Top 11 Best Tube Condenser Microphones On The Market 2020


Tube condenser microphones have been cherished in the audio industry since 1928 when Neumann released the CMV3 (“the Bottle”), marking the first-ever commercial tube mic. Though tube condenser microphones are less common since manufacturers have begun designing solid-state condensers, they are still among the greatest microphones in the world and are highly-sought after in professional studios around the world.

Many of the greatest tube microphones are vintage microphones from the distant past and have been discontinued. Rather than talking about the best vintage microphones, this article presents to you a sort of “best of the best” of the current tube condenser market.

My New Microphone does have a specific article discussing the best vintage microphones. Read it here by clicking on the title: Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones).

Without further ado…

My New Microphone’s top 11 best tube condenser microphones on the market are:

  1. Telefunken Ela M 251E
  2. Telefunken C 12
  3. Telefunken U 47
  4. Brauner VMA
  5. Sony C-800G
  6. Neumann U 67
  7. Neumann M 150 Tube
  8. Blue Bottle
  9. Manley Labs Reference Gold
  10. Mojave MA-200
  11. Rode NTK

In this article, I’ll provide alternative versions of the more famous microphones that have clones. If possible, I’ll also provide “budget” options since these microphones demand very high price points. You’ll notice that the Rode NTK is only “budget” option (under $1000 USD) to make this list. You’ll find out why in the detailed section on the Rode NTK.

Before we get into the details of each of the top 11 best tube condenser microphones on the market, we’ll go through what makes a great tube condenser mic and the factors that have guided my decisions.

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What Is A Tube Condenser Microphone?

A tube condenser microphone, as the name suggests, is a microphone that features a condenser capsule and vacuum tube electronics.

The condenser capsule is the transducer element of the microphone that converts sound waves (mechanical wave energy) into audio signals (electrical energy). This capsule works via electrostatic principles and is essentially set up as a parallel-plate capacitor.

In order to function properly, the capacitor must hold a fixed electrical charge across its plates. Therefore, the capsule is designed to have an incredibly high electrical impedance.

The vacuum tube electronics are the impedance converter and internal amplifier of the microphone. The tube effectively uses the high-impedance capsule signal to modulate a stronger, lower-impedance signal which ultimately becomes the microphone’s output.

So the two components (capsule and tube) together allow for condenser mics to function properly.

Tube condensers are cherished for their accuracy and wide frequency response and are, at the same time, admired for their character and colour.

The condenser capsule typically reacts very precisely to the sound waves around it. The tube (and output transformer to some extent) adds inherent saturation and compression to the signal in a sonically pleasing way that is highly sought-after in the world of audio recording.

For much more information on tube condenser microphones, check out the following My New Microphone articles:

The Complete In-Depth Guide To Tube Condenser Microphones
What Is A Tube Microphone And How Do Tube Mics Work?


What Factors Make A Great Tube Condenser Microphone?

It’s important to note that every microphone will have different characteristics and every tube circuit and capsule will also have different characteristics.

Some tubes sound inherently “warm” and “smooth,” which is how tube microphones are often described. Other tubes sound extremely “clean” and “bright”, similar to how solid-state condenser microphones are usually portrayed.

Likewise, some condenser capsules produce brilliantly accurate reproductions of sound in their audio signals. Others are not so accurate, particularly as we move off-axis.

So not all tube condensers fit the general description of a tube condenser microphone. That being said, tube condensers are often defined by their warmth; weight; wide frequency response, and compressed sound.

What factors make a great tube condenser microphone? It really depends on what sound you’re going for and which applications you’ll be using your microphone in. However, in general, we can rely on the following factors:

  • Wide frequency response.
  • Saturated and compressed (“warm and smooth”) character.
  • High sensitivity.
  • Versatility.

Wide Frequency Response

A wide microphone frequency response refers to a wide range of frequencies a particular microphone is capable of reproducing in its mic signal.

The audible frequency spectrum is universally accepted to be 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (cycle/second). Having a microphone that is capable of reproducing a wide range of those frequencies, if not the entire range, is important.

It’s also important for a microphone to not overproduce or underproduce any particular frequency band by a significant amount. Having a relatively flat frequency response curve is critical unless we’ll absolutely after a coloured sound that accentuates certain bands.

That being said, a microphone with a slight boost or cut in certain frequency ranges can help give the mic character. It’s also not absolutely necessary that a mic be completely sensitive in the low-end (sub 40 Hz) or high-end (16 kHz an up) since humans have difficulty hearing in the outskirts of the audible frequency range.

To learn more about microphone frequency, check out my articles Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples) and What Are Coloured And Flat Microphone Frequency Responses?

Saturated And Compressed (“Warm And Smooth”) Character

Although a saturated and compressed signal is absolutely not a necessity of a great tube condenser microphone, it does provide the quintessential “tube sound.”

Of course, this is blatantly subjective. Though saturation and compressed could technically be calculated, they vary by how hard you push the microphone (how loud the sound source is in front of the microphone).

The sound of saturation and compression is heard by the trained ear and judged as good or bad depending on the situation.

That being said, many tube microphones are cherished for this “sound” and so, in this list, “warm” and “smooth” characters get extra points.

High Sensitivity

A great tube condenser microphone is sensitive. It’s not only capable of picking up sounds with nuance and precision but it also outputs a strong audio signal.

The nuanced capture of the tube microphone comes from the thin membrane of the capsule while the strong output is due to the tube amplifier inside the circuitry.

To learn more about the microphone sensitivity rating, check out my articles What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description and What Is A Good Microphone Sensitivity Rating?

Versatility

Versatility is not critical to performance but it makes a tube condenser microphone that much more usable inside and out of the studio.

Versatility in a tube condenser could mean any of the following:

  • Multiple switchable polar patterns.
  • High-pass filters.
  • Passive attenuation devices.
  • Alternate circuit paths.

It’s also worth noting that part of the allure of tube microphones for do-it-yourselfers is the ability to “roll” the tubes: swapping out the tubes to yield a different sound.

To learn more about the aforementioned versatility factors, check out the following My New Microphone articles:

The Complete Guide To Microphone Polar Patterns
What Is A Microphone High-Pass Filter And Why Use One?
What Is A Microphone Attenuation Pad And What Does It Do?


A Few Extra Notes

Before we begin, I’ll mention just a few more notes!

Yes, tube microphones are greatly appreciated in the audio industry but there are a few points of caution we should address:

Tube microphones are expensive: the capsules, tubes, transformers (if required), and other components are not cheap to manufacture or source for tube condenser microphone construction. Inexpensive capsules, tubes and other components are generally of much poorer quality and affect the sound of the mic thusly. Expect a large price tag on high-quality tube microphones.

I do provide affiliate links in this article which will earn me a commission at no extra charge to you if you so choose to buy a microphone via one of my links. However, with the high price points of many of these mics, I highly recommend you rent one to try before committing your money to such a large purchase!

Tube microphones are not necessarily better than FET microphones: it’s a common misconception that solid-state (FET) condensers are of lesser quality than tube mics (this is perhaps due to the variance in cost). Rest assured this is simply not the case. There are excellent and terrible tube mics just like there are excellent and terrible FET mics.

To learn about all the differences between tube and solid-state mics, check out my article What Are The Differences Between Tube & FET Microphones?

Tube microphones require time to function properly: unlike FET mics that power up almost immediately (phantom power sometimes takes a few seconds to fully “boot up” a solid-state condenser), tube microphones ofter require 10 minutes or more to effectively “warm up” to a consistent sound.

With that out of the way, let’s get into what you really came here for!


Top 11 Best Tube Condenser Microphones On The Market

Here is My New Microphone’s list of the top 11 best tube condenser microphones on the market:

  1. Telefunken Ela M 251E
  2. Telefunken C 12
  3. Telefunken U 47
  4. Brauner VMA
  5. Sony C-800G
  6. Neumann U 67
  7. Neumann M 150 Tube
  8. Blue Bottle
  9. Manley Labs Reference Gold
  10. Mojave MA-200
  11. Rode NTK

1. Telefunken Ela M 251E

The Telefunken Ela M 251E (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is a reproduction of one of the all-time greatest microphones to ever be produced. The Ela M 251E is a multi-pattern large-diaphragm side-address tube condenser microphone.

The original, now-vintage Telefunken Ela M 251s go for tens of thousands of dollars on vintage markets. The 251E remake only goes for.. drum roll, please… $10,000 USD! Although this microphone seems ridiculously expensive, it still gets purchased and used in studios around the world today.

Telefunken Ela M 251E
  • Debut year: 1959
  • Capsule: AKG CK-12
  • Vacuum tube: 6072a (General Electric or Electro Harmonix)
  • Transformer: Haufe T14:1
  • Power supply: M 950E
  • Polar patterns: Omnidirectional/ Cardioid/ Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 17 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω (50 Ω switchable)
  • Self-noise: 9 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 130 dB SPL

As listed above, the Telefunken Ela M 251 includes the legendary dual-backplate, edge-terminated CK12 capsule. In this microphone, the capsule allows for easy switching (on the microphone body near the head grille) between cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional (figure-8) polar patterns.

This microphone features a beloved 6072A vacuum tube that adds sonic warmth and smoothness to the audio signal. Its Haufe T14:1 output transformer is the same as the original Ela M 251 (and the AKG C12 that the 251 is based on). Together, the 6072A tube and Haufe T14:1 transformer colour the signal to give the 251E an incredibly smooth sound that has made this microphone famous for well over half a century.

The 251E is designed with modern components that allow for consistency in microphone specifications. These components drastically improve the self-noise of their vintage counterparts.

Other than the modern components, this reissue is nearly a perfect replica of the original Ela M 251 which is one of the most renowned microphones in the history of audio.

Its smooth yet present and open sonic character is unrivalled by any of its contemporaries. The Ela M 251E is an ideal choice for vocals and acoustic instruments. Its extended and focused low end; detailed mid-range response, and a silky top-end yield some of the greatest results on vocals, acoustic instruments, and many others.

The Telefunken Ela M 251E comes in a leather-trimmed carrying case with a vintage-reproduction M 950E power supply with power cable; a swivel-type microphone mount, and a wooden storage box.

The original Telefunken Ela M 251 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

The reproduction Telefunken Ela M 251E is featured in these My New Microphone articles:

Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today
Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals

Another Option: Bock Audio 251

The Bock Audio 251 (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is another remake of the classic vintage Ela M 251E microphone. It’s still very expensive at a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned Telefunken Ela M 251E.

David Bock of Bock Audio has been repairing and rebuilding vintage 251s for over 30 years and knows the build of this microphone inside-and-out. The Bock Audio 251 has been designed to offer the original sound of the 251 without the inconsistencies and time-induced issues that come with vintage microphones.

It’s important to note that the Bock Audio 251 is not a perfect recreation of the original (component-wise or cosmetically). David Bock has been quoted stating “my job was to get the essence of the sound without all of the cost.” (source).

Bock Audio 251
  • Debut year: 2007
  • Capsule: Dual asymmetrical-backplate CK12-type
  • Vacuum tube: New Old Stock 6201
  • Transformer: Custom Bock Audio
  • Power supply: P251 True Linear
  • Polar patterns: Omnidirectional/ Cardioid/ Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 10Hz to 18,000 Hz, +/-2dB
  • Sensitivity rating: 19 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 18 dBA (32 dB)
  • Maximum sound pressure level:
    112 dB SPL (0.5% THD)
    118 dB SPL (1% THD)
    129 dB SPL (2% THD)

This multi-pattern large-diaphragm side-address tube condenser microphone features a dual asymmetrical-backplate CK12-type capsule. It offers the same 3 polar pattern options as the original 251 (cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional) with a switch that is located in the same position below the head grille.

Although the Bock Audio 251 does not use the same components as the original, it comes very close to capturing the beauty of the original 251 without all the cost.

Bock Audio’s version of the 251 features a NOS tube 6201 tube and a proprietary hand-wound multisectioned output transformer. These components, along with the hand-made CK12-type capsule, are more economical alternatives to the original components but offer fantastic results and sound amazing when put together in the Bock Audio 251.

This microphone excels on vocals, yield equally impressive results on both females and males. It also shines on instruments, adding slight saturation to really bring out the character of the instrument being captured. The accentuation of air and high-end sweetness makes this microphone shine on practically any clean sound source.

The Bock Audio 251 ships out with its P251 True Linear PSU and power cable; a custom shock mount, and a padded wooden storage case.

Bock Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of.

Budget Clone: Warm Audio WA-251

The Warm Audio WA-251 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a wonderful budget option for those of us that want a 251 microphone at an affordable price.

This microphone is described as a “faithful recreation of a legend” and is a steal at under $1000 USD.

Warm Audio WA-251
  • Debut year: 2019
  • Capsule: WA-12-B-60V
  • Vacuum tube: Slovak Republic JJ 12AY7
  • Transformer: Custom CineMag USA
  • Power supply: External IEC Grounded PSU
  • Polar patterns: Omnidirectional/ Cardioid/ Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz ~ 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 17 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 12 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 132 dB SPL

The design of this large-diaphragm side-address tube condenser starts with the WA-12-B-60V capsule. This all-brass, edge-terminated capsule recaptures much of the smoothness and rich vintage sound of the original CK12 with fewer manufacturing limitations and a lower cost of production.

The WA-251 has the same 3 polar patterns as the original 251 (cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional), though the pattern switch for the WA-251 is located on the power supply unit rather than on the body of the microphone. This is a noteworthy difference.

The Slovak Republic JJ 12AY7 vacuum tube colours the sound of the capsule in such a way that evokes the smooth vintage sound we’re after in a 251 microphone. The frequency response of the JJ tube adds to the vintage tonality of this microphone.

The high-end American-made CineMag USA transformer balances the mic signal while presenting a strong top-end and low-end in the mic signal. A powerful low-end is what we expect from 251 microphones and Warm Audio delivers on this expectation with their WA-251.

Whether we’re recording vocals, guitars, drums, piano, strings, brass, woodwinds, or any other instrument, the WA-251 is an incredible choice that will not break the bank the microphones it’s modelled after.

When it comes to the best bang-for-buck, you can bet that the Warm Audio WA-251 is the go-to 251 clone.

The Warm Audio WA-251 is packaged with its External IEC Grounded PSU and power cable; a custom shock mount, and a padded wooden storage case.

Warm Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of.

The Warm Audio WA-251 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 12 Best Microphones Under $1,000 for Recording Vocals.


2. Telefunken C 12

The Telefunken C 12 (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is a recreation of the AKG C 12 which is one, if not the, greatest microphones of all time. The Telefunken C 12 is a multi-pattern large-diaphragm side-address tube condenser microphone.

AKG C 12s are still around on the vintage markets but demand very high price points and often require repairs. This makes sense as only about 2500 original C 12s were manufactured in a 10-year production run from 1953 to 1963. The Telefunken C 12 is a modern remake that is on the market today, though it, too, demands a largely unaffordable price tag of about $9,000 USD.

Telefunken C 12
  • Debut year: 2003
  • Capsule: Telefunken CK-12
  • Vacuum tube: 6072a
  • Transformer: Haufe T14:1
  • Power supply: M 910
  • Polar patterns: 9-Pattern Variable including Omnidirectional, Cardioid and Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz, ± 3 dB
  • Sensitivity rating: 10 mV/Pa ± 1 dB
  • Output impedance: 250 Ω
  • Self-noise: 9 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 130 dB SPL

To create the remake of the legendary C 12, Telefunken engineers have reverse-engineered numerous original AKG C 12s. In doing so, they’ve been able to recreate the impressive point-to-point construction and aesthetic of the original.

In fact, the design is so precise that each component of the Telefunken C 12, including the head grilles, connectors, capsule mounts, and plastic decks are compatible with vintage AKG C12s in need of service.

At the heart of the C 12 design is the famous CK12 capsule. Telefunken’s CK12 capsules are hand-crafted in-house. Their backplates are machined to match the original and the diaphragms are tuned by hand with meticulous attention to detail.

The result is a sound and performance just like the AKG CK12. Like the original, the Telefunken C 12 offers 9 selectable polar patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional. These patterns are switchable via the power supply, though the original AKG C 12 had its polar pattern switches on a separate device.

The 6072A dual-triode glass tube, Haufe T14:1 output transformer and most of the amplifier circuit, as a whole, matches that of the original C 12. Telefunken’s circuit improved upon and modernizes the circuit with the implementation of cathode self-biasing operation. This minor detail yields a quieter, more reliable tube that requires less power to function.

The important note about the amplifier circuit is that its sound is an incredibly close approximation to that of the original. Producing a microphone to match the full, smooth and present sound of an all-time great is no easy task and Telefunken nailed it with its reproduction of the C 12.

C 12 microphones are phenomenal choices for capturing the sounds of all instruments and vocal types. They are also especially effective on drum overheads, acoustic guitar, and vocals. Telefunken’s C 12 is no exception to this rule. In fact, if anything, it furthers the rule.

The smooth and airy frequency response of the C 12 has made it a legend in the world of audio. Telefunken has captured the spirit and essence of this world-famous microphone and has packaged it in a modern microphone with a strong vintage feel. Its clear and articulate midrange captures the sound source with a natural presence. Its low end is tight, focused and balanced with the rest of the frequency range.

The brand new purchase of a Telefunken C 12 includes a padded wooden storage box; a power supply and cable, and a vintage-style suitcase.

The original AKG C 12 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

The reproduction Telefunken C 12 is featured in these My New Microphone articles:

Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today
Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals

Another Option: AKG C 12 VR

The AKG C 12 VR (link to check the price on Amazon) is AKG’s successor to its legendary C 12 tube condenser microphone.

AKG describes the C 12 VR as “…an enhanced version of the original C 12, from the capsule sound to the original 6072A vacuum tube…” This microphone was brought to the market due to popular demand for an AKG microphone with a “tube sound.”

AKG C 12 VR
  • Debut year: 1994
  • Capsule: AKG CK12-style
  • Vacuum tube: 6072A
  • Transformer: Ü66 (T5743)
  • Power supply: N12 VR
  • Polar patterns: 9-selectable
  • Frequency response: 30 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 10 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 22 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 128 dB SPL

Many audiophiles and sound engineers would agree that, apart from the general shape and the 6072A, the AKG C 12 VR are AKG C 12 are far from the same microphone. This is an issue since the microphones share a name. However, it doesn’t necessarily make the VR edition a bad microphone, just a different microphone.

With that key point out of the way, the AKG C 12 VR is actually a great mic and deserves a mention on this list anyway. To be fair, the C 12 is perhaps the greatest microphone to ever be produced and is incredibly difficult to recreate, let alone outdo.

The C 12 VR is a large-diaphragm multi-pattern tube condenser microphone. Its CK12-style capsule yields a wide frequency response and 9 selectable polar patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional. These patterns are switchable via the N12 VR power supply unit.

The C 12 VR also offers two different pre-attenuation pads at 10 and 20 dB along with two high-filter options at 100 Hz and 130 Hz. These switches are also housed on the PSU.

The 6072A vacuum tube and custom output transformer colour the sound in a smooth but somewhat dark manner. This results in a microphone that sounds great on brighter vocals, guitar/bass cabinets, and brass instruments.

So although the C 12 VR often gets a bad wrap for its performance-to-cost and its notable differences from the C 12, it’s still a good microphone. Do I recommend this microphone? Probably not but as an aside from the Telefunken C 12, I figured I would mention it.

The AKG C 12 VR comes with an aluminum carrying case; power supply and cable, as well as a custom windscreen and spider-type shock mount.

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

Budget Clone: Avantone CV-12

The Avantone CV-12 (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is a budget-friendly tube condenser microphone based loosely on the AKG C 12.

Although Avantone does not explicitly describe the CV-12 as a C 12 clone, we can see by the form factor, 6072A tube, T14-style transformer and CK12-style capsule that this microphone design is at the very least influenced by the original C 12. With a name like the CV-12, it makes it kind of obvious.

Avantone instead defines its CV-12 as “comparable to some of the fine vintage tube mics of the 1950s & 1960s…but at a fraction of their cost!” And at about $500 USD, the CV-12 is an incredible value.

Avantone CV-12
  • Debut year: 2007
  • Capsule: CK12-style
  • Vacuum tube: 6072A
  • Transformer: Cinemag T14-style
  • Power supply: PS-12
  • Polar patterns: 9-selectable
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20,000 Hz +/- 3dB
  • Sensitivity rating: -35 dBV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 250 Ω
  • Self-noise: <17 dB
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 136dB (0.5% THD @1000Hz) 146dB with pad engaged

The dual-diaphragm capsule of the CV-12 offers 9 selectable polar patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional. These patterns are selected via a rotary switch on the external power supply. Of course, this capsule is not made to original CK12 specs (the CK12 costs more than the entire CV-12) but the capsule certainly acts similarly to the famous CK12.

In addition to 9 selectable polar patterns, the CV-12 also offers a 10 dB pad and a high-pass filter at 80 Hz with -6 dB/octave.

These options make the Avantone incredibly versatile in the studio and allow it to excel on practically all sound sources.

The transformer-coupled tube circuitry is based around the 6072A vacuum tube and has its origins in famous European vintage designs. In fact, the 6072A tube is the tube used in many top-of-the-line vintage microphones including the AKG C 12 and Telefunken Ela M 251.

The sound of the Avantone CV-12 is par to none given its price point. This microphone is a perfect choice for a small-time or project studio in search of a primary vocal microphone. Fortunately, the versatility of the CV-12 also allows it to outperform many of its peers on other sound sources such as voiceover, acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar, brass, woodwinds, piano and drums.

The Avantone CV-12 comes with a dedicated power supply unit and power cable; a padded wooden box; suspension shock mount, and aluminum flight case.

The mic carries a 5-year warranty.

The Avantone CV-12 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 10 Best Microphones Under $500 for Recording Vocals.


3. Telefunken U 47

The Telefunken U 47 (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is an exact historical recreation of the legendary vintage Neumann U 47. The U 47 is one of the world’s most beloved vintage vocal microphones.

As history would have it, the U 47 was originally developed by Neumann but distributed by Telefunken in the mid-to-late 1940s. The first U 47 microphones to hit the market actually bore the Telefunken logo rather than the Neumann logo before Neumann took over its own distribution.

Telefunken U 47
  • Debut year: 1946
  • Capsule: Thiersch M7
  • Vacuum tube: Telefunken VF14k
  • Transformer: BV8
  • Power supply: M 940H
  • Polar patterns: Cardioid/ Omnidirectional 
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz ± 3 dB
  • Sensitivity rating: 24.5 mV/Pa ±1 dB
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 9dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 127 dB SPL

Let’s begin our dissection of Telefunken’s U 47 with the capsule. The newly manufactured Thiersch M7 is a replica of the original Neumann M7 capsule. This centre-terminated dual-diaphragm condenser capsule offers a wide frequency response and two switchable polar patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional).

The U 47 was actually the first microphone ever to feature multiple polar patterns.

Telefunken’s modern VF14K vacuum tube is actually made by retrofitting a NOS glass tube into the original U 47 VF14 tube’s metal jacket and matching the VF14 pinout. This results in increased durability and a bigger bottom end in the signal.

Finally, the BV8 output transformer is based on the same transformer as the original U 47.

So how does the Telefunken U 47 sound and perform?

Well, it has an authoritative mid-range and extended low-end response that provides weight and presence to its sound source. The high-end of this microphone is also well represented and adds a certain sparkle to the sound that may be missed in the original.

The Telefunken U 47 is a superb choice on a plethora of sources including guitars, orchestras, choirs, and chamber ensembles. Like its predecessor, the Telefunken U 47 is a cardinal microphone for all sorts of vocal performances.

Like the original U 47, the replica Telefunken U 47 is rich and vibrant in tone and is a sign of professionalism and seriousness in the professional studio.

This microphone includes its dedicated PSU and cable; elastic shock mount; a padded wooden storage case, and a locking suitcase.

The original Neumann U 47 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

The reproduction Telefunken U 47 is featured in these My New Microphone articles:

Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today
Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals

Another Option: Peluso 22 47

The Peluso 22 47 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a visual clone of the “short body” Neumann U 47 and is the base model in Peluso’s 47 line of microphones. Also included in this series is the 22 47 SE (American Base steel tube, model 5693 or 6SJ7) and 22 47 LE (German “steel” tube, currently a hand-selected EF-12 or EF-13).

With the 22 47, Peluso presents a similar microphone to the original short body broadcast U 47 at a fraction of the cost. The components are modernized and cheaper to manufacture but the microphone is comparable enough to warrant the name.

Peluso 22 47
  • Capsule: K47-style with dual-backplate
  • Vacuum tube: CE6072A
  • Transformer: Custom Peluso
  • Power supply: Peluso MX-56
  • Polar patterns: 9 – Switchable from Omnidirectional to Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 22,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 12 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 12 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 140 dB SPL

At the heart of the Peluso 22 47 is the capsules. This capsule is loosely based on the original K47 capsules though it has several key differences.

The main design difference is that the original U 47 capsules (both the M7 and the K47) were designed with a shared backplate while Peluso’s capsule has two separate backplates.

Another big difference is that the M7 and K47 offered two pickup patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional) to the U 47 while the 22 47 capsule offers 9 selectable patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional. These patterns are switchable via the MX-56 power supply unit.

In addition to the 9 polar patterns, the 22 47 capsule offers a wide frequency response and decent sensitivity.

The Peluso 22 47 utilizes a glass CE6072A vacuum tube amplifier for a relatively clean and accurate sound. Its custom output transformer also sounds nice and clean. This yields incredible detail in the mic signal while still offering the same style of vintage warmth as the original U 47 tube condenser.

The smooth immaculate sound of the 22 47 makes it an ideal choice on male and female vocals, voiceover, acoustic string instruments including piano, and clean instrument amplifiers.

I would recommend this microphone to the project and professional studio owner alike. It makes a great primary or secondary vocal mic and has the versatility to function on plenty of other sound sources.

A new purchase of the Peluso 22 47 comes with its power supply and cable; shock mount; flight case, and padded wooden storage box.

Budget Clone: Warm Audio WA-47

Warm Audio makes the list again with another budget-friendly tube condenser microphone. The Warm Audio WA-47 (link to check the price on Amazon) is another microphone based on the classic U 47 for the pro and project studio; live sound, and broadcast applications. Unlike the U 47, though, it will not break the bank!

Warm Audio WA-47
  • Debut year: 2017
  • Capsule: K47-style
  • Vacuum tube: JJ Slovak 575
  • Transformer: Custom TAB-Funkenwerk (AMI)
  • Power supply: Custom External IEC Grounded PSU
  • Polar patterns: 9 – Switchable from Omnidirectional to Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz ~ 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 12 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 11 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 140 dB SPL (<0.5% THD)

The core component of any condenser microphone is the capsule. Warm Audio’s WA-47-B-80v is a custom reproduction of the vintage K47 capsule used in post-1958 Neumann U 47s. WA’s capsule features the same hole pattern, frequency response and is near-perfect in terms of repeating the character of the legendary K47.

The nucleus of a tube condenser’s amplifier circuit is the vacuum tube. Warm Audio’s WA-47 utilizes a Slovak Republic JJ 5751 vacuum tube. This particular tube supplies lower gain with less noise. The low gain allows for more sonic saturation and character than higher-gain tubes would allow.

The custom TAB-Funkenwerk transformer helps to bring out a large bottom end in the mic signal which produces the big sound U 47 microphones are known for.

The WA-47 is a gorgeous microphone and at the price point, I’d recommend this mic to anyone looking for a classic tube sound at an affordable cost.

This microphone shines on vocals, acoustic/electric guitars, acoustic/electric bass, drums, piano, strings, brass/woodwind instruments, and pretty much any other sound source you could put it in front of.

A new purchase of a WA-47 includes the PSU, Gotham 7-pin GAC-7 cable, IEC power cable, shock mount and wooden storage box.

The Warm Audio WA-47 is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 12 Best Microphones Under $1,000 for Recording Vocals.


4. Brauner VMA

The Brauner VMA (link to check the price at Front End Audio) is a large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone. It marks a milestone in modern microphone technology, effectively combining two switchable microphone signal paths (based on Brauner’s VM1 and VMX microphones) into a single-capsule design.

Brauner VMA
  • Debut year: 2008
  • Capsule: VM1 capsule (by MBHO)
  • Vacuum tube: Telefunken EF806S and EF732
  • Transformer: Lundahl transformer
  • Power supply: Custom (8-pin Tuchel with 19″ rack mount)
  • Polar patterns: All (infinitely variable)
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz, ± 3 dB
  • Sensitivity rating: 28 mV /Pa in Cardioid
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: < 11 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 142 dB SPL @ 0,3 % THD

The VMA’s external power supply features a switch to choose between the VM1 “natural-sounding” circuitry or the VMX “charming sounding” circuitry. Brauner achieves this by integrating two completely independent high-quality signal paths rather than by applying filters and circuit switches to simply alter the frequency response.

The VM1 capsule offers infinitely variable polar patterns with negligible variation in frequency response. These patterns are altered via a dial on the PSU. The patterns pass through omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, and bidirectional while offering all the potential crossbreed patterns in between.

The three-position ground lift switch provides varying degrees of hum/interference elimination.

So with the Brauner VMA, you get two different high-quality tube sounds in one microphone. Combine these two options with the continuous variable infinite polar patterns and we have one of, if not the most, versatile microphones on the planet.

The Brauner VMA is a best-of-the-best type of microphone and excels on practically every sound source you could think of in some combination of settings.

The VMX ships with a custom aluminum case, BMS1 suspension mount, power supply, VOVOX cable, and a pop filter.

The BMS1 suspension mount holds the microphone firmly while effectively isolating the VMA from mechanical noise. One concern is that the mount may leave black marks on the microphone at first, though these marks are easily removable with a damp cloth.

Like the tube mic itself, the high-quality VOVOX 8-pin Tuchel cable should be treated with the utmost care. Ensure proper connection, locking, unlocking, and storage. The signal chain is only as good as the weakest link and the cable is often the weakest link when not properly cared for.

Brauner also offers a 24-month limited warranty on its VMA microphone to the original purchaser from the date of purchase.

The Brauner VMA is one of the Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today.


5. Sony C-800G

The Sony C-800G (link to check the price on Amazon) is a modern legend of the tube condenser microphone.

This oddly shaped large-diaphragm tube condenser mic is an intriguing specimen with an incredible sound.

Sony C-800G
  • Debut year: 1993
  • Capsule: Sony C800G (based on Neumann K67)
  • Vacuum tube: 6AU6
  • Transformer: Custom T101 9:1
  • Power supply: AC-MC800G
  • Polar patterns: Omnidirectional and Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 18,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 
    17.8 mV/Pa (Omnidirectional)
    25.1 mV/Pa (Cardioid)
  • Output impedance: 100 Ω
  • Self-noise: 18.0 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 131 dB SPL

The capsule of the C-800G is based on the legendary K67 capsule by Neumann. Both capsules have two centre-terminated large diaphragms and dual-backplates. The C800G capsule even portrays the characteristic backplate drilling pattern of the K67.

This close reproduction of the K67 offers a wide, natural frequency response along with 3 selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional). These polar patterns are switchable via a toggle on the C-800G body.

The 6AU6 vacuum tube circuit with the output transformer produces a strong signal with tons of character and clarity. These components play major roles in the clean and crisp sound of the C-800G that has made it a go-to vocal microphone in studios around the world.

The standout feature of the C-800G is the large Peltier external heatsink. This heatsink effectively keeps the tube at an optimal operating temperature. Interestingly, the power supply also uses 6AU6 tubes (two of them) as rectifiers which means there’s a total of three vacuum tubes in the C-800G design.

The Sony C-800G comes with the following accessories:

  • AC-MC800G (AC Power Supply Unit)
  • Wind screen
  • Cradle suspension
  • Stand screw adapter (PF1/2 to NS5/8)
  • Stand screw adapter (PF1/2 to W3/8)
  • Mic cable (8m, JIS CNR-01 type, 7-pin)
  • Carrying case

The high-quality cradle suspension is designed to hold the oddly-shaped C-800G in place. It’s unusual to have a centre of gravity that doesn’t align with the centre of the mic’s body. As good as the suspension mount is, it tends to sag over time.

The Sony C-800G is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today


6. Neumann U 67

The Neumann U 67 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a reissue of the legendary vintage Neumann U 67 from 1960. It is a large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone with modern components and an identical sonic character as the original.

Neumann U 67
  • Debut year: 2018
  • Capsule: K67
  • Vacuum tube: EF86
  • Transformer: BV 12
  • Power supply: Neumann NU 67 V
  • Polar patterns: Omnidirectional/ Cardioid/ Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 15 mV/Pa (omni)/ 24 mV/Pa (cardioid)/ 16 mV/Pa (bidirectional)
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 21 dBA (32 dB) omni/ 17 dBA (28 dB) cardioid/ 20 dBA (31 dB) bidirectional
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 114 dB SPL (cardioid) – 124 dB SPL with 10 dB pad engaged

The U 67 Reissue uses the same K67 capsule as the original. This dual-diaphragm single-backplate capsule yields an accurate frequency and transient response and offers the U 67 3 selectable polar patterns (omnidirectional, cardioid and bidirectional) via a switch on the microphone body.

The BV12 output transformer and EF86 vacuum tubes are carefully chosen for ideal performance. Neumann’s U 67 Reissue is optimized for lower noise levels and higher accuracy while maintaining the same character as its predecessor.

The new and improved NU 67 Vpower supply unit complies with today’s stricter safety standards and is fully compatible with older U 67 microphones.

Like the original it’s based on, the U 67 Reissue features a switchable 10 dB pad and high-pass filter to improve versatility and help get the microphone closer to the intended sound sources with fewer issues of overloading and proximity effect.

The U 67 sounds unbelievably good on most sound sources and is particularly powerful as a studio vocal microphone.

I’d recommend this microphone as a primary vocal mic in any studio environment.

The Neumann U 67 comes with the Z 48 elastic suspension, NU 67 V power supply, UC 5 microphone cable and a vintage-style Neumann carrying case.

The Z 48 is a high-quality elastic band cats cradle type shock mount that provides ample isolation from mechanical noise. These shock mounts, however, have been known to sag over time and should be cared for properly by removing the microphone when not in used to preserve the tension in the bands.

Neumann is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The original Neumann U 67 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

The Neumann U 67 Reissue is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
Top 20 Most Expensive Microphones On The Market Today

Another Option: Peluso P-67

Peluso gets a second mention in the article for its rendition of the U 67. The Peluso P-67 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a near-faithful recreation of the legendary Neumann U 67. It is remarkably close to sonic character of the original with modern components and a cheaper price tag.

Peluso P-67
  • Debut year: 2010
  • Capsule: K67-style
  • Vacuum tube: EF95
  • Transformer: Custom Peluso
  • Power supply: Peluso MX-56
  • Polar patterns: 9 polar patterns including Omnidirectional, Cardioid and Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 18 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 14 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 138 dB SPL (cardioid) – 148 dB SPL with 10 dB pad engaged

Let’s start with the capsule. The P-67’s capsule is a copy of the Neumann K67. Both are 34mm, dual-diaphragm, dual-backplate center-terminated capsules. Though the design is practically identical, U 67 only utilized its capsule to achieve 3 different polar patterns. Peluso’s 67 capsule is used to generate 9 selectable polar patterns instead.

The P-67 is designed with an EF95 tube rather than the original EF86 tube but maintains the same sonic character of the U 67’s amplifier circuit.

Peluso’s tribute maintains the same 10 dB pad and the low-frequency roll-off switch of Neumann’s first U 47.

With a lower price point and a sound that is a near-match to the original, I’d recommend this microphone to any pro or project studio for use on almost all sound sources.

The Peluso P-67 comes brand-new with a padded wooden storage case, power supply and cable, elastic shock mount, and carrying case.


7. Neumann M 150 Tube

The Neumann M 150 Tube (link to check the price on Amazon) is a replacement for the classic vintage Neumann M 50.

Unlike every mic we’ve discussed thus far, the M 150 Tube (like the M 50) is a small-diaphragm tube condenser microphone.

Neumann M 150 Tube
  • Debut year: 2001
  • Capsule: K 33 TI
  • Vacuum tube: 6111
  • Transformer: N/A
  • Power supply: N 149 A or N 149 V external power supplies
  • Polar pattern: Omnidirectional 
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 20 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 50 Ω
  • Self-noise: 15.0 dBA (28 dB)
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 114 dB

The M 150 Tube recaptures the bright character and omnidirectional polar pattern that made the original M 50 famous. This starts with the capsule.

The M 150 utilizes a Neumann K 33 TI which maintains the basic design of the M 50’s KK83 capsule but swaps the materials/components for a modernized titanium transducer element.

Neumann opted to replace the output transformer with a transformerless output circuit. This design decision yields reduced noise and harmonic distortion for a more transparent amplification and higher output current.

The 6111 tube is also different from the original AC701 used in the M 50.

So the microphone is actually quite a bit different from the M 50. However, it maintains the beautifully bright (but not harsh) sonic character of the original. It is a joy to use in the Decca Tree stereo formation and excels at capturing orchestral arrangements as well as solo acoustic instruments.

The M 150 Tube comes stock with the following:

  • N 149 A or N 149 V external power supply
  • KT 8 “8-core” cable
  • EA 170 suspension shock mount
  • Aluminum carrying case

It is also available in a matched stereo pair kit with two shock mounts in a larger aluminum suitcase.

The original Neumann M 50 and the M 150 Tube are featured in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


8. Blue Bottle

The Blue Bottle (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video) is a modular tube condenser microphone with a variety of different detachable capsules (called “Bottlecaps”) to choose from. It’s named after the first-ever commercially available Neumann CMV3 (“the Bottle”) due to its aesthetic and modular capsule design.

Blue Bottle
  • Debut year: 1996
  • Capsule: modular options (8x Blue Bottle Cap series).
  • Vacuum tube: EF86 pentode vacuum tube in triode mode
  • Transformer: Custom
  • Power supply: Blue 9610
  • Polar patterns: modular options. The stock B6 is cardioid.
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 20.0 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 7.5 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 134 dB SPL

The Blue Bottle circuitry is based around a hand-selected EF86 pentode vacuum tube in triode mode and a custom output transformer. The blending of a relatively old tube with modern circuit technology creates a unique sound in the Blue Bottle amplifier circuit that combines modern clarity with the smoothness and soul of a vintage microphone.

The Blue Bottle typically comes stock with a B6 large-diaphragm cardioid capsule, though there are plenty of other modular capsules to choose from. They include:

  • B0: Large-diaphragm cardioid.
    “The Ultimate Big Vocal Sound”
  • B1: Small-diaphragm cardioid.
    “The Accuracy Capsule”
  • B2: Large-diaphragm bidirectional (figure-8).
    “The Vintage Capsule”
  • B3: Mid-size diaphragm cardioid.
    “The Neutral Capsule”
  • B4: Small-diaphragm omnidirectional.
    “The Big Omni”
  • B5: Large-diaphragm omnidirectional.
    “The Presence Omni”
  • B6: Large-diaphragm cardioid (dual backplate).
    “The Blue Standard”
  • B7: Large-diaphragm cardioid (single backplate).
    “The Classic Vocal Sound”
  • B8: Large-diaphragm cardioid.
    “The Versatile Capsule”
  • B9: Large-diaphragm cardioid (dual backplate).
    “The Mix Forward Capsule”
  • B10: Large-diaphragm cardioid (dual backplate).
    “Smooth Vocal Sound”
  • B11: Large-diaphragm cardioid (dual backplate).
    “The Iconic Capsule”

With the modular design of the Blue Bottle, we could practically have an entire mic locker with a single mic body. The issue, of course, is that we’d only be able to use one mic at a time.

Regardless of the capsule choice, the Blue Bottle will output a mic signal with beautifully enhanced lows and elegantly extended highs. Its midrange, like many high-end tube condensers, is very present and upfront.

Though the Bottle is capable of shining on a multitude of different sources, its larger-than-life sound is particularly effective for recording vocals, percussion, and guitars.

Blue Microphones is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Blue Bottle is featured in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


9. Manley Reference Gold

Manley Laboratories is an industry leader in high-end professional audio equipment. The Manley Reference Gold (link to check the price on Amazon) is the company’s flagship microphone.

It is a large-diaphragm multi-pattern tube condenser microphone.

Manley Reference Gold
  • Debut year: 1990
  • Capsule: Josephson Engineering CK12-style
  • Vacuum tube: 12AT7
  • Transformer: Custom Manley
  • Power supply: Custom Outboard PSU
  • Polar pattern: Continuously variable from Omnidirectional to Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 17 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 250 Ω
  • Self-noise: -120 EIN
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 150 dB SPL

The capsule of the Reference Gold is modelled after the legendary CK12 capsule. This capsule is handcrafted by Josephson Engineering in California, using proprietary diaphragm-tensioning techniques, German Mylar film, and precision milling machinery.

This CK12-style capsule captures a beautifully wide and lush frequency response and provides the Reference Gold with infinitely variable polar patterns from bidirectional to omnidirectional. A small pot is located near the bottom of the mic to adjust the polar pattern.

The continuously variable pattern design was included in the Ref Gold primarily to fine-tune the proximity effect of the microphone. Dialling toward bidirectional will increase proximity effect while dialling toward omnidirectional will decrease proximity effect.

The open grille design reduces reflections and standing waves within the grille, further benefitting the detailed design of the capsule.

In addition to the flexible polar response, the Ref Gold also offers a switchable 10 dB pad for recording louder source up close.

The internal circuitry is based around a 12AT7 vacuum tube. This tube is socketed in order for easy swapping or replacement if need be. The 12AT7 and custom Manley output transformer, in addition to the circuit itself, provide ample amplification and wonderful colour to the mic’s signal.

All in all, the Reference Gold yields an amazing tube sound with a crisp modern top-end and accurate transient response.

The Ref Gold comes with a custom shock mount with replacement O-rings, a custom swivel mount, the custom outboard PSU with 6-pin cable, and a rigid plastic carrying case.

Manley’s proprietary precision suspension system works to effectively isolate the microphone.

The capsule is internally mounted onto a neoprene-rubber shock mount. The microphone body is held and suspended in a shock mount that includes a swivel mount with a T-bar handle and locking clutch.

Note that a potential fault in the design is that the microphone is best when it stays within the mount. Consistently removing and inserting the microphone from and into the mount will lead to the early failure of the fine shock mounting system. For this reason, Manley offers spare O-rings for the mounting system.

The PCB and tube can even be removed for servicing while the microphone remains in the mount. Manley even provides a leather capsule protector to fit over the open head basket so the mic can stay set up when not in use.

The Manley Reference Gold is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals.

Budget Option: Manley Reference Cardioid

The Manley Reference Cardioid (link to check the price on Amazon) is the single-pattern version of the Manley Reference Gold.

Manley Reference Cardioid
  • Debut year: 1991
  • Capsule: Josephson Engineering K67-style
  • Vacuum tube: 12AT7
  • Transformer: Custom Manley
  • Power supply: Custom Outboard PSU
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 17 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 250 Ω
  • Self-noise: -120 EIN
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 150 dB SPL

This microphone features the same transformer, body, tube, and head grille components as the aforementioned Reference Gold.

The capsule of the Reference Gold is a K67-style capsule with only the front membrane metallized. The rear half of the capsule has a clear (non-conductive) membrane, as do most single-pattern K67 capsules. This capsule yields a strong cardioid polar pattern and a lovely extended frequency response.

Without the bells and whistles of the Gold version, the Reference Cardioid still has that larger-than-life sound common among high-end tube condenser microphones. It easily outperforms the majority of its peers on a wide variety of sound sources.


10. Mojave MA-200

Mojave Audio is the condenser-focused microphone brand of David Royer of Royer Labs fame. The Mojave Audio MA-200 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a large-diaphragm cardioid tube condenser microphones and comes in at number 10 on this list.

This microphone is the flagship mic from Mojave Audio. Though you won’t be able to buy this mic with pocket change, it deserves a mention due to its incredible cost-to-performance ratio.

Mojave MA-200
  • Debut year: 2006
  • Capsule: K67-style
  • Vacuum tube:  JAN 5840 pentode
  • Transformer: Custom Jensen
  • Power supply: PS-200
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 30 Hz – 18,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: 14.1 mV/Pa
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 16.0 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 120 dB SPL

The capsule of the MA-200 is styled after the K67. It is a 3-micron, dual-diaphragm design, although the rear diaphragm is neither sputtered nor wired into the circuit. The capsule still requires the rear capsule to maintain the proper acoustic load on the centre-terminated front diaphragm.

This seemingly strange capsule choice yields an extended frequency response and a concise cardioid polar pattern.

The 5840 pentode vacuum tube and Jensen output transformer are the key components in the body of the Mojave Audio MA-200 and provide the necessary amplification and colouration to output the modern tube sound from the microphone.

The sound of the MA-200 is reminiscent of the big legendary tube mics of the past (many of which are mentioned earlier in this article) with a touch of modern high-end brightness in the mic signal.

Other common adjectives to describe the sound of the MA-200 are “aggressive” and “gritty.”

With those two sonic definitions, it stands to reason that the MA-200 sounds marvellous on harsher vocals and driven guitar amps. However, this microphone also performs well on plenty of other sources including softer vocals and acoustic guitar.

The high-end response of the MA-200 may cause issues with over-sibilant vocalists and other high-frequency-heavy sound sources.

The MA-200 comes with its own carrying case, power supply and cable, and shock mount.

Mojave Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of.

The Mojave Audio MA-200 is featured in My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones).


11. Rode NTK

The Rode NTK (link to check the price on Amazon) is another large-diaphragm cardioid tube condenser microphone.

This microphone makes the list mostly due to its price-to-performance ratio. If I personally had the choice (and the budget), I’d go for the above 10 mics over the NTK but for the price, it’s hard to beat!

Rode NTK
  • Debut year: 2006
  • Capsule: HF2
  • Vacuum tube: Sovtek 6922
  • Transformer: N/A
  • Power supply: NTK
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity rating: -38.0 dBV/Pa (25 mV/Pa)
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω
  • Self-noise: 12 dBA
  • Maximum sound pressure level: 158 dB SPL

The NTK is a transformerless tube microphone and is based around Rode’s proprietary HF2 edge-terminated capsule.

The capsule is designed specifically for this microphone and yields a wide frequency response and a consistent cardioid polar pattern

The hand-selected 6922 twin-triode valve provides warm amplification while the transformerless output keeps the signal sound modern and clean compared to many other tube microphones.

The NTK commands an ultra-wide dynamic range, low noise, and stunning tube warmth. Its rich valve sound benefits vocals, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, guitar amps, pianos and many more sources in and out of the studio.

The NTK comes with a dedicated power supply with a 30′ power cable; a high-quality stand/shock mount and a zip pouch.

Rode is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Rode NTK is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 12 Best Microphones Under $1,000 for Recording Vocals.


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


Sources

Talk about shock mounting and weight as well as warranty and included accessories

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