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This article was originally published in issue #42
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On first glance the Roswell Mini K47 appears to be a fairly standard, entry level, single pattern, large diaphragm condenser mic with no pads or filters, and based around the always popular K47 style capsule.
Typically, it’s true that you get what you pay for, and for what you pay for the Mini K47 you may not expect to get anything special. As it happens though, there’s a whole market based on expert modifications of generic microphones, where a “standard” offshore-manufactured mic is upgraded with better quality and matched components. This works because you get the benefits of cheap mass production where that makes sense (say, the mic body) and the benefit of high quality parts and selection where they matter (capsule, coupling capacitors, amplifier components …) – often producing microphones that compare with far more expensive models in terms of sound quality.
Am I suggesting that you get a Mini K47 and mod it? Nope - the thing to know here is that Roswell Audio is an offshoot of mic-mod specialists Microphone-Parts.com, and it’s run by the folks behind Recordinghacks.com which is a hugely detailed and expansive online microphone database: the mods are built-in before it goes in the box.
There are two things that make a microphone great - a great capsule and electronics that don’t spoil what the capsule does. The K47 style capsule is legendary for its midrange response, it has a fullness that just gives a bit more “mojo” than a lot of other designs and it’s probably the most commonly copied mic capsule in the world. The one used in the Mini 47 seems to be a bit of a gem, it’s full sized (not all copies are) and it sounds open and rich and clear without any obvious pushes anywhere in the frequency range. The mic electronics are designed and specced to compliment the capsule and do their job without getting in the way (apparently based on a Schoeps circuit with a low capacitance, individually biased JFET amp, styrene input coupling cap & WIMA main signal caps if you’re interested). The end result is a mic that sounds neutral and real, but a bit bigger and better (and yes, I know that’s almost a stock phrase in mic reviews, but that’s just part of the problem of typing about sound).
On sung and spoken vocals it has weight and clarity, as room mics my review pair gave a detailed picture of the room without getting spitty over the top-end of the drum-kit (great recording - really not-great kit or room unfortunately). I put one in front of a kick drum and it sounded just like it should once I padded the recorder’s input to stop it clipping, and one or two on an acoustic guitar sounded full and bright (I’d probably EQ to thin them out a little in a mix but for a standalone part they are really nice). I even liked them on an electric guitar cab (not usually a fan of condensers for this but the K47 does something quite pleasing to the top-end). The only source I did struggle a bit with was a particular female vocalist I recorded who has a voice that particularly suits a quite different mic - it happens.
Some smart decisions have clearly been made in the design and manufacture of the Mini 47 to keep it both affordable and good. Obviously, it doesn’t have the flexibility of a multi-pattern mic with a pad filter, but no mic is ever going to be better than its basic sound and with the Mini 47 that seems to be where the manufacturing budget has been spent. For anyone who values serious bang-for-the-buck and needs a mic to use a lot, the Mini 47 really is worth trying.