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Author Topic: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...  (Read 23216 times)

Oliver Archut

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AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« on: September 23, 2006, 12:21:10 am »

After fixing up a couple of old AKG dynamics tonight I started wondering to hear from other people out there how do they hear differences in those marvels of mechanical engineering. Without a question the D12 family of mics reflects the highest standard of the 1950 and 60 dynamic mic design.
I am not sure when the first D12 style was introduced, but I have several german electronic magazines from the mid 60 offering to take earlier D12 and exchanging them for the latest version.
Here again like with other AKG mics, they had more revision on the standard D12 type mic than the month has days, everything from different deflectors over the membrane thickness, different membrane styles to different impedances, with transformer without, etc, etc...

I have in my collection about 9 different magnet styles/mechanical version of the D12 driver and comparing it, over the years the design got simpler or maybe just plain old cost cuting.
The general linage is D12, D17 and M410, from very complex with mechanical adjusting screws for the proper location of the gap, to the very crude nearly speaker like design of the M410, in the end just doing the same to pick up sound...

Any comments or experience about the different sound qualities of the particular D12/17/410 you have.
I know it is very hard to give specific info about the mic/driver without taking the mic apart running danger to destroy the very fine hook up wires...

Best regards,
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Oliver Archut
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J.J. Blair

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2006, 01:24:36 am »

Great thread, Oliver.  I have two D12s.  One is all an original early model, with the metal casing around the screen, as opposed to the plastic casing that they moved to later.  The other is the same vintage, but it has an NOS capsule in it.  I don't know what vintage the capsule is, or if it's one of the 1997 re-issues, but I find the low end response of that one to be a million times better than the all original.  I have no idea if that has to do with any deterioration of the health of the capsule of the original one, but there is a stark difference.  

Interestingly, I much prefer the NOS capsule inside a bass drum, but on a bass amplifier, I liked the sound of the original better.

I haven't analyzed the differences physically, but I sure heard a difference.  I was even considering buying one of the 1997 reissue capsules on eBay to throw into the all original, hoping I would have something that sounded like a pair.

Perhaps when I get back in town, I'll open them up and post some pics for you.  Maybe that will be of help?

In the meantime, just so others know what I'm talking about, left to right we have: a 1997 reissue D12 capsule, A D12E with the plastic piece to which I referred (that are found on many regular D12s), and the earlier D12 with the metal collar that doesn't break and annoy the crap out of you.

index.php/fa/3518/0/
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

rodabod

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2006, 07:33:11 am »

Was the M410 not a Telefunken branded microphone?

Anyway, I have two standard plastic-ring D12s, a smaller Echolette D12 (ED12? TD12?) and also a D17.

The main difference between the smaller Echolette version, and the D17 is the lack of the bass resonance chamber which sits at the back of the capsule. I'd imagine this is probably some form of Helmholtz resonator which is attached to the rear vent of the capsule. Anyway, that explains the superior bass response of the larger D12 models.

I have to agree with you Oliver, that these capsules were superbly made. They can be disassembled and reassembled if done carefully. The humbucking coil seen half way along the barrel of the capsule is another sign of quality which you don't see on that many dynamics.

J.J, it sounds like your older D12 is simply showing the signs of age with its poorer bass response.

By the way, have any of you used the D12 range of microphones for vocals? I used one for the first time on a (deep) male voice, but regrettably I didn't really like it. Maybe it was just his voice...

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Roddy Bell

Markus Sauschlager

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2006, 06:42:49 pm »

About a year ago, I did an AB-comparison between three D12s and a D25B (same capsule but with locut switch and elastic suspension). I brought along two of the D12s. One seems to be NOS (looks like it left the factory yesterday; DIN connector), the other one seems to be a bit older (metal frame) and was obviously abused (scratches, rusty grill). A friend brought the third D12 (seemed to be about the same vintage as my NOS one but looked used a bit) and the D25B (near mint). We tried it on vocals and drums (roommic).
They all sounded very different frequency response-wise.
The NOS D12 had the widest, most even frequency response (there definately was deep lowend!), my heavy used D12 sounded very midrangey and not pleasing in any way, my friends D12 had a pronounced upper midrange (but almost no extreme high and lowend), but had a certain charme on vocals that all of us liked, the D25B was clean and bright and also very nice. Stupidly I forgot to bring along my D20B (which is practically the same as the D25B but without the elastic suspension – also in great shape). But from experience I can say that it lacks high midrange a little bit, but otherwise everything is there).
I once tried a D12E that really impressed me – it sounded extremely natural with great detail.

I do not know how helpful this is regarding the capsule versions as I do not know the exact vintage of the mics.
However, it seems to me that the degree of use/abuse is a big factor.

@rodabod: While I was an SAE-student I used a D12 on vocals once. I recorded a CCR-song and wanted it to sound a bit “retro” (I chose the D12 because I thought that the sound fit the song and the particular voice – I also had a M49 available, but do not regret that decision.) But it was the only recording I used a D12 on voc so far.

Best regards,
Markus
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Markus Sauschlager

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J.J. Blair

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2006, 07:23:41 pm »

Here's the pics.  The one on the left has the re-issue element and sound significantly better.  The one on the right, I suspect is from the '50s.

index.php/fa/3525/0/
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

rodabod

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2006, 08:31:11 pm »

Having read these posts, and listened to my own D12s (and D19s....), I am beginning to think that these hand-made capsules are almost like ribbons with respect to aging.

I suppose the re-issue capsule must sound like they are supposed to sound if it uses the correct parts and is tested and calibrated to the same tolerances.

I supose mine may be a little more mid-range-y than a new capsule having listened to it (and the fact they have been used for 40-odd years!), although I'd really need a proper a/b test to confirm.

The one thing I do like about these mics is the slightly artificial sounding bass response. It offers a nice deep, thick sound in close proximity without sounding too muddy or "fluffy".
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Roddy Bell

Han S.

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Re: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2006, 06:39:25 pm »

I own two D14's but can't find much about them. Does anybody know more about the D14?
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maxdimario

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Re: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2006, 10:48:19 am »

Having worked on pianos lately, I have come to accept that felt hardens over the years.

I wonder if the felt in the d12 hardens as well and changes the response..
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panman

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Re: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2007, 12:35:08 pm »

I hope this thread still bears some interest.
I have had the chance to fix quite a few of the D12-family mics and test/compare them with each other.There is just too much to say, but I try to start somewhere.

D12 was issued in 1952 according to the "History of AKG".What always impresses and amazes me is the variety of them and as Oliver noted: they do the same job in the end. Jet, there are some minor differences in performance.Those without a trafo have a better bass-responce(like a deeper range even), which is not that audible, but is there.You can test it by rewiring one of two "matched" 200ohms d12:s with a trafo used to step up the impedance from 60ohms to 200ohms, that you bypass the trafo.Anybody who tried it too?

Then Oliver,you mentioned "different"membrane" styles.Could you explain, because I only have seen one style? Some of the oldest have a very thin and light membrane more like paper or pergament,and the coil ends are pierced through to the top side of the membrane and the piercing points are glued making it impossible to pull out the coil if it brakes.However the wire was slightly thicker then on those 60ohm coils, and you hardly see them brake like the later ones.They have a bit less high-end,but  the bass-end sounds as it should, which is also comfirmed by AKG specs(they do not show that "bass-hump", but my ears do).

Now the most common problem with the "D12-family" that I have encounterd is caused by the huge magnetic barrel.There is signal, but weak and no bass at all. The membrane has collapsed, because the magnet has absorbed iron-dust and it then gathers as a ring around the dome thus nailing it down so that it cannot move.Add a constant humidity and even the particles inside the barrel(there seems always to be some)rust and "glue" the coil to the barrel.Remove with a magnetic screwdriver that iron-ring around the dome and the mic should work nice again.Note that the screwdriver has to be supported firmly on the mounting ring, while gently picking the partickles away.They will stick to the tip and you just slowly pull them away until the membrane is clean.Many times in the beginning the screwdriver slipped from my fingers and the membrane was gone forever.But I learned my lesson.Same with the screws,careful not to loose them, because they will easily hit through the membrane and there are no replacements.Often the older ones have a pierced membrane, because the magnet has pulled slightly bigger partickles through it.Small holes can be patched with a thin instant-glue, but that very seldom works without causing coloration.Some glues would also soften or even disolve the material.

The loss of bass has often been discussed on this forum. First always better check the cable. A bad cable may also be the cause for the weak bass-responce. D12-and D19-families use paper-rings to adjust the height of the membranes.The older ones might need a hight-adjustment, because the paper has been compressed within the time and the membrane can be deformed too by the iron-ring around the dome or just beeing too long collapsed.It is sometimes necessary to do the opposite, so it is not that simple. But tuning the membrane will finally be the crowning work, that all depends on in the end.

I will post some pictures later and anyway try to continue this another time, because this is getting a bit long now.

Best regards,

             Esa Tervala



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J.J. Blair

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Re: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2007, 02:06:59 pm »

Esa, I have bypassed the tranny on both of mine, and prefer it in the bottom end.  

Wait ... that came out wrong!  I mean, that without the transformer, the low end sounds preferable.  LOL.

I have a friend's D12 that he wants me to work on for him.  I'm going to try your suggestion.  I have a spare used capsule around in case I accidentally trash it.  Wish me luck!
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

J.J. Blair

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Re: AKG D12, D17, D20, D25 and M410...
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2007, 02:09:02 pm »

maxdimario wrote on Thu, 05 October 2006 07:48

Having worked on pianos lately, I have come to accept that felt hardens over the years.


Slightly off topic, my piano tech tells me that when a client wants the felts softer, he pricks them with a pin to soften them.  If they want it harder, he uses lacquer thinner on them, if I recall.  When it dries the felt is stiffer.
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

panman

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2007, 02:59:16 pm »

[quote title=rodabod wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 13:33

Anyway, I have two standard plastic-ring D12s, a smaller Echolette D12 (ED12? TD12?) and also a D17.

The main difference between the smaller Echolette version, and the D17 is the lack of the bass resonance chamber which sits at the back of the capsule. I'd imagine this is probably some form of Helmholtz resonator which is attached to the rear vent of the capsule. Anyway, that explains the superior bass response of the larger D12 models.


[/quote]

Roddy, with this smaller Echolette you must mean TOP 12? I have three of them.

            Esa Tervalaindex.php/fa/5183/0/
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panman

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2007, 03:14:43 pm »

And this is how it looks inside(left:TOP12,right:D12). The bass-chamber is made out of plastic. It gives a bass boost like the other, but I would say it is not extending that low like D12. The difference is however so minimal that it would not matter in most cases.

    Esa Tervalaindex.php/fa/5184/0/
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panman

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2007, 05:26:22 pm »

[quote title=rodabod wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 13:33

<By the way, have any of you used the D12 range of microphones for vocals? I used one for the first time on a (deep) male voice, but regrettably I didn't really like it. Maybe it was just his voice...>

[/quote]

Well, just need to respond to this. Back in-70 I made my first band in a small village in Finland.I played the guitar(selfmade) and was also the singer.For some reason the vocal mic happened to be a D12.I did not like it at all,because it was making my voice so dark and muddy.Well,we only had one bass-amplifier(Vox)and the box I had made myself.Two guitars,a bass- guitar and the D12 was plugged in it.So that`s how it was bound to sound. So for me D12 was and remained a worthless mic until I came across one again much later and the bass-responce blew my mind. So today I like to use a D12 or TOP12, when I am singing "finnish tango",that usually is sung with a deep male-voice.

           Esa Tervala
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matucha

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Re: D12, D17 and M410...
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2007, 07:24:53 pm »

...it would be very nice if you'd resize the images to some reasonable size... it made the thread almost unreadable. Thanks  Rolling Eyes
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