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New microphone modifications

by | May 22, 2014

New DIY Project

My soldering iron is getting restless so I need a new DIY project.

I’ve already built a few compressors and the EQ on my desk gives me many options – not to mention the colour added by my Lindell Audio Pultec EQs.

I think that the best form of EQ comes straight from the microphone anyway so I’ve decided to get stuck in with modifying some cheap condensers to get a much better sound overall, without forking out lots of cash…

Threecircles Recording Studio Mic Mod - Alctron HSMC001

Threecircles Recording Studio - Alctron MC001The Alctron MC001 as bought online for £36.

This mic body is the basis for many other mice such as the Apex 435.

Alctron makes other mics that are frequently modded such as the HST-11a which has been re-badged as the Apex 460 and Telefunken M16 to name a few.

Where to Start?

Many condensers made by more boutique manufacturers such as Peluso, MXL, GAP, T-Bone, Nady etc start off as a generic, often Chinese-made template. The mics then have critical components, not to mention the capsule, swapped out to un-cut the corners made by the original manufacturer who is often working on an economy of scale.

I have already bought modded mics – such as the MXL 910 that I bought from Michael Joly over at Oktavamod. The mic is basically a very sound design but Michael swaps out the capsule and bypasses some of the PCB as well as de-cluttering the head basket. The results are nothing short of astounding as the A/B comparisons on his website attest – many people cannot distinguish the modded mic from vintage Neumann U87s. Praise indeed.

The first mic I will attempt to Mod will be the Alctron HSMC001, used as a template for many mics including the Apex 435.

Microphone-parts.com has several ready-made kits to buy, including a choice of different capsules for different colour options. I opted for the K47 capsule – designed to rid many cheap mics of their overly bright, brittle top end.

Threecircles Recording Studio Mic Mod - Alctron HSMC001

Threecircles Recording Studio - Alctron MC001 Mod KitThe “Apex 435” mod kit as sold by Microphone Parts.This kit includes all the components you need for the build – just add a diaphragm – in this case I opted for the RK-47 Capsule.

I got the mic for a whopping £36 on eBay and the DIY upgrade kit was around £130 including delivery so for an initial outlay of under £200 I should have a cheap yet awesome-sounding mic as a result.

Threecircles Recording Studio Mic Mod -Finished PCBs

Threecircles Recording Studio - Alctron MC001 PCBsHere you can see the PCBs once the 25 components have been removed before adding the new, higher quality ones.

I chose to remove both boards from the mic which made things a lot easier – this involved de-soldering a few connecting wires from between the boards. I took photos to remind myself where they connected.

The mod itself is relatively straightforward – the kit comes with a full manual that has detailed pictures and is very easy to follow. The hardest part is making sure you don’t overheat the PCBs when removing components and working on such small boards. Also several of the new transistors need their legs reshaping to make sure they are orientated on the PCBs properly – this is all covered in the manual.

Threecircles Recording Studio Mic Mod -Finished Mod

Threecircles Recording Studio - Alctron MC001 Finished ModificationHere you can see the mic once modified – the mod consists of removing a total of 25 components from the two PCBs and then replacing them with higher quality ones.

Good soldering skills and patience required!

 

The Result…

This was a great build and took only a few hours and I can highly recommend it! Not only do you get a great-sounding mic at the end (hear the before/after demo at the bottom of the page) but getting it didn’t cost the earth!

Next stop: turning my Apex 460 valve mic into a C12 for only £300….

So what does the new mic sound like? – You have a listen and hear for yourself!

 

 

 

 

Threecircles Recording Studio
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Kieren Jones
Kieren Jones
2018-04-28T14:45:45+0000
Excellent recording facility and Adrian is a top professional guy! Thoroughly enjoyed it, will definitely be using your services again thanks for a great productive day.
Richard Simmonds
Richard Simmonds
2018-02-25T10:39:15+0000
Adrian, thank you for a great day and a half of recording finishing last Wednesday. Having been together as a group back in the 60s and now getting together 50 years on to record was a bit nerve racking but you made the thing so much easier with your professional advice and guidance. You've got a great set up and since we had Rog playing flute and drums [for some reason not at the same time!] the layering down of the instruments went really well. We had a great time and ended up with a CD and lots of happy memories. Martin living in France doesn't make it easy but we have all vowed to be back with something completely different for you to cut to disc. Thanks again and see you soon. Sam, Andy, Roger and Martin of Old Lemons fame.
Richard Ellis
Richard Ellis
2016-12-19T05:50:37+0000
This is a relaxed studio in a lovely location near the beautiful town of Saffron Walden. Adrian is a great sound guy, he listens and responds and adds enthusiasm to the day. Top recordings with the best equipment for a great price ... highly recommended ��
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
2016-12-17T12:19:23+0000
Having recorded at Threecircles several times, there's good reason why I keep going back... with such high end equipment, Ade's expertise and competitive pricing there's no need to go anywhere else!!
Andy Webster
Andy Webster
2016-12-14T22:55:28+0000
I first met Ade when a charity band event needed a sound technician and PA rig at short notice, he provided top notch sound for the event and also offered a very well priced live recording, which he would go away and mix at Threecircles Studio. The results were brilliant, I have never heard myself recorded live so well and the mixing was fantastic too. As a result, one of my bands then used Threecircles services again, this time at the studio to record a track for promotional purposes. We had a great time and were really happy with the results! Would highly recommend for both studio work and live sound.
Dan Mailer
Dan Mailer
2016-12-14T20:26:42+0000
Three Circles is excellent. Great studio that I have recorded at various times over the year. Ade is a hard working producer who gets great results.
Victoria Mills
Victoria Mills
2016-12-14T20:25:21+0000
I've both recorded and rehearsed at Threecircles and I can't recommend them enough! Nothing was too much trouble, the facilities are excellent and our demo sounds amazing! Thank-you!
Steve Watts
Steve Watts
2016-12-14T18:46:27+0000
Loved working with the chaps at Three Cirlces, they have all the gear and every idea! Super talented guys who get the very best out of you! 5/5
Rob Clark
Rob Clark
2016-12-14T18:20:10+0000
Very professional sound, genuinely listens to what you want and the sound you wish to create, and makes it better in every way! Highly recommend!
Stephen Ellis
Stephen Ellis
2016-12-14T18:19:54+0000
Recorded the last Kaine single at this studio; very professional set up, Ade is a great guy and the coffee is also good.
Gemma Marner
Gemma Marner
2016-12-14T18:04:48+0000
I've always loved recording at Three Circles - lovely, comfortable space and surroundings and Adrian is so easy to work with. Would recommend it in a heartbeat!
Joel Priest
Joel Priest
2016-12-14T16:57:59+0000
Great location as so close to London by road or rail. More mics than you can imagine and Ade has always done a highly professional job whenever I have used his services.
Kennedy Clark Herring
Kennedy Clark Herring
2016-12-14T16:42:36+0000
Truly professional attitude and highly capable. Recommending these guys for studio work as well as live sound... Cheers guys, appreciate the extra effort you put in,making us sound truly amazing. 5 stars : )
Chris MacKinnon
Chris MacKinnon
2016-12-14T16:41:46+0000
Ade at 3C is a true hero. Aside from having professional equipment, incredible understanding and knowledge of music production and a brilliant studio - he is a real genuine man. If I could I'd give this studio 6*, Ade recently recorded a single for my band completely for free because he knew we were doing it for charity.
Saxon Davids
Saxon Davids
2016-12-14T16:39:40+0000
Great recording facility! I've recorded at Threecircles twice now and enjoyed both sessions a lot, Ade is great to work with and has an set up of equipment and can produce excellent sound, and charges at a reasonable rate also! And the coffee is also a huge plus! 😉
Matt Milligan
Matt Milligan
2016-12-14T16:01:56+0000
Excellent recording studio, highly recommended!