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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Telefunken: The $10,000 Microphone

posted by on May 1 at 14:36 PM


In Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character takes off his watch, plops it on a table, and says, “This watch cost more than your car.

Yeah, Alec? Well this microphone costs as much as your watch.

Meet the Telefunken Ela M 251VAC. Put your watch back on tough guy.

London Bridge Studio’s Jonathan Plum spoke about it:

Why is the Telefunken so funken expensive?
Plum: A top-condition original Telefunken Ela-M 251 can actually sell for up to $20,000. They stopped making them in the late 60’s. Similar to vintage tube guitar amps, they just don’t make them like they use to. The vacuum tubes this mic uses were from WW2 and simply don’t exist anymore. The Elektroakustic Microphone is one of those “golden voice” microphones. Less than 3,000 were manufactured.

In non-geek language, describe why it’s so good.
It’s clear, present, and warm without sounding too bright. And they were made by hand. I recorded a test for you. Listen to a guitar recorded with an Ela-M - here. Compare that to a U-47 – here.

Now in geek language, describe why it’s so good.
They’re based on a diaphragm tube condenser. It comes with a NOS Telefunken AC701 tube, an original Austrian made AKG CK12 dual membrane capsule, custom wound Haufe transformer sourced from the original European supplier, vintage style Ela M 950 power supply, 10 meter Gotham Audio cable, locking leather bound flight case, wooden microphone box, owners manual, and a fully transferable lifetime warranty.

Lifetime warranty?
In early 2006, Telefunken USA acquired over 50 original Austrian made CK12 capsules from a private collector in Europe. These capsules have been reserved exclusively for the Vintage Series Limited Edition mics including the Ela M251V, Ela M251VAC and Ela M12V.

You can’t get any geekier than that? This is a $10,000 mic. Come on, let your tech flow. Let it out.
Ok. Lets see, AKG, which stands for Akustische und Kino-Gerate (Acoustic and Film Equipment) was formed in 1947 in Vienna, Austria. AKG developed the C-12 condenser microphone in 1953 based on a dual backplate/dual-membrane idea patented by Kalusche and Spardock in 1951. The modified version of this idea became the basis for the CK-12 capsule. AKG was the first to manufacture a split electrode microphone. The original capsule membrane was 10-micron-thick PVC, which was later changed to 9-micron-thin Mylar. The amplifier design was based on the 6072 tube, and the C-24 stereo edition of the mic with two CK-12 capsules utilized this dual triode to its full extent. The C-12, like the M49, had a remotely controlled pattern selection from omni to bi-directional via the selector switch located in a box between the microphone and the power supply. The C-12 remained in production until 1963. In 1964, the C-12A appeared with a 7586 Nuvistor tube amplifier and a physical shape foreshadowing the design of the 414 Series. In 1959, after the U47 had been withdrawn from Telefunken distribution, Telefunken commissioned AKG to develop a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. This became the ELAM 250. This design incorporated the CK-12 capsule in a wider body with a thicker wire mesh grille. A two-pattern selector switch (cardioid to omnidirectional) was placed on the microphone. The ELAM 251 added a third bi-directional pattern to the switching arrangement.

Thank you. I needed that.

RSS icon Comments





Posted by JH | May 1, 2008 3:46 PM

Frankly, they both sound great to me.

Jonathan is a good egg.

Posted by Yogi | May 1, 2008 3:53 PM

Put that coffee down!! Coffee's for closers only.

The good news is -- you're fired.

You drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove a eighty thousand dollar BMW. That's my name!!

Always be closing.

Posted by Blake | May 1, 2008 4:15 PM

Although this one lost me at the end, I think more in-depth analysis on your gear reviews is a good thing.

Dig deep, Trent. Those who care will be enlightened.

Posted by Paulus | May 1, 2008 7:33 PM


there's a record player needle that costs $10,000 too.

Posted by zfdbz | May 2, 2008 2:00 AM

Interesting, but it's only worth 10k to people who care about it. Kinda like abstract art.

Posted by henry o henry | May 2, 2008 8:32 AM

$10,000 mics are for abstract closers only.

Posted by trent moorman | May 2, 2008 12:00 PM

That mic is too good for me. Not to say I don't WANT one, I just mean you can't show up at a high school dance with jr. high moves. I would be a waste of its time.

Any examples of recorded output using one of those bad boys you can't point us too?

To your earlier point, an average Rolex weighs in around $25K, not that it really matters... just sayin'.

Posted by Dougsf | May 2, 2008 5:52 PM

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