In today’s article, we’ll talk about some of the best microphone brands and what they’re known for. We’ll start with the most famous of them all, Neumann. Then we’ll go through the heralded history of Telefunken. Finally, we’ll end up with some of today’s greatest microphones from Manley Labs.
Worldwide, the Neumann name is synonymous with quality. Their capsules alone are subject to over 50 tests before final assembly. For over 75 years they have set trends and helped create milestones in both the broadcast and recording industries. Not to mention, their vintage microphones appreciate over time! The U47, M49, and U67 remain sought after and revered to this day. When you buy a Neumann you’re investing in your future.
The U87Ai is the world’s most famous microphone. It’s been used on countless hit records to capture vocals, pianos, guitars and more. Its warmth is unmistakable and lends particularly well to the human voice. When you’re looking for both clarity and richness, the U87 shines above its competitors. Its also extremely versatile thanks to multiple polar patterns. Cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 patterns are all available, along with an attenuation switch on the rear.
The TLM49 contains design elements from the legendary U47 and M49 microphones. The cardioid element is characterized as warm and optimized for vocals. It boasts high gain levels with low self-noise for the ultimate, accurate recordings. In fact, it can withstand sound pressure levels of 129db and boasts a dynamic range of 117dB. By the way, “TLM” stands for “transformerless microphone”. This ensures common mode rejection and prevents unwanted frequencies from interfering.
If the U87 is the standard for professional studio recording, the TLM103 is the new standard for home studio recording. The K103 capsule is based on the K87, also heard from the famous U67 & U87 microphones. It can handle an impressive 138dB of sound pressure levels without distortion. This makes it perfect for any loud sound source but it excels for vocalists. Its also a great spot mic for wind instruments, guitar amps, and drum overheads.
Telefunken has been a leader in global technology for over 100 years. Their U47 was the world’s first switchable pattern condenser microphone. They are known for creating one of the best sounding microphones in history, the ELA M 251. Since their resurgence in the past decade, Telefunken has graced many hit records.
The CU-29 Copperhead is a versatile tube microphone. Its fixed cardioid pattern accurately captures sound sources with supreme fidelity. If you’re looking for a clear low end, with a detailed high end, basking in warmth, the CU-29 is for you. The antique brushed copper gives it a vintage vibe despite its affordable price tag.
The multi-pattern AR-51 uses the classic circuits of the ELA M 251E. It results in a smooth mid-range, well-balanced low end, and open high end. Its known to bring life to vocals and percussion. The ECC81/12AT7 vacuum tube ensures a warm and unique sonic characteristic.
The AK-47 is a large diaphragm vacuum tube mic with switchable polar patterns. Its sub-miniature pentode tube and large format output transformer is a cross between the historic U47 and M49. It’s great for vocals, guitar amps, and drums thanks to the superior high-frequency detail and rich low-end response.
Manley has a rich history in Hi-Fi and Pro Studio gear manufacturing. Their original Reference Gold microphone made its debut at the 1990 Los Angeles AES Show. During the 90s they made a name for themselves thanks gear like the Stereo Variable Mu Limiter-Compressor and Massive Passive Stereo EQ. Today, Manley is still 100% focused on high-end audio quality.
Vocalists, voiceover artists, and producers love this mic. It has a “finished” sound without any processing. Perfect for pop music flatters its source with larger than life presence. In addition, it has a max SPL of 150 dB!
The Manley Reference Silver boasts an American-made capsule (by David Josephson) that lends a rich, warm tone. The switchable cardioid to omni pick-up patterns makes this mic a studio swiss-army knife. It shines on female vocalists, woodwinds, drum overheads, and acoustic guitars.
The Reference Gold is the ultimate truth. This special dual-triode 12AT7 tube mic uses a Manley output transformer of unparalleled quality. The capsule itself is even shock-mounted. Everything about this mic is special. You will hear nuances and subtleties not possible with other mics. Features cardioid, omni, and figure-8 polar patterns. Because of this, it can be said that this is one mic to rule them all!
Neumann, Telefunken, and Manley are all special manufacturers with celebrated histories. Regardless of choice, their mics will help you paint unique sonic pictures. In fact, I’d love to have any one of these microphones in my mic locker. After all, they’re not just microphones, they are investments. Consequently, if you are having trouble deciding, give AMS a call to speak with their experts.
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