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AKG SolidTube

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by DonnyThompson, May 13, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    This past week, a friend of mine returned my AKG SolidTube Condesner mic after using it for the last several years.

    I had forgotten how warm and smooth this mic sounds.

    I know it was never accepted to the level that AKG had hoped for at the time of its release, and my suspicions as to why are below.

    My guess is that the price tag - $900 at that time - was too close to other already well established mics - like the 414, and because mics like the 414 had proven history and the ST did not, people were hesitant to buy.

    The other reason is that the ST has a "window" that has a glowing "tube" - a dark orange, very reminiscent of the color of a hot tube, when in fact, that glow is emanating from an orange LED light - not the tube itself...

    This made people believe that the mic really wasn't a tube mic - even though it is... many potential buyers felt that AKG was trying to "put one over" on them. AKG would have done much better to leave this window off the mic entirely, as it doesn't accomplish anything other than giving a reason for suspicion as to its authenticity.

    While slightly darker in tone than many other condensers in its price class, it still has a very nice presence to it, not at all harsh, and it has a warmth and smoothness to the mids that are very pleasing.

    The mic also does one other thing very well...it accepts EQ very nicely. I can add air and silk to the top end without getting any brittle or harsh sonics in return. Many other condenser mics I've used ( and a few of these were pricey models) don't accept EQ as well as this one does.

    The mic has its own power supply, with a 100hz roll off / flat selector switch, as well as a ground lift on the back.

    The mic itself has a -20 db pad selector switch. It is cardioid only. It incorporates a valve/solid state circuitry. The valve used is a 12ax7, so if needed, finding replacements is a breeze.

    I used this mic a few days ago on a ballad for a client and it was very much an "instant tone" for that scenario, I had to do very little EQ sculpting. While I wouldn't reach for it every time on every project, it's a very good sounding model and nice alternative choice to have in my mic cabinet. :)

    FWIW

    -d
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I nearly bought one last year, but when I talked about it here, it was not considered a good choice.

    Thanks for the good review, if I find an affordable used one, I'll give it a try.
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure why that would be, other than what I'd already mentioned regarding its price being in too close proximity to other good condensers at that time - like a 414 or a Neumann TLM - or something similar.

    There's not a thing wrong with this microphone in terms of tone or distortion. Okay, so of course it's it's not a U47, or even a C12 for that matter, either. It's also not $8,000, either. ;) LOL.

    It sounds very smooth, very warm, and exactly what you'd expect from a mid-level ($700 - $1200 ) tube condenser.

    As I mentioned, it wouldn't be my first choice on everything, but if you already have a 414, or a U89, then you've pretty much got your hi-caliber condensers covered at that point, so adding this mic would be a nice alternative to your mic locker when you were looking for something a little less peaky and bright, and instead, a mic that is a bit darker and warmer. This mic is NOT transparent. If that's what you prefer, you should look at other models. There is a definitive tube sound / coloration to this mic, but, then again, that's kinda what you want when you are looking at tube mics to begin with, right?

    I really like that this mic takes EQ very well. Unlike cheaper condensers - and this is where they all pretty much tend to auger in IMHO - that have a tendency to get nasty pretty quick when sculpting EQ of any substance, especially in the upper mids and hi's. The SolidTube accepts the adding of air, silk and presence very nicely, without the usual corresponding harsh and brittle tones that result when you try to do that with cheaper LD's.

    It's not an end all - be all mic... and very few, if any, actually are. But, if you are looking for an alternative that sounds very nice in its own distinct way, I would suggest looking at one. I would think that there are probably more than a few used models available on ebay in the $500 range.

    edit: In fact, there are. I just looked.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/AKG-SolidTube-Mic-Studio-Recording-Condenser-Pro-Microphone-Set-/251525095262?pt=US_Pro_Audio_Microphones&hash=item3a90105f5e
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    One of the nice things about these microphones that use the small dual triodes, like the 12 AX 7's but then you also have the 12 AT 7, 12 AU 7 and then some, you can try. They will all yield different results in character, noise, response. That's more convenient versatility than trying to change out an FET transistor. Ya know?

    Donny I had a pair of 414 P-48's. I did a lot of orchestral and operatic recording with those. When I heard the 414 B-ULS, I went for those and sold the P-48's. If I want more presence? No problem adding. In

    There is nothing wrong with a depleted plate. It's not there as an amplification device. It's there for the color, for the smoothness, rounding everything out. And that's not the only solid-state/tube, condenser microphone hybrid. Doesn't JZ have one out? Again I think with an LED behind the tube, through a little window in the body of the microphone. I guess it's a popular thing to do when you're not really lighting up a tube?

    I'd rather have purple. Tubes always looked so cool when tubes went gaseous.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The P48's were part of the EB model series, circa 1980-81; still sought after in many vintage circles ( I have 2). I think that it was after this point - around 1982 or so, that AKG switched from the brass ringed C12 diaphragm to the nylon ring model; meaning that the EB/P48 were the last 414 models to have the brass ringed C12.

    I don't mind using starved plate designs, they have their place. I think that they can do what was intended, which is implemented, as you said, to "round out the rough edges" and smooth things over.. although in my own experience, sometimes, depending on the mic or pre, this can also result in occasional mud and lack of clarity in the lower mids.

    But then again, those who use a tube mic or tube pre are after some type of coloration, and aren't necessarily looking for transparency anyway. If that's what they want, they can reach for a 414 or an 87.

    So, when we hear a tube mic or pre that uses a starved plate and it sounds good, we call it "color". When it's not so good, we call it "mud".

    It most certainly depends on the mic, the tube, the pre, and even on the song, the vocalist, the room, and these days of course, on the quality of the audio I/O.

    There are a few people whom I've talked to who also have - or have had - this mic, and who have replaced the stock 12ax7 with a Telefunken E88CC tube; although all of the people I've talked to who have done so have been very clear that doing so didn't make a huge difference. It's not as if they were knocked out by the change. The most common description that I've heard from these people is a "subtle color character difference".

    Translation? Don't expect an instant U47 just because you replace the 12ax with an E88. ;)

    -d.
     

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