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

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