New Studio Mics & Professional Mic Modification
No DIY Risk. 20 years in-house, boutique, microphone modification. Prompt, unbeatable personal service.
Need an affordable U 47, U 67 or U 87 alternative? KM 84, Schoeps CMC6, RCA 44 or Coles 4038 too pricey?
The U 87 alternative - an MJE modified RODE NT1a mic.
Modified on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Used worldwide. Hear it for yourself vs a '70's U 87.
Get 8dB better bass, smoother mids, 6 dB less top end harshness and 3dB more "air" compared to the stock RODE NT5 cardioid capsule. Hear the MJE-384K vs. the Schoeps CMC6, Neumann KM 184 and a stock RODE NT5. The MJE-384K capsule is a screw-on mic modification for your NT5 microphones. You own the NT5 - now you can upgrade them. $329 / pair.
MJE Hulk 990
With signature single layer headbasket design and 3 micron MJE-K47 capsule
Many folks need one great mic to record vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion. The MJE Hulk 990 (modified MXL 990) is that mic. The 3 micron diaphragm MJE-K47 capsule offers classic “Neumann-esque” sound up to 10kHz then keeps on going to deliver a touch of sparkle in the “air” band and a fast transient response.
Record an acoustic guitar track, then reposition for male or female vocals. Classic LDC sound and vibe on both takes. Move it into position as part of a Glyn Johns-style three mic set up for drum overdubs – hear punch, clarity and shimmer with no top end harshness. Hear it vs. the current industry-standard Neumann U 87ai.
Hear clear and open sound - the MJE Hulk 990 features a single layer headbasket (the classic AKG C12 was a single layer headbasket mic) to avoid the coloration effects heard with multiple layer headbasket mics.
Buy a new MJE Hulk 990 for only $429 complete with shock mount and case.
New Michael Joly Engineering MJE-384
Whether it’s a pre-production mic shoot out or a hit-bound recording session, the MJE-384 matched stereo pair delivers the sound you need at a price you can afford. In a direct comparison on drum overheads, the MJE-384 is regularly chosen over Schoeps CMC6 / MK4 by session drummers. On acoustic guitar, the MJE-384 is routinely preferred by session guitarists over the KM 184. Listen for yourself – open, natural, relaxed, true-to-life plus a touch of top end air and sparkle. Write to me to learn how the MJE-384 compares to my well-known modified Oktava MK-012. World-class small diaphragm mics – only $699.
Michael Joly Engineering MJE-LR44
Long Ribbon Microphone
Need a ribbon mic with better-than-classic sound? – the MJE-LR44 only $599.
Hear the MJE-LR44 vs. the RCA 44 and Coles 4038 on drums, piano, guitar, male and female vocals then judge for yourself. The MJE-LR44 long ribbon mic is more open, more transparent, more accurate and resolves transients better. Quite a claim. Listen for yourself, you’ll believe. Questions? Just write to me.
Welcome note from Michael Joly -
You need classic microphone sound, right? Hear new modified microphones, after-market microphone modification services for your mics (we do the work in our shop - no DIY risk!) and my own Michael Joly Engineering mics vs. the classics. I believe you’ll find these modified microphones and my MJE mics to be affordable alternatives to the Neumann U 47, U 67, U 87, KM 84, KM 184, Coles 4038, RCA 44 and Schoeps CMC6.
Whether you're looking for the right vocal microphone (a U 87 alternative perhaps?), a great acoustic guitar mic (a KM 84 alternative?), guitar cab or drum overhead mics you'll find them all here - with sound samples vs. some classic microphones.
BTW - Here's a new article I've posted: LDC Mic Headbaskets - A Necessary Evil.
- Questions and Answers from my email -
Question: Why should I buy mic modifications my existing mics? Why should I buy a new modified mic?
Short Answer: Better Sound and Better Value with MJE mic mods. Here are the details ….
… Even though I’ve been performing microphone modifications for almost for over 20 years (and we get busier year-after-year), I still see these questions on gear forums. Here are a few reasons why over 10,000 MJE / OktavaMod clients have chosen to buy a new mod’d mic or have their own mic modified.
Many folks want better sound than what they’re getting from a mic they currently own. For example, lots of people purchased an MXL 910, v250 or 990 on a “Stupid Deal of the Day” for $49.99 or $69.00. These are all basically the same small diaphragm capsule / transformer-less circuit mic. And they all have the same thin, excessively bright and sibilant sound that just cannot cut world class vocal tracks. Its worth saying this again - these are all small diaphragm mics in a side-address form - not large diaphragm vocal mics.
Michael Joly Engineering can transform these mics into world-class performers that can go head-to-head with a Neumann U 87 - for just $329. Listen for yourself:
A recordist cannot buy a new, large diaphragm condenser mic that comes close delivering the U 87 sound (in cardioid) for $329. So rather than throw away the initial investment AND then spend significantly more than $329 to get U 87-like sound, many folks prefer to have me modify their existing microphone. Initial investment saved, door stop use avoided, and U 87-like sound delivered for just $329.
Other folks are looking to start, or grow, their mic locker by purchasing a new microphone. The MJE Hulk 990 is our most popular mic because it sounds so much like the U 87ai for only $429 - complete with shock mount and case. Again, listen for yourself:
The Hulk 990 features an exclusive, single-layer / angled head basket that offers clear and open sound without the internal head basket reflection coloration that accompanies two and three-layer head basket designs; a 3 micron MJE-K47 capsule built to proprietary specs to deliver sibilance-free, “Neumann-esque” sound; and a signature MJE Premium Electronics package for maximum resolution, low distortion and wide, flat frequency response.
Yes, there are other mics in the $400 category. But there is only one MJE Hulk 990. Only the MJE Hulk 990 offers an MJE signature single-layer head basket, 3 micron diaphragam MJE K47 capsule and Premium Electronics electronic packages that allow it to go up against a $3600 U 87ai - and win. Oh, and folks can talk with me directly, the Hulk 990 designer, if they wish to get help choosing a mic. Last I checked, Georg Neumann was no longer answering FB messages or email ; )
Why buy a mic mod or modificed microphone?
Well … with Michael Joly Engineering you get better sound, dollar-for-dollar spent vs anything else - and a personal shopping experience that is second to none. Listen for yourself, then contact me - you’ll believe.
Article: Why Microphones Are More Important Than Preamps
by Michael Joly - 1 February 2015
Short Answer -
* Microphones introduce far more amplitude, phase and distortion artifacts compared to preamps. These artifacts can be used to good effect to color the source.
* Microphones operate in 3D space. Moving a mic relative to its source and room boundaries offers far more control over recorded sound than a preamp which operates in 2D space (no spatial control over amplitude vs. frequency artifacts).
* Microphones share an important attribute with their human users - energy transformation. Preamps simply amplify and do not change input energy type into another form.
Why Microphones Are More Important Than Preamps - Long Answer
The microphone vs. preamp debate has raged online for years. In 2004 a really entertaining thread (400+ posts and 40,000 views) appeared at Gearslutz. The original poster asked "do some preamps add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound? Or are the differences too subtle”? (see: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/542898-truth-about-preamp...)
What follows is a refined version of my posts to that thread. I hope you’ll find this to be a compelling and conclusive argument that explains why microphones are more important than preamps.
To answer the original GearSlutz poster’s question - switching amongst preamps does not add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound relative to switching mics or mic position.
The differences between preamps, compared to the differences between mics and their placement, are far more subtle. To quote SOS Magazine "...there are bigger hurdles to overcome than choosing between preamps”. (see: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul04/articles/focusriteliquid.htm)
In my opinion, the biggest hurdle facing recordists is alchemical - the hurdle of modulating electro-acoustic tools to convey the Intention of the composer and elicit emotions in the listener.
“Intention”, capitalized -
You’ll notice I’ve capitalized “Intention”. A short definition - “Intention” is a concentration of personal Will just prior to its active expression. Intention is type of potential energy as opposed to kinetic, “active” or expended energy. Intention can be thought of as an intelligent, activating force. Capitalization is used to recognize that the indwelling Spirit of Intention is distinct from either physical, or mental capabilities and expressions - which lie in the material domain and not spiritual domain.
Tools of Transformation -
Some tools are more easily imbued with Intention than others. For example, a guitar can be more expressive than a wooden plank. It can be more effectively modulated to carry, impart and elicit emotions in the listener compared to “dumb” tools like a wooden plank or even a preamp (more on this in moment).
Microphones, at their metaphysical essence, are Energy Transformers. They accept the Intentions of the musician / recordist and transform these Intentions into electrical energy which can be recorded and conveyed to listeners. Microphones are much more powerful at conveying Intention than preamps. Here’s why …
Energy transformation involves losses and artifact generation - this is simple thermodynamics. There is no energy transformation process that is 100% efficient or linear. Microphones offer profound control over energy transformation that preamps do not. This is because inefficiencies and distortions are inherent in the transformation of physical sound energy to electrical energy in microphones (impedance matching one energy system to another and non-linear energy losses in the capsule are just two examples). These inefficiencies and distortions can be contribute to a microphone’s personality or character, and can be used by recordists to help convey Intent.
As a side note - microphones share with an attribute in common with their users - an ability to transform energy from one form to another. For example, the energy expended by our muscles (kinetic energy) acts upon stretched strings (potential energy) to produce sound (acoustical wave particle energy) from a guitar. Microphones are like siblings in this regard. We have a fondness for microphones akin to sibling love because of this shared ability to transform energy from one form to another. Preamps do not possess this trait and we don’t have the same emotional resonance with them as a result.
Preamps Are Energy Amplifiers, Not Energy Transformers -
A preamplifier on the other hand, is a an energy amplification device. The primary job of a preamp is to raise electrical energy from a low level to a higher level. A preamplifier does not change energy from one form to another as does a microphone. Preamps, even the most humble Behringer unit, have frequency response variations that are only a tiny fraction of 1dB. Expressed as a percentage, perhaps only 0.01% amplitude variation from a flat frequent response. But frequency response variations across the operating range in well-loved, classic mics can reach 6dB or more. Expressed as a percentage this is a 100% deviation from a flat frequency response.
Similarly, in the realm of distortion artifacts, preamps generate only tiny fractions of 0.01% THD and IM distortion at normal operating level. But the distortions created in the energy transformation process in a microphone often reach 3%.
Microphones Operate in 3D Space. Preamps Operate in 2D Space
Because a microphone operates in three dimensional acoustic space, the transformation of sound energy into electrical energy can be quite varied depending on the microphone’s physical relationship to the sound source and room boundaries. A recordist operating with Intent can choose to position the microphone anywhere within the three dimensional sound field of the acoustical source and thus inscribe Intention upon the energy transformation process. Let’s contrast this to the use of a preamp …
… a preamp has far more restricted user-access to its fundamental operating parameters. One can operating the preamp in its distortion-free linear zone or choose to overdrive it. That's it. There is no way for the user of a microphone preamp to modulate its amplification function and thus impress Intent. A preamplifier is largely unresponsive to user Intent compared to the use of microphone in 3D space.
Simple Experiment Proves Mics Are More Important Than Preamps - Limit your recording chain to one mic and preamp at a time. Listen for yourself how much more variation in recorded sound is possible through microphone selection and placement compared to swapping preamps.
Spend Your Money Where It Matters Most -
Recording music faces a return-on-investment problem - declining recorded music sales don’t offset recording costs to the extent they once did. In light of this, it seems more prudent to allocate financial resources to the tools that will most affectively allow the musician and recordist to jump the Alchemical hurdle of conveying and eliciting emotion. In my mind this means allocating resources mainly to instruments, room acoustics and microphones - and to a far lesser degree, preamps and converters.
And that my friends, is why microphones are more important than preamps.
Ps - Whether you're interested in a new mic or a microphone modification service performed in our shop your purchase is RISK-FREE. Just write and I'll tell you exaclty what that means in your particular case. Best, Michael