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Author Topic: Recreating Mike Millard Analog Recording Set-Up: AKG 451E CK-1 > Nakamichi 550  (Read 4099 times)

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Offline JEMS

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I recently acquired a fully restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck, the same model used by some serious tapers in the '70s, including the legendary Mike Millard, most famous for his Led Zeppelin 1975-77 and Bob Dylan 1978-79 tapes. While I had seen pictures of the deck many times, I had no idea how big and heavy it is. Yes, it is portable in that it can be fully operated on 8 D-cel batteries, but it is as heavy and large as many home tape decks. It easily weighs over 15 pounds, which makes me respect its use in stealth taping all the more.

According to Millard's own handwritten notes, his primary microphone set-up was a pair of AKG 4541E microphones. Until a couple of days ago, I had never researched these mics, but after doing so I began to understand his choice. First, they were/are a very well regarded condenser mic, with interchangeable caps, including the CK-1 cardioid caps, which is what Millard used. Second, you could alter the angle with A51 swivel adapters that allowed the taper to tilt the caps 90 degrees from the bodies, which could be incredibly helpful in a stealth situation. Given that some believe Millard used a wheelchair to record, it makes sense that the mics could be mounted more easily with the swivel caps to aim them forward and maintain a low profile.

But the question I'm looking to answer is what did he use to power the mics? The Nakamichi 550 is designed to be used with Nak's microphone series, CM-50, CM-100, CM-300, CM-700, CM-1000, all of which are battery powered, with a single battery in the body (or in the case of the 1000, in a portable preamp, if memory serves).

Did AKG sell a portable, battery operated pre-amp for the 451 line for use when phantom power wasn't available? If they didn't, what kind of battery phantom power source/pre-amp would have been in common use circa 1975-81?

Would welcome anyone's POV on this, as my goal to mirror his set-up and use it in the wild. There's something about the sound and quality that Millard was able to capture that I want to attempt to recreate.

Thanks,

BK for JEMS


Offline heathen

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I wish I had some helpful information to contribute.  I think this is a fucking awesome project though.
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Offline OldNeumanntapr

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When I was going to school at Cuesta College in the 1980s I was working part time for the music dept. they had a set of AKG 451 microphones with a preamp that ran on 110 volts AC. I would imagine that AKG also made a battery powered version.

My friend Jack, a local SLO county soundman, had a Nakamichi 550. They are indeed big and heavy, and have huge VU meters that swing from the top. They also have three mic inputs, left right and a center blend but only two VUs.

Nice project. I never knew exactly which AKGs Millard used. Nice to have that info.

Offline goodcooker

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I don't have any direct knowledge of what Millard may have used but something like this would have probably been available at the time - transistor tech had shrunk devices some by then.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/146403-REG/Neumann_BS_48_I_2_BS48i2_Phantom_Power.html

I can say with personal experience that the AKG 451 is one of the most "live" sounding microphones. I was just listening to a Calexico recording I made with a pair of 451s many years ago and it sounds fantastic. I always have an eye out for these mics when I trawl the pawn shops and resale places.
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Offline furburger

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Given that some believe Millard used a wheelchair to record



I met a (the) guy who pushed his wheelchair in to many of the 70's Zepp shows...and he had all the 1g tapes from Mike (red/blue rollerball ink, "Mike The Mic" written on each spine....and many on VHS!) to prove it.


there was basically no other way to get that deck into the venue....for Zeppelin, they wheeled him right up into the front handicapped section...I think there was deck problems with one of the '75 shows (Long Beach?), which is why it's truncated.

I have one of his last masters (as a 2g), sadly, it's an ABB show from the Greek in '90 or '91 (not at home to check), so it's not really torrentable. Dave (wheelchair pusher) let me sit in his house for 4 days and dub down whatever I wanted....


will send you a PM, as I think the wheelchair pusher is still active occasionally on TTD. I also have his ex-wifes phone number/FB info, so I may be able to track him down that way.
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Offline rocksuitcase

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The 550 is an animal. One was in our crew for a while being hauled around by JJH in the fall 1984 and spring 1985 tours. They are heavy and huge indeed. I also had the opportunity to patch out of one of them 4-5 times into a Sony TCD5 in summer 1982. IIRC, each user had Nak microphones, using the internal batteries, although it is very noticeable on the tapes when the batteries start to go on the mics, the distortion picks up dramatically.
I wonder how he powered the AKG 451's as well. Hopefully you will get some info from the wheelchair pusher. Incidentally, the guy on summer 1982 tour also used a wheelchair to get his rig in.
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Offline rippleish20

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I started taping using a Nak 550 in 1979 and continued until 1981, when I got a Sony D-5. I used Nakamichi microphones too during that period so I also have no idea how he powered 451s but he must have had some sort of pre.... As far as carrying at around and getting it in, I always managed one way or the other. The PCM encoder /Betamax and associated batteries combination that some people were using prior to introduction of DAT machines (83-88) was much worse weight and size wise...


I would guess he used something like the AKG B46E

https://www.ebay.ie/itm/Vintage-Condenser-Microphone-AKG-C-451-E-with-case-AKG-B46E-Phantom-PSU-/332343603612
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 01:48:45 PM by rippleish20 »
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Offline DATBRAD

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Tapers I knew running 550s with condensers all used separate battery supplies unless they ran Senn K6 or similar electrets with batteries in the body like the Naks. The 451 could operate at any phantom voltage from 9-52V and the B46E was a 9V portable battery supply made for it and it used a single standard 9V battery. I think there was also an N46E that was 12V (possibly T-power not sure it's been decades).

Shortly after the C460B was released they introduced the B18 which was an 18V portable phantom supply with a belt clip. I used these before switching to Stewart 48V portable supplies in the mid 90s.

The 550 was like other portable decks of the era, they didn't supply phantom. I don't recall a single portable cassette deck with phantom.

I expect if that had been left out of source histories on recordings, it was because few mentioned it. Mics>deck was what all tapes I traded or made in the '80s was critical to know, power supplies were just a given.
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Offline JEMS

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I would guess he used something like the AKG B46E

https://www.ebay.ie/itm/Vintage-Condenser-Microphone-AKG-C-451-E-with-case-AKG-B46E-Phantom-PSU-/332343603612

Thank you so much for this. I think you are right. Much appreciated.

Offline JEMS

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Tapers I knew running 550s with condensers all used separate battery supplies unless they ran Senn K6 or similar electrets with batteries in the body like the Naks. The 451 could operate at any phantom voltage from 9-52V and the B46E was a 9V portable battery supply made for it and it used a single standard 9V battery. I think there was also an N46E that was 12V (possibly T-power not sure it's been decades).

Shortly after the C460B was released they introduced the B18 which was an 18V portable phantom supply with a belt clip. I used these before switching to Stewart 48V portable supplies in the mid 90s.

Thank you so much for this extremely helpful information. The B46E and B18 are both options I wasn't aware of and are definitely part of the answer. Turns out the N46E is a standalone AC-powered, two channel phantom power source.

Much appreciated.

BK
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 02:49:39 PM by JEMS »

Offline DSatz

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I'll confirm the information in the thread; I used a 550 to record in Europe in 1974-75 before switching to a Sony, and AKG C 451s were my first real condensers back in about 1971. The wide-range, peak-reading meters on the Nakamichi were wonderful, and the mike preamps, though their inputs weren't balanced, were excellent. The original C 451 cardioid was on the bright side sound-wise; not harsh, but definitely not neutral/natural sounding. The omni for that series, on the other hand, was rather sweet for semi-distant recording.

When I was actively using the 550 I was already using Schoeps mikes, and I had an outboard battery supply built for them, with unbalanced outputs. I wished that I could modify the deck to add input transformers and 12-Volt phantom powering (or 10-Volt, since as I recall that was the recorder's positive "rail" voltage). IIRC the 550's input sockets were the tip-ring-sleeve type, so they wouldn't have needed replacing--but there wasn't enough room for transformers inside the case.

--Do people here know that Nakamichi during that era still had its own EQ curve that was ~2 dB different on the high end from anyone else's? Cassettes recorded on a Nakamichi of this period played back a little dull on all other brands of cassette deck, while all cassettes sound brighter when played back on a Nakamichi of this era than any other brand. (Hifi salespeople would play your cassette on a Teac or Sony or Advent, then on a Nakamichi, and the tape would always sound a little clearer in the Nakamichi; therefore it was better.) Nakamichi eventually came much closer to matching the rest of the world, but that was years after the 550.

--There are variants of the original C 451 amplifier that you shouldn't reject out of hand if you find them. The C 452 was modified by the addition of one resistor so that the current draw at 48 Volts would be lower (without it, the mikes needed 6 mA each), but the compromise is that the C 452 can ONLY be powered by 48 Volts or thereabouts, not 9 to 54. The "EB" version (made for both the C 451 and C 452) is the same circuit as the "E" with the addition of a switchable low-cut filter.

BTW, the "E" stands for "export" and simply means that the amplifier has an XLR connector on it. At the time, the XLR hadn't achieved world domination yet, and microphones often had different output connectors depending on which country you were in. Tuchel connectors were still the main connector used in Germany and Austria, so the "continental" version of the amplifier is the C 451 C or simply C 451. I've also seen C 451 F microphones made for France, with Sogie connectors.

The Austrian state broadcasting network (ORF) required and used full-sized Lemo audio connectors on everything, both at mike and line level. AKG made the C 451 L for them--as a musician I remember being recorded with those. Inside the ORF's sound trucks, even their Studer decks were specially equipped with Lemo connectors for audio inputs and outputs. That way they only had to carry one type of cable for remote jobs--plus no one would be too tempted to steal the equipment for their own use, as with the "left-handed" light bulbs that are used throughout the NYC transit system.

--best regards
« Last Edit: July 28, 2018, 12:14:06 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline MakersMarc

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This is great stuff. When I first started in 97 I had a d3 analog deck. Loved everyone about analog except the flips. Constant 44:00 anxiety. 😀
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Offline JEMS

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I'll confirm the information in the thread; I used a 550 to record in Europe in 1974-75 before switching to a Sony, and AKG C 451s were my first real condensers back in about 1971. The wide-range, peak-reading meters on the Nakamichi were wonderful, and the mike preamps, though their inputs weren't balanced, were excellent. The original C 451 cardioid was on the bright side sound-wise; not harsh, but definitely not neutral/natural sounding. The omni for that series, on the other hand, was rather sweet for semi-distant recording.

--There are variants of the original C 451 amplifier that you shouldn't reject out of hand if you find them. The C 452 was modified by the addition of one resistor so that the current draw at 48 Volts would be lower (without it, the mikes needed 6 mA each), but the compromise is that the C 452 can ONLY be powered by 48 Volts or thereabouts, not 9 to 54. The "EB" version (made for both the C 451 and C 452) is the same circuit as the "E" with the addition of a switchable low-cut filter.

BTW, the "E" stands for "export" and simply means that the amplifier has an XLR connector on it. At the time, the XLR hadn't achieved world domination yet, and microphones often had different output connectors depending on which country you were in. Tuchel connectors were still the main connector used in Germany and Austria, so the "continental" version of the amplifier is the C 451 C or simply C 451. (The Austrian state broadcasting network, the ORF, used special versions of everything with large Lemo connectors, so for them AKG made the "C 451 L" ... inside their sound trucks, even their Studer decks used Lemo connectors, just so that they only had to carry one type of cable on remote jobs, but no one would steal them for their own use ...)

--best regards

Thank you so much for the additional information. This has moved from the theoretical to the doable thanks to the contributions on this thread.

Offline twatts (that "Pants" thing is so lame...)

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This is a much better read than the Furry Fiasco...

Thanks JEMS!!!

Terry
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I will return your DATs/Tapes/MDs.  I'll also provide Master FLAC files via DropBox.  PM me for details.

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Offline kindms

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I'll confirm the information in the thread; I used a 550 to record in Europe in 1974-75 before switching to a Sony, and AKG C 451s were my first real condensers back in about 1971. The wide-range, peak-reading meters on the Nakamichi were wonderful, and the mike preamps, though their inputs weren't balanced, were excellent. The original C 451 cardioid was on the bright side sound-wise; not harsh, but definitely not neutral/natural sounding. The omni for that series, on the other hand, was rather sweet for semi-distant recording.

By then I was already using Schoeps mikes, and I had an outboard battery supply for them. If I had stayed with the Nakamichi, I might have modified it to add input transformers and 12-Volt phantom powering (or 10-Volt, since as I recall that was the recorder's positive "rail" voltage). IIRC the input sockets were actually the tip-ring-sleeve type so they wouldn't have needed replacing, but there wasn't enough space for transformers inside the case.

I'm sure you know that Nakamichi during this era still had its own EQ curve that was 2 or 3 dB different on the high end from anyone else's. Cassettes recorded on a Nakamichi of this period play back a little dull on all other brands of cassette deck, while all cassettes sound brighter when played back on a Nakamichi of this era than any other brand. They eventually "split the difference" and came closer to matching the rest of the world, but that was years after the 550.

--There are variants of the original C 451 amplifier that you shouldn't reject out of hand if you find them. The C 452 was modified by the addition of one resistor so that the current draw at 48 Volts would be lower (without it, the mikes needed 6 mA each), but the compromise is that the C 452 can ONLY be powered by 48 Volts or thereabouts, not 9 to 54. The "EB" version (made for both the C 451 and C 452) is the same circuit as the "E" with the addition of a switchable low-cut filter.

BTW, the "E" stands for "export" and simply means that the amplifier has an XLR connector on it. At the time, the XLR hadn't achieved world domination yet, and microphones often had different output connectors depending on which country you were in. Tuchel connectors were still the main connector used in Germany and Austria, so the "continental" version of the amplifier is the C 451 C or simply C 451. (The Austrian state broadcasting network, the ORF, used special versions of everything with large Lemo connectors, so for them AKG made the "C 451 L" ... inside their sound trucks, even their Studer decks used Lemo connectors, just so that they only had to carry one type of cable on remote jobs, but no one would steal them for their own use ...)

--best regards


what were you recording with that rig in the early 70s in Europe ? Care to give us an idea of what you were using it for
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Offline rocksuitcase

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I'll confirm the information in the thread; I used a 550 to record in Europe in 1974-75 before switching to a Sony, and AKG C 451s were my first real condensers back in about 1971. The wide-range, peak-reading meters on the Nakamichi were wonderful, and the mike preamps, though their inputs weren't balanced, were excellent. The original C 451 cardioid was on the bright side sound-wise; not harsh, but definitely not neutral/natural sounding. The omni for that series, on the other hand, was rather sweet for semi-distant recording.

--There are variants of the original C 451 amplifier that you shouldn't reject out of hand if you find them. The C 452 was modified by the addition of one resistor so that the current draw at 48 Volts would be lower (without it, the mikes needed 6 mA each), but the compromise is that the C 452 can ONLY be powered by 48 Volts or thereabouts, not 9 to 54. The "EB" version (made for both the C 451 and C 452) is the same circuit as the "E" with the addition of a switchable low-cut filter.

BTW, the "E" stands for "export" and simply means that the amplifier has an XLR connector on it. At the time, the XLR hadn't achieved world domination yet, and microphones often had different output connectors depending on which country you were in. Tuchel connectors were still the main connector used in Germany and Austria, so the "continental" version of the amplifier is the C 451 C or simply C 451. (The Austrian state broadcasting network, the ORF, used special versions of everything with large Lemo connectors, so for them AKG made the "C 451 L" ... inside their sound trucks, even their Studer decks used Lemo connectors, just so that they only had to carry one type of cable on remote jobs, but no one would steal them for their own use ...)

--best regards

Thank you so much for the additional information. This has moved from the theoretical to the doable thanks to the contributions on this thread.
I used to own 2 of the B18 dual 9V supply's for our original c460b's bought in 1991. they were perfect for ENG type of work, small and used standard type 9V battery. I might still have them, but do not know where they are located. There must be some of them still available on e-bay or gear slutz.
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Offline jefflester

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In the early 90s to the end I used to patch off a friend at GD shows who ran AKG 460s and CK8 guns and used the BP18 to power the mics since he then went straight into a TCD-D3.
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Offline heathen

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Have you seen this (I have no affiliation)? https://www.ebay.com/i/222385154174?ul_noapp=true
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Offline kindms

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i knew i recognized JEMS from somewhere

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Date: 1977-06-21
Location: Inglewood, CA
Venue: The Forum
Source: Audience
Lineage: 1st gen cassettes(TDK SA 90)x3>Nakamichi 670 pitch & azimuth-adjusted playback deck>Nakamichi Outboard Dolby B Unit>Wavelab 96/24>flac
Taping Gear: AKG mics, Nakamichi 550 cassette deck
Taped By: Mike Millard
Transferred By: JEMS


thanks for the sweet transfer.
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Offline JEMS

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Have you seen this (I have no affiliation)? https://www.ebay.com/i/222385154174?ul_noapp=true

I have, but thanks for bringing to my attention. Very likely what he used.

Offline Chrisedge

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Following this with great interest!
Audio: Sound Professionals SP-CMC-10 (AT933s) or CA-14 (Omni & Cards) >
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Video: Sony HX9V

Offline ts

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Was Mike Millard in a wheelchair or did he fake it?

Offline yug du nord

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^There is no faking anything when you pull the heat! 
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Offline rocksuitcase

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^There is no faking anything when you pull the heat!
+T     
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

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^There is no faking anything when you pull the heat!
+T   

That is a statement others can only make after hearing recordings that stand the test of time.  If one goes around always saying they pulled the heat then they are just fluffers.  But, yes totally agree there is no faking anything when you pull the heat. Mike's recordings stand the test of time and we are thankful he was so dedicated to preserving history. 

Offline JEMS

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Was Mike Millard in a wheelchair or did he fake it?

Some excellent responses to this, but to answer the question directly, no, Millard was not wheelchair bound.

In 1988, JEMS used the same method to bring video recording gear into a show at Shoreline which we then filmed from the handicap section. Surely in Millard's day there was no designated handicap section.


Offline JEMS

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Hello again. Looks like the Millard project is going to happen in late September as I have received permission from a band to use the Millard recording set up at two of their shows.

I have also lined up a place to rent the AKG 451E mics, but if by chance anyone was willing to loan me a pair or has the original battery powered phantom power adapters, I would love to hear from you. I'd be more than happy to pay for Fed Ex shipping both ways if someone had the gear to loan.

Or if you are in the Bay Area, we could do a handoff in person as that's where I will be recording the shows.

If you want to or can help, please let me know.

Best,

BK


Offline analogguru

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I don't understand the "excitement" or importance of a phantom power supply.  In 1979 I made my own battery power supplies for the AKG C451 microphones running on 18V (2x 9V batteries) and even the possibility to connect it to unbalanced inputs (as can be found on the Nakamichi 550 too).  They were made like the circuit below.  I ran them on 18V, so I used 2x 1kOhm 1% resistors.

Since I am convinced that in the B46E was not more inside I can't see a reason to send B46E's around the world, especially when there are tons of cheap (dual) DI-boxes (or phantom power supplies) available which can be gutted and the 10 components necessary be built in the empty case - no drilling necessary.  But I can send you the 10 parts - if you should need them.
.
.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 06:45:48 AM by analogguru »

Offline rigpimp

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Hello again. Looks like the Millard project is going to happen in late September as I have received permission from a band to use the Millard recording set up at two of their shows.

I have also lined up a place to rent the AKG 451E mics, but if by chance anyone was willing to loan me a pair or has the original battery powered phantom power adapters, I would love to hear from you. I'd be more than happy to pay for Fed Ex shipping both ways if someone had the gear to loan.

Or if you are in the Bay Area, we could do a handoff in person as that's where I will be recording the shows.

If you want to or can help, please let me know.

Best,

BK

I'll probably be in Sunnyvale this weekend or at least once more before your September need.  I have the Neumann BS48i-2 that Roger linked above that you can borrow.  It runs on a 9V battery and has the 5-pin to dual XLR breakout cables.
Mics: Schoeps MK5 G MP, Schoeps CCM 4 Lg MP, Schoeps MK8 MP, nBob cables > PFA, KCY 250/5 > PFA
Pre/A>D/P48: Sonosax SX/M2, Sonosax SX/M2-LS, E.A.A. PSP-2, Naiant Tinybox, Neumann BS48i-2 (for sale)
Recorders: Sound Devices Mixpre-6, Sony PCM-M10
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Offline JEMS

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I don't understand the "excitement" or importance of a phantom power supply.  In 1979 I made my own battery power supplies for the AKG C451 microphones running on 18V (2x 9V batteries) and even the possibility to connect it to unbalanced inputs (as can be found on the Nakamichi 550 too).  They were made like the circuit below.  I ran them on 18V, so I used 2x 1kOhm 1% resistors.

Since I am convinced that in the B46E was not more inside I can't see a reason to send B46E's around the world, especially when there are tons of cheap (dual) DI-boxes (or phantom power supplies) available which can be gutted and the 10 components necessary be built in the empty case - no drilling necessary.  But I can send you the 10 parts - if you should need them.
.
.

I'm sure you're right but I'm afraid I am not skilled enough to make something like this. Looks like I have some other offers of phantom power sources.

Thanks for chiming in though.


Offline JEMS

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I'll probably be in Sunnyvale this weekend or at least once more before your September need.  I have the Neumann BS48i-2 that Roger linked above that you can borrow.  It runs on a 9V battery and has the 5-pin to dual XLR breakout cables.
[/quote]

I would like to take you up on that. I live in LA but I will be going to Berkeley for the shows. Can we connect via PM?

BK

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I'll probably be in Sunnyvale this weekend or at least once more before your September need.  I have the Neumann BS48i-2 that Roger linked above that you can borrow.  It runs on a 9V battery and has the 5-pin to dual XLR breakout cables.

I would like to take you up on that. I live in LA but I will be going to Berkeley for the shows. Can we connect via PM?

BK
[/quote]

Which shows? (I live in Berkeley)
Mics: Avantone CK-1s, CA-14 omnis
Pres: CA9100
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Offline rigpimp

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I'll probably be in Sunnyvale this weekend or at least once more before your September need.  I have the Neumann BS48i-2 that Roger linked above that you can borrow.  It runs on a 9V battery and has the 5-pin to dual XLR breakout cables.

I would like to take you up on that. I live in LA but I will be going to Berkeley for the shows. Can we connect via PM?

BK
[/quote]

It doesn't sounds like any of my family is in town this weekend but the wife wants to head somewhere.  I know that you said you are seeing a show in Berkeley but which direction are you coming from?  I'll shoot a PM
Mics: Schoeps MK5 G MP, Schoeps CCM 4 Lg MP, Schoeps MK8 MP, nBob cables > PFA, KCY 250/5 > PFA
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follow this
Currently in use:
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Offline DSatz

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just a caution that unmodified, original C 451s draw about 6 mA apiece at 48 Volts, while the Neumann BS 48i-2 phantom power supply is rated at only 5 mA maximum per microphone.

Also, since that supply runs on a single 9-Volt battery for both microphones combined, I'd really want to test the battery life before going out to record live with that particular set of equipment. Oddly, Neumann doesn't specify battery life for the two-channel version of the supply at all--only for single microphones that draw 2 mA ("at least 20 hours") or 4 mA ("about 8 hours") respectively.

Note that those numbers aren't in direct proportion to one another; drawing more current evidently drains the battery faster than you would expect from a linear function. Higher current apparently leads to lower DC conversion efficiency--and you will be pushing the circuit to its limit, and maybe even a bit beyond.

Thus you may find that the battery only lasts 2-1/2 or 3 hours. Is that long enough? And/or do you have lithium batteries available?

--best regards
« Last Edit: September 05, 2018, 11:01:10 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline noahbickart

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Does anyone argue that there are audible differences between phantom power supplies?

I understand using classic transducers, and, to a lesser extent, microphone preamps to shape the sound. But power supplies?
Recording:
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Offline DSatz

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Anyone? Yes, I've seen one such claim--a vendor who boasts about the noise on his DC supply being so low that it's in the small numbers of microvolts.

However, I think that was both misplaced perfectionism and an appeal to the ignorance of his readers. The whole premise of a balanced input configuration is that it suppresses any noise that appears in like amplitude and phase on both modulation leads. The DC for a phantom power supply only has to be reasonably well filtered; the balanced input circuit should then be able to suppress any common-mode noise in the supply voltage by 80 - 100 dB or so, just as it suppresses other common-mode noise in the microphone and cable.

Of course, this requires good actual circuit balance at the frequency of the offending noise. For this reason, the match between the two phantom "feed" resistors on each channel is specified in the DIN standard to be 0.4% or better. This is a narrower tolerance than the absolute value of the resistors themselves, and more critical than the 1% precision that many people use. An arbitrary pair of 1% resistors can differ in value by as much as 2% (worst case), which would limit the ability of the balanced input to suppress common-mode noise. And not just noise from the phantom supply, since those resistors are in parallel with the preamp input. This puts them in a position to disrupt the balance of the entire circuit between the microphone and the input.

I know of one preamp manufacturer, highly respected among classical music engineers, who selects 6.8 kOhm resistor pairs to be within one Ohm of each other on any given channel. That's probably beyond the point of diminishing returns, and resistor values can drift somewhat over time anyway, but I still appreciate his care. Microphone manufacturers need to take similar care when selecting components for their output stages, and the better ones do.

Other than that, phantom supplies just need to supply phantoms of the proper shape and size, and not run out of them ...

--best regards
« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 09:01:51 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline Popmarter

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Given that some believe Millard used a wheelchair to record



I met a (the) guy who pushed his wheelchair in to many of the 70's Zepp shows...and he had all the 1g tapes from Mike (red/blue rollerball ink, "Mike The Mic" written on each spine....and many on VHS!) to prove it.


there was basically no other way to get that deck into the venue....for Zeppelin, they wheeled him right up into the front handicapped section...I think there was deck problems with one of the '75 shows (Long Beach?), which is why it's truncated.

I have one of his last masters (as a 2g), sadly, it's an ABB show from the Greek in '90 or '91 (not at home to check), so it's not really torrentable. Dave (wheelchair pusher) let me sit in his house for 4 days and dub down whatever I wanted....


will send you a PM, as I think the wheelchair pusher is still active occasionally on TTD. I also have his ex-wifes phone number/FB info, so I may be able to track him down that way.

well, pics or it did not happen! :)

Man, this great story needs some new first hand info on Mike!
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Offline Popmarter

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I'll confirm the information in the thread; I used a 550 to record in Europe in 1974-75 before switching to a Sony, and AKG C 451s were my first real condensers back in about 1971. The wide-range, peak-reading meters on the Nakamichi were wonderful, and the mike preamps, though their inputs weren't balanced, were excellent. The original C 451 cardioid was on the bright side sound-wise; not harsh, but definitely not neutral/natural sounding. The omni for that series, on the other hand, was rather sweet for semi-distant recording.

When I was actively using the 550 I was already using Schoeps mikes, and I had an outboard battery supply built for them, with unbalanced outputs. I wished that I could modify the deck to add input transformers and 12-Volt phantom powering (or 10-Volt, since as I recall that was the recorder's positive "rail" voltage). IIRC the 550's input sockets were the tip-ring-sleeve type, so they wouldn't have needed replacing--but there wasn't enough room for transformers inside the case.

--Do people here know that Nakamichi during that era still had its own EQ curve that was ~2 dB different on the high end from anyone else's? Cassettes recorded on a Nakamichi of this period played back a little dull on all other brands of cassette deck, while all cassettes sound brighter when played back on a Nakamichi of this era than any other brand. (Hifi salespeople would play your cassette on a Teac or Sony or Advent, then on a Nakamichi, and the tape would always sound a little clearer in the Nakamichi; therefore it was better.) Nakamichi eventually came much closer to matching the rest of the world, but that was years after the 550.

--There are variants of the original C 451 amplifier that you shouldn't reject out of hand if you find them. The C 452 was modified by the addition of one resistor so that the current draw at 48 Volts would be lower (without it, the mikes needed 6 mA each), but the compromise is that the C 452 can ONLY be powered by 48 Volts or thereabouts, not 9 to 54. The "EB" version (made for both the C 451 and C 452) is the same circuit as the "E" with the addition of a switchable low-cut filter.

BTW, the "E" stands for "export" and simply means that the amplifier has an XLR connector on it. At the time, the XLR hadn't achieved world domination yet, and microphones often had different output connectors depending on which country you were in. Tuchel connectors were still the main connector used in Germany and Austria, so the "continental" version of the amplifier is the C 451 C or simply C 451. I've also seen C 451 F microphones made for France, with Sogie connectors.

The Austrian state broadcasting network (ORF) required and used full-sized Lemo audio connectors on everything, both at mike and line level. AKG made the C 451 L for them--as a musician I remember being recorded with those. Inside the ORF's sound trucks, even their Studer decks were specially equipped with Lemo connectors for audio inputs and outputs. That way they only had to carry one type of cable for remote jobs--plus no one would be too tempted to steal the equipment for their own use, as with the "left-handed" light bulbs that are used throughout the NYC transit system.

--best regards

Interesting, very nice. Thank you. Some Nakamichi cassettedecks also carried a 'E', like for instance the CR-7(E) I own. I was told it stands for 'Europe', but 'Export' will do.
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Offline spyder9

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How about a Denecke PS-2?  Very nice sounding P48 supply and it runs on a 9V battery.  Very small footprint.  I know you're trying to get the exact sound, but why splits hairs at this point?  The Denecke is a low noise solution that doesn't color the sound.   My 2 cents.

Offline DSatz

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I hate to nag, but it sounds to me as if you people don't realize how much current the 451s draw when they're powered at 48 Volts. It's 5.5 to 6 mA per microphone, which is higher than almost anything else that people use nowadays. The microphones are from the earlier years of phantom-powered studio microphones. AKG was in Austria, not Germany, and they flatly violated the DIN standard of the time, which specified a maximum of 2 mA per microphone at 48 Volts.

The C 451 was really a 9-Volt microphone, capable of running on as low as 7.5 Volts. For the sake of compatibility with other professional equipment, its circuitry was protected internally for use with 48-Volt supplies, which may go up to 52 Volts. But the higher the supply voltage, the more energy is simply thrown away (converted to heat) inside the mike. When these mikes are run at 48 Volts, about 3/4 of the energy from the power supply is turned into heat, and doesn't enhance performance in any way.

The supplies that this person is said to have used (AKG B-46E) weren't 48-Volt supplies; see the schematic below. They didn't contain (as do the Neumann and Denecke supplies) an oscillator/voltage multiplier circuit that steps the 9 Volts of the battery up to 48 (always at less than 100% efficiency). Rather, the B-46E was a simple 9-Volt, linear supply for ONE microphone, and at that lower supply voltage, the mike used that power nearly four times as efficiently as it does at 48 Volts. So it was about a seven or eight times better arrangement, as far as the use of battery power was concerned.

JFTR, AKG's AC phantom supply for this microphone series, the N-46E, was also a linear 12-Volt phantom supply, not 48.

If you're being a purist about this historical re-enactment, you might also consider the fact that the B-46E had an output transformer built in to the case. That's how it blocked DC from reaching the input to which it was connected. I don't know the specifications of that transformer, but it may have had some effect on the sound quality.

I'm really sorry that I no longer own a pair of these supplies, or I would gladly have lent them to this project. But when I moved up to 12-Volt Schoeps mikes (CMC 3-- series), I wrote and asked the company if these supplies were compatible. The reply was positive, but I was told that the Schoeps mikes wouldn't be able to reach their proper maximum SPL with only a 9-Volt supply, so I retired the B-46s and eventually (if I recall correctly) discarded them.

[edited later to add:] I found a pair of B-46E supplies in apparent good condition, and have them here now. I will probably run some tests with Schoeps CMC 6-- mikes just to see what happens to the maximum SPL of the Schoeps when powered at only 9 Volts--but after that, the supplies will be available in case anyone else on the forum needs them.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 09:27:17 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline JEMS

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Re: Recreating Mike Millard Analog Recording Set-Up: NIGHT ONE COMPLETE
« Reply #41 on: September 25, 2018, 02:25:52 PM »
To those following this thread...

After months of planning, last night we ran the "Millard" recording set up at the Greek Theater in Berkeley for night one of The National.

We ended up using two AKG B18 DC phantom power supplies to power the 451s after coming to the conclusion that N-46 packs are somewhat unreliable at this point. Each B18 runs on two 9V batteries.

So the set up was: two AKG 451E (-10db pads) > two AKG B18 phantom packs > Nakamichi 550 cassette recorder

With the blessing of the band, we ran the Millard rig from a table set up next to the soundboard. Initial playback is promising. We will run the rig again tonight for Night Two.

In time, the recordings will be made available. Stay tuned for details.


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Hawt!

Terry
***Do you have PHISH, VIDA BLUE, JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT or any other Phish related DATs/Tapes/MDs that need to be transferred???  I can do them for you!!!***

I will return your DATs/Tapes/MDs.  I'll also provide Master FLAC files via DropBox.  PM me for details.

Sony PCM R500 > SPDIF > Tascam HD-P2
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Offline rocksuitcase

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whassamatter- you didn't feel like sneaking the 550 in under a wheelchair? Not until you do it that way will it be a TRUE Millard recording!      >:D         ;)

Just kidding- Awesome that you were able to make it happen and get the permission of the band to do it.
music IS love

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Pics or it did not happen!!

cool story!
Currently in use:
Recorders: Edirol R44, Sony M10 & Sony D6
Microphones: Milab VM-44 Links (cards), AT853 (cards) & Nakamichi CM300 (all CP-s)
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Offline heathen

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Definitely gotta' see some photos of this rig in action.  Looking forward to hearing it as well!
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Congrats on getting this together and making it happen!

whassamatter- you didn't feel like sneaking the 550 in under a wheelchair? Not until you do it that way will it be a TRUE Millard recording!      >:D         ;)

Just kidding- Awesome that you were able to make it happen and get the permission of the band to do it.

^I was about to joke about this before I saw rock's post.  Yet beyond the joking aspect, it illuminates what I consider to be rather large elephant in the room-
Stereo microphone configuration has as at least as much if not more influence on the sound of the recording than much of the signal chain.

How did Mike Millard configure the microphones?  Do we know?  Armpits?

Traditionally, tapers did not document the microphone configuration they used very well, if at all.  It's odd that signal chains are often noted in detail (including the types of cables and interconnects), while microphone configuration is rarely mentioned.

A Ferrari straight off the showroom floor, tuned for the street and trips to the lingerie store, is not going to handle like or be able to compete with the exact same car tuned for the track.  Same parts, same signal chain, but entirely different setups producing very different results.

The other, even bigger and more basic thing is recording position.  However, I suspect that's expected to be different, and folks are generally aware of sonic differences with regards to recording position.  By contrast, not many think of microphone setup in the same sense, if they are aware of the variabilities and the effects on the recordings at all.

Very much looking forward to hearing these recordings at some point.  Please note the microphone setup used as well as the recording position in the notes if you can.  Also, because of the admirable efforts made in duplicating this historic taping signal chain, I encourage you to note all setup differences between these recordings and the historic ones as clearly as possible, to the extent that you are aware of them.  Otherwise folks will easily overlook both these elephants, consumed with details about the mice running around their feet.
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Offline JEMS

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Here's a shot of the rig in action on Night 2 of the National at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley


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How did Mike Millard configure the microphones?  Do we know?  Armpits?


If I had to guess, I'd say he ran the mics at his feet, and just pointed them at the stacks.  Being "handicapped", he wouldn't have been able to move his legs.  And he was probably put it an elevated position, up off of the floor, so he may have had good sight-lines.  And running his mics at his feet would free up his hands to do "normal" stuff like you would do at a show, thus not causing any suspicion... 

But its totally a guess...

Terry
***Do you have PHISH, VIDA BLUE, JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT or any other Phish related DATs/Tapes/MDs that need to be transferred???  I can do them for you!!!***

I will return your DATs/Tapes/MDs.  I'll also provide Master FLAC files via DropBox.  PM me for details.

Sony PCM R500 > SPDIF > Tascam HD-P2
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Offline JEMS

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https://streamable.com/zvn9o

Brief video. I will write up more on the whole experience. We taped just behind the GA section as the same level as the soundboard, right next to it in fact.

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How did Mike Millard configure the microphones?  Do we know?  Armpits?


If I had to guess, I'd say he ran the mics at his feet, and just pointed them at the stacks.  Being "handicapped", he wouldn't have been able to move his legs.  And he was probably put it an elevated position, up off of the floor, so he may have had good sight-lines.  And running his mics at his feet would free up his hands to do "normal" stuff like you would do at a show, thus not causing any suspicion... 

But its totally a guess...

Terry

Hat...

https://kernelmag.dailydot.com/features/report/6498/the-tragic-tale-of-a-legendary-concert-taper/

Terry
***Do you have PHISH, VIDA BLUE, JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT or any other Phish related DATs/Tapes/MDs that need to be transferred???  I can do them for you!!!***

I will return your DATs/Tapes/MDs.  I'll also provide Master FLAC files via DropBox.  PM me for details.

Sony PCM R500 > SPDIF > Tascam HD-P2
Nakamichi DR-3 > (Oade Advanced Concert Mod) Tascam HD-P2
Sony MDS-JE510 > Hosa ODL-276 > Tascam HD-P2

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^
Thanks for the link Terry!
hot licks > microphones > recorder



...ball of confusion, that's what the world is today, hey hey...

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^ Good find! 

And thanks for the video link, JEMS
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

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Wow, thanks for the link Terry. I had known his story but this article summarizes and tells it in a very compelling manner.
music IS love

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Offline JEMS

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Over the years, I have had the chance to speak to three people who knew Mike Millard personally or met him on more than one occasion. While the kernelmag story/link provides some good details on Millard, it also perpetuates some myths.

After speaking at length with Millard's friend Bill, he shared the following which I thought might be worth posting here:

Mike taped many more shows than we know and years earlier than we know, though his own high standards may have prevented "lesser work" from being given out.

Through the help of one of his friends, Mike was typically able to get exactly the seats he wanted and get security to look the other way when the gear came in.

He didn't always use a wheelchair.

Millard was anti-bootlegging and was in fact offered a significant sum for one of his Springsteen tapes, which he turned down.

Bill confirmed that he was with Millard on occasions where he did indeed record with two sets of mics on two recorders.

Bill cannot remember exactly when he learned of Millard's death, but he believes it could have been a year or even two after 1990, which internet stories claim is the year he died. Pinning his death to 1990 may simply have been the result of there being no known Millard recording after that year. Bill also told me that, contrary to legend, Mike was not an introvert or a loner at all, nor paranoid or distrustful, but someone who had a close group of friends with whom he shared a love of music and to whom he graciously and frequently gave copies of many of his recordings.

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Thanks for sharing those insights.

Back in the late 90's through early 00's there was a doppelganger Mike Millard here in South Florida who did helicopter traffic reporting for the local public radio stations.  At the end of his segments he'd sign off with a throaty "This is Mike Millard" which would always bring to mind the taper.
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