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Vintage Mics

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by DonnyThompson, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I was cruising eBay this morning, just for fun, I did a search of vintage mics.

    I came upon two that piqued my interest: One was a Telefunken TD33 Cardioid


    and the other was also a Telefunken, a TD 25 Cardioid "guitar amp" mic


    They look like they are in decent shape, although I have learned over the years that just because a mic is "vintage" doesn't always mean that it's good. ;)

    But, Telefunken has such a rich history of making great mics, that I thought I would post here and see if anyone knows anything about these.


  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    There are quality vintage microphones, and there are old very average ones. Neither of these two microphones have a 'collectable' history - I seem to remember TD33 as a cheap mic that came with reel to reel tape recorders, same as the Grundig TK series - which came with a similar mic.

    The TD33 was primarily a speech microphone, cardioid with a frequency response taking off over 14KHz, the TD 25 being a cardioid that had the capsule at an angle so it sort of pointed upwards when opened out on it's stand.

    I'd certainly not consider either an investment, or something I'd want to record with!
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry if it is off-topic, but is anybody using any of the new mics being built under the Telefunken name?
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm working on it. :)
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks, Paul. :)
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I think its about right time to say, good to have you with us, Paul!
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    aah - that's nice, but I suspect I'm rapidly turning into a UK sitcom character (Victor Meldrew!)

    I suspect that rather than being exceptionally good at anything, I'm just ok on a wide range of quite random subjects. Most of my experience comes from getting it wrong myself.

    I had quite a few very old STC microphones, and although I'd love a 4038, which everyone raves over, I had a 4033 - and it sounded pretty poor. It was a combined ribbon and moving coil, so you could switch patterns - but the ribbon element sounded different, and when you combined the patterns (omni, fig-8 and cardioid) the tonal shift was quite 'un-modern'.

    Everyone raves about these, but frankly, I hated the sound. People often talk about the bottom end and the punch - but to me it sounded like a Shure 55 mic from the 50s, combined with a generally thin sound.

    It weighed a ton, was rather ugly and sounded odd - so to me, vintage didn't mean nice to use.

    In 50 years, I really hope people don't pull out a battered AKG C1000, and rave about how excellent it is because it's old!
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I have a couple old Shure 55s and a couple old Astatic 77s of a similar vintage. They're undoubtedly cool to look at, but in their original form, they are purely art-deco pieces as far as I'm concerned. They will look nice displayed on a shelf somewhere unless/until they're modified with some more modern mic element. Luckily they're quite roomy inside, so fitting another capsule in there should be relatively easy.
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    The Chinese have been doing the good morning Vietnam microphone shape for years now - at least 1978 when I bought one, and they've just been popping in their latest dynamic elements over the years, and the quality of these steadily improved so much so that the ones I hear in tribute bands sound pretty good (and modern sounding) while the bands with authentic Shures actually sounded not so good! Now Shures have their own properly upgraded model the genuine one is now nice again. Maybe it's our ears that like different things?
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, Paul saved the day on this one. I thought maybe I had stumbled on to the deal of a lifetime. I mean, who doesn't want a Telefunken in their mic locker, right? (y)

    Truthfully, I should have known better, but I got caught up in the moment of possibly owning those two mics for $200.

    Now, I will say - with great respect - that Paul and I have disagreed on things from time to time, but it's always a personal taste/ opinion type of disagreement, which I can fully respect, because peers don't always agree with each other across the board.

    That being said, I'm one of those guys who is more than happy to default to someone who knows more than I do on certain particular things, and I'm very happy that this was one of those times. ;)


  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Cheers - I think the idea everyone should agree on everything is wrong, because everyone has opinions, and they're bound to be different. Disagreeing is fine (and healthy), and here it never tips into mudslinging as on some other forums. I'm quite often wrong, and when I make mistakes, I never get upset when others point it out - life's too short.

    On the Telefunken thing, the one thing that I remember when I used one of those mics was that it claimed to be able to pick up sound all the way around - which when I was about 15, made me certain it was an omni. Then I discovered it was a cardioid, and I remember being very confused. Now I'm an awful lot older, I realise that in the open up moulding, it was just a cardioid pointing up. The blurb for the mic mentioned 45 degrees - which when I was a bit older I took to mean it was stereo, and they meant X/Y, which of course they didn't. They just meant the mic was fitted into the housing so when tilted back, it aimed upwards. I've done this myself when I needed people to sing around a single cardioid, and remember well the off-axis thin sound - which is exactly what the Telefunken sounds like.

    I don't want to make you think it's a bad mic - but just one matched to the simple style domestic recording equipment they made.

    I found this image on the net - very similar age wise, and you can see what it was matched to.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I've got an real old, original issue, SHURE 55. It's so wide, it looks like the front grill on a 1953 Oldsmobile. It has an aluminum diaphragm and really sounds like crap. But it's great to look at. It weighs a ton. I've been thinking about just changing out the capsule with something like a SHURE Beta 87? Because it looks so cool! Not skinny like the modern-day 55's. Those all look like they were manufactured in Auschwitz? Mine looks like it had too much, deep dish, Chicago pizza?

    And for a woman... nothing can Beat my Altec Lansing, M-21. It's so phallic looking. It's almost obscene. I've had it, most of my life. It's never worked. I've never bothered to try and fix it. And it has a very strange omni-capsule, not the cardioid capsule. Just one of those collectors items ya don't use, you just look at. It was my grandfather's. As the story goes... the microphone was left in an open box on his desk. The cat got into it and urinated on the microphone. It never worked again. That's how I received it when grandpa died. It looks and smells alright so... I don't know? Maybe, grandma washed it off in soap and water? Maybe it's the power supply? I've never really played with it. Just knowing that story... hasn't given me any gumption to work on it. I love kitties. I don't like kitty urine. I guess for a cat, it's any box in a storm? Inside the house or out. If the box looks good? You whiz or poop in it? I guess? I'll have to try that?

    I'm full of good things.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    That M21 may still be repairable. Worst case, the capsule needs reskinning. PSU problems are readily repairable. Call up John Peluso in SW Virginia. He may be able to repair that mic.
  14. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    Remy....Ever get that Altec M21 repaired?
  15. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Remy isn't with us any longer.
  16. Dave Thomas

    Dave Thomas Active Member

    Hello, Telefunken was a early maker of tube radios, tube televisions and was the biggest maker of communication equipment in Germany during the 2nd World War.

    They also made consumer taper recorders in the 50's and made some economical dynamic microphones for these consumer tape recorders.

    Telefunken never manufactured Broadcast quality microphones but were the North American distributor of Neumann microphones until 1958.

    So, the Telefunken U47 was made by Neumann and is identical to the European versions made, except for the 120v option.

    This gave the TELEFUNKEN badge huge status during the early days of multi-track recording.

    In 1958, Neumann was not happy with the job Telefunken was doing for them in North America so George Temmer at Gotham Audio, who was doing a great job selling Neumann record lathes at that time became the North American Neumann distributor.

    In 1991 Sennheiser bought the Neumann Company and now Neumann's are distributed in North America by Sennheiser.

    So, the quality of the U47 TELEFUNKEN is no different than a Neumann U47 but OTHER badged vintage consumer type Telefunken microphones are probably no better than any consumer Shure, EV or RCA dynamic from that era.

    Cheers, Dave Thomas
    kmetal, audiokid and DonnyThompson like this.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks for the history on that, Dave.

    Always cool to read about the roots of our craft.
  18. I have a TD20, and yes it is an old domestic mic that used to fit into a compartment in the back of a Telefunken Magnetophon reel to reel from the early sixties. I know this as my dad had one and we kids used it so much the mic eventually fell apart. I bought one from the Netherlands on ebay and did a shootout with a number of my other mics (Md421 AT4033 Rode M3 etc) on a Fender champ clone I made. The TD20 was the best for me, it was very good with a unique character and very rock and roll. I guess it is the lo fi mojo factor. I believe it is Omni. Whatever, it really is great for that one thing. I reckon it could be great for other things as well if you are going for lo fi retro i.e. blues guitar and vocal. Really cool mic even if it does look like an old electric shaver!.
  19. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    Dave...minor correction... the late Stephen Temmer was the principal founder of Gotham Audio in NYC. If my recollection is correct, American Elite distributed Telefunken (System Neumann) product in the USA prior to Gotham.

    BTW does anyone know if Russ Hamm or Bob Eberenz are still around?

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