The Weird Audio Little Red Monster [Tape Op #138] I reviewed still gets a lot of use in my studio. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of trying two more Weird Audio tube microphones: the W47 Mod 1 and W47 Mod 2. As you can probably guess from the name, these are influenced by the well-known Neumann U 47. Both mics come in a wooden storage box and include a shock mount, 7-pin cable, power supply, and IEC power cable – all packed in an aluminum flight case. The significant difference between these mics is their capsules. The W47 Mod 1 is a Mylar (PET film) skinned K47 style capsule, while the W47 Mod 2 is a PVC skinned capsule. The original Neumann U 47 used a PVC capsule (the M7), but PVC was difficult to work with and had to be glued to the backplate and could also deteriorate over time. So, the K47 eventually replaced the M7. For the W47 Mod 2, Weird Audio has come up with a modern, K-style, single backplate capsule that uses dual PVC diaphragms without gluing them. Because the VF14 vacuum tube used in the original U 47 hasn’t been in production since the late ‘50s, Weird Audio uses a modern, handmade German low noise tube instead.
I’m one of those people that doesn’t enjoy the sound of my own recorded voice, so I leave most of the singing to others. Nonetheless, when first checking these out I didn’t completely hate the way I sounded with the W47 Mod 2. It was full-spectrum, yet soft and smooth on top, reminding me of a ribbon mic – though I never felt that I was missing any high end. To my ears, the W47 Mod 1 is similar, but with a bit more presence in the top end that for some sources is precisely what you’d want. When recording real vocalists, I enjoyed the sound of both mics. The W47 Mod 2 oozed a vintage vibe that is difficult to explain, while the subtle high-frequency boost of the W47 Mod 1 was just what other tracks (or maybe the singer) needed. Auditioning both mics was a nice problem to have!
Both W47s have a noticeable proximity effect when up close, so in those circumstances I would typically move the pattern selection on the power supply one to two clicks toward omni. I used the W47 Mod 2 (into an Audio Maintenance Limited 5003D preamp) for a female vocalist and achieved an astonishingly clear and articulate vocal track – not thin or sterile sounding at all. It was rich and full of the character required for a quirky jazz track consisting of only vocals and bass.
As a room mic for drums, the sound was huge with both mics, but not over-hyped. I typically switched patterns depending on how much room sound I wanted. During the pandemic, I had ample time to compare a bunch of overhead mics in a four-mic setup, with the W47 Mod 1 and Mod 2 together (even as an unmatched pair) ending up being my favorite. The two overhead mics (in cardioid mode) and a little kick and snare were all I needed for some surf rock tracks!
I used the W47 Mod 1 to re-amp a bass track, and it captured an accurate sound of the amp’s low end, plus some roominess or space that I felt was missing from the DI track. I can’t forget about percussion – shaker, tambourine, and cowbell overdubs also sounded fantastic. I will often pull out a ribbon mic for this duty since I find some condenser mics a bit too shrill, but the W47s sounded smooth and natural. Don’t just take my word for it. I recommended the Weird Audio microphones to friend, guitarist, songwriter, and producer Tom Guerra. He said, “I’ve been using the Weird 47 as my main vocal mic now for the better part of a year and have been very, very impressed with the transparency and warmth!”
I don’t have a vintage U 47, so I reached out to Jonathan Grossman (producer and owner of Night Shift Audio), and he said, “The Weird Audio 47 is everything I expect from a large-diaphragm tube mic: warm, rich, and detailed. I’ve used some of the best U 47s out there – from Capitol’s Sinatra U 47 to a Stephen Paul-modified silver U 47 with a 1.5-micron diaphragm – and this mic definitely holds its own.”
These mics are fantastic for vocals, and I was so glad to find they excelled on several sources. I’m a fan of vintage gear, but prefer the reliability of modern equipment. I also have difficulty justifying the cost of a vintage U 47 for my project studio. Compared to a vintage U 47, the Weird Audio W47s are much more within my reach and may be the perfect balance of vintage and modern. I’m hanging onto both mics!