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Oktava MK-319 shootout = shocked
Old 18th April 2016
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Oktava MK-319 shootout = shocked; now with sample audio

I'm getting ready to start another CD project with my band and we knew we would need two great vocal mics in order to get the his/her vocal parts recorded at the same time. During the last sessions, we had used our Wunder CM7-GTS and borrowed some other good mics to find a match. I can't remember if it was a TLM49 or a M149 that we ended with (yes, big difference) but we were not happy with the sound. It was too forward in the upper mids and we wanted more of the U47/U48 flavor. We eneded up having to do quite a bit of EQ to tame the mids on the Neumann during mixing. For one session, we used an AT4047 and that was a little closer to the sound we needed but still lacked the body we needed. We had borrowed a U48 and found it was closest to the CM7-GTS but we couldn't keep it long enough for the sessions. BTW, the U48 was better than the CM7-GTS. Not by a lot, but it did have a little more air (10k-12k) to it which we liked. A little EQ would have matched them fine.

So anyway... budgets are tight and I started looking to do some tests to see if we could find a match for the CM7-GTS. Our budget was to be $3000. I work as a music director and found an old, abused Oktava mk-319 sitting in a cabinet in the back room. I figured I'd just give it a try and see what I get. I setup both mics on the same horizontal plane, one on top of the other with the grills as close but not touching as possible. I setup a Hardy M1 for both mics and we did some test recording both mics at the same time. We tried both male and female vocals. Each was about a foot away from the mics. When we listened back (Dynaudio Air 6 and Equator D5) we could hear very very little difference. They were so close that we did the test another 4 times because I was sure I messed up the patching and we were hearing the same mic for both tracks. After a while, we just had to believe our ears. Soloing the performance and switching between the two tracks at random proved that we really couldn't hear any difference.This particular, beat up mk-319 sounded closer to a Wonder CM7-GTS than anything we've ever tested. I know my hearing isn't what it used to be but I was shocked by the Oktava. I know many people will roll their eyes and say I'm some noob that doesn't know what he's talking about. That's your call. For me, I was pretty shook up about it. The CM7-GTS cost a TON of money and this Oktava was probably bought for a couple hundred and then discarded in a cabinet. I'm not disparaging the Wunder in any way. It's a truly beautiful sounding mic. Big and round without a touch of sibilance. That's the sound we needed. Both vocalists have a slight forward high mid edge (2k-3k) to them and we needed a mic that would smooth that out. The CM7-GTS did that. Now I find the Oktava mk-319 can do it too. I'm extremely impressed. They didn't even set out to make the mic sound like a U47 clone and yet they nailed it very close.

This mk-319 was not modded. So, after the testing session, I did remove the first layer of screen from the head and removed the daughter board and shortened the capsule wire lengths. I also dampened the inside of the body with a layer of sticky back rubber I had laying around. I did not remove the plastic rings on the mic element. That is said to make it darker, which I didn't want. Testing again showed the top end to have opened up a bit. It's not edgy but it is different from the stock version. Was the mod worth it? Hard to say. It was great sounding before and now it has just a slight bit more presence. I will leave it and use it on the darker of the two voices.

Well, this got long winded. I'm just amazed at the Oktava MK-319. Best bang for buck in the history of U47ish mics. For those who say it's dark and woolly, have you ever used a real U47? They are not bright mics at all. They are smooth and buttery. Nothing at all like the top-crazy mics coming out of China.

Anyway, that's my take. Feel free to agree or flame me, but you really should give it a try if you want the sound of a U47 on a budget.

Last edited by McIrish; 3rd May 2016 at 11:24 PM..
Old 19th April 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
I have to MK-219s....circuitry is identical to the 319 but different body design obvious...one has the Joly PE mod and one is stock.....I could get really longwinded on how good these mics can be, but let me point out a couple of observations after working with these mics for 14 plus years now"

1). I don't consider them "U47ish." I believe they have a k47 style capsule, but the design itself is very different. Remember Neumann's are German, and Oktava is Russian in origin. They took different approaches to R&D of their equipment before, during, and after WW II. That said, the MK-219/319 is a dark mic. The stock version is very dark, and the PE modded version is a nice type of dark but much smoother, with better output. The stocked versions are excellent OH mics IME....maybe the best I've ever used personally.

2). These are excellent all around mics, and in many contexts I do think they can compete head to head with many of the world class offerings. But do keep in mind that when evaluating a mic extensively you really need to see how it stacks on top of other tracks, especially for vocal applications. With the modded 219 I've never had a problem with it cutting through a dense mix with a little tweaking. It may not always be my first pick, but it always works well, much like the sm7b in that regard (i.e., it's a good all-around mic).
Old 19th April 2016
  #3
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AuldLangSine's Avatar
 

2b

Last edited by AuldLangSine; 7th June 2016 at 04:56 AM..
Old 19th April 2016
  #4
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guitarboy94's Avatar
 

Let's here some clips. I'm skeptical.
Old 19th April 2016
  #5
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nevefreak's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
try a distortion setting on it.
that will really help you hear the sonic quality of the mic and the vocal
Old 20th April 2016
  #6
JAT
Lives for gear
Oktavas are great mics, esp. for rock n roll. Very present, very mid-range. They punch. But even after a jolymod a wouldn't describe it as a subtle, discrete sounding mic. It does have a finer sound now, but nothing like the Geffel 930 I also use at home. Oktavas are much coarser, which works great in rock and roll and helps cut through the clutter. There ain't as much highs or lows, although it can be shaped through EQ some.

For most home studios doing more electric work, it is still a best buy, even if you don't get yours for $100, which is what GC charged back when for one.
Old 20th April 2016
  #7
Gear Guru
I find Oktavas excellent! I've had people comment on my recordings. I also only have those since I profited from the GC blowout and have a 319 and a Joly modded 2500. I took out the disc and headbasket on the 319. I find it a lot easier to add high end if I need it with an Electra or Clariphonic, and a sibilant mic is more of a challenge. Oktavas have a very natural top end and I see where darkness would have been a problem with tape, digital much less so. Try the 2500 if you like the 319. Very different sound. More organic sounding and wonderful for vocals. Oktavas do suffer from quality control so one made on a Monday morning isn't perhaps the best.....! Anyway, I love mine and they were known as Neumann killers back in the day. Figure Russia had a huge recording industry and some wonderful mics like Lomo were made there. I'd say Gefell are probably the real Neumann killers but Oktavas are beautiful sounding mics. With a UA 610 they sound very big and old school.
Old 21st April 2016
  #8
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AuldLangSine's Avatar
 

2b

Last edited by AuldLangSine; 7th June 2016 at 04:56 AM..
Old 22nd April 2016
  #9
Gear Nut
 

I will try to post a few short unprocessed clips of the cm7gts and the mk-319 in the next couple days. I need to get clearance first. The 319 does a great job of taming sibilance similar to the u47s I have used. I'm not saying its identical but it does what it does well. I agree with one of the posters that its easier to add a little eq than getting rid of sibilance. With the cm7gts, I have never had to use a de-esser. I know a lot of pop producers go for that very forward 8k thing but this project is Americana and needs a smooth vocal sound.
Hopefully I can post clips this weekend.
Old 23rd April 2016
  #10
I used an Okatva mk319 for a long time as a vocal mic before I picked up a Rode NTK. I found that it was dark... perhaps too dark. I'll admit that it gets better when paired with better preamps. The better the preamp, the better the result, like all mics. But in this case it doesn't stand on it's own. I'm having a hard time putting it into words. I mean that the NTK for instance will still perform okay with a crappy preamp, while the mk319 seems to suffer. It doesn't have it's own bottom threshold of quality, it all seems to hinge on the preamp.
Old 30th April 2016
  #11
Gear Nut
 

We did a bit more testing this week after getting the better shock mount for the mic. I recorded an alto vocal. We were very pleased with the results. On this voice, we found it only the smallest bit darker than the CM7GTS. Unless we could switch back and forth, I'm sure we wouldn't have been able to tell which was which. I did find a pretty major flaw in the design though. The shell and head basket have a definite pitch that they ring at. This is even more apparent with the better shock mount. After doing some reading, I set out to tame the ringing. I used black RTV to coat the inside of the shell. I also put RTV in the head basket. Down the sides where the support frame is and then around the top area where the sides meet the top (inside). Next, I removed the capsule and used two small rubber grommets to isolate the capsule from the white plastic top plate. I had to use two of the basket screws to do this as the original screws were not long enough. The screws that used to hold on the capsule were plenty long enough to hold the head basket on, so I just swapped the screws. All in all, this made a huge difference in the ringing of the body and head basket. I've been thinking of replacing the electronics but it sounds great as is and is not any noisier than the CM7GTS. I still hope to have a little time to post some comparisons. The Oktava was not designed to be a clone of any other mic. I know some people suggested that, but it simply isn't true. The capsule is unlike any other capsules I've dealt with. I think they did an incredible job of making a smooth, warm vocal mic. To my ears, it fits right between a U47 and U67 in tonality. I suppose many people who haven't worked with a real U47 or U67 would find the MK-319 to be dark. It is dark compared to many other mics. It would sound pretty dull next to a C12 or 251, but it fits right in with the u47 vibe that I like. This mic will never need a deesser, just like I don't need to deess the CM7GTS or a u47/U48. It has a pretty smooth bottom end, a bit of a dip in the upper mids where sibilance lives and then the top opens up around 10K or so. Very much like a u47. For an edgy alto voice, this really made a great impression. If I had another CM7GTS, I would never have even made this comparison, but it was a great learning experience. Easily the best bang for the buck I've ever encountered for a vocal mic.

I would absolutely agree with others about the preamp needing to be clean. This mic pairs up with the Hardy M1 very well. I think it would be murky with a Neve style preamp. I'm kind of into clear preamps with some body and then selecting mics that have color.
Old 1st May 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
I also put RTV in the head basket. Down the sides where the support frame is and then around the top area where the sides meet the top (inside). Next, I removed the capsule and used two small rubber grommets to isolate the capsule from the white plastic top plate. I had to use two of the basket screws to do this as the original screws were not long enough. The screws that used to hold on the capsule were plenty long enough to hold the head basket on, so I just swapped the screws. All in all, this made a huge difference in the ringing of the body and head basket.
interesting, may try that on the 219
Old 3rd May 2016
  #13
Gear Nut
 

OK, as promised, I've attached a link to 2 audio files. Both are 24bit 44.1K wav files and are zipped. Click the link and it will start the download. I'll leave this up for a week or so. That way anyone interested can have a listen. Some particulars:
Wunder CM7GTS
Oktava MK-319 (with physical mods; electronics are stock)
Chain: Mic - Hardy M1 preamp - Lynx Two-C A/D - Nuendo 7
No effects or EQ on either track. They were recorded simultaneously with the mic capsules as close as possible horizontally. The alto sang 6" off the mic with a pop filter at 4" from the mics. These are just some scratch tracks for a song in progress. The vocalist was kind enough to do one take with the mics so I could post this. My hope is that this helps others looking for a warm vocal mic without sibilance issues. Yes, there are differences but I think they are much more similar than you'd expect given the fact that there is a 10X price difference. So, what do you think?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxj...ew?usp=sharing

Last edited by McIrish; 3rd May 2016 at 03:22 PM..
Old 4th May 2016
  #14
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mljung's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
Yes, there are differences but I think they are much more similar than you'd expect given the fact that there is a 10X price difference. So, what do you think?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxj...ew?usp=sharing
Thanks for posting - Yes Wunder is a tiny bit more open sounding, but they are close. Oktava wouldn't stand in the way for a good recording, maybe with some subtle well-judged EQ tweaks

::
Mads
Old 6th May 2016
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Resis's Avatar
 

^^^
same impression here.
Old 7th May 2016
  #16
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omtayslick's Avatar
 

I have 2 Joly modded MK319's. They hang in there with my $1000ish mics just fine. And when they really work on a source they can be amazingly good. I had an opportunity to compare one to a vintage U47 once, and most of us ended up preferring the Oktava tracks to the 47. (done with an UA610 btw, as Ardis mentioned above) Character-wise they can be ribbon-like sometimes and kind of remind me of my AEA R84. Huge bang for the buck with these mics.
Old 7th May 2016
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

I have two unmodded MK219's, I think they are spectacular mics that, as the poster above stated, hang with the $1000 class. Strewth, they hang with the $3000 class. They are decent on just about any source, and on some applications they wipe the floor.

They are my standards for overheads/toms, often win my shootouts for guitar or vocals, and recently, to my great surprise, smashed the opposition to bits on cello and violin.
Old 7th June 2017
  #18
I used to think the 319 was a great mic, mostly because it smoothed out the harsh upper mids in my voice. I've now realized it's just too damn muddy, woofy, whatever you want to call it. I don't think they take EQ very well either. Stock or modded, it's the same dark mess. I actually think a stock MXL V67g sounds much better.
Old 7th June 2017
  #19
Gear Guru
It may not work with your voice, but I've used it on vocals, horns, acoustic, and electric guitar and even harmonica, it sounds really big and detail is no problem. Stacks well and seems to take eq just fine. Obviously really depends what you're looking for! It is not a bright mic and MXL may be much better for some dark sources.
Old 8th June 2017
  #20
Gear Nut
 

As a recap, I thought the Oktava 319 modded is a pretty great mic for the money. For the last major recording I did, I ended up not using it on vocals as I had planned. I was looking for a mic to tame some harshness of an alto voice. It did a pretty nice job. Much better than an unmodified CV4. BUT, after swapping out the capsule of the CV4 with a Beezneez K7, the Oktava 319 didn't get used for that vocal. The CV4 can be a great microphone with a capsule swap. It's now one of my main go-to mics for vocals. Very smooth sound and takes EQ well.
I guess it all comes down to what you want to hear. Many people love that slightly sizzly top end that the original CV4 had and many lesser priced mics have. I'd rather have something smoother that I have to deess less.
Old 8th June 2017
  #21
I have two Oktava 219s and two Oktava 319s. All with the inner screening removed but the resonators left in. I use them regularly. Great mics for the money. I also have an Oktava 105 when I want a brighter more "modern" sound without losing that basic Oktava mojo.
Old 12th June 2017
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardis View Post
It may not work with your voice, but I've used it on vocals, horns, acoustic, and electric guitar and even harmonica, it sounds really big and detail is no problem. Stacks well and seems to take eq just fine. Obviously really depends what you're looking for! It is not a bright mic and MXL may be much better for some dark sources.
It's great on Cello and Viola, too. Got it for female vocals, rarely fails me. When you want the upper mids slightly scooped and the top extended it's perfect.
Old 12th June 2017
  #23
Gear Guru
I actually have a 2500 that works great on female vocal. The 319 isn't as good but that's one singer. The two mics work great as a pair and compliment each other very well. The 2500 sounds more real and the 319 has a bit of a gloss. I have a very limited demo studio and the two work really well as my mainstays.
Old 17th June 2017
  #24
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

I`m just going to bookmark this video.

Old 18th June 2017
  #25
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E.Shostokavitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarcelonaMusic View Post
I`m just going to bookmark this video.

While I appreciate the sentiment of this video (and I have seen you link it many a time now BarcelonaMusic ) I do not think that it tells the whole story.

Yes, in a single take, voice over setting the differences between a well designed and manufactured sub £200 mic and a more expensive mic are harder to spot - but this is not a strenuous enough test to truly declare all mics equal.

What really separates the men from the boys is a mics ability to stack, record multiple takes and still hold up - cut through a dense mix and take eq/processing in a flattering manner..

I get where the guy in the video is coming from and I certainly share his vision, but its not a suitable playing field to draw a true comparison.

Use both mics on multiple sources and multiple takes on a busy mix and try again..
Old 18th June 2017
  #26
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The Warmth's Avatar
 

I was actually looking at the 319 and it's great to hear your positive experience with it - I've read quite a few passionately negative things about them here which gave me cold feet. I absolutely love my pair of MK 012s. Now I'm torn between the Oktava and Cascade Vin-jet. Anyone have experience with both?
Old 20th June 2017
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Warmth View Post
I was actually looking at the 319 and it's great to hear your positive experience with it - I've read quite a few passionately negative things about them here which gave me cold feet. I absolutely love my pair of MK 012s. Now I'm torn between the Oktava and Cascade Vin-jet. Anyone have experience with both?
No, but what about buying a MK 101 capsule for your MK012 ? I have a pair of MK101, and a MK102 (modded it myself) they sound really nice. Even out of the box, its great. The MK 101 Capsule is at 169€, black or silver, MK102 is available for 209€.
Old 20th June 2017
  #28
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The Warmth's Avatar
 

Damn must've been really late when I replied to this thread cause the whole time I thought you guys were talking about the ML-53 ribbon mic, which is why I asked about the Vin-Jet comparison
Old 20th June 2017
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I think we'll get over it.
Old 20th June 2017
  #30
Interesting! I tried to match the Oktava file using EQ as close to the Wunder as possible, and it's not that far actually. There's still some wooliness apparent, but highs are quite close. I had a pair of MK319 for some time and really liked them on double bass, but sold them after a year as I became tired of the wool in the midrange (modding didn't really help with that).
Attached Files

MK319 EQd.mp3 (1.05 MB, 7954 views)

CM7GTS.mp3 (1.05 MB, 7892 views)

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