We've uploaded a full set of new photography for the SAE tube 47, tube 48, as well as the just launched historic editions (mechanical headbasket switch) of both mics. I appreciate people bearing with us while we got these photos done and uploaded. The original photography was years out of date and needed to go; it just takes forever to get things done when you are operating solo. I'd like to talk a bit about the photography we did.
So, unlike many companies who photograph what I like to call 'impossibly manicured' versions of their product, rather than production units from the floor. I've been involved in making those photogenic units for other companies in my career, sometimes staying up overnight going over boards and chassis with a lint free cotton swab and cleaner, and avoiding use of any tapes, glues, adhesives, or compounds. Think of fast food commercials, often times those tacos and burgers are made of plastic with vaseline put on them. I wanted to specifically 'NOT' do that here. There has been no cherry picking, and no special treatment to the units photographed. I literally pulled units that were about to ship to real customers, delayed those shipments by a few days, and drove them down to New Orleans to be photographed. Everything you see here is exactly how a real unit looks, inside and out; with no trickery and no cherry-picking. Anywhere there is any form of adhesive, thermal compound, kapton tape, heatshrink, zip tie, loctite, or whatever you may have... there's a reason that it is there and I want you to see that. I strive for absolute reliability first, and internal cosmetics second. That being said, the internal cosmetics are still done to a pretty darn high standard.
What is new?
Aside from the facelifts that the 47/48 mics are getting; we are announcing two new versions. After years of requests, I have finally relented and developed a version of both the 47 and 48 with the historically inspired mechanical headbasket switch. And, I do not intend to overcharge customers just for the privilege of having that feature added. It's your choice. If you ask me which one sounds better, the answer is that there is no difference in sound. If you were to ask me which one is the most absolutely reliable in terms of long-term durability, the relay system (power supply located switch) is the clear winner, hands down. I've talked about this at length before but it bears mentioning again. The design I originally offered, which we still make today, utlizes a German made and VERY expensive reed relay which is silver tipped, vacuum sealed, potted, mu-metal shielded, and even acoustically dampened; all controlled by a considerably expensive insulated Grayhill rotary switch rated for high voltage and long life. We even use silver teflon wire on both ends to do the hookups for this, and developed our own control daughterboard for this switch which is soldered on and then the whole thing coated in conforming compound to give the switch and board a little bit more structural reinformcement. You simply cannot beat the reliability and the audiophile credentials of that with anything else. Not even close. Don't even try. I think I actually spend more on that system than I do to add the mechnical-switch-ready headbasket assembly and mechanical switch deck plate. In fact, I know I I do. The two run about neck and neck, cost-wise. That's another reason I don't charge more for either option.
That being said... I also understand that functionality is not the only concern when investing in a mic. For some clients, it is simply more convenient to have this switch on the power supply, and for others it is more convenient to have this switch on the headbasket. I also understand the need to check certain boxes when it comes historic sight-recognition from prospective clients. Sometimes people just need to see that switch on the headbasket to know that 'yes, this is a 47', or 'this is a 48', or just that 'this is a serious mic'. I get it. So I did everything I could to come up with the best switch possible. I looked at two different causes of fault that some mechanical switches of this type have historically faced. The first is contact area. If the contact area is untreated in any way, it can oxidize, wear, and develop contact resistance (or loss of tension) over time. Our system should not do that, and the contact terminal is a polished brass button fixed to the contact piece, rather than just a bent point in the metal strip. It should have greater surface area and more consistent contact, and better resistance to corrosion. I do what I can to also tension and carefully lubricate just this spot prior to closing it up, and then go over all of the other areas with alcohol and a lint-free swab to make sure there are no oils or residue anywhere.
The second point was the tab which is accessed by fingertip to move the sliding switch in the headbasket window from the outside. As some may recall, the original parts were a single-piece molded deisgn; and over time this small narrow tab could break due to cumulative stress. As some may also recall, fabricating replacements for this part was how Telefunken USA got their start back in the 90's. So, we tried to address this stress point by moving to a 3mm threaded chrome plated metal tab. It should withstand decades of use, and is large enough that it distributes force across enough of the plastic switch's surface area that it just really should not break. Of course, we have spares if it ever does... but the system should be as reliable as we can reasonably make it.
While our 47 cannot be turned into a 48 by changing the headbasket (or vice versa) because the electronics are different on the main amplifier board; you 'can' change a 47 or 48 headbasket out for a 47 or 48 headbasket fitted with an M7 capsule opposed to a K47, for a slightly different sound. We don't have those available yet; but we will be releasing that later in the year. This operation can be done by anyone carefully with the right sized screwdriver, and does not require soldering or skill. there are 3 outer screws, and the contacts are spring loaded copper spades and contact pads. It is user-adjustable.
What changes were made to the build of the 47 and 48?
I believe we contnue to strive for a higher and higher standard, and that is certainly true with this new run of 47/48 units. I have always had a steadfast philosophy about never compromising what is sacred (audio); but that I will compromise things that make it easier for me to deliver product, which do not compromise quality or longevity in the field. To that end, we are using an Asian source now for our new briefcase packaging and our new wooden box. One thing I refused to compromise on was that I have never been satisfied with a third party putting on the box hardware (latches, screws, hinges, badges, etc). Many do not know this; but even when we used the German wood mic boxes in the previous production runs, I was still putting on all the box hardware by hand in my wood workshop for these uncompleted wood boxes that I imported from Germany. That is essentially what I still do. I am letting Asia make me the unfinished box; but I'm putting on all the gold and brass hardare and the badges by hand, with care. The rest of the microphone, including both audio cables, are all still being meticulously hand assembled by yours truly, in a process that only continues to be more labor intensive and OCD as all hell. LOL
I really do think these mics, after nearly 7 years of building, have just reached an apex of quality. I could not be happier with our new custom OPR historic K47 capsule replicas, our new generation custom 47 bodies and custom PSU enclosures, our custom wound BV8 ttransformers made for us by Altran here in the USA, and our custom shielded over-spec toroidal PSU transformers made for us by Avel Lindberg. All tied together with silver teflon wire and a whole lot of TLC.
thanks for checking out our page and the blog, and I have so much stuff to share over the course of the rest of this year!