You Can Never Have Enough Mics! 2002

May 20, 2004 12:00 PM

If you're like us, you're addicted to microphones—new or old, condenser or dynamic—and with an ever-increasing supply of interesting new debuts, we're constantly scouring the world for interesting new mics.

With this in mind, we thought it would be fun to spotlight the microphones that our editors have selected as hits of major pro audio conventions over the past few years. These tradeshows are presented in reverse-chronological order (with the most recent events first) and direct links are provided to each manufacturer for quick access to more information.

Fall AES
Los Angeles—October 5-8, 2002
Reported in the November 2002 Mix

More than two dozen new microphones debuted at AES, and nothing gets rid of the blues like a new addition to your mic locker.

The most talked about product at AES was Telefunken’s (www.telefunkenusa.com) reissue of the classic tube Ela-M 251 studio mic. Each $10,125 unit is meticulously hand-built in the U.S. to original German specs, with the same methods used to make the originals 40 years ago. Telefunken USA also offers replacement parts for all Ela-M and U47/48 mics, cables, power supplies and CK-12 capsules, and can restore most vintage Telefunkens.

Audio Engineering Associates (www.wesdooley.com) is known for its re-creations of classic RCA ribbon mics. Now, AEA debuts its own design, the R84, which features a large, yet ultrathin (0.00007-inch) ribbon element for fast transients and up to 165dB SPL handling. Retail is $999, with shockmount, cable and case.

Another take on a vintage mic is the AKG (www.akgusa.com) C 414B-ULS/SE Special Stereo Set, which has a nickel finish like the original 1976-1986 C 414EB, but pairs the classic CK12 capsules with modern UltraLinear Series electronics. The two-mic set with case, shockmounts, stereo bar and windscreens is $2,100.

Among the new tube mics at AES was SE Electronics’ (www.seelectronics.com) Z-5600, a nine-pattern condenser with a large 1.07-inch diaphragm. Retail is $649.

ADK’s (www.adkmic.com) A48 is an all-new, multipattern vocal mic featuring a transverse-mounted 12AX7 tube and $999 pricing.

Tube or solid-state...Can’t decide? The DPA (www.dpamicrophones.com) 4041-ST is designed for vocals and acoustic instruments with large dynamics: Self-noise is typically 8 dBA. Its modular capsule can be unscrewed from the preamp, offering options of 48-volt or 130V powered, solid-state preamps and a 130V tube preamp. List is $3,270. Groove Tubes’ Model 1B (distributed by www.m-audio.com) is a reissue of its legendary Model 1A side-address true condenser, with a 1.10-inch diameter capsule and either tube or FET electronics.

In another twist, the Soundelux EFET47 (dist. by www.transaudiogroup.com) is designed for the same applications as a classic FET47 and FET87. A quality German-built capsule is mated to two different-sounding sets of internal electronics, with a switch to select between the two. Retail: $2,100.

RØDE Microphones’ (www.rodemic.com) parent company celebrated its 35th year in pro audio by launching the NT1-A Anniversary Model, with an ultralow, 5.5dB self-noise spec, 140dB SPL handling and a new nickel-plated body.

Three new KSM small-diaphragm condensers from Shure (www.shure.com) feature an extended frequency response. The KSM141 ($770/each or $1,540 in pairs) mechanically switches from cardioid to omni with a turn of a ring. Two cardioid-only models–the $575 KSM137 and the $305 KSM109–round out the series. Shure’s SM86 live performance condenser mic offers a warm vocal sound and cardioid pickup pattern for handheld applications.

For years, Microtech Gefell (www.gefell-mics.com) has offered well-crafted German mics at affordable prices, but they’re now easier to buy with a new English-language Website and North American distribution by C-TEC (www.cabletek.ca).

Audio-Technica’s (www.audiotechnica.com) AT8471 is an amazing mic mount with dual-swiveling gimbals that allow placement in any position. Slick!

Summer NAMM
Nashville, July 19-21, 2002
Reported in the September 2002 Mix

Thoroughly Modern Microphones
Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) expanded its Artist Elite™ live performance mic line with the end-firing AE5100 and side-address AE3000, two large-diaphragm condensers for instrument miking, both available with the new AT8471 secure-locking, shock-isolation clamp. The big wow was the $699 AE2500, a dual-element, high-SPL design that puts side-by-side dynamic and condenser capsules in a single mic body. Intended for kick drum miking, the AE2500's 5-pin (dual-channel) XLR provides separate access to either capsule, letting users combine the two elements at the mixer for just the right blend of beater snap transients and low-end boom.

Audix (www.audixusa.com) unveiled its $349 D6, a large-format cardioid, dynamic kick drum mic, which uses the same versatile on-drum mounting clip as other D Series mics, features a 30 to 15k Hz response and is designed to sound good in any position, allowing for fast setups that don’t leave time to find the drum's "sweet spot."

SE Electronics (www.seemics.com) showed a full line of affordable condenser mics—including the top-end Z5600 tube model ($649), which features a huge 1.07-inch diameter, gold-sputtered diaphragm and nine remote-controllable polar patterns.

Known and respected worldwide for his no-compromise, high-performance microphone modifications, transducer innovator Stephen Paul (www.spaudio.com) has teamed with Alan Hyatt (of Studio Projects Microphones, www.pmiaudio.com) to collaborate on bringing a Stephen Paul Audio microphone line to market. The first product of the partnership—a high-end studio mic—debuts at AES, with first shipments expected in early 2003.

European AES
Munich, Germany—May 10-13, 2002
Reported in the July 2002, Mix

For the past few years, trade shows have been overwhelmed with new large-diaphragm condenser models. This time, however, the small-diaphragm mics took center stage.

Beyer's (www.beyerdynamic.com) cardioid MC 930 condenser is optimized for piano, percussion, brass and overheads, and offers high-end performance at a low price.

Keep this quiet: We can't say more about it now, but Sanken (www.sanken-mic.com) will unveil a new small-diaphragm condenser at AES this fall.

No stranger to small-diaphragm mics, DPA (www.dpamicrophones.com), whose origins go back to the days of B&K's pro audio division, celebrated 10 years of providing no-compromise products for discriminating users worldwide.

And speaking of manufacturers of great studio mics, the Audio Engineering Society awarded its Gold Medal to 90-year-old Sennheiser (www.sennheiserusa.com) founder Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser in recognition of his lifetime achievements in audio and microphone technology. Congratulations!

Musikmesse/Pro Light+SoundReported in the May 2002 Mix

You never have enough mics, and Musikmesse brought in a fresh new crop. Shipping now, the AT-4040 from Audio-Technica (www.audiotechnica.com) is an affordable ($495 list), true condenser that puts a large-diaphragm cardioid element into a 4033-sized housing. Switches for low-cut filtering and -10dB pad (155dB max SPL with pad in) complete the package.

Tubemeister Dirk Brauner (www.dirk-brauner.com) unveiled Phantom, his first solid state mic, built into the same body size as his tube Valvet model. This large-diaphragm cardioid condenser has a minimalist (no-pad-/no roll-off) design and a squeaky-clean self-noise of 8 dBA. Phantom pricing was not set at press time (probably around $1,100—with flight case and shockmount).

Russian mic builders Oktava (www.oktava.net) debuted the ML52, a figure-8 ribbon model in an elegant birdcage-style body. Retail is $799.

Winter NAMM
Anaheim, Calif.—January 17-20, 2002
Reported in the March 2002 Mix

Audio-Technica's (www.audiotechnica.com) Artist Elite Series handheld mics include the top-end AE5400 cardioid condenser ($579) with a 1-inch capsule based on A-T's 4050 studio mic; the $439 AE3300 puts the sound of A-T's popular 4033 into a handheld package. Cardioid or hypercardioid dynamic models ($289/each) are also offered.

RØDE (www.rodemicrophones.com) debuted the NT4, a stereo mic with two ½-inch capsules in an X-Y configuration; the unit includes custom stereo cables with both XLR and ?-inch connections.

Royer (www.royerlabs.com) launched the $5,500 SF-1V, a vacuum-tube ribbon mic designed for choirs, orchestras or other distance-miking situations.

BLUE (www.bluemic.com) added the $1,699 Dragonfly Deluxe, a spiffed-up version of the standard Dragonfly.

CAD (www.cadmics.com) showed its new instrument mics, including the long-awaited D60LF neodymium kick mic.



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