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Author Topic: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?  (Read 4656 times)

Offline Glenn Bucci

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Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« on: February 27, 2018, 07:28:55 am »
These mics seem to look and sound decent.  Their price is more affordable as well. How does the AR 51 holds up to a Manley Ref mic?

In looking for a tube mic under $3,000, are there other  alternatives to consider?  I love the Brauner Valvet, but want something that will enhance a vocal a little.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 03:09:18 pm by klaus »

Offline Jim Williams

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Re: What are your thoughts on the Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 version 2's
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2018, 01:03:52 pm »
I've found a $190 Apex 460 with circuit mods and a Tim Campbell C-12 capsule to delever the goods, for less $. Total cost is around $500~600 not including the mods to the circuits.

Offline klaus

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Re: What are your thoughts on the Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 version 2's
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2018, 01:04:42 pm »
The focus of this forum is "Authoritative information about high-end microphones and their application". Therefore, participants here may have had limited experience with these two mics.

But I am open to experiment if it ends differently than similar threads on other mic forums, where, with ten posts, ten different preferences are voiced, leaving the OP as clueless as before.

Those having had personal experience with comparing these mics to others of a similar (mid)price range are welcome to chime in with their detailed, thoughtful report.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 03:12:10 pm by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Offline RuudNL

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2018, 04:25:25 pm »
I agree with Jim Williams that a modified Apex 460 can deliver excellent quality.
The 460 uses a 32 mm. K67-style capsule without any form of de-emphasis, resulting in the typical 'Chinese sound'.
Also the stock tube (ECC83/12AX7) isn't the best and lowest noise.
The transformer however, isn't bad. The measured frequency response is (almost) flat from 15 Hz to 40 KHz.
Some circuit changes are recommended.
With a good capsule and some modifications, the 460 can certainly compete with the Telefunkens.

Offline Glenn Bucci

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2018, 04:44:26 pm »
We all know about Telefunken R16 debocle and thankfully Telefunken apologized and upgraded their microphone and made it a lot better. Years later they came up with the AR 51 they even improved it once it came out.

Based on my experience with their current mics they are very consistent with the quality and they took a big step forward in this series of microphones including the AK47.

The question I had was not about a cheap Chinese mic, but how the improved Telefunken AR 51 compared to a Manley Ref mic as they both have that modern mic sound with a smooth top end.

Offline RuudNL

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2018, 09:25:21 am »
I think the ony thing Jim and I were trying to say, is that you can get the same quality for less money.

Offline Glenn Bucci

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2018, 10:50:38 am »
Yes, but do you know if the quality of the capsule, the metal, the workmanship and the consistency are the same?

Plus, if someone likes the character of a particular mic if you can get one cheaper it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to have the same character.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 12:35:01 pm by klaus »

Offline Jim Williams

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2018, 11:23:16 am »
The Campbell C-12 capsule is very good but you still have the choice of fitting any capsule you like.

One can take those pretty far with all the options available. Even C-12 headbaskets are available for the Apex. I'm a bargain hunter by genetics, I love a good value and saving $ for other needed things.

Offline Recording Engineer

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2018, 08:56:48 pm »

In looking for a tube mic under $3,000, are there other  alternatives to consider?

You also asked the above question. There are a great many options that meet that requirement and may or may not match or go beyond the decent looks and sound of the AR51 and Reference Cardioid. It sounds like you’ve already narrowed it down to two. Great!

Offline Piedpiper

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2018, 04:47:36 pm »
These mics seem to look and sound decent.  Their price is more affordable as well. How does the AR 51 holds up to a Manley Ref mic?

In looking for a tube mic under $3,000, are there other  alternatives to consider?  I love the Brauner Valvet, but want something that will enhance a vocal a little.

In what way do you want to "enhance the vocal"? There are a lot of options under $3k. Narrowing your stated focus would help. Lots of retailers offer the option of paying for two mics with the option of returning one or both.
row row row your boat...

Pied Piper Productions

Offline gtoledo3

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2018, 05:18:25 am »
These mics were based on the “alternative” U47 and C12 circuits from Oliver Archut, for hot rodding the Apex platform.

The furthest advanced versions that still used the basic platform/body size were the UM17 and UM25 by Tab Funkenwerk. The Blackspade versions of each are the same, as long as they are ones made prior to Oliver’s passing, and with these precise model names. (There are one or more out there with  the same construction that have Oliver Archut/AMI branded markings too, from a brief window.)

I’ve tried the second mkII versions of the Telefunkens, and neither is quite as sweet sounding as the later Blackspade/Tab versions; BOTH are sharper in the top end, and with a feeling of a bit less wide of a frequency response and clarity of image. The first versions are even sharper and muddier, though it’s perhaps too much to describe either as sharp or muddy in absolute terms. Relatively speaking. Small degrees.

That said, they can make for nice recordings, and can be great on a lot of things. With the AR51, it is probably most wise to make sure it has an edge terminated capsule, not the earlier k67 knock off, if you ever pick one up.

I think the final iterations of these mics were really, really good. At that point the main things that could be done to “improve” would possibly be to beef up the power supply some, and replace the capsules with ringers - genuine Neumann or AKG, respectively. Or as close as you can otherwise get for the C12.

I’m not so sure I would want to spring for either 2nd version Telefunken model when the Tab and Blackspade versions pop up for reasonable prices. But I wouldn’t sweat using the Telefunkens to record various tracks in a studio, if they had them on hand.

Not all Apex mods, or mics that started based on similar concepts, are made equal. At all. Some modders tend to rig cathode follower “versions” of circuits, that lose the essential character. The overt usage of lackluster k67 type capsules, without implementing anything to correct for the top end spike, is another consistent theme.


Offline Jim Williams

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2018, 12:57:22 pm »
Not all Apex mods, or mics that started based on similar concepts, are made equal. At all. Some modders tend to rig cathode follower “versions” of circuits, that lose the essential character. The overt usage of lackluster k67 type capsules, without implementing anything to correct for the top end spike, is another consistent theme.

There are many ways to roll that cigar, all of them are based on subjective preferences. I have heard the Apex done with the cathode follower and without. Also with and without the Campbell capsule.

I find the higher THD results from the plate output to be too dirty for my requirements. At least the user has all the options available as that product has been fully explored. Here the cathode follower design floats my boat. YMMV.

Offline gtoledo3

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Re: Telefunken AR 51 and AK47 Version 2: Thoughts?
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2018, 03:03:04 pm »
No disagreements; it’s subjective. I’m just pointing out that some of these mods purport to brush up against various classic models, but some of that sonic signature does come from the harmonic distortion. A cathode follower arrangement will minimize that.

On the other hand, a cathode follower can still sound “big” and have positive qualities. So, not dismissing the technique at all.

To sidetrack from some of the Chinese mic modders, to keep from appearing to be calling anyone out; The Inner Tube U87 mod has a cathode follower. Some people find it to sound huge, some people think it doesn’t have the character of a 67, 49, 47, etc. Both things can be true.

Maybe coincidentally, vintage mics that do have a cathode follower setup are arguably a bit less popular. C60, C37, C12a, one of the Lomo mics I think....but they are all pretty nifty.