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Advance Audio mics. Anybody heard about them?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Tom Fodor, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Tom Fodor

    Tom Fodor Active Member

    I stumbled across these things on eBay and had to check them out. I would love to grab em and A/B them with the real deal versions.

    http://www.aamicrophones.com/index.htm
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Tom, while I don't know this particular manufacturer directly, I'd like to offer these words of advice.

    1) many folks need to make money doing something

    2) many Chinese folks make a lot of condenser microphone capsules

    3) cheap capsules can sometimes sound good or bad

    4) these may be reasonable?

    5) why not buy a pair and try them out?

    6) Ms. Remy Ann David doesn't buy many microphones anymore.
     
  3. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Dave here in vancouver makes/rebuilds them. He is the one famous for the Apex 460 mods. He does a good job. It worth trying out. He is usally quite busy and may be slow in responding or shipping, but his work is good.
     
  4. Tom Fodor

    Tom Fodor Active Member

    I think I will give them a try

    I would like to try them out more out of curiosity than anything else. I know what most people use and why, but I like to take a bit of a left of center approach to things. I don't know if I really want a Neumann U87 or an MD 421 on every other track like most engineers I deal with seem to. I want my recordings to be a little different but still of a very high standard so If I can find stuff that sounds great but no one else really uses I'm always happy with it.
     
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Difference for the sake of difference doesn't always equate to better as compared to "familiar". What? You think you are going to reinvent making recordings?

    Familiarity will get you further than difference. In that respect, I would rather have a bag full of SM57/58's which I use more than my top shelf collection. Familiarity will pull more folks in than differences.

    Everybody wants to sell you something. That's not a reason to buy it. Specifications? When it comes to microphones, that really doesn't mean much. SM57's and their other permutations are responsible for 90% of the hits you grew up listening to and are not rated to 20,000 hertz. Sure, any decent sounding microphone will make a decent recording provided you know what you are doing. So start with a known quantity rather than an unknown risk. You're not going to outdo George Massenburg, Elliot Scheiner, Bruce Swedien, etc. with a goofy microphone. But you might get closer with a SM57. No, I don't work for the company. But there are certainly reasons for the usage.

    Cars don't really need to have four wheels. But there is generally a reason why most do. Heck, with the technology behind the "SEGUE" cars can be manufactured with just two wheels, like wheelchairs currently being produced. But it's not necessarily the most practical choice. 4 wheels are. SM57's are. What kind of sonic image are you going for?

    Martians are real but we generally don't go to lunch with them. I'd rather have a old-fashioned hamburger than a "Rover Burger". Wouldn't you?

    Killing me softly with his sound
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  6. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    I agree a bit with Remy on this one. Your recordings will sound unique because of the skills you bring to them, not the mics....

    I would not buy a mic because it was different, I would buy a mic because I liked its sound for a particular application.

    To honest I don't think AA mics are trying to be different; I think they are trying to copy classic mics.

    Anyway try them out, share your results
     
  7. antoniosolo

    antoniosolo Guest

    This board is sooooo controlling I have noticed whenever someone wishes to stray from your path you make it a point to say you cannot succeed that way. I have yet to see anyone on here with a grammy nod. I do know that innovation comes from asking yourself a question. Can this be improved? I for one know that Dave is heralded from OceanWay if I am not mistaken and is known all over the world. Chock full of knowledge, it would be no surprise if his designs spank some industry standards. This site is weird that way, so....spend with any company you choose. America is a free country...free to innovate!
     
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Isn't recording music considered an "art"? The recordists' "paintbrushes are his/her microphones. Using the same old tired 2 or 3 models gets pretty B-O-R-I-N-G after a while (say, 30-40 years).
    You owe it to yourself and the profession to experiment. Mix it up a bit, try different selections and placements. Life is too short to snub something because someone else doesn't have the time or is too lazy to do that. Let us know what you have discovered....
    Cheers!
     
  9. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Dave went to china where the mics are made and toured their plant. He came back posted great things about the facility. I gather he gets the mics made to his specifications and tests the mics here in Vancouver to provide consistent quality control.
    As side note people often complain about the quality control on the new ‘budget’ microphones. Saying there is large sonic differences in the mics.
    As YES there are, no question.
    However… every tested 10 U87 mics at the same time. Guess what they don’t all sound the same either.
    But when you spend 3k plus on a mic, you tend to subconsciously give it a higher value. You either don’t question its quality or you make assumptions.
    Truth is it’s bloody hard to design a mic that can sound consistent when you add up all the tolerances of each of the components.
    Anyway, try them out and post some samples.
     
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    These have an interesting vibe to them. He's not trying to re-invent the wheel but to simply provide an alternative to very expensive and PROVEN designs. I like the fact that hes upfront about the transformer windings and the type of transformer he uses and its comparative relation to the originals. In tube technology, the transformer is a most important aspect of the overall sound and the windings ratio as well as the materials used go most of the way to getting THAT sound.

    Personally, If I could get a mic that was 1/2 or even 2/3's as good sounding as a postwar pre85 Neumann and could get this for less than a grand, it would seem like a no-brainer.

    Tell me that NONE of you wouldnt jump at a chance to get U47 sounds for less than a tenth of what it would cost you to get an original that may or may not have issues.
     
  11. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    For what its worth the links to the RP pages dont do the kind of explanatory justice that the link to the AA site does. Again, I have no problem at all with less expensive and innovative engineering. I own and love a Kel HM1 one of the best bargains out there. As well as several ADK's which are also assembled according to ADK's engineering in China. They just take the time to properly voice their mics for that great sound and use decent components.
     
  13. aamicrophones

    aamicrophones Active Member

    Hi Guys, thanks for the interest in our microphones. We now have pretty good stock and quicker delivery as we are no longer custom making these microphones one at a time. We recently bought out a partner, moved and now have a small shop set up in Summerland BC., where we are turning upgraded microphones around again in 10-14 business days.

    We have been upgrading Chinese microphones and repairing condenser microphones for quite some time now and our tube expertise dates back to the 60's when I worked part-time in a TV/Radio Repair shop.

    I was very lucky as a teen working for a tech after school who was trained in the UK by Allen Blumlein. Allen held 200 patents in analog audio electronics until his untimely death at the age of 42 in a Lancaster bomber as he was tweaking his other invention, aircraft radar. Allen is famous for the Blumlein pair, inventing the record cutting head, inventing stereo and TV.

    During my tenure at Ocean Sound in Vancouver I had to opportunity to record a variety of folks like KD Lang, Jazz great Paul Horn and Vancouver's Punk Band DOA. We had two U47 tube microphones during this time and they sounded quite different from each other but both sounded good. One was made in 1953 and one in 1958.

    The U47 was generally first call on vocals and after that one might try a 414, U87 or C37a or the George Massenburg favourite the Sanken CU44. However, the U47 did usually have the "magic" touch on a good majority of vocals and even Bob Rock would come over from Little Mountain Sound to record vocals with our U47.

    There are some things I did not like about the U47.

    1) The VF14 tube which came from a 2nd World War Tank transmitter.
    a) The tube was very expensive to replace and was not very standard.
    b) The VF14 was a metal clad and very prone to microphonics.
    2) The combination aluminum stand mount and cable connector.
    a) It would strip and would not support hanging the microphone.
    b)The connector and mount were one and the same piece.
    3) It was either OMNI or CARDIOD.

    The Chinese microphones use the same front end circuit that was designed for the later and much more "HiFi" 6072 tube used in the C12.

    However, what is amazing about the majority of Chinese microphones is how innovative they are at dumbing it down to make it "Cheaper" for North American distributors who always want a better price.

    This is why they use the more economical 12AX7 which has twice the gain as the 6072 and makes the microphone seem louder than the "usual suspects". However, this causes the microphone to sound "grainy" on large transients as the tube circuit starts to distort and also it saturated the economical transformer more easily. To be able to use this very economical single winding transformer they configure the 2nd half of the 6072 as a standard Blumlein cathode follower line driver.

    What we did is look at the uses of the microphone from our experience. The gain of vintage microphone circuits was initially designed when microphones were used further away from the source in much larger recording environments.

    Today's studios are generally smaller and the room levels are therefore louder and folks address the microphones much more closely. I was able to take this knowledge linked with the Chinese 2 stage Class "A" tube circuit and optimize it for the 6072 tube and a better transformer. We reduced the first stage gain by 4db and increased the overall headroom by 10db and the dual bobbin transformer we use will handle 6db more level than the stock Chinese transformers. Our circuit can drive a much lower ratio transformer so we consistently get 3-6 db more level from the transformer like the original Neumann BV8 and BV11 transformers.

    These few changes give our resultant circuit 2-3db more headroom and signal to noise than the original Neumann and AKG circuits.

    Next we addressed the lower cost 32mm/3 micron capsules used in a lot of these microphones. These have a bump in the 4khz area and this area can easily vary 4-6db between capsules and become very edgy sounding in some cases. The odd capsule with only a 2-3db rise at 4khz can sound very nice on acoustic instruments, choirs and string sections as this is the curve of the Neumann M50 which has a 3 micron capsule. You can upgrade some of these microphones just with a better transformer, tube, circuit tweak and have a wonderful room microphone, soft vocal microphone or acoustic instrument microphone.

    However, the 35mm/6 micron capsule we use has a response that is with 2db of the average U47. Remember, the average U47 varied about 4db between microphones because that's as accurate as they would get in the 50's. Plus up until 1959 they were PVC capsules which tended to get brittle and aged much faster than the later mylar capsules. In 1961 the Berlin wall went up and Neumann moved from Gefell East Germany to West Berlin and left their PVC making machinery behind.

    Our capsules are dual diaphragm made from 6 micron German mylar on a 35mm OD brass back-plate. They seem to be with + or - 2db of each across the audio bandwidth which is as close as the Neumann get.

    Our 35mm K47 type capsule has a response somewhere between the original K47 and the later K87 used in the M149 and U87.

    Our 34mm/6 micron AKG C12 type capsule has a measured response within 2db of the average AKG C12 microphone.

    We check all these microphones here in the shop and replace any capsules that fall out of our requirement window. We reject more tubes than capsules and our tube failure is just less than 3%.

    I had the opportunity to visit Shanghai a couple of years ago and discovered that they are capable of very good quality control when requested. They can source better parts plus I supply them with the 6072a tube so they can test our circuits with the proper gain tubes.
    The resistors and capacitors of today are much better than those of yesteryear. During my stint a the radio repair shop in the 60's I replaced more failed capacitors that I care to recall.

    Because we use a 2 stage Class "A" tube circuit the difference between tubes is less critical. We are not asking one section to do all the work. The front end is much more linear and the final cathode follower output stage has a faster damping factor which drives the lower ratio transformer to levels of +20dbu with less than 1% distortion.

    The microphones are very tech friendly which allows us to customize capsules, transformers and even tubes.

    A 12AT7 might be a better choice if you were using our CM12 to record an orchestra from the distance. A 12AU7 might be better if you are using them for 7' overheads above "Animal" the drummer.

    Both our CM47 and CM12 microphones have the same tube and circuits but different capsules, output transformers and bodies. The cables and power supplies are identical except we optimize the capsule polarization voltage differently for the CM47 and CM12. The CM47 will just be a db brighter at 7khz. when run on the slightly higher voltage.

    Both our tube microphones come with 9 pattern power supplies and the heavy duty shock-mounts are separate of the standard 7-pin microphone to PS cable.

    We have lots of spare parts and the microphones are repairable and not disposable. In a pinch the 6072a can be replaced by the 12AT7 tube which is used in Fender tube amps as a reverb driver.

    Cheers, Dave Thomas
    http://www.aamicrophones.com
     
  14. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that Dave!
     
  15. Action508

    Action508 Guest

    With my limited budget this sure sounds tempting.
     
  16. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    From hamburgers to microphones. Phenomenal.
     

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