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…
The 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.
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.
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.
Good soldering skills and patience required!
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!