Oktava MK-319 by edva
The Oktava MK-319 is a large diaphragm, cardioid condenser mic with somewhat of a checkered past, made in Russia. Or, at least many of the good ones are made in Russia, as there were a rash of them made in China (and perhaps still are), but they weren't "fakes" in the usual sense of the word, as they were commissioned by the mic's western importer themselves! Quite an underhanded piece of business, IMHO. There are articles on the 'net as to how to spot the Chinese versions, and I won't go into that here. Suffice it to say that an original, Russian-made one is preferred, and what is on review here.
The 319 is a derivative of the Oktava MK-219, which was one of the ugliest mics ever made. But, it did sound good, and the same circuitry is essentially what is used in the 319, including a nice, large gold coated diaphragm, FET electronics, and a rather good sounding output transformer.
The mic is usually supplied with a bare-bones, small metal clip, and has both hi-pass and pad switches.
The sound of the mic is generally very warm, smooth, and full-bodied. The "good ones" in particular are quiet as well. The general first impression is of a very pleasant, good sounding mic with no real drawbacks. There is a small "resonator" disc mounted over the diaphragm which adds a little "peakiness" in the upper-mids, but the mic is rarely too bright, harsh, or sibilant. Generally usable on almost any source, it can give good to very good results on most.
There are a couple of very intriguing sidelights to the 319. First, and foremost, through the years at various times I have seen it being sold for as little as $100. Especially if it is a good, original one in nice shape, this is a tremendous bargain. I will in fact state that under those circumstances, it may be the best bang for the buck microphone deal in history!
Secondly, there is a well established modification procedure that can be done on these mics, which accentuates all of their good sonic qualities, and attenuates the not so good, like noise and slight peakiness; and, when properly done to an existing "good" specimen, this can result in a truly (some would say "nearly") "world class" sound for pennies on the dollar in total cost.
Anyone with "champagne tastes" (and good ears) on a "beer budget" should absolutely try to obtain a good sounding MK-319, and consider having it modded. In my own experience for example, I bought three, kept the one I liked the best, and had it modded. I love the mic, very smooth and buttery warm. Great as a room mic on drums, very good on some vocals, usable on everything else with no complaints. If you can get past the inconsistencies in its provenance, and find a good one, you will enjoy the sound of this mic.