In collaboration with the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, one the country’s leading pro audio teaching facilities, PAR has introduced a regular series of in-depth reviews conducted at the Conservatory’s state-of-the-art teaching faculty in Phoenix.
Product PointsApplications: Studio
Key Features: Cardioid pattern; side address; “i” and “V” settings
Contact: Soundelux/Transamerica Audio Group at 702-365-5155, Web Site.
It is always a pleasure for me when somebody hands me a new microphone and says “check it out and tell me what you think.” I especially like it when the mic comes in a fancy wooden box! It’s even better when you open the box and find a familiar-looking mic.
The ifet7 is one mic that affords the user the ability of capturing sounds that usually come from two other “7” mics… the 47 fet and the U 87. This was apparent time and time again in my listening tests. Later, in speaking to David Bock (designer and senior vice president of Soundelux) this was confirmed when he told me that this was his intent when designing this microphone – the musicality of a 47 and the sensibility of an 87.
For those of you that have used a classic tube U 47, you will know that there is a huge demand for their sound, but their costs seem to place them out of reach from the typical user. You will also agree that these mics are getting harder to come across and becoming less and less “stock” because of refurbishing. The U 47 fet is going through its own parallel of these occurrences. They are becoming less available and they all sound so different, anymore.
So, let’s go back in time. The tube U 47 was heavily used in voice for broadcast situations. Once it made its way into record production, many tried to make it a more versatile mic by placing it on things other than the vocals. Guitars, horns, piano, upright bass and others benefited from this experimentation. But because of the nature of the tube, design engineers went back to the bench to try and quiet it up some. How? Transistors!
With all of the changes, a very different, albeit, as useful microphone was born. The U 47 fet. It plates were now charged with a lower polarizing voltage and its amplifier had a greater negative feedback. A high-pass filter was permanently installed, which does not allow the proximity effect to take over. The Class A/B resistor electronics lowered the sensitivity, which opened it up for higher SPL.
As, far as the U 87 is concerned, what can I say about it that it hasn’t already said for itself? It’s the obligatory utility large diaphragm utility mic. I still haven’t heard a U 87 not be right.
This is where Soundelux stepped in. They took the best features of each of these mics and threw them into one large housing and called it the ifet7. No, really… they did. And all you have to do to access these different mics is move a switch from the “i” to the “V” position. Soundelux really outdid themselves when they incorporated two circuit sets to accomplish this goal. The “i” position (this is the 47) sounds to me like the cleanest, unaltered 47fet I have come across. It truly has that sound. I know you are thinking that there is no way it is true, but it is. The “V” position (you guessed it, the 87) is a highly modified version of its original self. The low-frequency overload point is lower, according to Bock.
As you would expect, the designers of this versatile mic have gone out of their way to ensure quality in the craftsmanship. First and foremost, this mic is built like a tank. It weighs in at greater than two pounds. Because of its multifaceted nature, it can withstand SPL of up to135 dB in “i” mode, 117 dB in “V” mode. After trying it on as many instruments as I did, it was easy to appreciate its inherent dynamic range of 125 dB in “i” mode, and 105 dB in “V” mode. For as much as they have crammed into this package, I was very impressed with its self-noise characteristics of 20 dB unweighted (10 dB A-weighted) in “i” mode, and 23 dB unweighted (12 dB A- weighted) in “V” mode. The signal-to-noise ratio is also impressive at 69 dB in “i” mode, and 71 dB in “V” mode. And for me, the most exciting fact is its frequency range of 20 Hz – 16 kHz… That means I can use it on anything my heart desires!
For my tests, each of the mic/instrument combinations were sent through an SSL 611G module, an OSA MP-1 mic preamp and a Neve 1272. After comparing it against a U 87, I liked the ifet7 better. I tried this mic on a myriad of things. I went for the kick drum first. Off center, about 20 inches out… and there it was. The classic kick drum. Then a Wurlitzer 140B’s onboard speaker (I know…it’s not an A200, but you still love the sound!) And there it was. Next, acoustic guitar. I found the spot right where I thought it would be and there it was, sounding beautiful and full. For electric guitar, I placed the mic about 12 inches away on axis revealing a nice fat tone, the same I heard in the studio when I placed the mic. Vocals were a huge treat to record. With a pop filter separating the vocalist and the mic and the singer about 6 – 8 inches back, it produced the signature sound I have grown to know and love. Sensitivity, transient response and clarity were all top notch.
This is a great mic to own without having to seek out an unmodified U 47fet, and a clean U 87 AND, without having to pay for both.