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MICROPHONE OF THE MONTH JULY 2017

AKG C 535 EB

 

 

Time to pay hommage to a much overlooked great vintage microphone: the AKG C 535 EB, a studio quality cardioid reference condenser *) microphone that also performs superb on stage, mainly as a handheld for vocals.

When watching Glastonbury 2017, I got excited when Barry Gibb, the last of the BeeGees, took to the stage; not that I am a fan of his music, but I immediately recognized the microphone he was using as the AKG C 535 EB, and I am a fan of that model.
This wonderful design was introduced by AKG in 1973, it was meant for stage and studio usage, not just for vocals, but also many instruments, like flute, clarinet, acoustic guitar and plenty others. Some even prefer it to mike up a snare drum.

The C 535 EB has a recessed four way switch to adjust the signal: 1:flat, 2: low cut, for close use, 3: -14 db, for loud signals, and 4: a bass rollof to counter the proximity effect. This makes the microphone extremely flexible and many have discovered it's great sound quality.
The frequency response of the microphone is very flat, with a small 2 dB rise between 7 and 12 kHz, this provides a very open sound with lots of clarity, and is flattering, but not harsh, like some of the competition. One of the first famous users was Frank Sinatra, many others followed.
It has been in production for 44 years, but in January 2017, AKG presented a successor: the C 636, they claim: "with the C 636, we've kept that same sound and updated the design with state-of-the-art technology to create a stage microphone that combines best-in-class sound quality and onstage reliability."

I have not heard it yet, but the new model lacks the four-way switch, which makes me a bit sceptical about the comparison. AKG has brought out more models that do not shine like their predecessors.
At the moment the C 535 EB still sells, for about 100 € less tahan the C 636, and it is definitely worth a try if you are looking for a great microphone, for vocals and instruments.

*) It is not a true condenser, like many other AKGs, but an Electret (from ELECTRostatic and magnET), which means a capsule with a stable dielectric capacitor that has a pre polarized backplate, thus the plates are permanently charged, whereas the plates in true condensers need power.
The charge should last over a hundred years so you do not have to worry that your C 535 EB will ever fail you (I am not sure what the letters EB mean, perhaps Electret Backplate?).Some say that the charge of electrets weakens over time, but my own old and trusted C 535 EB does not show any signs of that at all.
Electrets do need power for their pre-amplifier, often 48 v Phantom power (many cheaper electrets just use a built-in battery).

This is one of the types that feature in my book Witnesses of Words, which was recently released. More information about that can be found at www.witnessesofwords.com

wow cover

 

AKG C 535 EB
AKG C 535 EB service doc
AKG C 535 EB specs

Technical info for the C 535 EB

AKG C 535 frequency chart
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