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Sometimes, one piece of legendary gear can spawn another. In this case, one of the most revered vocal mics of all time was on the verge of disappearing, causing a rival to be born out of necessity.
In 1958, Telefunken announced to Georg Neumann that it was discontinuing the production of its VF14 steel tube, the heart of the Neumann U 47 and U 48 condenser mics. In exchange for the tube, Telefunken had gotten the distribution rights for Neumann microphones. But this deal ended when the VF14 was stopped.
Neumann began to develop a new microphone, while Telefunken went looking for a new manufacturer to partner with, and found them in Austria. The result was one of the finest microphones (or family of microphones) ever created, the ELA-M 250 and 251.
AKG in Vienna had been building its highly successful large diaphragm condenser mic, the C12, since 1953. Telefunken contracted with AKG to make a modified version of this mic with significant improvements, and a pair of microphones were born; the model 250 with Cardioid and Omni patterns (like the U 47), and the model 251 with an additional figure-eight pattern (like the U 48).
These two microphones used three of the four key elements that made the AKG C12 so desirable. They included a Haufe T-14/1 output transformer, a socketed 6072 tube and a CK12 capsule. The fourth element was the head grille, and for this, the new mic had a larger cavity with an extra inner mesh, that contributed significantly to the frequency response.
Another difference was that the Ela-M 250/251 had the selector switch right on the body of the mic, just like the Neumann U 47. The selector switch was even color-coded to make it easy to determine from a distance w