It's hard to believe this year we are already celebrating (if you all working every day celebrating) five years of Signal Artistry, and its fitting that I bring back around something from the beginning of our journey here.
When I first started hand making Signal Art tube 47 microphones available for folks around 2017/2018 (with the 48 following shortly thereafter by late 2018), I was offering what I called a baseline edition 47 in addition to a fully 'no compromise' 47 made with a handcrafted K47 or M7 capsule. The baseline edition had a few differences from the premium edition, which varied over time. Some were missing all accessories to keep the price down (no wood box, no 3 pin mic cable, no spare tube, cheaper power cable, etc), and some were missing some features (for a while the baseline was cardioid-only, which is still a cool idea and can be done on request); but most of the time, the baseline edition had a less expensive transformer and capsule. I would downgroade the AMI BV8R to AMI's T47b (custom wound) part. This was still a great transformer, just less expensive to make than the 'full monty' historic BV8 style part. More crucially, I would use an imported K47 capsule made to my exact specifications by a smalll Asian shop that I work closely with. It was a 60v, dual diaphragm, gold sputtered 6 micron PET film, single backplate capsule that was more or less historically true.
I'll be honest that one of the reasons I offered the baseline edition back in the day was rather self-serving: it was simply because it was hard for me to afford to keep many of the really premium capsules and transformers on hand (it still is), and so it enabled me to offer 'something' even when things were tight, and the customers would get a great deal also.
I was always impressed with how good of a job they did on my custom K47 capsule. I never felt it had gotten 'all the way there' in terms of matching a handcrafted capsule (and I still don't); but I do have to admit that they can make a damn good capsule for the money. And I'm a tough customer. I'm very open about the fact that I think almost all Asian capsules are un-usable junk. I've only been pleasantly surrpised a small handful of times, and this was always one of those exceptions.
As time went on, I made the decision some years ago that because of the INSANE amount of man-hours and attention to detail and meticulous labor that goes into building these things, that I really shouldn't 'short change' myself and put in all of that work unless I was making the very finest mic I possibly could. It was more about that sense of not wanting to under-sell the value of my labor than anything else. So I discontinued the baseline edition for good about 3 or 4 years ago. But I never really let go of that custom capsule. At least once every year or year and a half, I would get the Asian shop I do business with to make me a new sample of that capsule, and just sort of see if any improvements had come along to that process. Every year, they did continue to get slightly better and continue to narrow the gap between those and the high end capsules. The samples I got this year were particularly impressive. To be very clear, I do still acknowledge a difference, which mostly has to do with the tention and tuning process I believe (I know that the OPR's I currently use in my premium edition are tuned lower and can have deeper reach, something I'll probably never get an Asian capsule to do to my fullest satisfaction... and there are some good reasons why they don't, in all honesty). But they're darm close now, even in the low end really.
What settled it for me was that a few weeks ago I had to do service and updating to a U48 baseline edition I had made several years ago with the baseline imported capsule. It sounded so darn good, so warm and rich to my ears, that I thought to myself 'why the hell did I ever quit offering this product?!' Well, I had to admit that its a good question, and I have decided to bring it back now, in a much better form.
Starting now, the baseline edition will be available and the only difference now will be the capsule. it will still have the REAL custom wound BV8 type transformer that I use in my premium edition and all of the other aspects will be the same as well. It just will have a freshly made custom imported K47 capsule. These mics really do sound outstanding and I don't think anyone who hears it would necessarily long for the premium handcrafted capsule. Are there still minor differences that can be heard? yes... but will it really make or break any particular recording track? I don't really think so. There will always be a special place for these premium capsules I like to use, they do still win out by a hair in terms of overall smoothness and bass extension and musicality, and if you have the funds then of course that should be the way to go; but the baseline edition is still a damn strong contender, and I do feel these capsules flatter my circuit in a very nice way.