Soundelux continues to recreate the classic, out-of-production German mics of the 1950s, using today’s more stable and reliable tube electronics. The E47c is their latest version of the 1950’s Neumann tube mic, the U47, which for many years has had the enviable reputation as “the big sound” vocal mic. With the 12dB at 100Hz boost the Soundelux E47 mic is capable of, you’re definitely going to get that big sound, and then some.
The mic comes shipped as cardioid only, but there’s a note in the manual that says by removing the grille you can gain access to a switch that changes the pickup pattern. Not true — and very confusing. There’s also no roll-off switch for the low frequencies, and with its extended low end, rumble could be a problem. A shock mount and 20' power supply cable are included. I was also kind of surprised at the skimpy documentation that came with this mic. For the amount of money you’re spending, I would expect more than a flimsy, one-page “manual.” No spec sheet or frequency chart of any kind is included. These have to be downloaded from their website.
Anyway, as you might guess on the basis of years of previous raves, this mic was a winner in the lead vocal category. The first test for this mic was recording female vocals for a local country project I was working on. After trying different preamps, the Langevin sounded the best for this particular singer. Comparing the Soundelux E47c to our Lawson L47MP mic that would normally be my first choice, the Soundelux added a lot of personality to the vocal, and really brought out the warmth in her voice. While the Lawson was more versatile with its multiple pickup patterns, the Soundelux had a quality to it that really made the vocal jump out of the track.
I also had the opportunity to compare the E47c with a Neumann 147 tube mic, and while the Neumann brought out the singer’s lower midrange better than Soundelux, it was a little muddy sounding in comparison, and didn’t really capture the character of this female vocalist as well as the Soundelux.
Switching over to male lead vocals for a funk driven project, I found that by placing the singer three inches back from the mic (with a pop filter), I could really get that fabled bottom end. It’s a neat sound; you can actually feel the low notes.
As a fun comparison, I tried tracking the lead vocals for the hardcore band Sad Boy Sinister with this mic. It couldn’t really handle this forceful style of singing, but moving the singer back until he was about a foot off the pop filter worked pretty well. This mic wouldn’t be my first choice for that style of music, however.
For acoustic guitar, the E47c paired with an Ampex tube preamp was my choice for a guitar track that needed a 1970s-ish, Neil Young sound. I liked the way the mic brought out the ringing, rich lower mids of the guitar, and there was enough body to really fill out the track.
It also worked well as the main mic for a live guitar and vocal recording. Placing the mic about two feet back, halfway between the guitar and the vocalist, it effortlessly captured the intimate performance.
We also tried using this mic as a room mic in a fairly live, 15'x20' drum room with a local punk rock band. The five-piece drum kit was set up in the rear third of the room, and I placed the E47c about 12' from the front of the kit. Using our Focusrite 6 as the preamp, the mic actually sounded a lot like an SM57! Switching to our Millennia TD-1 preamp was a much better match; the mic sounded fuller overall and the high end was a little more extended.
For my final test, tracking a trumpet solo, I actually ended up preferring the sound of an AEA Ribbon microphone to the E47c. With its warmer sound, the AEA R84 ribbon mic really fit the sound of this particular trumpet. The Soundelux E47c picked up a bit too much of the sound of the trumpet’s mouthpiece and not enough of the instrument’s tone.
Like many tube mics that are known for their musical character, this cardioid-only mic might not always be the right choice for the vocalist or instrument you’re recording. This mic in particular can be sensitive to voices that are prominent in the upper midrange, causing them to sound slightly spitty and nasal, as if the singer has a cold.
That said, there’s a reason good vintage tube mics command top dollar — they can create and project a vocal personality that comes through in a mix. The E47c tube mic from Soundelux, when matched with the right singer and the right preamp, can sound magical.