Golden Age Premier GA-47 by roughgear
I had the pleasure to work with the new Golden Age Premier GA-47 for over a week now and so I wanted to share my opinion about it with you. I also organized a U47 Style microphone shoot-out to compare it to a real vintage Neumann U47 and to the new Warm Audio WA-47.
You can find it here (with 24Bit/48K audio files for download and 9 videos).
The GA-47 comes in a beautiful suitcase that looks very much like the one Telefunken provides with their recent 10.000 $ version of the U47. Everything in this suitcase feels like quality - the shockmount, the cables, the PSU and of course the microphone itself which is a real beauty.
The GA-47 is designed in Sweden and made in small batches of only 50 pieces each. It's not one of those tube mics out of a big chinese factory where they make thousands a day and where quality control can be a big problem. The GA-47 is made by hand in a small, dedicated workshop in China and controlled in Sweden before shipping. The design is based on a NOS Telefunken EF800 tube. I think it’s close to a circuit design that microphone legend Oliver Archut used for his U47 copies.
Let's cut to the chase and talk about the SOUND:
In cardioid mode, the mic has a nice rich and "warm" sound that tends to be a bit on the dark side if compared to a lot of other LDCs currently on the market. I personally love that as I’m easily annoyed by harsh sounding mics or music productions.
I like to work with a decent tube mic to add a bit of color and “liveliness”, especially when recording digitally.
The GA-47 sounds beautiful on vocals. I tried it with 4 vocalists, male and female and it really shined on all of them. There’s no problem with “s" sounds or any kind of harsh sound that would require the use of a De-esser. On some vocal takes, I would later apply 2-3 db at about 10 KHZ for them to sit in the mix beautifully. The microphone takes EQ really well and I personally prefer to add some presence later than to remove some harshness (which is usually a serious pain).
In Omni Mode, the frequency response changes quite a bit, and the mic opens up in the higher areas. That's common and a good thing for Omni. Also, you basically get 2 different sounds to choose from. The output level itself stays pretty much the same.
I included some audio files of acoustic guitar and ukulele for you to compare the two patterns.
The signal chain was:
Taylor guitar (pretty bright sounding) / ukulele
-> GA-47 30 cm away, pointing towards 12th fret
-> RME UFX preamps
-> Logic at 24 Bit 44KHZ (no FX, Comp, etc…)
I had no problem with noise at all while using it, neither in cardioid nor in omni mode. I also tried the GA-47 on acoustic guitar, ukulele, upright bass and piano and the results were always very good. I can imagine that it works very well in front of a drum kit, but I didn’t have the chance to test it yet.
What I really love about the GA-47 is its compression behavior on loud sources. Somehow it slightly compresses the signal which sounds very musical. Not by a lot, but it’s a detail that I enjoy very much.
For example, I found that the Warm Audio WA-47 behaves very differently in this domain.
I included a screenshot below for you to see what I mean. This is from a piano recording with open lid (see the other picture for the microphone position).
Do you see the spikes that the Warm Audio WA-47 produces on certain frequencies? In comparison, the Golden Age GA-47 somehow naturally compresses the signal and therefore it makes it much more “ready to mix”.
You can download the Hi-Quality audio files here (200MB) and compare them yourself if you’d like (for example, it’s also obvious when the female singer is belting or singing).
I’d like to add that out of the 4 tube mics I had for testing, the GA-47 has the best looking PSU which is very well built. It's not heating up and there is no sound or noise coming from it. It makes a much better impression to me than the one that is provided with the WA-47. Also the shockmount is of better quality and it's less fiddly to securely fit the mic in it.
All in all, the GA-47 is an amazing “boutique" tube mic and a great "bang for the buck". It's an all-round mic and very flexible, just like the original U-47. In the blind shoot out, many people even preferred its sound over the real Neumann which is 8-10 times more expensive.