One of the biggest trends in the pro audio world in the last 10 years, apart from the resurgence of the ribbon microphone, has been the modification of lower-end gear to yield high-end results. In many cases, a simple tube or transformer swap can immediately make a noticeable difference in the sound. In some cases, additional circuit changes can transform a good piece of equipment into great equipment that might rival the performance of gear many times its price. Perhaps nowhere is this more prevalent these days than with microphones. Not only are there a ton of sites that offer DIY solutions for mic mods but there are several companies and boutique “mic modders” who offer these services for a reasonable price. Reasonable, that is, when you consider the price of the mics that these modified specimens are said to rival.
For the average project studio owner, spending $5,000 or $10,000 on a microphone is usually out of the question, but spending a few hundred dollars on a mic and a few hundred dollars on modifications is a much more realistic proposition. These modified mics may not have the sex appeal of a vintage Neumann or RCA but they can often hold their own or even outperform their revered competition. Will they help a studio attract clientele? Probably not. Will they get the job done? Judging from my own adventures with mic modding—which I’ll detail in this article—absolutely. Wouldn’t everybody love to have the bragging rights that go with owning a beautiful U 47 in perfect condition? Naturally, but when your clients are paying $50 per hour, it’s not easy to justify a $10,000 mic much less all the other items in the gear lust list. Having an affordable option in the “modded” category is a welcome alternative for a growing number of studio owners on a budget and, let’s face it, these days, who isn’t?
As a studio owner, I’ve rented plenty of microphones over the years. I’ve often fantasized about owning many of the legendary mics that have come through the door. I could easily afford them all if I’d only increase the studio rate to $500 per hour. Need I pursue this scenario any further to illustrate my point?
Putting myself squarely in the category of a studio owner on a tight budget, I began researching the possibility of modifying a few mics that could perform on a high level without the high price tag…
To read the rest of my review of the Advanced Audio CM-12 Mod, please visit RecordingHacks.com.
In this podcast episode, I interview Dave Thomas of Advanced Audio Microphones. We discuss their product line as well as details about the various modification packages. There’s a little shootout between a stock Apex 460, the Advanced Audio CM-12 and an AKG C 12. How did the CM-12 compare with the two other mics? Well, naturally, you’ll just have to listen to find out.
If you’d like to compare the mics in your own DAW, you can download a zipped folder containing the 24-bit shootout samples here.
For more information about Advanced Audio Microphones’ products and services, please visit www.aamicrophones.com.