V-251 Tube Microphone
The V-251 Microphone is a recreation of the most famous female vocal microphone in history, the Telefunken ElaM 251.
We have implemented it with the best parts on the market: US-made, film-and-foil input and output capacitors, a selected low-noise 6072 tube from Russia, and a custom T-14 transformer. The result is a stunning single-triode tube mic that rivals the performance of multi-thousand dollar commercial microphones.
Improvements to Vintage
Our V-251 improves on the original design in the following ways:
- We use higher-value, audiophile-grade resistors to reduce the noise floor as compared to vintage European models -- without losing any tone or character.
- We include a pad switch on the mic, to enable recording higher-SPL sources.
- We include a high-pass filter switch on the mic, to enable control over proximity effect.
- We allow 9 polar patterns (the original mic had 3). Pattern switching happens on the power supply.
- One hand-built-in-California boutique tube microphone, using our proprietary upgrades to the vintage ElaM 251 circuit, acclaimed RK-12 edge-terminated capsule, and T-14 output transformer.
- Spider-style elastic shockmount. This attaches to the mic with two thumbscrews to tighten felt-lined metal bands around the mic body.
- Complete power supply with 9-way pattern control, with power cord and XLR7 cable.
- Aluminum flightcase.
No premium-grade tube mic should be stuck using a cheap XLR cable -- which can cause up to a half-volt in loss to the critical tube heater supply. Upgrade to our Gotham GAC-7, custom terminated in the USA with Neutrik connectors.
The standard power supply that accompanies most tube microphones priced below $2500 is a diode-regulated design that can suffer from voltage drift. This can cause subtle changes to tube harmonics, which can be audible. Our "VPS1" power supply provides tightly regulated voltage, superior filtering, and slow ramp-up power to extend the life of the tube. It allows B+ and heater voltages to be set independently via internal trimpots. The VPS is available as a fully built, tested, and warrantied unit.
V-251 vs V-12
How does the V-251 differ from our V-12?
Both are premium DIY tube microphones based on vintage models. Both use the 6072 tube (selected for low noise and low microphonics). Both deliver exceptional performance, far above what the price point would suggest. But they differ in component selection, topology, features, and specifications:
- The V-251 is a single triode, whereas the V-12 uses a more modern design using a dual triode/CCDA topology. The V-251 is a more authentic copy of the original 251 circuit.
- The V-251 circuit has 6dB lower output.
- The V-251 circuit has up to 12dB higher second harmonic coloration, and therefore sounds more "vintage." The V-12 is a bit cleaner, while the V-251 has more "vibe" or "tube sound."
- The V-12 circuit has more headroom, which by itself would make it more suitable for recording higher-SPL sources. But the V-251 has a 10dB pad switch, which makes it equally capable of recording higher-SPL sources.
- The V-251 provides a high-pass filter via external switch. The output capacitor for the HPF circuit is a NOS styrene component.
- The V-251 uses a superior film-and-foil output capacitor.
In practice, both circuits offer performance rivaling commercial mics priced above $1900. The V-251 has additional features, and has more "tube sound" (2nd harmonic coloration). The V-12 has higher output, and therefore requires 6dB less preamp gain on quiet sources.
Which of these mics best suits your needs depends on what you record, and what features you need.