TapeOp Issue #48/July, 2005 | by Henry Robinett
I wrote a review in Tape Op #44 about the Peluso 22 251 vacuum tube condenser. I was very impressed. So impressed that I wanted to check out the whole line. John Peluso, the great guy that he is, sent me a 22 47 multi-pattern, large-diaphragm, vacuum-tube condenser and a pair of CEMC-6 small-diaphragm condensers.
The 22 47 is loosely modeled after the Neumann U 47 and the CEMC-6 after the Schoeps CMC line. Using big names is a great marketing ploy, but my concern was not so much how they stacked up as clones, but rather how they stacked up as microphones in general. And of course, if they at least bore any sonic characteristics to the models they aspired to emulate.
Since I didn’t get the CEMC-6’s for a while, the first thing I did was borrow John Baccigaluppi’s Neumann CMV 563 “Bottle” with a Neumann M 7 capsule. It was the closet thing I could gather for a comparison (similar to my last test with the 22 251 against a Telefunken [USA] 251). In short, I love this mic! The 22 47 is very rich and round sounding. Nice fat mids and clear highs. It compared very favorably to the Neumann while mic’ing my beautiful Taylor XXV-DR Anniversary acoustic guitar. I also tested it on some vocals, both mine and a friend’s. I put both mics through a Millennia HV-3D with no compression. The Bottle with the U 47 capsule edged it out, but the 22 47 was still remarkable.
It has become, without a doubt, the favorite mic in my own collection.
I’ve now used the 22 47 extensively. It has become, without a doubt, the favorite mic in my own collection. I used to use an AEA R84 ribbon on my tenor player. He has a dark sound, so the AEA, even while applying EQ, was just a little too dark. On the other hand, the 22 47 is perfect. It captured the lows as well as the sparking highs. Very warm and radiant, for lack of better terms. I have yet to find something this mic doesn’t sound great on.
Perhaps the most telling example comes from recording vocals for this rock band I’m producing. We went to a studio for the first day of tracking lead vocals. We used the studio’s Telefunken Ela M 251 through a Daking preamp and an LA-2A. Sounded beautiful. Due to scheduling conflicts, the next day we went to my house. Not a professionally-treated facility. I pulled out the Peluso 22 47 and put it through my Millennia HV-3D preamp and Peavey VC/L-2 compressor. Sounded great. The next week, the band came around for a listen. I didn’t say anything, but I thought the tracks with the Peluso sounded much better. Suddenly, the leader said, “I don’t know about you, but I think the vocals with the less expensive mic sound way better!” Then everyone agreed. So from then on, we tracked the rest of the vocals, lead and background, at my house with the Peluso.
I also need to say, especially in relationship to my erstwhile review of the 22 251, this session had extreme dynamics. This singer really screamed and put some serious stress on this mic. The 22 47 handled the high SPL with aplomb. And actually, the 22 251 did as well in subsequent uses. Not even the slightest bit of distortion whatsoever. This is a great mic, regardless of any comparisons to the U 47. It definitely has the same or similar sonic stamp as its namesake, but as in all things, it also has its own.
I’ve been using the CEMC-6 on a variety of sources. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Schoeps to compare it with. But by this time, I wasn’t really interested in making the comparison. I was convinced the Pelusos were mics of a caliber to be reckoned with, regardless. As room mics for a jazz vocalist and acoustic pianist, the CEMC-6’s worked very well. They soon replaced the Shure SM81, Oktava MK-012 [reviewed in #25], and AT4050 [reviewed in #33] mics as my preferred drum overheads. I’ve used them on acoustic guitar with great results. I loved them on acoustic piano. I recently used them on first and second violins in a recording I did of my jazz band playing with a string orchestra. I’ve also used them as a spaced pair in front of an orchestra with quite favorable results.
The CEMC-6 comes with a cardioid capsule and has an integrated three-position pad (0, -10, and -20 dB) and a three-position shelving filter switch (linear, 75, 150 Hz). All this for $324.50. You can get additional capsules (wide cardioid, omni, hypercardioid) for $85 each. A great value. I don’t think you’re going to find anything else of this quality at this price.
So I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I bought all the Peluso mics sent to me. No small feat for someone on a jazz musician’s salary. But I couldn’t let them go out of my house. They’d already paid for themselves. They’re now my “go to” mics for many applications. ($1265 direct for 22 47, $324.50 for CEMC-6; Peluso Microphone Lab)
Read more about the Peluso Microphone Lab 22 47 large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone.
Read more about the Peluso CEMC-6 small-diaphragm condenser microphone.