Yeah, I wondered, but didn't know if the ML-52s were part of that. They were insanely cheap. I bought just about the entire product line in pairs, figuring it was worth a shot. I'm still wondering if something useful could be made of them. I'm afraid of throwing good money after bad though.
capsule diaphragms are tensioned and brought up to resonance specification then baked in an oven and re-tested.
It is very interesting information. Usually, the diaphragm is baked BEFORE bringing to the resonance--the process called "cold relaxation". I have no idea why do they do it after tensioning, but maybe the fact the diaphragm resonant frequency is lower than usual Neumann style capsules, might be an answer.
Out of a few dozens of Oktavas 219 and 319, which came through my bench just for last half a year for modifications and capsule re-tuning, I can say that despite the fact Russian components can have as much as up to 50% tolerance (esp. capacitors), the diaphragm tuning is pretty uniform and they do a good job on that.
Overall, the capsule as it is was definitely designed to work with resonators to compensate for early roll-off—the reason why many folks actually prefer the sound of original mic, with resonators intact. However, unlike many other microphones, this capsule's particular design gives a lot of room for modifications and ability for fine-tuning and room to allow refining its tonal balance and overcoming its original "dark" qualities, to suit variety of applications.
As far as electronic parts concerned, their sonic quality is particularly bad. In fact, if one replaces the Russian components for ANY more or less quality parts, it already by itself is a big improvement on the way of turning this mic into a quality piece.
Overall, there is a great potential in those microphones. Without cheesy comparison with other expensive mics here is a raw track just on its own merit—the Oktava 319 specifically voiced and fine-tuned for this specific singer. Universal Audio pre (set to flat response, and compressor bypassed), Apogee Rosetta, into ProTools session. No EQ or any processing:
There was a fake ML-52 ribbon mic made as well. It contains a standard 'long ribbon' Chinese motor, frame and transformer.
So, in trying to figure out what I've got here, I went hunting for pictures. The one on your site has what looks like MA-52, what I've got says Mπ-52-02, with silver rings around the top and bottom of the grill. This appears to simply be a newer version. It looks identical to what Oktava-online has pictured. How can I tell if what I have is not Russian made?
Also of note, It came with a little paper work. There's the Oktava ML52 Ribbon Microphone Operating instructions and Passport, which has the name A&F McKay & Oktava Microphones on the bottom. It references mckay.org (not a website?) and oktava.net (also not a site) It also came with a response graph that looks like it was drawn on with ball point pen.
The MC 012-01 however does look like the one of the fakes linked in the post earlier. Did original Oktava mics never have the "ASM" on the body? It's a little unclear, because it looks like the fakes were somewhat copying an older version of the mic, and Oktava states that they weren't always serialized.
Because the mics I have match in some ways but not others. It's a little confusing.
Some originals have ASM, in fact most, if I remember.
The tell-tale signs are documented at Oktava: Attention - fakes! which I assume you have seen? I think it's fairly clear what is and isn't fake from certain components, like under the caps and the absence of the pad.
Your ML-52 is just the newer design - I have the same thing rebranded as an Electro-harmonix.
Yeah, that's the site I'm looking at. The packaging looks correct, it has the pad, the bonding area look correct, there's the metal holder, the pin looks correct, the screws look correct, but there's no serial, and it says "A.S.M." like the fake. Both of those differences could be attributed to it being an earlier model. (?)
I don't remember if the MK 012 had documentation with it. I usually keep that stuff, but the paperwork seems uniquely useless on this one, so maybe I didn't.
Edit: also, the plastic rings inside are cloudy, more like what you see in the second to bottom picture on the right, but the pin is silver.
The question of how to identify authentic, made-in-Tula, Oktava mics comes up quite often. Below is the most succinct guide to Real vs. Fake for the most popular models I can think of.
But before I get to the summary, some background facts - "A.S.M" are the initials of the former, UK-based distributor fired for making unauthorized fake Oktava mics. These initials appear on most of the used Oktava MK-219, 319, 2500 and '012 mics you will find in the used market. Confusingly, these initials also appear on the fake mics as well. So presence of "A.S.M." in itself does not differentiate authentic Oktava mics from fakes.
Serial numbers - The Oktava factory in Tula did not always serialize their microphones. For example, many thousands of MK (and MC, same mic) - 012 mics made in Tula, Russia by Oktava do not have serial numbers but do say "A.S.M" Presence or absence of serial numbers in itself does not differentiate authentic Oktava mics from fakes.
Oktava microphones manufactured after the firing of A.S.M. do not carry these initials. Some limited edition mics carry the "80th Anniversary" logo. A very limited number MK-219 mics manufactured for OktavaMod simply say "Oktava MK-219" (front) and "Made in Russia, Tula" (back).
A summary of the differentiating facts -
MK (or MC) - 012 - Authentic made-in-Tula mics have slotted screws at the XLR connector. Fake '012s have black Philips screws. End of story.
MK-219 - Never copied or faked in any way. End of story.
MK-319 - Authentic made in Tula mics have a black powder coat body finish, a dull pewter color XLR barrel, and classic Oktava Bakelite body capsule with 8-hole plastic resonators in front of both front and back diaphragms. Fake MK-319s have a bluish/dark grey, flat paint job, a shiny chrome XLR and a Chinese, brass backplate capsule with exposed diaphragms (no 8-hole resonators).
MK-2500 - Same deal as 319: Authentic made in Tula mics have a black powder coat body finish, a dull pewter color XLR barrel, and classic Oktava Bakelite body capsule with 8-hole plastic resonators in front of both front and back diaphragms. Fake MK-319s have a bluish/dark grey, flat paint job, a shiny chrome XLR and a Chinese, brass backplate capsule with exposed diaphragms (no 8-hole resonators).
ML-52 - Authentic made in Tula mics have a short dual ribbon motor with "goal post" blast shield / resonators in front of a series of vertical holes in front of the ribbons. Fake mics use a Chinese, "long ribbon / short" path, single ribbon motor.
Mr. Joly, do you mind explaining to me exactly what's the deal with the Electro-harmonix EH-R1, which looks like a rebranded ML-52-02? I have never seen one in a store (except the used one I bought). I see no mention of them in relation to Oktava but clearly they are the same mic?