Thursday, August 12, 2010

ADK's Berlin 47Au Makes It Big!

Sure there are lot of Asian-made wanna-be U47s and 67s and 251s out there right now. I know, I'm a dealer for several of them. A few of these condensers are actually pretty good, especially in-terms of price vs. performance (although if someone calls me looking for an under $1000 tube mic, I'll recommend they buy a Shure SM7 dynamic for under $400, because that mic will sound better on vocals and many other sources than a cheapo condenser). In comparison with the genuine article, however, the Asain "remakes" tend to fall apart pretty quickly.

I Can Hover!

But now there's a mic by ADK that is so good it's garnering some well-deserved ballyhoo. I use it and own one myself, in-fact, and I personally think it's one of the better-sounding instruments in our entire mic closet. I'm referring to The ADK Custom-Shop Berlin 47Au, a 47FET type condenser. Hand QC'd and tuned by ADK's Custom Shop here in the USA, the Berlin has a noticeably solid build-quality, and a sound to match. You can use it for all the things you'd employ a vintage Neumann 47FET for; sung vocals, voice-over/announcer vocals, and of course, kick-drum. The Berlin has a classic fat, mid-forward tone with a smoothly rolled-off treble. For a thin and nasally singer like me, the mic is a really good helper. It has that nice puffy proximity boost, and enough presence to be articulate, even subtly airy, without being harsh. It's really a nice, syrupy microphone. I love it. And considering what a used Neumann 47FET goes for now -- I mean, come on, this is more than ridiculous. Most of these mics have been absolutely hammered over the years as kick mics and smoke-blown radio-station workhorses. When they were $1200, even $1500, that was ok. But 47FETS are now fetching between $3500 and $4000. Are you freakin' kidding me? No way in Hell I'd ever pay that much! At $1200, the Berlin is THE 47FET to have now, and I'd daresay it sounds much better than many of the cheap tube-mics out there today. In fact, it sounds better than some of the newer Euro-made condensers I've heard lately. When coupled with a good pre -- we've liked it a lot with a UA LA-610 -- this ADK can rock the world.

In this era of low, and I mean lllooowww budgets, a $1200 studio-condenser might be the biggest microphone investment many little studios will make. I'd buy ADK's Berlin 47Au over many many other choices. It really does have that high-class German condenser sound that will give a track the major-label elegance so often missing in self-produced tracks. (People will hear it and think it's "toob"!)

But don't take my word for it. Here's what Recording Magazine (Sept 2010) said in their recent review:
The Berlin is well suited to sources needing a touch of rounding, such as shrill soprano and alto vocalists, tambourines and shakers, and even bright/harsh guitar cabinets, where it works quite well in multiple-mic setups (I have used it this way myself with absolutely stellar results -- Drewcifer)
Conversely, it works well to add punch and girth to sources as well, such as baritone vocalists (especially crooners) and low-end sources like kick drum and floor toms. I really liked this mic padded down and placed about one to three inches outside of the kick.
At $1200 street, the Custom Shop mics do come with a higher price tag than you may be used to from ADK, but these models are a serious step up in every way. They compete comfortably not only in their own class, but even with models selling for $500 more.

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It's All About The Tone, Baby!