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Author Topic: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics  (Read 573 times)

Recording Engineer

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Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« on: March 30, 2017, 07:44:58 pm »

With the KM 53 aging capsule, what's the next best alternative to yet another aging capsule? As a side note, I own no KM 53s... Yet! :)

And not necessarily related to the KM 53, what's every's favorite omni mic manufactured today when you don't have a KM 53?
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klaus

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2017, 01:51:17 am »

K53 capsules don't really age.The aluminum membrane is pretty much impervious to environmental challenges, short of mechanical abuse.

And, because you ask: there is no finer-sounding omni capsule than the K53.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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Recording Engineer

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 01:44:36 pm »

Wow! This is great to hear! For some reason I had thought they deteriorated, resulting in arcing, but that must of been something else?

Why didn't I pick up a pair of KM 53s years ago then! As I agree, no better sounding omni that I've heard thus far. Still, today, no one is letting them go; for good reason!

So, since the art of the K53 capsule has long been long-gone, I guess it goes back to: What omnis are people using where they'd love to put KM 53s?
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soapfoot

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2017, 02:51:43 pm »

K53 capsules don't really age.The aluminum membrane is pretty much impervious to environmental challenges, short of mechanical abuse.

And, because you ask: there is no finer-sounding omni capsule than the K53.

Quite interesting-- I had always assumed that the kk53 had a nickel membrane, like the kk54. I didn't realize it was aluminum! Do we know the history of why they chose the different materials in different applications?
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klaus

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2017, 06:04:02 pm »

For some reason I had thought they deteriorated, resulting in arcing, but that must of been something else?

Arcing is a problem with nickel membranes of the KM54 and KM56 variety, as their diaphragm tension is quite low, and therefore susceptible to bottoming out in the center, hitting the electrically charged backplate, thus the arcing. This has never been a problem with K53, despite their close gap between membrane and backplate, due to the extremely high diaphragm tension.


Quote
So, since the art of the K53 capsule has long been long-gone, I guess it goes back to: What omnis are people using where they'd love to put KM 53s?
Principally two types: Schoeps Colette-Series omnis, like the MK2 and its variants, and Neumann's KM83.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
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panman

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2017, 09:06:37 pm »

Quite interesting-- I had always assumed that the kk53 had a nickel membrane, like the kk54. I didn't realize it was aluminum! Do we know the history of why they chose the different materials in different applications?

I do not really know the history but some bits. There were SDC-mics developed by NWDR and manufactured by Hiller (M59,M60,M58), that used aluminum as membranes and these came out 1953. Furthermore, Hiller made models of their own (M159,M160), that used the same capsules, but a bit later, like 1954 on. The M50 (M49 too) was also developed by NWDR already before.

They must have found out, that aluminum gives excellent results, as some of us have been able to witness until today. (Aluminum membranes) work well, not only for omnis, but also for cardioids (M59,M159).
I have compared the Hiller omni-capsules in M60 and M160 with K53. For a while I mistook them to be the same capsule, but quite different capacitances revealed it not to be so. They are exactly the same size and structure, even inside, but although the backplate-pattern is the same, the K53 has slightly bigger holes. Hiller capsules have the membrane retaining-ring with screws sunk in it and k53 has the screw-heads sticking out. The Hiller omni is 50pF and the K53 is 90pF, so there is a difference in the gap too.

I believe choosing to use aluminum was due to high quality special processed aluminum film becoming available and was surely at least partly chosen for the reasons Klaus mentioned. The pitfalls however also soon became obvious: The omnis needed much more tension and any fault in the material was fatal, leading to problems tensioning the membrane.

I have no proof, but the original provider must have stopped manufacturing the foil needed in that quality, and others failed to produce that. Perhaps that is what led to the use of nickel in K54? I don't know how long the production of KM53 went on, but my understanding is that it was at least some years. My understanding is that K53 was used in M50 only a short time?

Hiller was also replacing aluminum with HostaphanŽ (a brand of polyester, KH) in the M159 capsules during the final production period.

Another curious detail is, that the last Hiller-mics were using AC701 instead of their late flagship MSC4.
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Esa Tervala

panman

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Re: Aging KM 53 Capsule & Today's Omni Mics
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2017, 06:06:16 am »

Aluminium was actually used as diaphragm material in some dynamic-mics late forties and early fifties. Early Sennheiser MD 21 is the best examble of that. I have seen other brands with aluminium diaphragms too like Shure Unidyne mics. I cannot say if it was common or not. Then there were ribbon-mics using aluminium succesfully, so it would have been a logical subject for experimentation in condenser-mics too. 
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Esa Tervala
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