US-based companies making exact replicas of classic European mics is nothing new. However, Telefunken USA went one step further, acquiring use of a classic name and logo too. To their credit, the result has been a range of excellent hand-made mics, and with many of the originals difficult to find in serviceable form, there's also an element of altruism about it. But with prices in excess of £3k, it's no surprise they felt the need for something more affordable, hence the R-F-T Series.
New for old
Although their top-end ELA Series mics go down the replica route, with the R-F-T's they've hedged their bets a bit with each mic hinting at the classics. The result is a package including a dual-diaphragm capsule (TK47), new old stock (NOS) Telefunken EF732 valve, custom made B47 transformer, chunky external power supply and 9-position variable polar pattern. Beyond that, the design is pretty simple, with no dB pad or low-frequency roll-off.
Sound of silver
The whole package comes in a cardboard case, although the mic itself gets a nice wooden box. Other extras include a suspension cradle, foam windscreen, the special multicore for
connecting mic to PSU, and even a mic-specific frequency plot.
In my experience, both the M49 and U47 when in cardioid mode have considerable up close proximity. The effect is much less marked with the AK47 than I expected. However, this makes getting right in on the capsule much easier, and at two or three inches the presence is excellent. Also, at this distance the included foam windscreen really does help.
I'm also quite impressed by how lively the mic sounds. Not overly bright, but there's a great air to the sound. The detailed frequency response chart reveals just how lumpy the response is. But this isn't a bad thing, and it shows how a dip at around 2.5kHz prevents the AK47 from becoming too harsh.
The chart also reveals a lift beyond 10KHz, and when I try it on some dull hand percussion, this enhances the hand noise perfectly. Large capsule condensers can be a mixed bag on acoustic guitars, but the AK47 does a good job here, and after a bit of moving around, a close but non-boxy sound is achieved pretty easily.
Figure it out
Of the other patterns on offer, the AK47 is a much better figure-8 mic than omni (not unusual for a twin diaphragm). And you should also note that like the valve U47 it has a notched pattern selector (not the continuously variable one you get on an M49). Overall build quality is good, and it certainly looks the part. I did find the cradle a bit fiddly to use, and in this day and age, the cardboard carry case seems a bit stingy.
Overall the AK47 combines some nice personal touches (the bespoke transformer and valve for example) with some more stock aspects, and this explains the price. But I think its strongest features are the cardioid and figure-8 patterns sound, which are both of excellent quality.