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Telefunken R-F-T AK47 Tube Mic
Reviewed by Dan Richards

AK47 is a large-diaphragm vacuum tube microphone with a remote power supply with switching between nine variations of polar patterns. The all-important hand-wound BV47 transformer is made by TAB Funkenwerk. The capsule is 6-micron, gold-sputtered, dual-sided. The AK47 contains an NOS Telefunken EF732 mini tube. The mics comes with a 7-pin 25 ft Gotham Audio GAC-7 cable. The headgrill on the AK47 contains the same wire mesh as in the Telefunken U47M. The overall packaging is as impressive as any we've seen. Everything, from the hand-made wooden box, to the box, and even the Telefunken-logo'ed tape adds a pampered touch to these products.

I contacted the studios, The Lazy I and Sea Note Recording, about the AK47's. Not only did all the engineers like the mics, but everyone was using them on every session. With as many mics as we have around here for testing, those are some high compliments. The number one application was vocals, followed closely by acoustic guitars, amps, and just about anything else that came in. At Sea Note, the AK47 has been parked on the main mic stand for months.

When I got to use the AK47 in the studio on some sessions — I found it solved a lot of problems, and gave a lot of desired characteristics. The AK47 is not bright. It's not harsh. Has great color, and a nice silky sheen across the mid-range, with air on top. I was excited enough about the AK47 that I sent it over to my engineer/musician friend Jamie Lange in Nashville, where he'd been in the middle of an exhaustive microphone audition with some pretty juicy mics from the rental department of Blackbird Studio. Here's some of what Jamie wrote after using the AK47:

I can tell you right off that there's a distinct difference in this and the Peluso 2247. This mic is about the warm and fuzzies. It sounds downright old. While the 2247 sounded in many ways like a poor man's M149, the AK47 has got a different thing. It sounds old. It has the least high end of any modern condensor I've tested. But, you can add a high shelf and it takes it well. I completely hear the old 49 in here...that chewy, yummy midrange with that warm "fuzz" that only seems to come with vintage mics. And I don't mean it sounds like the old 49 so much as it's got that vibe.

Just dropped it in front of the bassman...gorgeous tone. I might have to work on nailing this next track's lead gtr while this one is still around.

Acoustic guitar is full bodied. Nothing squelchy or weird through the middle. On my voice it's a little thick and dark. Which is actually the same thing I thought about the old M49. But, it takes EQ well. Not quite as well as the M49.

For perspective, the high end mics I've really liked on my voice? InnertubeU87, U87i, U67, M149, Manley Ref Black. This is noticably darker than those. I'm not sure that I'd say I prefer it to those. But, if we look at the things that have worked OK on my voice in it's price range? AT 4060. SD U95. 2247. MojaveMA200. It hangs in there well, and is certainly the richest/warmest there.

Otherwise, even if it's not the perfect match for my voice, it's a fab color--and one that I don't hear done in modern mics.

The $1000 - $1600 price range of tube mics has become a hot niche with offerings in the last few years by Peluso, Pearlman, Charter Oak, Telefunken, and ADK. The quality of these kinds of mics was unheard of in this price range until recently.

We've used the Pearlman TM-1 and different Peluso 22 47's, and they are excellent mics. We recommend them all the time. We're finding we prefer the AK47 on more applications. The Pearlman and Peluso's give a bigger sound than the AK47. And that's exactly why we like the AK47 - especially in denser mixes. [ The more neutral Pelsuo 22 251 also takes up less space. ] The AK47 doesn't take up as much room in the mix, and can be easier to work with in the context of more modern music. And the AK47 has this warm fuzzy sheen in the mids. If you want a bigger sound for use in less dense music where the vocal is featured, then the Pearlman or one of the Peluso's are a great choice, but overall we've found the AK47 to be a better general-purpose mic in the studio where a colored, vintage-sounding mic is desired in this price range.

A few weeks ago we were testing mic choices for a male rock vocalist, and ended up choosing the Telefunken AK47. We used a Millennia HV-3 preamp to audition the mics. The HV-3 would have been a good pre to use, but I wanted something in a preamp that would be just as open as the HV-3 but also add more air. When we ran the AK47 into a LaChapell Audio 992 EG we got the air I wanted in spades.

We've got the Taye StudioMaple kit sounding great — I mean really good — since we added the Evans heads and worked on getting the kit all tuned up. The 24" maple kick is thunderous. We were recording a rock ballad, and while we wanted the individual drums to punch through, I wanted to get a big airy sound on the overall kit. We also used a Telefunken AK47 mic through an A-Designs MP-2A preamp on kick — positioned out about 6' and about 1' off the ground — which also gave us some space, air and great low end. We used API pres on all the individual drums that were close-miked. Mics were 57 on snare, 421's on toms, and a D12E close in on the kick.

The AK47, out of the box, sounds old and lived-in. It sounds like its been hanging out in smoke-filled recording studios from a bygone era.

Consider me a converted Telefunken fan. And I can't wait to try more of their microphones.

For more info, visit www.telefunkenusa.com.

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