The Glorious C-34

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by John Stafford, May 18, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I got an AKG C-34 today (although I might have to return it as the pattern box is faulty) and I'm absolutely gob-smacked by it. I expected it to be good, but it's really wonderful. Another thing is that the diaphragms are in perfect condition (one thing that I'm always concerned about with old mics). I expected this to sound like old 451s, but the sound is very different. It has a lovely high end and it screams out for a piano to record. I must say this mic is a very pleasant surprise. It's also a great vocal mic.

    BTW does anyone know if the MS pattern box can be used to control both capsules when not in MS mode. I suppose this is one for Ben :wink:

    John
     
  2. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have any idea where to look for a pattern box? If possible I'd like to buy one instead of sending this mic back. I doubt I'd find such a mic in the same condition again. I got the current box sorted out, but it doesn't allow me to change both capsules.

    AKG say that the box for the C426 could be made work but it would need to be altered. They can't supply an S42, which is the one I need, as they didn't make any since the C426 came on the market.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    John
     
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I've use the C42 pattern box with them here... I also use that with the 422 and the 426 mics so I don't know how different it could be. The cables are interchangable so I don't know what would be different with the box.

    The C34 sounds awesome on piano, decent on strings- especially quartets (the top end is a bit pronounced in some rooms though), great on classical/acoustic guitar, a favorite on drums....

    I'd get the box fixed and would keep the mic. It is very useful and doesn't sound anything like 451's. (Just like the 422 and 426 don't sound anything like 414's).

    --Ben
     
  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Speaking of stereo condensers and I don't mean to hijack the thread, but has anyone heard the Neumann USM69i, ie one of the current models.

    It has the advantage over the 426 of not needing a pattern box, ie a standard two channel drop cable will hang it in a concert hall.

    What are they like?
     
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Ok, John and Ben....how does the AKG C-34 differ from the 422 and 426? They all seem to look the same....is it the electronics more than anything else?

    Thanks to Ben, I've been using a borrowed 422 to replace my old 422, now MIA. (a long sad story, better left untold for now.) Whether it's just coincidence or simply having the mic around to use again, I've had about a half dozen opportunities to try it out this week, with some terrific results. (Much better sounding than my original 422, which raises a whole different set of questions...)

    I've been playing with the pickup pattern much more agressively as well - I put it up as a non-cricital second "pair" on a few occasions, and was really able to try it out in various settings and situations, including, among other things: a footlight-type stereo mic on the floor, front & center for an operatic production, mic'ing the principals literaly at their feet; a hypercardioid pair in a small rehearsal room setting (string octet), and

    Just tonight I used it as my main stereo pair on a stand directly in front of the conductor for a multimedia production (big screen, projections, etc., so we couldn't hang overhead mics, etc.) There were a number of varied works on the program, including Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #3, and Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks. It was a chamber orchestra setting for all; as few as 18 players, mostly in a semicircle in front of the conductor.

    The 422 shocked me in how well it performed and sounded on a fairly large and dry stage. (I did also use some omni out-riggers pointing out from the front balcony over the stage), and I've got an almost 3-D recording of the ensemble with the 422 by itself. I used it about 150 degrees (w/45 degree offset) with a hypercardioid setting, and the two tracks from it are almost usuable by themselves without the other mics. (Although I'm sure I'll dial them in for more warmth & ambience.)

    All in all, it's nice to revisit this mic again, with a few more ideas and techniques under my belt. Glad you like the C-34, John. The picture I saw looks almost identical to the 422. Perhaps it's the pattern box that makes the most difference.
     
  6. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thank you Ben for that. While AKG said there is a difference between the pattern boxes for the C34 and C422, the literature for both mics show the same box (S42)! That's really bizarre. They said something about having to change sockets. Maybe they were thinking of something else.

    It's a bit of a shame that given that this mic doesn't sell for a lot on ebay, the box in itself is probably worth much less than the cost of repair. Still, I can try and track one down. The seller has agreed to pay half the price of repair, or else give me a refund, but I really don't want to let it go.

    One thing about the MS box is that I'm not sure if it can change the polar patterns on both capsules. Have you ever used the MS box?

    Many thanks
    John
     
  7. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Joe
    For some reason I didn't see your post.
    The 34 is smaller and uses small diaphragms (similar to the cardioids in the old 451 set back to back), while the 422 and 426 use 414 capsules; I've seen the 422 referred to as the double 414 in older AKG literature. The service manual calls it the CK12 capsule, as does the manual for the ULS. I thought that this was the name of the capsule from the TLII, but that's what the service documentation says. Anyway, these are very different mics from those with which they share capsule design.

    BTW Some of my favourite pop vocal recordings ever were done on a C34.

    The C34 has very low sensitivity and high noise figures, which makes it unsuitable for distance mic'ing where there's very little environmental noise, although the noise is not as big a deal as the figures suggest. The 422 has better figures than the 34, while the 426 has better figures still. I think David mentioned a new 414 with even lower noise, presumably based on the new 414. Glad to see you're having fun with the 422!

    BTW David, I like the remote pattern change because it should save trips up the ladder, and I like to experiment while I'm in a different room from the source (and there's the childish novelty value :wink: ). I suppose if I had a greater level of experience that probably wouldn't be such a big deal, and as you say you find the Neumann better for hanging. I suppose they could have made it like the TLM-170 where you can change patterns both ways.

    John
     
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    John, if it will help you any, I have a set of "Faxed" schematics for the 422 pattern box that AKG was kind enough to send to me four or five years ago. (Mine is the blue/brushed aluminum style, model # S-42, I've seen the newer boxes as black, in a slightly different style, but this one was 70's-era design, I suppose...)

    I've had a lot of trouble over the years with the female socket working loose, and subsequently tearing the small wires off inside. (Hence the need to get a full schematic to rebuild it.) Even though I completely rebuilt it a year or so ago, I can see it will eventually need to be replaced/refurbished. (I wonder how deep AKG goes with their parts sales...?)

    I don't know what kind of service yours needs, but it might be cheaper/easier to just replace the box, but I know they're probably costly from AKG. Hell, the shockmount/clip alone costs $250! (Drop me a note about it - what you think is wrong with it...I might be able to give you some ideas...)

    I know the 422 is essentially two 414 capsules in a single point-source body, I just didn't realize where the C-34 came from. Now I know better! :cool:

    Yes, I'm having a lot of fun with this.....sorta like reconnecting with an old flame......nahhhhhhhhh.....it probably won't have "Issues" or bug me about commitment, or have to "Think about how she feels about where we are in our relationship right now" hahahaha....... :twisted:
     
  9. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I must say I always look forward to reading your posts! Discussions can be a bit serious at times.

    I just found out from AKG that my C34 isn't supported by them as it was modified. They recognised the mod as one carried out by the BBC who wanted an end-addressed MS mic. I must say I'm quite impressed with AKG, who said I would find a second circuit board in the remote control that had been designed by the BBC, which I did. Now I know why the upper capsule is pointing upwards, and also why the top can't turn around (they put a screw in to lock the upper part of the assembly in position). Oh yeah, another thing is that the grilles are all black so as not to draw attention to the mic on TV.

    That's a big part of the mystery solved, and also explains why the capsules are in absolutely perfect condition.

    Now I have to decide whether to keep it and wait for another to come up on ebay. As it isn't a case of repair, the alternative is to rebuild the remote control. A schematic would be very handy!

    Thanks for your offer of advice. I'll e-mail you.

    Thanks!

    John
     
  10. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    OK....

    If your C-34 is a fixed set of capsules, then it is likely a C-33. A similar, but slightly different microphone. The C34 has a top capsule that can rotate 270 degrees and a bottom capsule that is fixed to the body of the mic. The C-34 is a small diaphragm mic which is completely different than the 422/426. While they use the same pattern box, they are quite different in their sounds. The lineage of large diaphragm stereo mics of AKG are the C-24 (a tube mic- basically 2 C-12 mics in a single body), to the 422 (which in its original version used the brass CK-12 diaphragm), and then to the 426. The 426 is probably the lowest noise of any of them, but none of them are particularly bad.

    I've used the C-34 in distant applications and never had issues with noise. I will say with any stereo mic, you don't want to be too far away. Part of the reason for using them is the fact that they image so well.

    As for the Neumann... I'm not a fan of the non-tube SM-69. I think it is way too bright sounding. The tube version is bright enough, but the solid state... Ugh... I also don't like the pattern switches on the body because I like to change patterns as I listen. The old Schoeps CMT-301 also has patterns on the mic and while the mic itself sounds awesome, it is a bit of a p.i.t.a. to use because of that.

    --Ben
     
  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your reply Ben. Did you happen to remember what pattern selection you heard? I am wondering about the fig8 patterns, as the FR plots certainly seem to indicate the HF rise for all the main shapes but the 8 plots are fairly flat.

    Yes, but in our application this is not going to be a problem. We want it for live classical chamber music performances and want to use Blumlein. The advantage of the USM69 is that it can hang on a single cable unlike the C426, and we can patch the two simple XLR's into the ceiling patch bay.

    This mic is probably one of the most elusive of all to get opinions on, it seems it was the standard for German radio for many years, so it can't be all bad.
     
  12. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I've used it in X-Y, M-S and Blumlein. I will admit that I liked it least in Blumlein, but any way I still wasn't thrilled.

    I find that even with chamber performances, I still like to mess with the patterns... But then again, that is just my personal way of working.

    I'd look for a Schoeps CMT-301. It is a really sweet sounding mic when you can find them. They do require 12V phantom as stock (not T-Power, that old funky Schoeps 12v phantom thing). They will work on 48V, but they pull a lot more current and some pres can't support it. I believe schoeps does have a retrofit for that mic to make it work at 48 easily like their other mics. The cable for that would fit your requirements, too... 5 pin out and you can use a standard 5 pin to 3 pin XLR "Y" adapter for your L-R output.

    --Ben
     
  13. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Ben
    The top capsule is rotatable, but there was a screw inserted to lock it in position. According to AKG it didn't leave the factory that way, but I can replace the screws very easily. The orientation of the upper capsule in the mount can easily be changed as well, so it doesn't point upwards.

    I was concerned that it was a C34L-MS that had an upper capsule that was fixed pattern figure-of-8, but thankfully that's not the case here.

    I was going to post to ask you if your C-34 has a brass disc above the upper capsule or if it's open inside the grille.

    Thanks Ben for you input.

    John
     
  14. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    The C-34 I use isn't actually mine, but I use it a lot... to be honest, I haven't looked at it to see if there is a brass disc in there. I believe it is open, but I could be wrong...

    --Ben
     
  15. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Ben
    Thanks for your reply. It had just occurred to me that a brass disc might have been removed from the top so as not to impede sound entering from the top. I've seen a few pictures and it looks like the top is supposed to be open.

    As always thanks for your input.

    John
     
  16. jazzbutcher

    jazzbutcher Guest

    C34 pattern controller

    John,

    You might want to check with Bill Bradley at the MicShop. Last time I was over there, I recall seeing many AKG pattern selector boxes on the shelf - but no clue as to whether the one you need is there...but it looked like he had a few spares of various types...

    Also, while looking for some other info on the AKG website, I stumbled onto this article talking about the s42 and s426 and that this might help you.

    http://www.akg.com/akg_structuretree/forum/topics/powerslave,_detail,1,id,451,_language,EN,nodeid,4,mynodeid,105.html


    I've never used a c34 before, but I've read about them and they sound interesting. I have a c24 which I really enjoy for piano, drums and lots of location work too. It takes a little while to get it put together and positioned and angled right, but I really like the way it sounds...

    best,

    -dave
     
  17. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Dave
    Thank you very much for that message. It is very thoughtful of you, and much appreciated.

    I'd dearly love to have a C24, and all the other AKG stereo mics to go with it!

    Thanks again!
    John
     
  18. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Dave
    I contacted the Mic Shop, but he has nothing suitable at the moment, but I can ask him to let me know when he comes across one. I can use all of the pattern boxes (except one), so it shouldn't take too long for something to turn up.

    Again, thank you.

    John
     

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