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Mic Shootout - Original 251, New 251, U47, C12, and More Condenser Microphones
Old 2nd April 2010
  #1
Mic Shootout - Original 251, New 251, U47, C12, and More

We compared the following mics on acoustic guitar and vocal:

(In order of most expensive to least expensive)
Original Telefunken 251
New Telefunken 251
Telefunken U47
Telefunken C12
Korby KAT u67
Korby KAT u47
ADK CS-47YJ
Telefunken AR-51

Audio Clips and Photos are here:
Tube Microphone Comparison - Telefunken 251, U47, C12, and More
Old 2nd April 2010
  #2
original ELAM is soo much better in this test, that is not even funny... Korby KAT U47 and ADK sounds just broken by comparision
Old 3rd April 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Thumbs up

Sadly you didnt tested the new AKG C12VR

anyway...

the new 251 sounds more like C12, but C12 still a bit better.
the old 251 sounds very open and bright, could be useful for some songs.

the u67 sounds nice, but the C12 sounds a bit better.
the adk sounds very similar to u47 a bit brighter, but sounds like crap compared to the C12.

the C12 sounds so warm and 3D, but a bit dark.
the u67 sounds better than u47, adk.
the 251 also sounds impressive, but too much open for my taste...
the ar-51 its brighter than c12 in quiet parts sounds better, in loud parts sounds 2D.
the ar-51 sounds similar than u67 but a bit brighter.
tele u47 sounds much better than the kat u47

mic placement changed in 01, 01 sounds better/closer.

the c12 sounds magic, the tele u47 sounds closer but harsh.
the c12 only lacks the Elam upfront loud sound, the c12 its too quiet.
the adk is money wasted, sounds like tele u47 but lifeless, without a soul, very annoying.
the ar-51 sounds better than vintage elam, but similar.

the AR-51 wins in the vocal+acoustic.
the C12 has a nice tone individually, but in the vocal + acoustic sounds too soft knee, too dark.

if i had to choose only one?, the Ar-51.
the C12 could sound better with better mixing.
without EQ, the AR-51 wins by far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg B View Post
We compared the following mics on acoustic guitar and vocal:

(In order of most expensive to least expensive)
Original Telefunken 251
New Telefunken 251
Telefunken U47
Telefunken C12
Korby KAT u67
Korby KAT u47
ADK CS-47YJ
Telefunken AR-51

Audio Clips and Photos are here:
Tube Microphone Comparison - Telefunken 251, U47, C12, and More
Old 3rd April 2010
  #4
We preferred the new 251. Thought the old 251 sounded a bit more nasal and Ssey. I like the slightly rounder sound of the new 251.
Make sure to listen to the Vocals by themselves and not just the combined clips, and listen to the 24 bit files if you can. I've listened in two control rooms and 4 sets of speakers now and I've preferred the new 251 every time (even in a blind listening test not knowing which is which), but it's obvious all ears do not hear alike.
Old 3rd April 2010
  #5
Gear Nut
 

This thread kinda started in this one from post 23, so everybody can have a look and we won't be repeating ourself. It's good you posted it here.
Old 3rd April 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 
didier.brest's Avatar
 

Thank your for sharing this great test.
I listened the acoustic takes 1 and 2. 2 sounds duller than 1, so I would not compare mics from take 2 with mics from take 1. Note that the mp3 file for take2/Telefunken U47 is missing.

My preference order:

take 1
Korby U67
New Elam
Original Elam
AR 51

take2
Telefunken C12
Korby U47
ADK
Old 3rd April 2010
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
Thank your for sharing this great test.
I listened the acoustic takes 1 and 2. 2 sounds duller than 1, so I would not compare mics from take 2 with mics from take 1. Note that the mp3 file for take2/Telefunken U47 is missing.
I also think Take 1 was the best vocal performance which makes it just a bit harder to judge between the takes. That's why we tried to include all the 47-type mics in the 2nd take and all the 251-ish mics in the first take, so it was more like two separate tests. But in hindsight we probably should have put the Korby 67 in the second take and the C12 into the first take since the C12 is more like a 251 than the Korby.

Certainly, a favorite should not be decided based on one simple test. I think these are all great mics with many uses. This test was very educational for me though, since I have worked with this singer for so long and I knew what I was looking to hear.

Thanks for pointing out that the U47 Acoustic MP3 is missing. I'll fix that asap.
Old 3rd April 2010
  #8
Ok, the U47 Acoustic MP3 link is working now. Just a little typo in the link.

The fact that no one else mentioned that the U47 clip was missing tells me that most people are probably just comparing the combined acoustic and vocal clips, and not listening to the vocal and acoustic alone. I think the ADK works very well for vocals, but not so much as a lone guitar mic, but I like how the ADK sounds on acoustic guitar when combined with a small condenser like the SM81 or my new acoustic favorite, a pair of 3 Zigma Small Cardioids.

For each mic, it's just a matter of knowing it's strengths and weaknesses and using them in the right situation. This test is just one situation, but I think it's still very useful in demonstrating the different characteristics of the mics. I came away from the test wanting to own ALL of them.
Old 3rd April 2010
  #9
Lives for gear
 
didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg B View Post
the U47 Acoustic MP3 link is working now.
Thanks. It is the best one for me on the guitar.
Old 3rd April 2010
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Between Telefunken AR-51, U47 and C12 on vocals, I find AR-51 to work the best here. U47 would work better on a more bassy voice and C12 on a slightly brighter and open sound. They are not bad here, but I think it is just not quite it.

I'm really surprised the C12 is not brighter than this. I wouldn't have ever considered it could fit my voice, but now I think so. It is great on guitar too.
Old 5th April 2010
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
chribble's Avatar
 

on just vocal tracks, the korby u67 sounds the best to me.

the tele 251's work well but yeah theyre a little slender on his voice.

korby u47 = sounds like a some serious shelving pushing down that top end. sounds dead.

the tele u47 does very well also i think. very 3d.
Old 6th April 2010
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delré View Post
I'm really surprised the C12 is not brighter than this. I wouldn't have ever considered it could fit my voice, but now I think so. It is great on guitar too.
Yes, I'll definitely be using the C12 a lot more. It has some sparkle to it, but still has nice low-end.
Old 6th April 2010
  #13
Gear Nut
 

I like the AR-51 but wish it had more weight and body to it. It sounds thinner than the other mics.
Old 6th April 2010
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman360 View Post
I like the AR-51 but wish it had more weight and body to it. It sounds thinner than the other mics.
It's difficult to like anything else when you have two elam 251 to compare it to.

I'm also not fully convinced about the AR-51, I don't like it enough, from what I've heard, to buy it.
Old 9th April 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
 
World Studios's Avatar
Yeah, I finally got to hear these clips. very educating and, sadly, it seems you get what you pay for... The vintage Elam is the best, followed by the new 251. I am surprised they sound this far apart. I have read many times how close they sound. The old one has a good prescence boost, that I think will be very nice in a mix. Some gentle eq-ing with a very soft eq will get them close enough for jazz, I guess, but so would the right specimen of a nice vintage tube of the Telefunken kind...heh

Bronze medal goes to the Tele u47, which is heads above the ADK - and the Korby 47 sounds terrible. This u47 sound is obviously a completely different sound to the 251s

Place 4 for me is the Korby 67.

Completely confused about why the C12 sounds so close to the Tele47. Same guy who made them? The C12 is a much brighter mic that the u47 in my book.

Love,
Old 9th April 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
 
MadGuitrst's Avatar
I don't think the C12 sound anything at all like the 47....and I should know, I have golden ears (as seen here):



I only listened to the vocals, here's my take (regarding this voice, of course, which IMO, need a mic that lends some girth rather than slice):

All of the ??51s are present but:
The AR51 is painfully sibilant. Ouch. Can you say ear fatigue? And please, don't tell about *in the mix*. It does sound very much like it's in the family though, so who knows about other voices.....it just might be a darn nice mic since it sounds most like ->.
The Original Elam - is too sibilant too.
The new Ela M sounds the best of the of the ??51 bunch ON THIS VOICE, in this test. Still, it's too present and not the right tool.
The C12 is present but not nearly as slicing, I would choose it over the ??51s in a heatbeat. I like it.

The Korby 67 was nicely present in the softer passages, the high end was not over the top but came close to the edge when pushed. It would probably work well "in the mix", but I don't really know, do I?
The Korby 47 was was more vintagey in a rolled-off high end way, but it was nasally and I just didn't like the tonality at all.
The TeleF 47 sounded balanced and even, though not exactly lively. It handled the esses well, sort of absorbed them, when pushed. I would imagine this would be the most pliable sounds to shape to taste.
The ADK 47 sounded like they tried too hard to be *vintage*. It sounds lifeless, although I guess you could EQ it a bunch; however, another nasally sound. Not as nasally as the Korby 47 but still too nasally. No thanks.

While of course it would depend on all of the typical mumbo-jumbo, mumbo- jumbo, blah, blah, blah, blah, here's my order of preference:
1. TeleF - C12 - nicely present but not painful, woked best on the pushed passages.
2. Korby U67 - it works best on the softer passages, added some grunt that worked, IMO, got a bit close to the edge when pushed though..
2. TeleF U47 - most balanced, most pliable. If you just weren't sure and wanted to shape/EQ to taste, I think this mic would absorb the EQ the best of the bunch. On it's own it might be too subdued in the mix.

The list stops there - I wouldn't even consider the others in this bunch on this voice - I'd be twiddling with the EQ to tame the high end on the ??51s and the Korby 47 and ADK 47 would not be usable at all, maybe not even with a denasalator......whether it be the hardware or plug-in version.

So there you have it folks...........

P.S. I wonder if the positioning played a part in the Korby and ADKs nasal tonality. I know all of the mics were close in proximity to each other, but just a couple-a-few cm. can make all of the difference in the world (and I am a firm believer that you must work all mics to find their own sweet spot, but, well......it is what it is).
Old 13th April 2010
  #17
Gear Nut
 

How close was the singer to the AR-51?
Old 19th April 2010
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman360 View Post
How close was the singer to the AR-51?
For both vocal takes, the singer was about 12-14 inches from the mics. The AR-51 does thicken up a bit when you get closer. For this test we needed the singer to be far enough back so that it felt like he was singing into all four mics equally.
Old 21st May 2010
  #19
More cowbell!
 
natpub's Avatar
Listened blind and pulled out the orig 47, c12, and 251 right off as favs (the 67 doesn't sound quite right to me?). I disliked everything else but the two new TeleEle's. All I can say is wow, they are really pretty darn good; a little bump somewhere around 800-1k, what that is about?-->(I wish you had used a GML pre or something similar). I was also jazzed that I didn't know the AR-51 was a cheaper 251, but kept thinking, 'man those two sound a LOT alike.' Then later I was looking at the prices on those two mics and saw the info about what the AR-51 is! Very cool. Then I saw the AR-51 price: Again, wow, that is really amazing.
Old 23rd May 2010
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Interesting test, but dangerous

I wouldn't place too much stock in this test. Don't get me wrong. There's useful information here. But in terms of proximity, every mic has a sweet spot or two.

Is it possible to line up the sweet spots of four mics with one vocal? No way. So some mics are going to sound fuller as a result of their proximity to the singer. And some are not.

If you understand this, fine. If not, then making decisions based on this test is dangerous - to your recordings or your wallet. Or at least to your expectations.

All said though, I am really grateful for this test. I have some of these mics and have used all of them. It's an interesting experiment. But I wouldn't use it to tell which mics sound better in any other situation but the one tested.
Old 28th June 2010
  #21
Lives for gear
 
DONNX's Avatar
 

The newer Telefunken 251 was obviously louder than the rest..

thanks for the post.
Old 28th June 2010
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
The newer Telefunken 251 was obviously louder than the rest..

thanks for the post.
We actually took care to match the resulting playback levels. If you look at them in a DAW, I believe there is virtually no volume difference (except for the difference in Frequency response between the mics).

One mic test is certainly not going to tell you what mic is "best", but I think the similarities and quality of the new and old 251 are apparent in this test, and I still slightly prefer the new 251.
Old 28th June 2010
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by World Studios View Post
Yeah, I finally got to hear these clips. very educating and, sadly, it seems you get what you pay for... The vintage Elam is the best, followed by the new 251. I am surprised they sound this far apart. I have read many times how close they sound.
Keep in mind that not all vintage 251s sound alike. Also, they had different tubes in this test, and when Kris later put a GE 5-Star NOS 6072A tube in the new 251e it sounded even more like the vintage 251e (which also has the same GE 5-Star tube)
Old 30th June 2010
  #24
Lives for gear
 
nukmusic's Avatar
 

my 2 cent, based on what I think would be easier to mix in a full song.

GTR
Tele C12
Tele 251
org. Tele 251
Kat U67
Tele U47
*(kat47 sounds muffled, ADK just didnt work for my ears)

Vox
org. Tele 251
Tele 251
Tele AR-51
Tele u47
Kat U67 or Tele C12
*(ADK and Kat 47 just didnt work for my ears again, lacks detail.)

My Combo
VOX: Tele Ak-51 (or org. Tele 251)
GTR: Tele 251 (pan -64, Vol -7.4)
GTR: Tele C12 (pan +76, Vol -6.2)

thx for the session.
Old 31st January 2011
  #25
Gear Head
 
jojamba's Avatar
 

somebody do a shoot-out with Telefunken versus some of these cheaper mic like the RODE k2 etc....
Old 1st February 2011
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jojamba View Post
somebody do a shoot-out with Telefunken versus some of these cheaper mic like the RODE k2 etc....
You might consider the ADK TC. It's my favorite tube condenser under $600 I have found, and holds up very well against much more expensive models. M-Audio Sputnik is another one worth trying. We'll be doing some more shootouts with both of them soon.
Old 15th March 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Showcase's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyjanopan View Post
original ELAM is soo much better in this test, that is not even funny... Korby KAT U47 and ADK sounds just broken by comparision
I couldnt have said it better myself
Old 8th August 2011
  #28
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SeniorityFedup's Avatar
 

Awesome shootout with great source. Couldnt have asked for a better shootout
Old 10th August 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
Wish I had $14,000 to buy Vcode's original Elam in the classifieds.
Old 10th August 2011
  #30
dry
Gear Maniac
 
dry's Avatar
 

there was something very immediately recognizable in the guitar recorded by the original elam 251...reminded me of 70's singer songwriter acoustic sound , very beautiful...the new one did not have this. The only other mic that came close to THAT sound (for my ears was the AR-51). I also really liked the KORBY 67 on the vocals.
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