Hot Mic Picks from 2001 Tradeshow Coverage

May 20, 2004 12:00 PM

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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
New York City—November 30 to December 3, 2001
Reported in the January 2002 Mix

There was no small amount of apprehension in the air when the rescheduled 111th Audio Engineering Society convention opened at New York City's Javits Center on November 30. With an understandable reticence to travel—especially from overseas visitors—and a number of key manufacturers (such as AMS Neve, Digidesign, EAW/Mackie, Meyer, Roland, Steinberg, Tannoy/TGI and Yamaha) canceling their exhibits, no one knew exactly what to expect.

The 111th AES could have been a failure, but it was an enormous success. True, many exhibitors brought smaller booths (maybe not such a bad idea after all), but the aisles were packed with showgoers, and the absence of some companies on the show floor created opportunities for their competition.

The overall vibe was upbeat, and many attendees likened this AES to the smaller shows in years past when the convention was held at the Hilton or Warwick hotels. Even the climate cooperated, with sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather adding to the smiles of the locals who welcomed the return of some normalcy (and visitor spending) to The Big Apple. Walking the AES show floor, we found no shortage of cool new products.

At AES, Royer (www.royerlabs.com) introduced Active Ribbon Mics, the world's first active, phantom-powered ribbon models. Based on Royer's current R-121 and SF Series ribbon mics, these models feature all-discrete, low-noise FET head amps, making them as sensitive as condenser mics, eliminating the need for ultra-high-gain preamps.

Shure's (www.shure.com) $575 KSM27 is a cardioid condenser with low self-noise, Class-A, transformerless preamp circuitry and an ultra-thin, 1-inch diaphragm for extended 20-20k Hz frequency response.

AKG (www.akgusa.com) debuted the C 451B, a small-diaphragm condenser based on the transducer from its original C 451 EB + CK 1, but in a cardioid-only (non-interchangeable capsule) version with switchable 10/20dB pads, two-step highpass filtering, and new transformerless, low-noise electronics. Retail: $549.

Now independent of Alesis, Groove Tubes (www.groovetubes.com) showed a full line of new mics, featuring the GT66, a 1.10-inch diaphragm, cardioid model with 6205 Triode tube electronics and 20kHz bandwidth. Retail is $1,099, with shockmount and power supply. The GT55 puts the same large capsule in a Class-A FET version that's $599. GT also debuted some cool mid-sized (¾-inch diaphragm) mics with cardioid capules (interchangeable omni or hypercardioid elements are optional), in a choice of Class-A FET (GT33, $599) or tube (GT44, $999) flavors.

Transamerica Audio Group (www.transaudiogroup.com)—which distributes AEA, Soundfield, Brauner and Soundelux—seemed like microphone central. Soundelux unveiled the E47, a large-diaphragm, multipattern tube mic that's modeled to sound like the classic Neumann U47 (retailing at half of the average price of a “vintage” U47). Given Soundelux's success with its Telefunken ELAM 251-inspired ELUX 251, the new E47 will be a hot ticket. Audio Engineering Associates' R-440 Stage Prop Mic ($495) is a full-size RCA 44-style mic shell with internal shockmount for inserting a compact side-address mic—it seems live prop use with your own mic can be practical. Brauner's Valvet Voice® limited-edition tube mic builds on the popularity of Dirk Brauner's Valvet and VM1, in a cardioid model with Class-A electronics, custom Lundahl transformers and JAN tubes.

Studio Projects' (www.pmiaudio.com) B Series of 1-inch diaphragm condenser mics resemble its popular C Series, but at a lower price. The $99 B1 is a solid-state, single-pattern design. The TB1 is a tube version of the B1 at $399 with PS and aluminum carry case. The $199 B3 is a solid-state model with switchable cardioid, omni, figure-8 polar patterns.

Designed with a rising 4k to 12k response for diffuse-field orchestra/ambience/choir miking, the omni M960 from Microtech Gefell (www.gefell-mics.com) puts a large condenser capsule into an unobtrusive, small body. Retail: $795.

Just over an inch in diameter, the CUB-01 Universal Condenser Boundary Microphone from Sanken (www.sanken-mic.com) is ideal for concealed miking in broadcast, film, theater, TV and sports, emphasizing dialog while minimizing background noise.

After years of building capsules for other manufacturers, David Josephson (www.josephson.com) is getting serious about marketing his own mic designs. The new Series Four offers two small-diaphragm condensers barely larger than the XLR connector they mate with. The C42 cardioid has a fairly flat response; the C41 omni has a broad, HF peak centered around 10 kHz for distance recording.

MXL's (www.mxlmics.com) 1006BP adds a twist to the market of inexpensive, cardioid, 1-inch-capsule condenser mics. A 9-volt battery compartment allows the 1006BP to be DC-operated for sampling or remote recording, or phantom powered in the studio. Retail: $119.






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