Just to be clear, this is a modification service where you send us your microphone and PSU and we ship them back to you, modified Shockmount and other things not required, however if you do send the 7 pin cable we will test and clean it for you. I use the same Gotham cable as this microphone, so there's nothing to upgrade there; however if you need a cable longer than their provided 5 meter cable, contact me about the length you require and I can sell you a custom made cable.
I have to begin this mod offering with a bit of a disclaimer; so bear with me. This 'is' a good sounding mic, and I do endeavor to make it sound better, more authentic, and quieter in terms of noise; but it is not a U47. Nothing I do, short of gutting the entire mic and PSU (which I don't wish to do), will make it a '47'. It's circuit is closer to that of a C12 and based on an Asian 12AX7 design. It is a modern, feedback-amplifier type tube mic, and engineered to be a 'sound-alike' that captures some of the broadest strokes of what a 47 is expected to have; but if you want anything close to a real 47 for something in this price range, I highly urge you to buy my baseline edition U47 available on this site. This mod offering is not an endorsement to go out and buy this product; it is more intended for those who already have this mic, or who found one for such a good deal that it couldn't be passed up. This mod is for that person, and allows me to finally 'complete the thought process' of making this mic everything it is possible to be and put a pin in something I worked on years prior.
I take a holistic approach to this upgrade, since noise comes in from many sources and self noise is one of the things I try desperately to bring down considerably in this microphone. To that end, I replace all electrolytic capacitors in the mic from head to toe (mic and PSU), and glue down the ones as needed to prevent them from coming loose. All the new caps are name brand, low ESR, high temp, and ultra long life. This not only improves the mic's sound and noise specs; it also fulfills one of the other things that make a U47 a real investment: that the mic will last for a lifetime of use. Generic capacitors do not guarantee this; but the ones I put in will. Every capacitor I install is a name brand (Nichicon or Panasonic) and rated for 10,000 hours or much more.
Next I install a tested and cleaned TAD GERMANY 5751 Highgrade valve, along with a US-made tube damper ring made from aerospace silicon by Sandy Levy. While the retaining claim provided within the microphone body does a decent job of ensuring the mic does not fall loose, I do not feel it provides adequate vibration prevention; so the added damper ring ensures no microphonics or resonance will creep in through the valve circuitry. After evaluating just about every possible tube that could be put in this microphone, I determined that the TAD 5751 Highgrade has the biggest, warmest, most vintage vibe of anything that is currently manufactured, and it also happens to be the very lowest noise 5751 in production. It sonically 'fills in all the cracks' in the microphone's sound and image, doing what I loved about the 5751 (warmer, larger than life sound) but doing it so much more convincingly than the stock JJ part did. We get these tubes in from TAD in Germany, and put it through a burn in process in your microphone for about half a day before sending it out.
The output capacitor, while an excellent Solen part, is not really the best choice considering context, for a mic of this vintage. I replace this part with a network of vintage paper-in-oil NOS components that I've selected for giving it the right output sound... smoother, thicker, and richer bass. It fills in the cracks. I also calculate this set of 3 capacitors to provide the originally specified output value of just over 1.5uF. The 1.8uF Solen Fast-Cap was chosen in part to give a low end bump to help out with the slight shallowness in low end extension on this mic. However, in hindsight, I feel it is better to select the brand and type of capacitor to help sculpt this low end response rather than raising the value on the component, as unfortunately the latter technique merely adds a bit of a hump to the low end region that most consider the frequencies where 'mud' accumulates, and doesn't really do much in terms of extending actual bass response. When I mod this mic, it has rich, full bottom end; but is not boomy or muddy. And it is quieter, cleaner, and will last a lifetime.
Lastly, I add some adhesive to the polystyrene cap in the high z section to prevent resonance, and replace it if microphonic or thermally damaged; and generally check, tighten down, and rebuild any part of the mic where I feel that assembly QC was lacking (see my blog). I spray the open frame rotary switch for patterns on the PSU for lower contact resistance. It's a holistic process; I look at every part of it, remanufacture where needed, and address anything I find. The end result may not be a 47; but it brings this mic to a level that I think is highly respectable, sounding cleaner, clearer, lower noise, rich, warm, deep, and full... and able to last a lifetime of use.
At the end of the day, this mod will make the best possible scenario out of a situation, and give you a mic that, while not a true 47, is as good as it can be, as quiet as it can be, as rich and full as it can be, will last as long as possible, and ben an overall more pleasing sounding and unique studio possession.
Some quotes from first pair of these that were modified:
"First impression is great! Your work really elevates the microphones. It's does something that other mics don't do. With the mic two to three feet away from an acoustic guitar it sounds 'like an acoustic guitar.' It has a nice full sound that 'lesser' mics do not reproduce....
I have one mic setup in the control room. My voice, and acoustic Guitar sound very nice, and no wind sound (noise) in the background."
- Stephen Schoenecker, freelance recording and mixing engineer, Bristol, TN
WA-47 tube microphone upgrade
This is a very thorough end-to-end modification. We go through the entire mic and PSU, and even often rebuild the 7 pin cable. Every screw is tightened, every internal electrical contact lubricated (even the fuse), and the rotary switch contacts are treated with heavy silicon grease for more quiet operation (and even the rotary switch knob is tightened and re-seated). We replace every electrolytic capacitor, we add ahesives or dampening everywhere needed to prevent microphonics, we re-wire, shorten wire lenghts, clean, and tidy up anything that needs it, we even re-mill the chassis cutout for the 7 pin XLR on the PSU so that the connector latches properly. It's thorough, and the result is a mic that feels more American made and is made to last a lifetime.