TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik of South Windsor, CT has been following the tradition of excellence and innovation set forth by the original TELEFUNKEN GmbH of Germany that began over 100 years ago.
TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik's origins began in 2000 when owner Toni Fishman acquired the rights to the name and diamond logo for use in North America. The company began with the reverse engineering of a single microphone part: the ELA M 251 polar pattern selector. Mr. Fishman purchased an original Telefunken ELA M 251 for use in his recording studio, but when he received it he discovered that the polar pattern switch was no longer functional. Realizing that this was a common issue with the original units, the idea to recreate it was born.
The switch was reverse engineered and brought into production for other 251 owners with the same issue. With one part down, the goals were set high to successfully reverse engineer the entire microphone exactly as it was originally manufactured. The next two years were spent developing each and every part of the microphone right down to every detail. Numerous original documents and drafts from TELEFUNKEN and AKG were acquired, and coupled with thorough reverse engineering the ELA M 251 was brought back to life with meticulous accuracy.
Diamond Series Development
Fast forward to 2002. TELEFUNKEN of South Windsor, CT showcased the newly revived ELA M 251 recreation for the first time at the 2002 Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention. Given the prestige and status of the original versions, the newly manufactured reissue shocked the audio industry with its remarkable accuracy to the original, both inside and out. The microphone won the 2003 TEC Award for Studio Microphone Technology.
Now with the ball rolling, TELEFUNKEN spent the next year utilizing the same reverse engineering process to successfully recreate and release the U47 and C12, both to the same exacting standards of their original counterparts. This cross-section of classic microphones provides a living collection of the microphones used in countless sessions that helped define the benchmark sounds of high-fidelity recording.
In keeping with the tradition of the ELA M 251, all parts for the Diamond Series microphones are custom tooled and machined in the USA, largely in Connecticut and other New England states. Every microphone is assembled from the ground up and tested in the TELEFUNKEN lab before leaving to go work in the field.
TELEFUNKEN embarked into the world of new designs with the development of the R-F-T Series in 2005. The design concept for the R-F-T Series was to utilize standardized metalwork and structural chassis from overseas as the microphone platform, then design and build the circuits inside of them in the USA. This practice cut out a substantial portion of the overhead costs of custom metalwork and molding, therefore allowing TELEFUNKEN to provide a lower cost alternative to the premium Diamond Series without compromising sonic quality.
The first class of R-F-T microphones included the M16 MkII, a 6072a-based circuit, and the AK-47, an EF732-based circuit. These new designs introduced the name and quality of TELEFUNKEN to a new audience, and firmly established the brand name in the market. The name R-F-T is a nod to the East German brand that manufactured many communications electronics including microphones and vacuum tubes in the 1950's and 1960's. R-F-T is short for Rundfunk- und Fernmelde-Technik, or broadcasting and telecommunications technology.
In 2008, the R-F-T line was redesigned to implement changes that were learned throughout the three years of production. The R-F-T line now consists of the AR-51, AK-47 MkII, CU-29, AR-70 Stereo and ELA M 260.
The ELA M 260 design is loosely based on the original ELA M 260 made by TELEFUNKEN in the 1960's, but features a different vacuum tube (EF732) than the original (AC701). The original design was the exact amplifier circuit of the ELA M 251, but housed in a much smaller footprint body coupled with a small diaphragm capsule. This fresh take on the original design won TELEFUNKEN its 2nd TEC Award in 2008.
The AR-51 is a take on the C12/ELA M 251E amplifier, coupled with an edge-terminated capsule in the style of the CK12. This microphone encompasses the "Austrian sound" made famous in microphones such as the C12 and ELA M 251E. The AR-70 is a stereo version of this design, featuring two matched capsules for recording techniques such as XY and M/S.
The AK-47 MkII is a unique blend of elements of the M49 and U47 designs, coupled with a center-terminated capsule. The AK-47 MkII showcases the "German sound" of past TELEFUNKEN microphone designs such as the U47.
The CU-29 Copperhead is a design that was not based on any pre-existing tonal qualities. The core of the design was a new old stock 6AK5W vacuum tube with very low noise and microphonics, making it ideal for a tube microphone. With this tube at the heart of the design, all elements were experimented with to create a brand new microphone with a unique sound. This departure into new microphone design without a historic basis would soon indicate the future of TELEFUNKEN designs.
Concurrent to the R-F-T Series development, TELEFUNKEN entered the ranks of dynamic microphones. The Dynamic Series began in 2008 with the release of the M80, a handheld dynamic microphone with a custom-wound output transformer and a uniquely thin low-mass voice coil, providing a frequency response with a pleasant high-end bump which yielded an almost condenser-like response. The M80 grew exponentially over the next few years and became a major player for dynamic microphones on vocals and snare drum applications.
From there, TELEFUNKEN developed a variation of the M80 which subdued some of the high-end of the frequency response to cater to brighter sound sources, in turn creating the second Dynamic Series offering in 2012, the M81. The M81 went on to win the 2013 TEC Award for Microphone Technology in Sound Reinforcement.
The M80 and M81 grew in popularity and application, and in turn alternate packages were developed. The M80-WH and M81-WH were introduced to offer the same circuit and sound of the mic for use with a Shure or Lectrosonics wireless system. The M80-SH and M81-SH were released next, shortening the length of the microphone and adding a threaded stand mount to the body. This is ideal for mounting on the rim of a drum or in front of guitar amplifiers to provide a more low-profile package.
The third Dynamic Series microphone design was the TELEFUNKEN M82 Dynamic microphone for kick drum and broadcast vocal applications, released in April 2013. This unique kick drum design is the first TELEFUNKEN microphone to feature on-board EQ switches. Housed in a U47-inspired microphone body, the M82 retained the classic TELEFUNKEN look.
To tie all of these newly developed dynamic microphones together, TELEFUNKEN released the DD4 and DD5 Drum Microphone Sets in December 2013. This package brought the growth of the Dynamic Series to a defining point, offering each sound in a single package with TELEFUNKEN Stage Series cables.
FET and Direct Box
TELEFUNKEN entered another new domain in January 2015 with the release of the company’s first FET transistor-based microphone, the small diaphragm condenser M60 FET. The M60 FET was designed to operate with the same capsule set as the TEC Award-winning ELA M 260 vacuum tube microphone. The M60 FET is designed in the vein of a classic transformer-coupled FET amplifier, exhibiting extremely accurate phase coherency and low distortion. It is equally suitable for recording studio and live applications. The Drum Pack options were expanded to include the DC6 and DC7, both with a pair of M60 FET’s for overhead applications.
Continuing the path into new territories and markets, TELFUNKEN released a series of Direct Boxes in December 2016, offering passive (TDP-1, TDP-2) and active FET (TDA-1, TDA-2) transformer-based DIs in both mono and dual packages. The design concept is based around the tried-and-true large format transformer-coupled direct box with a rugged extruded aluminum chassis and all through-hole component assembly.
This design direction will continue and push TELEFUNKEN towards new microphone and accessory designs, while continuously improving our craft.
As TELEFUNKEN moves forward, one foot is rooted in the rich history of the brand, and the other in new microphone innovations. TELEFUNKEN has evolved exponentially from a single pattern switch to one of the industry leaders in top quality microphones.