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Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone
Old 23rd September 2015
  #1
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Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone

Hi

I'm looking to buy 2 AKG C12 Clones. Can anybody recommend any good clones or similar mics to the original C12 (not the C12 VR) that don't require any serious DIY. Thanks
Old 24th September 2015
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Black Ninja's Avatar
 

Flea12 is nice... But of course not the same of original!
I like the Manley Gold for C12,ish works. Its not a clone and not the same of original too, but I like it more than others C12 clones. A little more "modern" sound...
Old 24th September 2015
  #3
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Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Thanks for your reply, but I'm not after a more modern sound. I have a lot of other mics for that sound. I really want to get as close as the AKG C12 as possible.

After some thought, I think I'm going to conceed my lazy DIYless idea because the value for money seems so much better going down the DIY route. I'm going to be brave and attempt to build a couple of C12 clones myself. Not your average first electronics project but oh well. You only live once.

The first thing I want to do is choose a great capsule. I've been looking at capsules online and have found these clones of the original C12 capsule (apologies if i have missed any):

In the following list items 1-7, except #5 are capsules on sale to the general public, 8 onwards are Fully Built C12 Microphones or 'everything included' DIY Kits

1) Beesneez CK12 ($445)
Used in: Beesneez Tribute 2 ($3250) and Beesneez Phelicity ($2125)

2) Tim Campbell CT12 Capsule ($377)
Used in: FLEA 12 ($4850) and FLEA 12 Vintage ($7300)

3) Eric Heiserman HK12 Capsule ($428 USD)
Studio 939 — Premium Microphone Capsules
Used in: ?

4) Advanced Audio Microphones AK12 Capsule ($99 USD)
AK12 Capsule | Advanced Audio Microphones
Used in: Advanced Audio CM12se ($845)

5) MBHO Capsule (Not sure which is C12 copy, maybe KA 1000 N) - not currently for sale to the public
MBHO GmbH Mikrofonbau Haun - state of the art microphones handmade in Germany (can't find price)
Used in: LeWilson 212 ($2350)

6) Peluso CEK-12 Capsule ($257)
Used in: not sure, perhaps Peluso P-12? ($1764)

7) ADK GK12 Capsule ($300)
Used in: ADK Custom Shop Vienna 12-T ($1495)

8) Avantone CV-12 (Not sure if Mic Capsule is available to purchase, but completed Mic only $500)

9) Stellar Audio CM-5 (Same factory as Avantone?, with a few better quality components, and a lower price)

10) openplanrecording (O.P.R) C-12 (Standard C12 model = $666, Deluxe Model =$1266, Ultralux Model = $1549)

11) Micshop MS12 - The Micshop website claims the MS12 "out C12s any C12!". ($4950)

12) JJ Audio Dutch (C12) - uses JJ12 Capsule ($1250)

13) 3U Audio Warbler MKIII - uses own capsule ($500)

14) Wunder Audio CM12 ($6995)

15) VM-212 from Saturn Sound (Price unavailable)

16) FLEA 12 ($3765)

17) Fox Audio Research (FAR) The 12 (Price unavailable), also available in a Premium edition; 'The C12+ Premium Edition' (Price Unavailable)

18) microphone-parts.com DIY S-12 Kit ($300)

19) Telefunken C12 (around $8000)

20) Cathedral Pipes Stephansdom - Discontinued?- http://www.cathedralpipes.com/stephansdom.php (Price Unknown)

21) Matadors 'Official C12 Clone Build and Support Thread' at Official C12 Clone - Build and Support Thread is the most comprehensive instructional thread I have ever seen! I'm sure that might come in handy at some point.


Can anyone share any thoughts on the performance of these capsules? Which should I choose to get closest to the original AKG C12 Capsule?

Thanks
Rachel
Old 24th September 2015
  #4
Gear Nut
 

ADK capsule is $300 @ Front End Audio
ADK GK-12d Custom Shop Capsule at FrontEndAudio.com
Old 24th September 2015
  #5
Gear Nut
Rachel,
Advanced audio mics are fairly economical as DIY or if pre built. Check out who uses their mics, there is a link on the main page.
Old 24th September 2015
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummercat View Post
Rachel,
Advanced audio mics are fairly economical as DIY or if pre built. Check out who uses their mics, there is a link on the main page.
The $99 price is suspicious to say the least. Can a $99 capsule really be anywhere near as good as the $400+ ones by Beesneez, Tim Campbell, and Eric Heiserman? Sounds too good to be true.
Old 24th September 2015
  #7
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
MBHO does not sell to the general public, if I am not mistaken....
Old 24th September 2015
  #8
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Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Would the Avantone CV-12 be anywhere near the quality of a Beesneez or FLEA etc. AKG C12 clone? They are much cheaper ($500). Does anyone know what capsule Avantone use in these mics? Do they make their own capsules?
Old 24th September 2015
  #9
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Rachel...none of the lesser expensive pre-built C12/251 style mics from Avantone, Advanced Audio, Stellar, etc are going to be based upon historically accurate builds since they all employ a CCDA (2-stage circuit with a cathode-follower)...the original C12/251 circuit was a simple single-stage plate-follower...but that's not to say that they don't sound good...the best of the bunch, IMHO, is the Stellar ($415) as it is close to identical to the more costly AA CM12, and much improved over the Avantone (better C12-type capsule, tranny, and circuit mods)...but one of DIY kits will get you much closer to the real deal...

If you want to build your own, and stay as close to the original as possible you want either Dany Bouchard's D-12 PCBs:
Vintagemicrophonepcbkit.com

Or the MataChung PCB/kit:
Studio 939 — C12 Microphone Kit Complete

Now, I'm not sure these are recommended for novice builders, as the PSU (power-supply) that you will be building is very high-voltage and somewhat dangerous if you don't know what you're doing...I can recommend some excellent builders that will build to your specs, at very reasonable price (per hour rates)...these guys have built many mics...

I have had a few of these built by different builders including Dany and Eric Heiserman...I have tested many of the capsules in my mics and I have my favorites...there's so much pertinent info that goes along with my experience with numerous DIY tube mic builds, including info I'd prefer not to post on a public forum, so as not to disrespect any of the sources for components...feel free to PM me if you're interested...

Some pics of a couple of my builds below...

Attached Thumbnails
Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-heiserman.build.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-c12prototypes.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-c12.2.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-matachungc12.1.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-matachungc12.3.jpg  

Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-cremola-c12.2.jpg  

Last edited by kidvybes; 25th September 2015 at 12:22 AM..
Old 25th September 2015
  #10
From hearing and using a Tim Campbell capsule and also searching this same subject, I find his capsule to come highly recommended. Also, during my use of Blackspade UM25c demo, I found the edge terminated capsule to sound incredible on OH and Mono Room for drums, Mono room for gtr reamp, as well as M/F vox.

Also this was a blackspade um25c tube mic and not the same exact circuit as C12.

However, the capsule IMO is the most important part of the mic.

I have not used a C12 (only 414 after brass capsule era) so please take my info as if is. Enjoy your builds
Old 25th September 2015
  #11
Gear Head
Hi Rachael-I started on the same project a couple of years ago, I purchased 3 AKG C28 sdc mics and the seller threw in 2 C12 power supplies. I sourced capsules from Tim Campbell, bodies and swivel plugs from telefunken, old large frame transformers off eBay and just got the last of the tuchel plugs. They are all point to point wiring. It's been a mission but it's doable! I recommend the telefunken bodies and TC caps..cheers
Old 25th September 2015
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Still deciding which capsule to choose. Tim Campbell seems to have a lot of praise from everyone who posts about his capsules (but apparently has a very long waiting list?).
Old 25th September 2015
  #13
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

The Campbell capsule, and the Heiserman capsules are both very close to original AKG CK12 designs (AKG had multiple versions of their edge-terminated capsule)...

The ADK T-FET and Z-Mod mics employ their own GK12d which was also my choice for one of my C12 clones (over the Campbell capsule)...the Campbell capsule is the more historically-correct, no argument...but when I listened to a few other identical builds with the TC capsule, I knew I made the right decision for my microphone...I preferred the top-end response on the GK12d in this particular application (Mata-Chung build)...it's the creme-colored clone in the pics above...

...I've demoed Eric's capsule and Ben's capsules as well...I liked Eric's...but again, I preferred the GK12d...BTW, I know the man behind the "Australian Designed Capsule" and his edge-terminated capsules are exceptional sounding...I have a few of his other mic/capsule designs in my collection...it's not Ben from BeesNeez...this engineer in Australia designed the entire line of ADK Custom-Shop capsules, which are uniquely voiced...I also have their GK67d capsule in one of my M269c clones, and it sounds amazing...

...Robert Sestili, of RMS Audioworks in Chicago, employs the ADK Custom-Shop capsules as stock in his highly respected clone mics (with the option of swapping to a Campbell or Thiersch):
Welcome
RMS12

Attached Thumbnails
Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-adk-gk12.jpg  

Last edited by kidvybes; 25th September 2015 at 05:45 PM..
Old 25th September 2015
  #14
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

...I have been beta-testing some of this Australian engineer's other designs...it would be indiscreet to reveal any more info in this forum, but I can categorically state that all of ADK's T-FET and Z-MOD mics employ their own custom-designed GK-series capsules...there's more than one respected microphone engineer in Australia...ADK is not using Ben Sneesby's C12 capsules...

...and, while the engineer who designed those capsules resides in Australia, the capsules are not manufactured there...they are manufactured in an aerospace-quality facility in Asia...

Last edited by kidvybes; 25th September 2015 at 05:41 PM..
Old 25th September 2015
  #15
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

...once you familiarize yourself with the capsules, each manufacturer has certain build characteristics that make it possible to identify their work...below are the Heiserman HK-12 (left), the BeesNeez CK12 (center) and the Campbell CT12 (right)...the ADK GK12 is above in my previous post...
Attached Thumbnails
Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-p535909687-5.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-ck12_1_.jpg   Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-ct1b.jpg  
Old 25th September 2015
  #16
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
Hi

I'm looking to buy 2 AKG C12 Clones. Can anybody recommend any good clones or similar mics to the original C12 (not the C12 VR) that don't require any serious DIY. Thanks
Flea
Old 25th September 2015
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
...did you miss the part in my post where I said I know the engineer that designed those capsules?...I have been beta-testing some of this engineer's other designs...it would be indiscreet to reveal any more info in this forum, but I can categorically state that all of ADK's T-FET and Z-MOD mics employ their own custom-designed GK-series capsules...there's more than one respected microphone engineer in Australia...ADK is not using Ben Sneesby's C12 capsules...if you don't believe me, reach out to any authorized ADK dealer, or to Larry Villella (ADK owner) himself here on this forum, where he is a member...

...and, while the engineer who designed those capsules resides in Australia, the capsules are not manufactured there...they are manufactured in an aerospace-quality facility in Asia...
Apologies for this. I saw the American postal address for the ADK workshop and assumed that the capsules must be designed there. I have removed the post which questioned if the ADK model might use a Beesneez Capsule.
Old 25th September 2015
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
@ kidvybes do you have any experience with or advice about any of the other microphones or capsules listed in post #3 above? I am particularly interested about whether the Stellar or Advanced Audio Capsules are up to par with the more expensive capsules. And nobody seems to have mentioned anything about the Peluso CEK-12. Any information on the respective quality of this capsule would be greeat too.

I am looking for a sound as close to the original C12 as possible, not a mic with a modernised C12 sound, and a mic with the C12VR sound.
Old 25th September 2015
  #19
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
@ kidvybes do you have any experience with or advice about any of the other microphones or capsules listed in post #3 above? I am particularly interested about whether the Stellar or Advanced Audio Capsules are up to par with the more expensive capsules. And nobody seems to have mentioned anything about the Peluso CEK-12. Any information on the respective quality of this capsule would be greeat too.

I am looking for a sound as close to the original C12 as possible, not a mic with a modernised C12 sound, and a mic with the C12VR sound.
...I have owned most of those (Stellar, AA, Avantone, etc)...

...the Stellar and Advanced Audio edge-terminated capsules are the same (pic below)...and they share backplate metalwork with the Peluso version (bolt-pattern was more recently revised on the Stellar/AA versions to differentiate from the Peluso version, as Peluso/Ruvalds commissioned the original design in China)...Chunger also sells that capsule on his "Studio 939" store-site...

...it is not a "historically-correct" CK12, as it employs K67-style backplates in an edge-terminated design...it does have isolated backplates like the original...it's a very nice sounding capsule for the price (the best of the lesser-expensive edge-terminated capsules IMHO)...

...I have one of those same capsules in one of my C12/251 Mata-Chung clone builds and it is scheduled to go to Shannon Rhoades for proper capsule reskinning/re-voicing...

...if you want absolutely magnificent C12 sonic-clones built (not cosmetic clones, but "sonic" clones) then contact mic-tech maestro Shannon Rhoades at Mic Rehab in Nashville...his C12 and 251 restoration and clone-builds are outstanding...he maintains one of the largest collection of vintage originals at Blackbird Studios, Nashville...he designed the capsules for his brother's microphone line (Tracy Korby)...he builds C12 capsules from scratch, or re-machines the Chinese capsules, skins them with 1-micron mylar diaphragms and tunes them to match original versions he has in his shop...IMHO, the best capsule-tuning tech on the planet...he is currently building a pair using the Mata-Chung PCBs...you can contact Shannon via:
micrehab.com

BTW, if you want someone (very reputable) who can build you a pair of the Mata-Chung or Bouchard C12 clones (at very fair rates), and has access to Campbell as well as other C12-type capsules, let me know and I will arrange the connection...

Attached Thumbnails
Best DIYless AKG C12 Clone-dsc_4097.jpg  

Last edited by kidvybes; 25th September 2015 at 05:48 PM..
Old 25th September 2015
  #20
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Shannon is THE MAN!!!
Old 25th September 2015
  #21
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

It would be best for you to post your budget for these mics...that would allow us to really zone in on the best possible options in that price-range...
Old 25th September 2015
  #22
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Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
It would be best for you to post your budget for these mics...that would allow us to really zone in on the best possible options in that price-range...
Hi. I will spend whatever is necessary. I am not looking for excellent value for money, rather for excellent sonic likeness to characteristics of the original C12. However, if I can get extremely close to the sonic characteristics of the original C12 without spending a lot ("a lot" being relative, of course), that would be very rather nice.
Old 25th September 2015
  #23
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
Hi. I will spend whatever is necessary. I am not looking for excellent value for money, rather for excellent sonic likeness to characteristics of the original C12. However, if I can get extremely close to the sonic characteristics of the original C12 without spending a lot ("a lot" being relative, of course), that would be very rather nice.
...it's that last 10-20% where you incur more expense, the final 5% the greatest expense...what are you primary intended applications for these mics?
Old 25th September 2015
  #24
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OK, I took the liberty of getting quotes from one of the most respected builders of DIY clones, Shane Bushman (aka Category5 on the GDIY forums)...if you wanted a matched pair if C12 clones built on the Mata-Chung PCBs (or the equally accurate "Poctop" PCBs), using Cinemag transformers and NOS GE 6072 tubes, matching power-supplies, as well as a matched pair of Tim Campbell CT12 capsules, you'd be looking at about $3300 for the pair...if you want upgraded Gotham 7-pin cables w/Neutrik military-grade connectors, add $200 for the two cables needed...Campbell capsules are in stock, so no wait...so approx. $3500 for a pair built with best components...
Old 25th September 2015
  #25
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Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
...it's that last 10-20% where you incur more expense, the final 5% the greatest expense...what are you primary intended applications for these mics?
I understand the value of audio products is (generally) based on an exponential law of diminishing returns. However, I hate putting percentages on audio products to compare them. I could say I want 95% of the audio quality of the original AKG C12, but what exactly is "95%"?(or any other percentage). It is subjective and has no real meaning. How would you seperate me from somebody who wanted 90% or 80% for instance.

To illustrate furthermore the flaw of describing audio products with these relative percentages just imagine what would you say to someone who wanted 50% of the quality of a C12. It's just not possible to answer them because The Quality of half a C12 (or "half of the sonic characteristics" of any audio product) is a fiction. It is not a quantitative value that can be halved.
Old 25th September 2015
  #26
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
To illustrate furthermore the flaw of describing audio products with these relative percentages just imagine what would you say to someone who wanted 50% of the quality of a C12. It's just not possible to answer them because The Quality of half a C12 (or "half of the sonic characteristics" of any audio product) is a fiction. It is not a quantitative value that can be halved.
You might be surprised at how many would be more than satisfied with 50% the sonic quality (subjectively speaking of course) of an original well-maintained C12...BTW, the range of sonic variation between originals is quite vast, so it's all speculation...if it sounds good and fulfills your needs and expectations, it's good!

Anyway, the quote above would put you well in the sonic ballpark of the classic C12...
Old 25th September 2015
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
OK, I took the liberty of getting quotes from one of the most respected builders of DIY clones, Shane Bushman (aka Category5 on the GDIY forums)...if you wanted a matched pair if C12 clones built on the Mata-Chung PCBs (or the equally accurate "Poctop" PCBs), using Cinemag transformers and NOS GE 6072 tubes, matching power-supplies, as well as a matched pair of Tim Campbell CT12 capsules, you'd be looking at about $3300 for the pair...if you want upgraded Gotham 7-pin cables w/Neutrik military-grade connectors, add $200 for the two cables needed...Campbell capsules are in stock, so no wait...so approx. $3500 for a pair built with best components...
thanks for this information. "the best components"? - are you categorically saying you think the Tim Campbell capsule is the best C12 capsule clone? I found a lengthy post on another audio forum that contradicts this assertion, naming one of the others as more historically accurate.

edit: naming two other capsules (both listed in post #3 above) as more historically accurate
Old 25th September 2015
  #28
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
thanks for this information. "the best components"? - are you categorically saying you think the Tim Campbell capsule is the best C12 capsule clone? I found a lengthy post on another audio forum that contradicts this assertion, naming one of the others as more historically accurate.

edit: naming two other capsules (both listed in post #3 above) as more historically accurate
Capsule choice is subjective...I used the Campbell capsule as an example...it is considered the "standard" by many and for resale value it is the clearly most established...as I stated previously, it's not my personal choice...but Shane will build with any capsule of choice...he can also build sans capsules and send to Shannon Rhoades for capsule/voicing...that would of course up the cost a bit, but that's the final 5% we referenced...with Shannon's final tweaks, I would equate the mics with the best you could buy, at any price...but that's just my .02c...

More importantly keep in mind that the builds I quoted for are top-flight...don't compare with mass manufactured products like Peluso...more like Flea (minus the historically accurate expensive metalwork) or LeWilson (he builds a nice mic)...you can reference Chunger's build thread, as that is essentially the same build with a few upgrades here...I've owned 3 of these and can speak first hand for their quality...you can reach out to Shannon at Mic Rehab for his thoughts as well...

Last edited by kidvybes; 25th September 2015 at 08:28 PM..
Old 25th September 2015
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
Capsule choice is subjective...I used the Campbell capsule as an example...it is considered the "standard" by many and for resale value it is the clearly most established...as I stated previously, it's not my personal choice...but Shane will build with any capsule of choice...he can also build sans capsules and send to Shannon Rhoades for capsule/voicing...that would of course up the cost a bit, but that's the final 5% we referenced...with Shannon's final tweaks, I would equate the mics with the best you could buy, at any price...but that's just my .02c...

More importantly keep in mind that the builds I quoted for are top-flight...don't compare with mass manufactured products like Peluso...more like Flea (minus the historically accurate expensive metalwork) or LeWilson (he builds a nice mic)...you can reference Chunger's build thread, as that is essentially the same build with a few upgrades here...I've owned 3 of these and can speak first hand for their quality...you can reach out to Shannon at Mic Rehab for his thoughts as well...
I've noticed whenever the topic of the best capsule for any DIY mic model is raised, the standard response seems to be that it "is subjective" or words to the same effect. In the case of the average capsule customer, who is just looking for the "best sounding" capsule to their own ears, then the "best sounding" one is indeed subjective. However, as I stated above, I am not necessarily looking for the "best sounding" capsule, but the one which has characteristics with the closest sonic likeness to the original AKG C12. So, there must be a 'best' in my case as one of the capsules has to sound more like the original C12 capsule than the others, even if it is not the "best sounding" capsule.
Old 25th September 2015
  #30
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
I've noticed whenever the topic of the best capsule for any DIY mic model is raised, the standard response seems to be that it "is subjective" or words to the same effect. In the case of the average capsule customer, who is just looking for the "best sounding" capsule to their own ears, then the "best sounding" one is indeed subjective. However, as I stated above, I am not necessarily looking for the "best sounding" capsule, but the one which has characteristics with the closest sonic likeness to the original AKG C12. So, there must be a 'best' in my case as one of the capsules has to sound more like the original C12 capsule than the others, even if it is not the "best sounding" capsule.
...I think you're missing the point that the voicing or tuning of capsules is variable...in the hands of a Shannon Rhoades, a $70 Chinese edge-terminated capsule can be made to sound shockingly close to a vintage original, but you pay the price ($600-800 for re-machining/re-skinning/re-voicing)...

...like I said before, you can have 10 well-maintained original AKG C12s in a room, and they may differ in sonic signature as much as the range of different capsules you are considering for your own mics..."best sounding" in terms of which of the original examples you use as a reference is entirely subjective...

...at this point, I believe you are over-thinking the process...if you're looking for vocal mics, the C12 might be a disappointing endeavor (there are more versatile options)...if you're looking for overheads, there's many less expensive options that are also very elegant sounding... the C12 may be one of the least defined classic options (along with the U47) as existing original examples are all over the sonic map...give me a good 251 emulation over either of those, any day...

Good Luck!
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