Let me start this rant of a review by saying that endeavors like this one warm my recording heart. I love it when I meet someone that loves recording as much as I do, and in this case, the expression is through the modifying and "re-engineering" of Oktava microphones. I have always had a soft spot for Oktava, ever since the days when they seemed just as exotic in form and function as any LOMO or RTT I came in contact with. At some point, Oktava became the sort of "default" low-priced microphone. I think it was the second that they popped up at the various "Wal-Mart of audio" stores.

Michael Joly takes these cool, unique little gems and turns them into true works of art. Professional, high- quality, great-sounding pieces of art. That is as simple as I can think to put this. OktavaMod is amazing.

I have a bunch of microphones to use at Studio G when it comes to vocals: two U 47s, a C 12, a Soundelux U95, and lots, lots more. I decided I would do the most "unfair" shootout ever... just because I actually really enjoyed talking with Michael and hearing of his vast experience in pro audio design (check the OktavaMod website-it is too much to get into here). I hung up the phone thinking that this little mic in my hands could take on the world!

So anyway, here is the scene. I put up a Neumann U47. Mine. The one I love. It is a great one. I put up a C 12, also beloved by yours truly. A Blue Mouse, the U95, a GT MD1a (also one of my favorites), and a LOMO 19A19 (just for some Russian love). The little MK-219 looked tiny with no shockmount, no big burly cable-just the now nice-looking mod'ed MK-219 sitting on the stand next to a hefty cross section of recording history.

My assistant, Marc Goodman, has a band called Illumina that is great. He plays guitar in that band and sings, so I had him go in the live room and sing and play guitar. What I heard next would change my life...

...Not really, but I was surprised at how amazing the little MK-219 sounded even in the company of pimps, players, and hustlers. When you use your gut and heart to choose a microphone, and not your eyes or your wallet or your insecurity, amazing things can happen. The OktavaMod MK-219 is a very, very nice microphone. The fact that it is built by an amazing person is a big plus, as I can't imagine dealing with a better situation. That is why I love companies like this. Companies like OktavaMod, Sage Electronics, Chandler, A-Designs, Avedis Audio, CharterOak... there are many more, but these are a few examples of companies from whom we should all be buying products. Forget who has the biggest advertising budget. People like Michael Joly make your small investment into a thing of beauty that you will cherish as long as you record. If you have a fairly limited mic selection, and you are looking for something that makes getting great sounds easier, check out OktavaMod. If you have a ton of mics and just want a really cool piece of gear made by a good person that actually cares if you live or die and understands-truly understands-the passion and drive behind recording as an art form and way of life, check out OktavaMod.

I was sad to see the MK-219 go, and I will be talking to Michael about getting my very own OktavaMod MK-219.

Recording is and has been my favorite thing to do for a very long time, and this is yet another cool thingy that keeps my job fun. Contact Michael Joly via the website for pricing and information, as there are many options available. (As reviewed, $329 for new mic w/ mod, $149 for mod to customer-supplied mic; www.oktavamod.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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