Telefunken USA Ela M 14 – The Tape Op Review

TapeOp Issue #44/November, 2004 | by

Telefunken NA has been reissuing the classic line of Telefunken mics, like the Ela M 251 and U 47M, for the last few years (see our review of the Ela M 251 in issue #34).

This mic, the Ela M 14, is the first “new” mic to come out of their factory. It’s a cardioid-only tube-powered (new old stock GE JAN 6072a tube) mic, with the usual separate power supply and cable. The mic has the old-style stand mount with the cable attached and a socket, which the mic plugs into.

The mic’s body is rather thin compared to the 251 or U 47, which makes for easier placement at times.

The TK-12 diaphragm element is based on the classic CK-12 capsule, though as the TK-12 in this mic is one-sided and the 251’s were multi-pattern, I’d assume there are some differences.

We tried this mic on a variety of sources, and in many cases it did quite well. On voice, there’s a distinct top end, similar to many Telefunken/Neumann mics, which added sizzle and clarity to the vocal tracks. We did have to use a bit of de-essing to pull the loudest sibilant peaks out, but this is not at all unusual with tube mics in my experience. When used on a singer with a darker vocal sound, this mic beat out several others at our studio and helped the vocal cut through.

On violin, above it a few feet, the M 14 captured the room’s acoustics and the violin’s tone very well. The sizzle that helped the vocal cut through did make some notes feel a bit bright/harsh at times, but in all, the takes came out clear with plenty of depth. On acoustic guitar, the M 14 once again had an articulate high-end sheen (notice a trend?). It wasn’t as boomy as other mics we auditioned and not as midrangey/forward as some — it’d be good for single line parts in a mix or solo guitar.

On tambourine, the mic exhibited a smeared response on the transients, though so did another tube mic we were checking it against. On a small electric guitar amp, the M 14 was better at lower volumes and lower registers. At higher SPL’s, the mic occasionally broke up a small but noticeable amount, especially on higher notes.

My assessment? One beef: With the “swivel connector cable” mount as they call it, the mic pretty much has a direct physical connection with the stand, and we noticed nasty ringing sounds even if the pop filter or stand was barely touched — leading me to wish I had a shock mount instead. You might have noticed the trend towards brightness with this mic, but don’t let that scare you. It does have a bit of sizzle in the top but compared to other tube mics it was in many cases a more usable sizzle than other “bright” mics — imparting clarity and openness without getting too sibilant or harsh.

I own six different tube mics already, now I own the M 14 and it’s a great addition to my arsenal and able to provide a unique sound and help me capture certain tracks in a way I didn’t before. I’m happy to have another tool at my disposal like this! ($2,995 MSRP; Telefunken USA)

Read more about the Telefunken USA Ela M 14 cardioid tube microphone.

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