Telefunken Elektroakustik is one of the most famous manufacturers of microphones in the recording industry.Since the company's formation in 1903, they have influenced how we record in the studio, set a standard for high-quality gear, and given new product designers something to aspire to when creating their next design.Throughout this Buyer's Guide, we'll be breaking down the differences between several different lines of Telefunken Elektroakustik's microphone offerings. Before we dive in, we think it's important to further discuss the history of this legendary brand and talk a bit about how its current iteration came to be.
The History Of Telefunken Elektroakustik
Telefunken spent decades designing fantastic microphones that have become favorites in both large and small studios around the world. Originally based in Germany, the brand revolutionized the way engineers approach recording with classic pieces like the ELA M 251, U47, and many more. They are also known for their classic mic preamps, as the V72 and V76 are coveted for their iconic sound.
In 2000, Toni Fishman bought the rights to the Telefunken Elektroakustik name and brought it to North America. With its headquarters firmly entrenched in South Windsor, Connecticut, the company has continued recreating designs from yesteryear and also began bringing new designs to market that incorporate over 100 years of history.
Telefunken Elektroakustik Diamond Series
The highest offering from the Telefunken Elektroakustik line, the Diamond Series are modern productions of timeless microphones that revolutionized the recording world. Employing the same critical production techniques used in the 1950s and 1960s, Telefunken Elektroakustik is making sure that these legendary microphones live on in their full glory.
Telefunken Elektroakustik ELA M 251E and ELA M 251T Microphone
Needing little introduction, the ELA M 251 is one of the most desired microphones in all of history. Its smooth, open tone has been the secret behind the vocal sounds on records both old and new by names like Brian Wilson, Celine Dion, Beyoncé, and more. The ELA M 251 employs a tube-based large diaphragm design to deliver its signature detailed and balanced sound, making it a fantastic choice for lead vocals as well as acoustic instruments. With a choice of three different polar patterns, it’s hard to find a source that the 251 doesn’t sound great on.
Telefunken Elektroakustik's ELA M 251E is manufactured to the same original specifications as the classic. For those looking for a modern take on the mic, the ELA M 251T does so by employing a new diaphragm design with titanium and aluminum. Either version of the 251 makes great choices for studio centerpieces. One listen and you’ll immediately understand why this microphone is viewed as one of the holy grails of studio gear.
Telefunken Elektroakustik U47 Microphone
The U47 is perhaps the most iconic mic of all time. It's been used on timeless records from the likes of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and many, many more. Using a classic M7 capsule paired with a VF14 tube, the U47 captures a warm, full sound on sources like vocals and drums. Offering a choice of either cardioid or omni patterns, the U47 is a great workhorse mic around the studio. Toss a U47 in front of a great singer, and you’ll notice a brilliant, mix-ready sound right from the source. With a resume longer than we can list, the U47 is the undisputed king of classic microphones.
When looking at Telefunken Elektroakustik's modern recreation of the U47, all of the hallmarks of the original are there. Large, chrome head grille? Check. A perfect replacement for the original tube? Yes, we have the VF14K in tow. How about the output transformer? Yup, the BV8 output transformer is intact inside the matte nickel finished body.
Telefunken Elektroakustik U48 Microphone
The U48 is the most important variant of the original U47 design. For their modern reproduction of the U48, Telefunken Elektroakustik has brought over the same M7 capsule, BV8 output transformer, and VF14K, used for the U47 detailed above. The U48 has bidirectional recording capabilities, something George Martin used to his advantage when using the mic to record The Beatles back in the day.
Telefunken Elektroakustik C12 Microphone
To round out the Diamond Series, we take a look at another fantastic, classic microphone, the C12. The C12 was originally an Austrian design, viewed as the alternative to the U47 in its original time of manufacture. It would later go on to be the basis for the ELA-M 251’s design.
Studios wanting a large diaphragm condenser mic that offers deep, rich detail while imparting an airy, natural sound will find the C12 to be the ultimate choice. With a tube-based design and choice of several pickup patterns, the C12 is a great match for female vocals, drum overheads, acoustic guitars and more. Listen back to the silky tone it provides, and it becomes clear why this microphone has been revered since the 1950s.
Telefunken Elektroakustik Alchemy Series
Using concepts from the Diamond Series classics, the Alchemy Series is Telefunken Elektroakustik’s offering for new, modern condenser mic designs.
Telefunken Elektroakustik TF29 Copperhead Microphone
A great workhorse condenser for a variety of studio applications, the TF29 is known for its natural sound that chooses not to hype certain frequencies. Yielding great results on guitars and vocals, the Copperhead can be described as an “honest” sounding mic. With a fixed cardioid pickup pattern and tube-based design, the TF29 offers a fantastic sound for the price.
Telefunken Elektroakustik TF39 Copperhead Deluxe Microphone
For those wanting the same accurate sound of the TF29 with more versatility, the TF39 Copperhead Deluxe offers it up with the addition of omni and figure 8 polar patterns. With its Lundahl transformer, 5654W tube, and gorgeous copper-colored finish, the TF39 is a lot of mic for the money. Users will find this microphone as a great choice on piano, horns, vocals… the list goes on! It's a truly flexible mic that will fit in a variety of different kinds of studios.
Telefunken Elektroakustik TF47 Microphone
Drawing inspiration from the U47 and M49, the TF47 is a totally new microphone design that pays homage to the “German” sound. The midrange forward sound of this large diaphragm tube mic makes it a great choice for sources like vocals and electric guitar. Offering three different pickup patterns, the TF47 will capture a variety of sounds in a way that sounds warm, punchy, and articulate. Using a custom made BV8 transformer, the TF47 brings quite a bit of the U47 sound at a much smaller price.
Telefunken Elektroakustik TF51 Microphone
As the name suggests, the TF51 draws from the sound of the ELA M 251 and C12 microphones, while still offering a new design and circuit. You’ll notice that this microphone imparts a smooth, airy high end that makes it great for vocals and acoustic guitars. The TF51 makes use of the same tube as the legendary ELA M 251, and the microphone is hand-assembled in the USA, like all of the Alchemy Series offerings. Coming standard with three polar patterns, a CK-12 style capsule, and an attractive silver body, the TF51 is the definition of a workhorse.
Telefunken Elektroakustik TF11 Microphone
Brand new to the Telefunken Elektroakustik line, the TF11 rounds out the Alchemy Series nicely with another modern, original design. This microphone is Telefunken’s first large diaphragm offering to utilize a FET based solid state circuit, making it great at handling transients. Inspired by the classic Austrian C12 sound, the TF11 flatters the high end of sources in a smooth, open way. The FET design ensures that this microphone handles high SPL sources well and also guarantees a very low self noise. With a fixed cardioid pattern, a custom-made Carnhill output transformer, and a CK12 style capsule, the TF11 is a mic that tackles virtually any recording application with ease.
Telefunken Elektroakustik Dynamic Series
Telefunken brings more than just great condenser mics to the market. The brand's Dynamic Series offers some fantastic microphones for live use as well as for higher SPL sources. Let’s take a look!
Telefunken Elektroakustik M80 Microphone
Making waves in a short amount of time, the M80 garnered praise as one of the best modern dynamic mics out there. Great for live vocal use as well as studio applications like snare drum, the M80 captures a wider frequency response and handles a very high SPL than typical dynamic mics. The M80 comes standard as rugged, handheld style mic; choose the M80-SH version and get the same great sound in a smaller profile, for angled applications like drum miking.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M81 Microphone
Building on the strengths of the M80, the M81 utilizes the same form factor but with a few tweaks. With the M81, the frequency response is flatter and the high end is tamed a bit, making it excellent for singers with bright voices and on sources where a fatter sound is wanted. Try the M81 on things like horns and thinner sounding guitar tones, and you’ll be sold. Just like the M80, this mic also is offered in a smaller footprint version for tight spaces, the M81-SH.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M82 Microphone
The most unique looking in the Dynamic Series, the M82 is an end-address microphone originally made to excel with low frequencies like kick drums and bass cabinets. That said, the onboard EQ options make this mic incredibly versatile, yielding great results on sources like percussion, brass, and vocals. With a robust design, the M82 will be right at home in front of a kick drum during a live show or a horn section in the studio.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M80 WH & M81 WH
For those looking to upgrade the sound of their wireless systems, Telefunken Elektroakustik offers the M80 and M81 capsules in a head variant for your existing wireless transmitter. Functioning with a variety of Shure and Sony systems, the M80-WH and M81-WH are sonically identical to the standard versions.
Telefunken Elektroakustik ELA M 260 Series
The ELA M 260 is a compact, robust small diaphragm tube condenser microphone that brings a rich, detailed sound to recordings. Depth and clarity come easy to the ELA M 260, making it a great choice for drum overheads and orchestral string instruments. Offered in a standard cardioid pattern or with omni and hypercardioid capsules, the ELA M 260 represents the lush sound you expect from a tube mic in a conveniently small body.
There are a number of different options to get the perfect set of ELA M 260s for your studio. The ELA M 260 comes in configurations like a Stereo Set, as well as a triple mono option for those wanting to use the Decca Tree technique.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M60 FET Series
Telefunken Elektroakustik M60 FET Cardioid Microphone
Telefunken’s first FET condenser offering, the M60 is a small diaphragm condenser mic that uses a solid state design. With great transient response and a high SPL tolerance, the M60 finds itself at home in applications like piano miking and acoustic guitar. Featuring a smooth, present 8kHz peak, the M60 adds air and atmosphere to sources without sounding brittle.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M61 FET Omnidirectional Microphone
Using the same body, the M61 has a lot in common with the M60, while choosing to employ an omnidirectional pattern instead of the standard cardioid. With this omni capsule, the M61 imparts an open, big sound that captures the environment of a recording nicely.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M62 FET Hypercardioid Microphone
As you may have guessed, the M62 is the Hypercardioid variant of the M60 FET. With the same transient response and 8kHz peak, the M62 will bring life to recordings of almost any kind, while offering the tighter polar pattern. The M62 excels on cymbals, percussion, and more.