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DIY Condenser Microphones On The Cheap

These days, boutique recording mics like the Manley Reference, Blue Kiwi, Nuemann U87 and the like are getting more and more expensive! On the other hand, cheap knockoffs like the Carvin LDC CM87s seem to get cheaper and cheaper. I wrote a great blog HERE about converting an Avantone CV-12 ($200) into a $10,000 AKG C12 clone that sounds very similar. In 2009 I was assistant on Bjork’s Volta album where the chief engineer demo’d the C-12 with the CV-12 and everyone in the room was blown away how similar these two actually sounded! I guess there’s a reason Taylor Swift loved this mic too. At $200 it can’t be beat.

Changing a few parts on this mic to achieve top tier quality is like putting new tires on a Honda Civic and all of a sudden you have a Bughatti Veyron. It’s an incredible yield for such a small investment, it’s really an unparalleled ROI. If you have basic soldering skills (or a couple bucks to have me do the work for you) you too can own a $10k mic for under a G! Here’s some great pics from the last build I just did:

The mic below was a cheap $100 Carvin u87 clone that I gutted from scratch and populated with a custom PCB from microphone We used the RK-12 capsule for that true C-12 tone and the entire audio signal path was completely replace with a kit something like THIS. I even built a mic box from left over plywood , hinges and a custom made locking mechanism. If you’re new to soldering, check out THIS tutorial on proper solder technique but trust me, it’s as easy as using a glue gun once you get the hang of it. I started building RC car servos and motors at age 12 and never looked back. Now I make EQ’s, Preamps, Compressors, mics and time based effects from scratch in my home for almost nothing! Viva la DIY culture!

You don’t have to stop with mics, check out this old sinking boat of an organ (Vox Continental) that I restored. With some simple elbow grease and tolex, this old gal went from Cinderella the step daughter to Cinderella the bell of the ball!

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