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Any experience with modded Oktavas?
Old 9th October 2006
  #1
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recky's Avatar
 

Any experience with modded Oktavas?

Hi,

I've been looking into getting a few Oktavas since I'm a bit of an off-the-beaten-path kind of guy, and I really like my modded MK (MC) 012. I hear that these Russian mics have a lot of inherent potential but are let down by cheap parts and construction. There's a guy in the States who reckons his mods transform stock Oktavas (condensers, tubes and ribbons) into great mics by removing such limitations - check out www.oktavamod.com.

I was wondering if anyone here has seriously tried out recent versions of these modded (or stock) Oktavas, such as MK-219, MK-319 or the ML-52 ribbon.

Cheers,

Recky
Old 9th October 2006
  #2
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recky's Avatar
 

Bump
Old 9th October 2006 | Show parent
  #3
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

love em...read my review at http://www.mojopie.com/oktavamod.html....

Tremendous value...tremendous sound....
Old 9th October 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

by simply pulling the extra grill and damping the body of my 319 and pulling the lo cut/-10 switches..

well the $40 i spent on the mic seemed well worth it..

i loved the mic after that...

i hate to say it...but it really opened up the mic.

a big positive on the mod from me
Old 10th October 2006 | Show parent
  #5
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Acoustic Cloud's Avatar
 

Most killer mics in the world for the money, and then some! The premium electronics upgrades are beautiful. I have a 219 fully modded, and just finished testing 3 new mods from Michael, and sent them to Madguitarist for evaluation before going back to Mike. I have used alot of mics. These are stunning, period. The single layer headbasket makes a huge difference, even without the innards being done, but its so worth it to get the whole "spa" experience.

I personally wont lust after another higher dollar stock microphone ever again, after hearing what a dedicated madscientist can do with something thats allready an "ok" design, its not necessary, at all. If you have an old clunker 219 319 sitting around, have him turn dirt into grass for you, there will be no regrets.

Oktavamod sells them now, stock or modded. Nope, dont work for him or Oktava, just a colleague thing.
Old 10th October 2006 | Show parent
  #6
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

I got a new 319 modded by oktavamod.com, and it sounds great. Very natural and detailed. If you want a little more presence, I think he also sells the MK-105. I don't have one of his ribbons, but, judging by the quality of his work, I'll bet they're killer.
Old 10th October 2006 | Show parent
  #7
never buy a matched pair (modded or unomodded).. they are NEVER matched..

hate to say that, but I dont like em.. modded or unmodded:D

cheers
Old 10th October 2006 | Show parent
  #8
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TheSweetener's Avatar
 

My 319 is being modded at the moment. I took the full service including the electronics mod.
I'll post as soon as I've done some testing!
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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changeng's Avatar
Just ordered the full moded 219 and I can't wait! Just the idea that it's somewhat handmade at this point to an expert's specifications with a mic definitely from Octava and not a fake... AY YI YI - I can't wait.

I heard the clips on his site comparing it to a 149 - WOW so close. Cloud, do you concur?
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #10
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monsterz's Avatar
 

My Oktavamod 219 is a killer mic. The Premium Electronics mod is a big step up from the standard mod, well worth the few extra dollar.
I dont see how you cant like this mic, its so great on so many sources!
I cant wait to try some of the new modded models.
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #11
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recky's Avatar
 

Thanks for your replies, guys!

For those of you who have heard both the 219 and 319: How do they differ in sound/application, considering they're almost identical in technical design?

Cheers,

Recky
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #12
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MichaelJoly's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
never buy a matched pair (modded or unomodded).. they are NEVER matched..
cheers
Actually, all Oktava microphones ordered as pairs are rigorously matched.

Oktava has 6 large anechoic chambers in their Tula factory, one of which is shown below. Every single microphone manufactured by Oktava is tested multiple times during assembly - from component parts through completed units. Each mic is individually tested in one of the anechoic chambers and a pen-plot frequency response graph is run.

Pairs of microphones are culled from large production runs by matching individual frequency response graphs. Each matched pair of microphones is sold with a "pair plot" - an on-axis frequency response of both microphones plotted on a single pen plot chart.

This is a level of attention and quality control that harkens back to the glory days of microphone manufacturing in the 1950's and '60's and is unmatched by the plethora of inexpensive, look-alike, sound-alike mics flooding the market.

Respectfully, MJ
Attached Thumbnails
Any experience with modded Oktavas?-oktavachamber.jpg  
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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orange's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
never buy a matched pair (modded or unomodded).. they are NEVER matched..

hate to say that, but I dont like em.. modded or unmodded:D

cheers

george, you can't say that they are NEVER matched.

I'm guessing you bought a matched pair and they weren't matched ? is it something you'd like to share with the group ? heh
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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recky's Avatar
 

Hey Michael,

thanks for joining this discussion! People have great things to say about your mods.

Cheers,

Recky
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Can anyone tell me how I can identify whether I have a Russian or Chinese 319?

Cheers
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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MichaelJoly's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by timmah View Post
Can anyone tell me how I can identify whether I have a Russian or Chinese 319?

Cheers
Here's a summary of what I know -

1.) All MK-319 mics that came with hard plastic cases are Russian.

2.) All MK-319 mics with thin paper, Russian language manuals are Russian.

3.) There is an excellent Chinese copy of a 319 (identical body exterior and capsule but uses "Chang" brand electrolytic capacitors on the PC board.

4.) There is an exceptionally poor copy of the 319 manufactured by Alctron Electronics - the body is grayish-black, the headbasket and bodies screws are Philips type rather than slotted, and, incredibly, the capsule is a cheap 32mm Alctron capsule (No black perforated HF resonator disc). Basically a low-end Alctron mic in a fake 319 body.

5.) Over the past two years in my shop I have seen a 50:1 ratio of mics that are Russian and not Chinese. For Non-US Oktava 319 owners that ratio is probably much greater because the Chinese copies were sold through the US-based Guitar Center chain.

6.) A.S.M. are the initials of the former distributors who had their distribution contract revoked after they initiated the Chinese manufacturing of Oktava mics. These initials appear on both Russian mics and the copies.

7.) Existance of a serial number on a 319 does not prove Russian origin. The serial numbers were copied on Chinese mics as well.

best, MJ
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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Crash's Avatar
Quote:
2.) All MK-319 mics with thin paper, Russian language manuals are Russian.
Just so I can get my bearings on this, if I have a 319 that came without a hard case, but rather a logo'd bag with a Russian prinout in it, is it Russian, even though I paid a ridiculous low price for it from one of the usual internet stores, ie. Musicians Friend, AMS, or the like? I guess what I need to know is, is it possible to get one of the Russian ones from one of these outlets having paid only $100.00 per copy? What confuses me is that I have seen these mics all over the place price wise, from $350.00-$79.00 and I wonder if there is a way to figure out what you have by what you paid.

I have looked over the various websites regarding Chinese versus Russian and I think it made more confused than ever. I guess I will go home and crack one of these open and see what there is to see. No matter what I find, I have to admit that I have gotten some good results no matter of the origin.
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #18
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MichaelJoly's Avatar
 

If it has a Russian manual, it is a Russian mic - even though you paid a ridiculously low price for the mic.

The price drop was caused by the confusion created in the marketplace when the Chinese copies appeared. Guitar Center and their online retail arm Musician's Friend dumped the mics at below cost to get rid of them and the counterfeit problem - quickly.

The MK-219 was originally introduced in the West through Harris-Allied in 1994, listed at $599 and was generally regarded as an exceptional value at that price (in 1994 dollars). Like all things, the supply / demand equation sets price and the mics are only beginning to recover to a price level that is consistent with the high quality they offer.
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
So...are you saying that the "Chinese" model will not yeild the same benefits after the mod? Thanks.....
SOT...when I look at that "mic testing room" Michael posted, I gasp for breath just looking at it..!
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #20
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Acoustic Cloud's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by changeng View Post
Just ordered the full moded 219 and I can't wait! Just the idea that it's somewhat handmade at this point to an expert's specifications with a mic definitely from Octava and not a fake... AY YI YI - I can't wait.

I heard the clips on his site comparing it to a 149 - WOW so close. Cloud, do you concur?
Why yes....yes I do! Especially with the modded and "Stocktava" 219 differences!
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Quote:
george, you can't say that they are NEVER matched.

I'm guessing you bought a matched pair and they weren't matched ? is it something you'd like to share with the group ?
hehe.. nono.. tried 5 ****IN PAIRS.. and sent them all back.. no chance.

I dont like em, but that is just my opinion. also the electronic mod suck. I did the electronic mod myself and the same thing as with the Studioprojects microphone happend. the highs were to harsh and the noise floor was raised, instead of lowered.

I dont care:D buy whatever you want.

there are even people who lower the chassis of an Opel Corsa and let it sound like a tractor.

cheers
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #22
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #23
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monsterz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
hehe.. nono.. tried 5 ****IN PAIRS.. and sent them all back.. no chance.

I dont like em, but that is just my opinion. also the electronic mod suck. I did the electronic mod myself and the same thing as with the Studioprojects microphone happend. the highs were to harsh and the noise floor was raised, instead of lowered.

I dont care:D buy whatever you want.

there are even people who lower the chassis of an Opel Corsa and let it sound like a tractor.

cheers
I think that you are talking about a different mic to everbody else on this thread.
We are, I believe, having a discussion about Oktava MK219s and MK319s, which are LDC mics that Michael Joly modifies, not the SDC MK012s that are in the link that you posted.
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #24
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SpiderM69's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snatchman View Post
So...are you saying that the "Chinese" model will not yeild the same benefits after the mod? Thanks.....
That's what I'm wondering, too. I beleive my 219 came with the Russian manual, but the 319 didn't. Got em both at GC.

Michael, do the mod's produce as good a result with the Chinese knock-off's, or are they not worth the trouble to send in?

Thanks,
Steve
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #25
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Rascal Audio's Avatar
I got pretty lucky... bought five MK319's from GC when they were blowing them out... $55 each, and they are ALL Russians: correct capsule and resonator disk, no chinese electrolytics, russian frequency plots per mic, etc.

I've modified two of them per Scott Dorsey's mod in Recording a year or so ago, and they're great. I'm really surprised by how much I love them on picked acoustic guitar -- really huge sounding.

At some point I'm gonna try some tube circuits in the others.

If MJ is doing anything similar to the Dorsey mods then I say it's definitely worth it, especially if you're not hip to unsoldering and resoldering components on fairly fragile PCB's. Money well spent to make a truly useful studio tool from an affordable mic.

Joel
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #26
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mejon's Avatar
I was stunned when I received my modded 219s from Michael. He transformed them into world class microphones. I use them for vocals, acoustic guitars, and drums. They work especially great on toms:

<center>



</center>

(from a session this past Monday...)

bye!

Jon
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #27
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Acoustic Cloud's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
hehe.. nono.. tried 5 ****IN PAIRS.. and sent them all back.. no chance.

I dont like em, but that is just my opinion. also the electronic mod suck. I did the electronic mod myself and the same thing as with the Studioprojects microphone happend. the highs were to harsh and the noise floor was raised, instead of lowered.

I dont care:D buy whatever you want.

there are even people who lower the chassis of an Opel Corsa and let it sound like a tractor.

cheers
Man, I read your post again. So, not only do you NOT understand what mic is being discussed here, you say the mods suck? L-O-L!! You also said you did them yourself, along with a Studio Projects mic mod that was bad too?

This sounds like a Seinfeld episode....not too good at soldering George (Castanza)!?
Plus, I would have stopped after the second pair of anything being bad, and never made it to 5...

Again, just my opinion!
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #28
I completly agree that I was wrong with the mic discussed

I run now and hide..

but they come out of the same factory? no?


Quote:
Man, I read your post again. So, not only do you NOT understand what mic is being discussed here, you say the mods suck? L-O-L!! You also said you did them yourself, along with a Studio Projects mic mod that was bad too?

This sounds like a Seinfeld episode....not too good at soldering George (Castanza)!?
Plus, I would have stopped after the second pair of anything being bad, and never made it to 5...
I tested 421's till I found that they fit my needs beeing somewhat sounding the same on toms.. (I tried 20)..:D

yes it's like Seinfeld (please call later, George isn't at home).. I don't think my soldering sucks. the Studioprojects mod was done by Atilla (German gear modder).

I am out of this discussion or you will tile me into pieces

buy whatever you want, modify whatever you want, I will go and play with my Schoeps a bit:D

cheers George
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Head
 
MichaelJoly's Avatar
 

Oktava Pair Matching

In the interest of demontrating Oktava's pair matching process, my contact at Oktava has provided and given me permission to post these microphone frequency response plots. These are scans of actual (not smoothed or averaged), individual pen plots of MK-319 mics.

The two top plots below are individual microphone response plots for Oktava mics serial # 0304105 and # 0305105. (0, 90 and 180 degrees)

The bottom plot shows the two 0 degree response plots on the same graph. It appears this combination plot is hand drawn by using one plot laid over the other as tracing paper. In the case of these two mics, pair matching is good to within 2dB.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of unboxing a new Oktava mic and unfolding the little transluclent pen plot paper attached to the Russian language manual gets the immediate impression these microphones are rigorously tested. There is an old-world charm and old-school attention to detail about them that is rare for new microphones at any price, but unheard of at Oktava's price point.

While I'm posting these plots as evidence of Oktava's pair matching process it is inevitable that the eye will notice amplitude variations within each mic's response. The amplitude variations in these plots are typical for the LDC class of micrphone - regardless of manufacturer. You just won't see individual plots presented very often, usually just "idealized" approximations. However, my own work on these mics does smooth and extend the upper HF response both on-axis and at 90 degrees in the case of my Floating Dome or Flat Top mods.

best, MJ
Attached Thumbnails
Any experience with modded Oktavas?-individual_plots.jpg   Any experience with modded Oktavas?-composite_plot.jpg  
Old 12th October 2006 | Show parent
  #30
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Acoustic Cloud's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
buy whatever you want, modify whatever you want, I will go and play with my Schoeps a bit:D

cheers George
Thanks for the permission George!

BTW, "If playing with your Schoeps" is what its called over there, make sure its just a bit...you may go blind, and you already have glasses....be careful!heh heh
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