Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cool New Ribbon Mic, er, I Mean Warm!

The Telefunken RM-5C Cardioid Ribbon Mic
This is the first gear review in a while...

RM-5C, Muy Cremosa!

We shot this baby out verses the Royer R121 on both clean and crunchy electric guitar, and male voice. In all cases, the Telefunken sounded more old-school; more vintage. The cardioid pattern, which few ribbons have (the Royer is Fig 8 of course) is an asset when you need tight-in micing and a focused sound. You could use the RM-5C on-stage. Sonically it is midzy with a smooth, rolled-off top and a bottom which is not boomy or overly fluffy. Telefunken's literature on this claims it's NOT your Daddy's RCA and has modern updates. I'm sure this is true, but it still sounded quite vintage to my ears. The 121, by comparison, sounds more modern, having an extended top and bottom.

I loved the Telefunken on country-style Telecaster (Tele on Tele!) through a Fender Deluxe Reverb with an API 312 pre. Sounded like a classic Merle Haggard recording from the ‘60s. However, the T-Funk was not a good match for loud, heavily distorted rhythm guitar (API pre again). Obviously, this is where the Royer is money. he 121 shone in front of a Marshall 4X12 with Diesel head, while the RM-5C fell apart in to a splattery mess. We then went to a gooey “woman-tone” lead solo, ala Santana or the Allman Brothers. The RM KILLED on that singing, sustainy lead sound. Loved it there! And it CAN take far more SPL than an old RCA.

On male vocal, matched to a Groove Tubes SuPre set to 300ohms, the RCA, er, I mean Telefunken, proved the clear winner. It was velvety, not too fat, and had a little mid/upper-mid bump that would make a vocal sit nice and cozy in a mix. The Royer does not claim to be a vocal mic (although it has been used that way my studio once or twice) and its fig-8 pattern makes it less conducive for vocal than is the RM-5C.

Like the 121, the RM-5C takes to EQ very well. You can boost highs without harshing anybody’s buzz. The Telefunken isn’t going to be a mic you can use on everything, but it is very good on certain sounds, indeed. In a word, I'll call it "creamy". With the resurgence in Americana and vintage-style recordings, ribbons and good dynamics are having a nice revival. The RM-5C makes a special contribution to that cause. I’d not hesitate to try it on any singer, or even use it at a live gig.

My “Sound With a Soul”® soulfulness rating: 144 proof.
Velveteen Units, 12


Telefunken USA

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo, ¡Vámanos de fiesta!

OK, in this year's installment of Cinco de Mayo, we'll pose the question, ¿Que tequila es el mejór?

For what it's worth, here are Drewcifer's top five:

1) Penca Azul Anejo Reserva -- the most superb I've had the privilege to taste. To me it is to Tequila what Johnny Walker Blue is to Scotch. It almost tastes like a fine whisky or brandy; starting smoky and oaky, but finishing strong with the essence of blue agave. Because it was a gift, I have no idea what the price would be, if it was even available in the US, which it's not. Muy suave.

2) Patron Reposado -- Now I think in-general Patron is over-hyped and over-priced. It's good, mind you, but there are others that are also really good that are not as well-known or pricey. The silver they have in most bars I don't particularly go out of my way for. However, the Reposado is superlative.

3) Espolon Reposado -- You take one sip of this Tequila and say wow. Near perfection. Smoky, woody, spicy, smooth and flavorful with little or no alcohol burn. Has that warming effect that great whisky and wine have.

4) Corralejo Reposado -- The oldest Tequileria in Mexico still makes great stuff. It's light for a reposado, with a pale tint the color of olive oil. Probably not aged more than the minimum. But it's a great every day reposado, tastes nice on ice and is pretty darn smooth. It's not too fancy to use in a Margarita, either.

5) This is a tough one because there could be so many I like here in the cinco position; Don Julio, Corazon, Cielo, Cazadores, Sauze Tres Generaciones...But I'm going to go with my old every day fave, Herradura Blanco (Silver). Makes Margaritas muy buenas. I discovered it years ago at The Rodeo bar in NYC, which is known for it's great 'ritas. We were playing there and I noticed their "house" 'rita was made using Herradura blanco, poured from a big 1-litre bar-bottle. To this day that's what I use in my Margaritas, and I've tried many, but the Herradure just works the best. (I am lucky as hell that my local liquor store sells the litre bottle --typically impossible to find at any price -- for $40!). It blends well, while at the same time revealing a fresh, citrusy agave flavor. I like to taste the booze in my 'ritas, so the booze has to taste good. When you go to a typical bar, they're using bad-tasting mixto tequila (not 100% agave) like Cuervo Gold, so they bury it to where you can't taste it. If you're going to use Cuervo, at least use the Tradicional, which is 100% agave and makes a decent Margarita. Which reminds me, I just tried this highly-touted new Cuervo called Platino, which is $50 per bottle. Didn't like it. Freakin' greasy! Metallic after-taste, alcohol burn and an oily mouth feel.

As always I digress.

And just look at the clock!

It's Tequila-thirty!


(PS: Just had a sip of Espolon...BUTTERY!)

It's All About The Tone, Baby!