Skip to main content

I've been using this mic on vocals for about 2 years now, and I can't get a vocal track that doesn't sound like there is a foggy cloud around it. It's a little muffled and dull sounding. No matter what singer or how I change my room.

I know this has been covered a lot...but is there a more "bright" vocal mic that will work well on male or female? Has anyone else noticed this about the MK319?


Midlandmorgan Sat, 06/25/2005 - 10:58

Removing the pop interal filter really does help, as does using the HPF switch on the mic...

These are easy suggestions that don't cost anything...I would try them before spending any more cash...but if you still are not happy with the results, then may I siggest:

- AT 4033 or 4040
- EV RE16 or 635A*

(* dynamics...I almost always prefer them to lower/mid cost condensors, anyway, but that's a thread unto itself...)

maintiger Sat, 06/25/2005 - 16:32

again, the quality is pretty erratic with those 319's and you never know what you gonna get- I have 2 and one has a very useable sound for vocals, the other one not so much so. There is a mod by Scott Dorsey in this month recording mag that you may want to try- I have it in my future projects list, that is if I ever get the time... :D

Cucco Sat, 06/25/2005 - 18:22

Midlandmorgan wrote:

- AT 4033 or 4040
- EV RE16 or 635A*

AMEN! The 4033 and 4040 are, I wouldn't say bright, just excessively clear in the top range. If you're looking for a mic that is great in the top end, not dull but not harsh, these NEED to be on your short list!

J. :)

Davedog Sun, 06/26/2005 - 09:13

Pulling the windscreen helps as does damping the body on the MK319. I havent read the article yet but I'm thinking both of these changes will be included as well as an upgrade on the caps and the transformer.If you have gotten lucky and found one with a good capsule, you can pretty much expect great things out of these mics with a basic type of upgrade.The older the mic the better they seem to be.I believe the newer ones have been outsourced! Imagine....a Russian built mic being outsourced to China or Indonesia.Sort of American of them dont you think!I have an older one that while it doesnt have nearly the gain, it does have a very similar tone to a U87.
For those of you lucky enough to have a Spitboys CD, it is the lead vocal mic on that record.Very usable.

anonymous Sun, 06/26/2005 - 10:03

The black plastic device covering the capsule is actually a treble booster. Removing it will cause the opposite of your desired goal. Removing one of them will reduce the self noise, removing both the front and the rear will leave the self noise about the same place it is with both in place.

Fixing the noise floor:
Replace the 2 large value resistors (they look like tiny caps in most oktava mics - they are the bias and leak resistors) with 2 gigohm resistors (1 gigohm will do if you can't find 2 gigohm), and the FET with a high quality fet (such as a 2sk170BL) to dramatically reduce the noise floor and improve headroom.

Extending and brightening the top end
If you're complaining about the top end, replace the 680 pf ceramic DC blocking cap b/w the capsule and FET (connected directly between the teflon standoffs) with an 820 pf panasonic COG. This will dramatically brighten and extend the upper frequency response of the microphone (as well as reduce noise floor as it allows a greater amount of signal to the fet impedance converter).

The transformer
The transformers found in the 219 and 319 are remarkably good. Don't replace them unless you feel like experimenting...chances are you'll prefer the original to just about any reasonably priced aftermarket alternative. In addition to the surprising quality of the xformer, you'll notice two numbers pencilled onto it's casing. These numbers correspond to two of the resistors in the circuit...yes, Oktava modifies the circuit to match the xformer in the case of the 319 in order to keep the line as consistent as possible wrt sound from one mic to the next.

The QC of the 319 is nothing like the reputation derived from people's universal experience with the 012 model. 319's should be extremely similar from one to the next within reason. If you have two that sound more different than any 2 randomly selected mics from any other manufacturer, chances are that you have an odd faulty mic and should by a third, pick the closest sounding two, and return the odd one back in the new one's case if in good condition. (Yeah, I know, there's something twinging upon "unethical" in that statement...but if you're buying $100 condensers in the first place, you'll probably want to save every dime you can.)

The biggest issue with the 319
The biggest problem with these mics however is the incredible ringing resonances of the body...when you're done with the mods, gloop a whole bunch of non-conductive silicone RTV into the body to dampen it.

I don't get Recording Mag, but I've had an article compiling a number of 319 mods sitting on the backburner for some time now. Looks like Scott beat me to the punch. If you'd like a link to my pdf, shoot me an e-mail. I imagine a great deal of the mods are similar if not identical to Scott's. However, since I am not restricted in length or number of words, my article tends to be a bit verbose at the very least and goes into a bit about the history of the mic and russian manufacturing as well as the effects of each mod. Oh's got pictures too (I'm sure scott's does as well...actually, I'll probably go out hunting for a magazine rack to pick up a copy of scott's for comparison purposes today).


Davedog Sun, 06/26/2005 - 11:38

Thanx Chris...very informative.My mistake on the was the MK52 ribbon mic upgrade that was a transformer replacement. Do you have any more complete information about the currently popular notion of the outsourcing of these mics and the particulars on the difference in build quality in comparison should this be the case? Again excellent information.

anonymous Sun, 06/26/2005 - 14:21

Davedog wrote: Thanx Chris...very informative.My mistake on the was the MK52 ribbon mic upgrade that was a transformer replacement. Do you have any more complete information about the currently popular notion of the outsourcing of these mics and the particulars on the difference in build quality in comparison should this be the case? Again excellent information.

I'll send you an e-mail containing a great deal of information regarding the "fake" mics out there. Suffice it to say, the russian manufacturer does NOT outsource ANY of the design or manufacturing processes to this day. There is a second company, located in Great Britain, who has unethically claimed in many western countries the patents to a few of the microphones and trademarks to the transliterated cyrillic name that is participating in the asian manufacturing. They happen to be the current incarnation of the former sole distributor of genuine oktava microphones to the west, and as such, have duped nearly all of the western retailers they supply. As of this moment, it is my understanding that this second company is having ONLY their version of the 012 manufactured in asia. The other microphones they continue to supply are, again, it is my understanding, the leftover stock from their legal distributorship and are the genuine russian article.

I'll send you more info on this privately, as the company in question happens to be awfully "lawsuit-happy", and I'd rather not take my chances any more in a public forum. (Yes, they are really that "lawsuit-happy"!)

Regarding the differences b/w the asian and russian mics:
The asian version of the 012 doesn't really suffer poor build quality in terms of the body/preamp. It is merely a different build quality, each with it's strengths and is strikingly "russian", where the other is unmistakeably "asian". The biggest difference b/w the two is a bit counter-intuitive given the reputation of russian 012 quality control and circuit componentry: the attention to detail; case in point, the silver sputtered connections b/w head and body of the russian mics vs. the raw copper connection used in the asian mics. The circuitry used in the asian mic is somewhat improved over the russian mic (I surmise with great confidence the reason for doing this, given the rogue oktava company's history, is not an effort to improve the microphone, but an effort to claim their patent is different in a court of law). The capsules on the other hand can not be considered any kind of improvement over the original whatsoever. While asian mic capsule mass manufacturing processes have dramatically improved over recent years, they still don't hold a candle to the craft employed in the hand tensioning and assembly used in the Tula, Russia plant. I expect that this is the reason that the rogue company has not yet attempted to distribute a facsimile of the Russian large diaphragm condenser microphones. NO Asian mic manufacturer could come close. The differences in sonic character would be enormous. (The typical modern large di asian capsule is extraordinarily sibilant, where the russian large di capsule is smooth, clean, and unhyped in any way provided the following circuitry is up to snuff...and unfortunately it isn't if left stock. The russian capsules are their biggest asset. It would also be rather difficult to replace the transformer with one of equal quality and continue to keep the price point equal to or below that of the russian original.)

The easiest way to determine if your 012 is asian or russian (as the screening on the russian microphones/appearance, the inclusion of serial numbers, transliterated spelling of brand name, etc. has changed countless times with the Russian microphones), is to look at how the housing is attached to the XLR connection. If it employs a single black philips screw, then the microphone is of asian manufacturing. If it has three incredibly tiny flat-head screws the same color as the housing, then the microphone is russian.

anonymous Sun, 06/26/2005 - 16:08


The only mod/replacement for the transformer in the ML-52 that I am currently aware of is with the Jensen JT-34K (as it will fit). The stock transformer is a very colored tranformer that is characterized by a great deal of harmonic distortion and poor phase response in the lowest octave or two. The suggested Jensen replacement is very transparent (as far as xformers go), and displays (in the typical mic circuit...depends greatly on the loads involved in practice) much less harmonic distortion and far less phase drift over the bandwidth of the microphone.

If you like the sound of the stock mic, there is no guarantee that swapping the xformer will benefit the mic in terms of your personal tastes...which is a good way to look at just about any proposed mic transformer swap, as a great deal of the sonic character in some microphones is determined almost entirely by the transformer. This swap, if done properly, would result in a completely different sounding trying to compare apples and oranges.