Tab Funkenwerk AMI F44 by musicandstuff
Why did I buy?
I have almost always been a ribbon user for overheads so a pair of Royer 121's have been in my collection softening loud and aggressive cymbals for a while. However I had been wanting to get an alternative pair of overheads that might be a little brighter and clearer, for folkier and soft stuff, and in something other than figure of 8. I have a pair of Neuman TLM49s that I use occasionally, but I prefer to use them on the Toms, so I wanted another pair that were not going to be horrendously expensive to chuck above the kit. As I have a pair of ribbons and a few good LDC's I thought I had an SDC sized gap in my mic locker so did some research. Price figured largely here, I budgeted a little over a grand, so was looking at second hand M Geffell M300, Neumann KM184, or new things like the Oktava 102. I had used all three but not the AMI F44's. There was not a whole lot in it, but I ended up buying the AMI F44 off a strong recommendation from a friend of mine whose ears I trust. Also the price was a good fit and I wanted to buy a transformers for my UM92.1 which the company also sold
Ease of use?
Take from box, attach mic clip and record
What do they sound like? What do they work best on?
They were touted on the net as being a little bit darker than most SDC's, perhaps reminiscent of the old KM84's. I have not tried the KM84's, but I would not say these mics are particularly dark, they just don't sound very hyped in the top end. What I liked the most was the fact that they sounded so MUSICAL, something my friend had mentioned to me when I was still deciding which mic to buy.
I used them initially as overheads on an alt/folk album. Kit sounded full, sweet on the top end but not bright. I felt they were immediately a better fit for a gentle drummer than the Royers I would have used. Big thumbs up
Next up was acoustic and 12 string. Lovely and clear. Again, that top end feels so musical. Sweet and not harsh. Certainly full across all frequencies. I had to do a little cutting in the mids to make more room for vocals and some of the kit. But a great acoustic sound
Strings? Nice but I preferred my Royers slightly here.
Electric guitar? It's a great mic to get that sweet top end from an amp that cuts through a busy mix without getting harsh. I have used LDC's to do this in the past and thought the AMI F44 was just as good at doing this job.
Double bass? Great! The low end felt really even. I tried it beside a nice U67 and a M 147 here and felt it held its own pretty well in this application.
It would fill a lot of gaps in a starters mic collection and also certainly find many uses in a busy mic collection. I was happy to see it was no slouch in whatever role I threw at it.
I have also used it on a loud drummer and it still came across great. Cymbals and hi hats didn't bunch up and get harsh. I was surprised at how sweet it was. It would be preferred over my Royers with a cymbal heavy drummer if heading to tape, but would probably try the Royers first if straight to the convertors.
I don't think they sound quite as perfectly even up and down the frequency range as I remember the M300 to be (just an impression I had when I used the M300's so I know it is not worth that much) but they sound VERY musical. The bottom is full, the mids clear but not poking out, the top end with just a little sweetness, sounds to me like a nice subtle bump at maybe 8khz. They sound sweet. I let a friend borrow them for a couple weeks in his studio. He had a pair of KM84's and has been around a good 20 years in this business longer than me, and he loved them also so they have stood up well
Limitations? Issues? Quality and price?
They are not dark, if you are after dark maybe look at a couple of ribbons.
They are cardioid only.
They don't fit that tightly in the mic clip that comes with them. In fact it doesn't take that much pressure for them to slide out so you have to be a little careful with them when moving. That said they feel solid and don't look like they would damage easily.
They don't have all the bells and whistles the more expensive SDC's come with. The wooden box is fine but not one of those beautiful Neumann wooden boxes. The mic clip is of a little lower quality than you get with the expensive SDC's I have used.
That said they are significantly cheaper, and I feel like they are just as good. You are not playing for a big brand on the side (I don't have any beef here), all you are paying for is a well designed, great sounding SDC.
Would I buy again?
Yep, these mics have become a big part of my studio. They are one of the first things I head to for acoustics and overheads and at the price they are a good deal. On a side note the first pair AMI sent to me got lost in the mail on the way....... And after a couple of emails? They just sent another pair that made it to me. That is nice, there was no distrust. Just a problem solved. I am seriously looking at getting some more stuff from them in the future. Highly recommended.