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Vintage Telefunken Ela M251 Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd May 2005
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Vintage Telefunken Ela M251

Simple question, I am about to "invest" in a vintage Telefunken Ela, this will be about 15 to 20k. So, my question what are the chances that this mic will still be worth this amount in lets say 5 to 10 year?
Old 23rd May 2005
  #2
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dave-G's Avatar
Who knows?? On instincts, I would have to say it's likely to be just about the safest investment you could make in audio gear.

Despite the reputed quality of the reissues, there will always be a finite or dwindling supply of quality specimens of the originals, which are truly special...

-dave
Old 23rd May 2005
  #3
84K
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Its a better investment then 20k in GM stock!
Old 23rd May 2005
  #4
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Fletcher's Avatar
Don't "invest" in microphones, "invest" in real estate. The ELA M 251's market price has been pretty flat over the last 6-8 years, they're not going up in price as they once were. If you're looking for a tool, and this particular tool will be the absolute drop dead best for your application, then go for it... but as an "investment", that would be a pretty dumbass move.

There was a time during the 90's, when the Yen to the dollar and Yen to the pound exchange rate was very favorable [and the Japanese economy was firing on all 12 cylinders!] those days have been gone for a while and aren't bloody likely to return in the forseeable future... in other words, while prices on some of this stuff more than tripled during the 90's, you'll be lucky to see a 2-3%/yr. price increase over the next decade or two... which would mean that you'd do better to put your money in a bank and forget it exists.

Buying a great mic is always a great idea... but buying a microphone as an investment is sheer madness. The fact of the matter is that most ELA M 251's are like 40 years old. Some are in exceptional condition, the majority are not. Before you purchase a $15-20,000 microphone I would highly suggest that you A) listen to it in application to make sure it will be a useful tool for your purposes; B) have a qualified microphone technician [Klaus Heyne of German Master Works or Tony Merrill from Stephen Paul Audio are the ONLY technicians I would recommend for the job] inspect the mic. They've seen more ELA M 251's in various states of condition than anyone else on the planet.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do...
Old 23rd May 2005
  #5
84K
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher
Don't "invest" in microphones, "invest" in real estate. The ELA M 251's market price has been pretty flat over the last 6-8 years, they're not going up in price as they once were. If you're looking for a tool, and this particular tool will be the absolute drop dead best for your application, then go for it... but as an "investment", that would be a pretty dumbass move.

There was a time during the 90's, when the Yen to the dollar and Yen to the pound exchange rate was very favorable [and the Japanese economy was firing on all 12 cylinders!] those days have been gone for a while and aren't bloody likely to return in the forseeable future... in other words, while prices on some of this stuff more than tripled during the 90's, you'll be lucky to see a 2-3%/yr. price increase over the next decade or two... which would mean that you'd do better to put your money in a bank and forget it exists.

Buying a great mic is always a great idea... but buying a microphone as an investment is sheer madness. The fact of the matter is that most ELA M 251's are like 40 years old. Some are in exceptional condition, the majority are not. Before you purchase a $15-20,000 microphone I would highly suggest that you A) listen to it in application to make sure it will be a useful tool for your purposes; B) have a qualified microphone technician [Klaus Heyne of German Master Works or Tony Merrill from Stephen Paul Audio are the ONLY technicians I would recommend for the job] inspect the mic. They've seen more ELA M 251's in various states of condition than anyone else on the planet.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do...
Good points, but predicting the market value in 20 years??!!??!! Alan Greenspan should give you a call!
Old 23rd May 2005
  #6
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Fletcher's Avatar
I spent well over 10 years buying and selling "vintage" gear... we got out when the market flattened. The Yen to Dollar exchange rate went from 90 Yen to the Dollar to 110 Yen to the dollar, and most of the "good stuff" had already been purchased and sold by the late 90's. Yeah, you can find a diamond here and there but most of it is coal.

The maintenance on these things was always an issue... which is something that really needs to be addressed as parts are pretty hard to come by.

Beyond that, prices for things like ELA M 251's and even Fairchild 670's haven't moved more than a couple of points in the last 7 years. In 1997 you could expect to pay between $15 and 20,000 USD for a 251... here we are in 2005 and you can expect to spend the same amount.

Don't discount that there are more great "new" mics on the market than ever before, and that trend is not likely to reverse itself. Back in the 90's there were no microphone manufacturers making great mics so "vintage" was exceptionally important to getting great sounds... now, you can pick up mics that can rival some of the best "vintage" mics for $3,4,5000... and they come with a warranty instead of a parts sourcing problem.

So... I would say I have a pretty good handle on predicting what the future may very well hold for the "investment" value of these mics. You certainly won't lose money on them [unless they break and you can't get a replacment part!], but they're never going to see the wild price increases seen in the 90's...
Old 23rd May 2005
  #7
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher
Don't discount that there are more great "new" mics on the market than ever before, and that trend is not likely to reverse itself. Back in the 90's there were no microphone manufacturers making great mics so "vintage" was exceptionally important to getting great sounds... now, you can pick up mics that can rival some of the best "vintage" mics for $3,4,5000... and they come with a warranty instead of a parts sourcing problem.

I would think that IS the main reason for vintage going up only a few points over the last decade. The fact there there ARE enough high quality choices out there since.

And the hole benji jump the entire industry has been doing over the last decade probably has something to do with it too .... bout time that eleastic starts moving in the up direction too imho.
Old 23rd May 2005
  #8
84K
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher
I spent well over 10 years buying and selling "vintage" gear... we got out when the market flattened. The Yen to Dollar exchange rate went from 90 Yen to the Dollar to 110 Yen to the dollar, and most of the "good stuff" had already been purchased and sold by the late 90's. Yeah, you can find a diamond here and there but most of it is coal.

The maintenance on these things was always an issue... which is something that really needs to be addressed as parts are pretty hard to come by.

Beyond that, prices for things like ELA M 251's and even Fairchild 670's haven't moved more than a couple of points in the last 7 years. In 1997 you could expect to pay between $15 and 20,000 USD for a 251... here we are in 2005 and you can expect to spend the same amount.

Don't discount that there are more great "new" mics on the market than ever before, and that trend is not likely to reverse itself. Back in the 90's there were no microphone manufacturers making great mics so "vintage" was exceptionally important to getting great sounds... now, you can pick up mics that can rival some of the best "vintage" mics for $3,4,5000... and they come with a warranty instead of a parts sourcing problem.

So... I would say I have a pretty good handle on predicting what the future may very well hold for the "investment" value of these mics. You certainly won't lose money on them [unless they break and you can't get a replacment part!], but they're never going to see the wild price increases seen in the 90's...

In investing, we often look to the past to help predict the future. In a market of such a constant change, there are many variables. With the rise of hundreds of new companies making tube mics, it has "chilled" the value of the vintage mics... but they have kept a respectable stride. Who's to say the hype won't return? Still today, the vintage mics are regarded as the best that have been made. That is a tall order. One could argue, with time there will be less vintage mics in good working condition, making the remaining examples more of a rarity thus increase their value. You are very knowledgeable Fletcher, but no one's that smart to predict a value on a product that has fluctuated so much over the years based on quality and reoccurring trends. The fact that they have kept their value in todays market suggest something stronger then a trend. Like I said, a better investment then GM stock (which is about to take a )
Old 23rd May 2005
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Thx for the replies, however i think i asked the question the wrong way. Im not investing in the mic like it was a stock. I was trying to figure out that if i buy this mic if it still would be worth the same lets say 5 years down the road.

Regarding the new vintage mics, reissues, or whatever label they put on it. I have listened to most of them! And those (maybe a mental thing) never came close to those recordings i did with a org. c12 or Elam, which i rented. I still didnt hear that Korby Cat system and the new Tele usa line.
Old 23rd May 2005
  #10
84K
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84K's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aux
Thx for the replies, however i think i asked the question the wrong way. Im not investing in the mic like it was a stock. I was trying to figure out that if i buy this mic if it still would be worth the same lets say 5 years down the road.

Regarding the new vintage mics, reissues, or whatever label they put on it. I have listened to most of them! And those (maybe a mental thing) never came close to those recordings i did with a org. c12 or Elam, which i rented. I still didnt hear that Korby Cat system and the new Tele usa line.
I like the new Tele USA line and the Korby gets rave reviews from others here... You should try them first and maybe save yourself some money (or get 2 mics instead of one)!! Hell, you could get one Korby with all four heads and a Tele USA 251 Platinum and still have enough boot to take a vacation.

The vintage mic market goes up and down. The world around it is in constant change so there is no exact way to speculate. Best Of Luck!
Old 23rd May 2005
  #11
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I think Fletcher makes some great points, and if anyone would have the breadth of experience to make good predictions on this topic, it's him.

Even with that in mind, Aux, I think if you're buying a pristine vintage 251 whose sound you've fallen in love with, as an investment in equipment to use over your career... Well... then I think it's a safe enough bet that you're not going to lose a dime on it... And even if something drastic happened in the economy of gear, and its value did go down a little, the fact that you're even in the market for something like this would seem to suggest that you're going to be making enough money with it over the years that any hyothetical losses in its value won't be as meaningful as the income it helps you produce.

-dave
Old 23rd May 2005
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Telefunken USA stinks like fish, please explain!!! Pritty harsh statement if you can not back it up.

I think its hard to do a a/b on the Korby/tele usa with the org. Ela since the one i rented before is no more avalible for rent and since all org. Ela's sound differnt i would need several of them to do a good lising test, which is not avalible to do anywhere i know! Secondly i think the Korby system is only avalible via Vintage King USA (not 100% sure).

I am currently located in Asia, will be in Europe this summer, I have no USA trip planned soon, so any suggestions where i could hear the Korby/Tele mics?

To Dave, that sounds like the way i was thinking before the first post. Except that i dont live/earn money from the music world (I used 2), I make my money somewhere else. It is just something i can not get out of my system, or like most say a hobby that has grown a bit out of control.
Old 23rd May 2005
  #13
I can not answer your question, but I would invest that amount of money in several very good "new" mics, including the reissue elam.
Old 23rd May 2005
  #14
84K
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84K's Avatar
I cannot not speak for telefunken's RFT mic line, but I have been to the office where they make and test the 251s. It is the real deal over there for those mics at the very least.
Old 23rd May 2005
  #15
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Vari-Mu's Avatar
 

I think that the resale value of a mic is only one part of it's return to you over your period of ownership. If the mic attracts clients , allows you to do more or better business and generates cash flow on an ongoing basis, that should be considered as well .

Personally I think that this second element is far more likely to generate a reasonable return than the first, and it may also be easier for you to estimate ahead of time.

As regards maintainance, I would be far more comfortable buying something that used a 6072 tube rather than an AC701k or a VF14.

Whilst I think that there is a floor under the resale value of the classics I think betting on them appreciating even 5% a year over the medium term is rolling the dice. For it to go up in value by more than the rate of inflation you're relying on demand increasing .....where is that increased demand going to come from?

Unless I could justify the purchase based on what it would do for my day to day business I probably wouldn't do it.

But then sometimes beauty trumps logic.... heh


Cheers

Vari-Mu
Old 23rd May 2005
  #16
84K
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vari-Mu
I think that the resale value of a mic is only one part of it's return to you over your period of ownership. If the mic attracts clients , allows you to do more or better business and generates cash flow on an ongoing basis, that should be considered as well .

Personally I think that this second element is far more likely to generate a reasonable return than the first, and it may also be easier for you to estimate ahead of time.

As regards maintainance, I would be far more comfortable buying something that used a 6072 tube rather than an AC701k or a VF14.

Whilst I think that there is a floor under the resale value of the classics I think betting on them appreciating even 5% a year over the medium term is rolling the dice. For it to go up in value by more than the rate of inflation you're relying on demand increasing .....where is that increased demand going to come from?

Unless I could justify the purchase based on what it would do for my day to day business I probably wouldn't do it.

But then sometimes beauty trumps rationality.... heh


Cheers

Vari-Mu
Great Points!!!!!
Old 24th May 2005
  #17
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Mics as investments...

And just imagine the value of your VF-14 and AC701 tubed mics when the last of these tubes are finally gone from the market place. That day is sooner than later. I have a U48 and 8 mics that use 701's, and I am VERY worried about their value as "investments".
Old 24th May 2005
  #18
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Tetness's Avatar
Don't spend the money. Buy the Korby; and if you want "investment" my advice is realestate.
Old 25th May 2005
  #19
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I guess few people read the followup! I should have not used the wordt investment, funny tho what reactions it gives!
Old 25th May 2005
  #20
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Vari-Mu's Avatar
 

Well i think that if you are going to spend $20000 on a piece of gear, you SHOULD evaluate the purchase as an investment at some stage just so you know what you're doing financially.


Unless you're Paul Allen.



Cheers

Vari-Mu
Old 25th May 2005
  #21
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Mike O's Avatar
 

The question was asked, "Will my 20k mic be worth 20K in five years." Others have noted that this is quite likely assuming you keep it maintained. I would like to add the observation that I personally would be cautious (depending on my circumstances and finances) assuming a Tele would be worth 2oK. Why? Because there is at least one part that is becoming more and more impossible to source. A good original capsule. Klaus and others have pointed out that no one has re-created this capsule and that in fact it may not be able to be re-created due to materials etc.

So your bust your capsule 3 years down the road when there are even fewer excellent quality CK12s than there are now. What is it going to cost you to get it going again? I sure don't know, but I have been offered 2k a piece for my CK12 equipped 414s just so the capsules could be removed and put in a Tele. What will those same capsules be worth in 5 years assuming the consensus remains that no one has yet created replacement majic?

Would you want to buy (or sell) a excellent condition 251 with a clone capsule in it for 20K?

This is not a "vote" against buying one. But buy one because you believe the $ you put in it are worth to you in sound quality during the time you have reasonable expectations of it sounding like it does the day you buy it.
Old 26th May 2005
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aux
Except that i dont live/earn money from the music world (I used 2), I make my money somewhere else. It is just something i can not get out of my system, or like most say a hobby that has grown a bit out of control.
You'd be surprised how many major studios are owned by people who "make their money somewhere else."

As a hobby, it's a lot cheaper than a Ferrari Maranello or a Mercedes CL600...

Audy O
Old 26th May 2005
  #23
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I agree with Vari-Mu. The only way to invest in a mic is to consider the increase in business.
Old 26th May 2005
  #24
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Tetness's Avatar
This guy doesn't care about investments. He just wants to know if he's wasting his 20gs on a microphone. Personally, I don't think a vintage elam is worth it. I sang through several and they were great, but tempermental and and only one of them really was up to spec and sounded fantastic. I can afford a vintage elam and purchased a Korby. You couldn't rip the Korby from my dead hands. However, if you're in a studio where you need "name" value; and that will get you business. Then of course that changes things. My two cents...
Old 26th May 2005
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aux
Simple question, I am about to "invest" in a vintage Telefunken Ela, this will be about 15 to 20k. So, my question what are the chances that this mic will still be worth this amount in lets say 5 to 10 year?
Uhh... inflation?

If you spend $20k now, and you get $20k for it in 10 years, that will actually only be about $15k at continuing 3% inflation. So you'll lose $5,000.

If some guy paid $20k for one in 1990, and sells for $20k in 2015, he lost $10k.


Steve
Old 26th May 2005
  #26
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher
Don't "invest" in microphones, "invest" in real estate. .
Couldn't have said it better!

And, "NO".... that mic will NOT be worth $20k in the future. I don't think it's worth $20k right now.

I would speculate it will be worth between $10-15k in 5 years. So, emptying out your 401k would not be a good idea.
Old 26th May 2005
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Thx for some great words!

My conclusion (correct me if i am wrong!):
1) The Tele will be worth about the same amount, lets say in 5 years.
2) The Tele is not worth 15-20k as what people ask for it.
3) Parts will be a major problem in the future!

Suggestions made:
1) Buy the Korby system and put the rest of your money somewhere else!
2) Tele usa line not much A/B done by people here!
3) Buy GM, Ebay stocks (what kind of channel was this again)
Old 5th November 2018
  #28
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CJ1973's Avatar
 

Some Pretty misleading predictions here. Thankfully, people took these advise for what they were, just personal opinions.
The Mics did go up, some are now around 25-30k. Maybe not great investments, but
1. Going up 1 k per year isn’t bad
2. Using it and marketing it as part of the studio arsenal, while it goes up in value, to make more money is another, including getting a fine vocal sound in the meantime. Priceless
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