be shooting your entire wad.
-UA has some interesting gear
-Helios type 69 reissues $4k racked pair, or lunchbox

Lawsen, Korby, Sound Deluxe, Telefunken,they all make quality mics around the $2k-$3.5k

Hope this helped.
FatBassPlayer
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2nd August 2007
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Thanks! I'm definately going to look at all those options. I always wondered what the "lunchbox" thing was that everyone talks about.
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
Thanks! I'm definately going to look at all those options. I always wondered what the "lunchbox" thing was that everyone talks about.
Preamplifiers that are racked vertically instead of horizontal pairs. I think you can fit up to 5 in a 19" 2U space.

You can mix and match to certain specs, hence...lunchbox.
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FatBassPlayer
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2nd August 2007
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Hello again,
Thank you for all your help. After I really thought about your recomendations I think I will be going for a bit cheaper mics and upgrading a number of things. Here is what I can think of for $7,500. Keep in mind I'm doing this for myself and not for a business.

Upgradig Monitors, Adam A7? $1000

Mics:
Akg C414 $1000
Avant Electonics CV12 $500
or
Blue Kiwi $2000 (By the way the ones on Ebay seem like too good to be true, anyone have an experience buying these on Ebay? its $1000 there)


Pre:
Avalon 737(Guy and guitar center told me the was a top of the line one) $2200
or
UA LA-610

What do you think?

The music I like to do is just acoustic and rock.
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
What do you think?

i think you should prioritize monitors and the mic(s) to the exclusion of everything else. you have a decent pre already, it's not my favorite but neither is chocolate and i seem in the minority on that one. in any case the mic should be exceptional, but it should also be appropriate for the source. iow, if you will be recording your voice a lot, you should audition a few and get the one that works best for your voice and has the vibe you're after. if you'll also be recording your guitars, make sure the mic does double duty, or get an additional sdc that works on them instead.

monitors are critical because you can't position a mic ideally or equalize/compress/balance the sounds musically if the boxes in front of you are omitting, hyping, or otherwise distorting the picture. to that end, focal twins, dyn bm6a's, adam s3a's, and atc 20's are all magnificent examples of the breed.

if you buy top shelf monitors now, you will be able to maximize every piece of gear you already own and your mixes will sound better with less effort. furthermore, any time you get the bug and think you want to buy a new toy, you can audition it in full confidence that what you're hearing is the truth, or as close as is possible in this hologram.

couple all of that with mics that sound great on the sources you record, and you're pretty much guaranteed that the only limiting factor in the quality of your output is you, and that's a great way to live because it allows you to stay focused on what really matters: the music, and your relationship to it.


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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
The more you spend, naturally the quality becomes better but that nessasarily does not mean its guaranteed to sound amazing on all things.
Well thats a statement I classify under "audiosnobism", there's no such thing as a 'better mic' once you go around 1000 - 2000$, even an SM57 can outpreform a mic 50x its price! It depends! It's all about different flavours.
Like u said, its not guaranteed to sound amazing on all things, and thats a strong 'but'. Recently I had a vintage C12 in the studio, and a collegue strongly wanted to record with it cause, well it's vintage and expensive!
Turned out we lost an hour on the damn thing, and ended up using my modded Oktava (300$), wich just worked well!

@FatBassPlayer
Go for the most versatile mic u can afford, NOT the most expensive.
I saw akg c414 in here somewhere? Well thats a good start imo.
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2nd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
Avalon 737(Guy and guitar center told me the was a top of the line one)
HAHA. Of course he did. Avalons have a lot of hype around them, but some people question if they really deliver on it. Especially to newbies (no offense, just talking about newbies in general) who don't know how to really use it properly. I've heard some really awful stuff tracked using a U87 into an Avalon 737.

I think the real question is... what are you going to be recording? Acoustic? Electric? Bass (I'd think so, considering your name)? Vocal? Strings? Piano? Do you need lots of channels for drums? What's the application and what's the environment?

I can tell you what gear I've gotten that has really worked for me, but I'm not sure if you're even making the same kind of music. If I had to make some general recommendations, I'd say: A nice colored pre to check out is the API 3124+ (4 channels of great sounded character for ~2000). I good "all rounder" is obviously the U87. Serves well for vocals, stringed instruments, OH's, you name it. Another one to try would be a Gefell M930 (~1000). Nice for instruments, piano, acoustic, string, whatever... not too amazing on vocals, but competent.

Anyway... enough random suggestions... what is it you plan on tracking?


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2nd August 2007
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2nd August 2007
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I think you should wait awhile see how much it costs to live in the real world and listen to some gear combos yourself!
Its not about which gear is great Its about what gear works for you and your voice and what sound you are after!
Ys moniters and mics will have the most effect but its what works for you, Not me anybody here or the guy who is earning a commision at GC Listen to the stuff listed above and anything else you can get your hands on!
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I think you should just buy a day of studio time at a nice place. Try everything out, see what you like, or don't like. I would love to spent a day at Blackbird Studios, but that would be such a bad tease, cause i know i would fall in love with mics that i could never get..
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3rd August 2007
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Fashion.

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3rd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
You're SERIOUSLY suggesting U47s are sought after because it's "fashionable"?

he has a point. I mean....gee how "coool" would it be to have a U47 in my studio

Its a cool mic......most guys gush over it and hevent even used one.
I have and it is a great mic but there are much cheaper options out there that will give just as good if not better results. Peluso...Telefunken...
I think the more you use a variety of different mics you realise that there is no perfect mic but there is the perfect mic for a particular instrument for that song.
Im not saying anything new though

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3rd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
You're SERIOUSLY suggesting U47s are sought after because it's "fashionable"?

IMO having U47 is more fashionable than its sound.



Still, to my ears Korby 67 and 251 are more often my choice on vocals over any 47 incl. original, but sometimes 47 is right thing and than there is no better way than to use just 47.
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3rd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Yeah - just as good or better IF you want SHITTY F***ING sound!

Sorry - but compared to a real, well-maintained U47, the Peluso is F***ING HORRIBLE.

But that's just my ever-so-humble opinion.

If you're getting "better" results with some Chinese piece of sh**, then your U47 is SERIOUSLY F***ED. Or your ears.
Wow... jeezz... Lindsey...?
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I will add that having a mic of such reputation is like having an ssl or a neve... no matter what you guys say... people will be attracted to the studio by the big names...

The 3 names most musicians know when it comes to studios are Neve, Neumann and ssl


...am i wrong?

Flame on!
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3rd August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Fashion.

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yes and no Yes 90% of those who want a u47 have never used it or a C12or M49 and ave really driven up the price BUT Jim at least 5% have used GOOD examples and know what they can do and realize that while they are not perfect know that they will provide the sonic flavor they want!
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4th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Anyone who listens to music has heard countless recorded examples of a U47 - from the Beatles to Sinatra to Mercury's classical recordings.

Anyone can watch the "Live From Abbey Road" series and see U47s and C12s in abundance, on many different performers.

While, ultimately, using the gear yourself is what counts, if you hear 1000 vocalists singing into a U47 on records, you must get some clue.
Not really you don't know for sure what was used on what recording and most video is far from a documentation of what was used Even the fines Meruary used M49 at times plus and big plus in modern music alot of the "classic mics or other gear" are far from fine example note the 5%% difference in my post!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Yeah - just as good or better IF you want SHITTY F***ING sound!

Sorry - but compared to a real, well-maintained U47, the Peluso is F***ING HORRIBLE.

But that's just my ever-so-humble opinion.

If you're getting "better" results with some Chinese piece of sh**, then your U47 is SERIOUSLY F***ED. Or your ears.
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4th August 2007
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call me crazy, but i like 67's more than 47's.

also, i gotta agree that a fine specimen of a 47 dusts anything of the peluso ilk, and i'm a big fan of peluso, or at least of the p12. stick that 47 in front of a vocalist, male or female, goodness. stick it on an acoustic guitar, bright or woody, goodness. stick it in a room with any instrument playing, goodness.

not many mics can play ball like that. the 47 (or 67) will always sound good. usually, it will sound amazing, and oftentimes it will simply be sublime.


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4th August 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harley-OIART View Post
Go with new technology first would be my advice. Although truthfully, my first question should be : "What is in your mic locker already?"

What other gear do you have?


Good advice. Unless you're only recording one person, on one style of song, you'd be better off with 3-4 different styles of modern mics as opposed to just one vintage classic. ie: SM7, U87, Peluso 2247LE, Wagner CM7 GT, Gefell UM70. You could probably buy all of those for the price on one vintage pristene U47 or C12. That would give you a lot more flexibility.
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Microphone transducer-type influences sound most

Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBassPlayer View Post
Gear I already have:

Mics
Akg c 3000
AT 4040

Pre:
UA Solo 610
Hi FBP,

It looks like you could use some good quality mid-range/mid-cost models. If you generally like your AT4040, you will find the AT4050 or AT4050/CM5 a good multi-pattern dual-diaphragm LDC microphone. How about a pair of EV RE-15's and some 655's or RE-55's? Beyer ribbon models? Vintage crystal announce mic?

For the cost of a used U-47 or FET47 (well-worn and probably needing a trip to Klaus), you can buy ALL OF THESE, and parts to build some A+ preamps.

Research:Research:Research:Research.
Know the technology before dropping the cash, or worse, borrowing excessively.

Cheers.
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4th August 2007
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I agree, meat and potatoes mikes must come first. I've heard a 57 or a 636a beat an expensive LD condenser too many times under less than ideal acoustic circumstances to ever want to be without that choice.

I would also never buy a vintage mike without renting one first and then actually using the mike I wanted to buy.

Shooting out two KM-84s to find the ideal mike position will also almost always beat a single U-47 put up in a likely spot.
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