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Sanken CU-41
Old 3rd August 2016
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Sanken CU-41

I just stumbled on a used Sanken CU-41 for sale locally. Original owner, purchased in 1989, purportedly excellent condition.

I have general familiarity with these, and understand the basic specs and construction, but would appreciate any current opinions on how these shape up in today's market of both new and used mics.

I am otherwise very, very close to purchasing a Gefell UMT70S, and/or Neumann TLM 170; possibly too a Gefell M92.1S, all of which would satisfy my current need for an all-around, superlative LDC in the studio, to be used primarily on solo vocals, a wide variety of acoustic stringed instruments and drums/percussion. But this showed up out of nowhere, and is giving me pause.

I have a strong preference for subjective ideas like honesty, naturalness, accuracy, and transparency over the various other qualities other mics might otherwise provide (i.e., not a fan of the U87 sound at all).

Is it worth considering?

Any suggestions on what would be a fair market price for this single owner, home-studio used mic, with original shock mount?

Or do I stick to the plan with a somewhat more known quantity in the Gefells or Neumann?
Old 3rd August 2016
  #2
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Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
The Sankens certainly qualify for "honesty, naturalness, accuracy, and transparency ", much more than the mentioned Gefells and Neumann. As we know this can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Old 4th August 2016
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Sankens are great mics

Hi Pieter,

Definitely worth considering.

I purchased the CU-44 MK II a few years ago now and it has been one of the best mics in my locker. Thanks to its awesome off-axis response it sounds very natural in almost any space. It picks up EVERYTHING. I have never directly tried the 41 but believe it has a transformer in the output so that will have an impact on transients I would presume.

Sanken is the real deal.

Good luck,
Baithak
Old 4th August 2016 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks everyone.

The seller is asking $2,500, which includes the rather expensive shock mount. I'm not sure how fair a deal that is, and I'm not sure how much lower he'll go.

I know the mic is great. I guess my main concern is to what extent this mic fills more of a niche, or whether it's truly useful as an all-around, first-call kind of mic. I don't have a lot of mics--am not interested in having a lot of mics--I just want a few that are superlative and versatile, and represent a high value in terms of price to performance.

Relative to the prices for most of the other well-regarded top tier studio LDCs, this seems like something worth considering. I don't know...maybe not.

Earcatcher, could you expand a bit on how the Sanken is much more transparent (etc.) than the TLM170? I know this Neumann is considered by a lot of users here and elsewhere as possibly Neumann's best current mic, and certainly for recording acoustic music in an honest fashion, a first choice for an LDC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubbin ➡️
Literally the only studios that wouldn't have use for them are Blackbird, United Recording and Abbey Road.
I don't know enough about the lore of these studios to get why they wouldn't use it. I'm curious!
Old 4th August 2016
  #5
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Greetings pieter,

I think you'll find that Sanken 41 is fantastic but nothing can hide from it. One of its benefits is that it is a wide freq. range mic. If you do a lot of hi-res recording, this mic will offer the extended freq. range you require.

It renders all sounds with the good and the bad exposed for all to hear. It is a laboratory instrument for examining sound. Sanken company is very innovative and is a wonderful and very advanced house of sound.

I recommend that you compare it to TLM 170 at your place.

In my oionion TLM 170 is a better all around mic since it too is honest but has proven to be a more universal mic for INSTRUMENTS. The TLM 170 is the premier mic now made by Neumann. There is a reason it is the # 1 mic for solo pick up.

CAUTION: TLM 170 does not lend itself to being used for pop vocals. For classical singers it is great.

Gefell tube is also great and is a high resolution, high detail mic. Also in the category of "you can't hide from this mic." I LUV Gefell tube mics and here I have two UM 92.1S and one M990.

I also have TLM 170 and some Sanken mics--Ms stereo #CMS-2 , CO-100K omnis, and a some fantastic CU-51 mics.

Sanken 41 come for sale very rarely. You might want to consider that if you have always looked to get one.

You are mentioning VERY different sounding mics in your inquiry.
Old 4th August 2016 | Show parent
  #6
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Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pieter k ➡️
Earcatcher, could you expand a bit on how the Sanken is much more transparent (etc.) than the TLM170? I know this Neumann is considered by a lot of users here and elsewhere as possibly Neumann's best current mic, and certainly for recording acoustic music in an honest fashion, a first choice for an LDC.
The Sanken sounds very much exactly "like the real sound", also off-axis. The TLM170 has a far more uneven off-axis pickup, making it sound more "like a microphone". The Sankens give you every detail, without coloration, and also the full spectrum in every aspect. They have in common with the TLM170 that they can take very high sound pressure without distortion. The CU-41 is not as transparent (due to the transformer) as the CU-44x II, but we are already speaking in a different universe of what "transparent" can sound. The CU44x II is often too clean and detailed to be of usefulness, although it is frighteningly good at representing voices in a most natural way. For this mic I agree with Plush: "It is a laboratory instrument for examining sound."
Old 5th August 2016
  #7
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druhms's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm with Plush. He makes some good points. I agree, the 170 is the best current mic that Neumann makes. The 170 is going to give you a more typical mic feeling and response like we are accustomed to.
The Sanken 41 is really in it's own world. It sounds so light and clean...quick, honest. Somehow it remains pleasing to the ear and not sterile. It may scare you off, in a way, because you are going to get pretty close to whatever is happening in front of that mic.
I think that's an awesome first "real" mic for your collection! I doubt anyone before has picked up a Sanken before another brand. It will certainly get your technique in line!
JJ
Old 5th August 2016
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Use in MS

Pieter : As Earcatcher mentioned, the CU series mics are extremely realistic because of their accurate on and off-axis pick up. If you are stereo micing, the off-axis pickup is critical (which imo is why ribbons score so highly in this department). Since I don't have two CU-44s, I have tried a MS setup with the Schoeps MK8 for recording small ensembles. The added advantage of blending in just the right amount of MK8 in post makes this setup very versatile.

For some of the local folk music that I record, where the musicians are dancing / moving around piece to piece, this setup provides the most satisfying solution.

As others have noted, CU-44 picks up high and very high resonances too when you are doing acoustic recordings - face this with the hammered dulcimer e.g. - but nothing that a wide Q eq can't fix. Between the CU-41 and 44, I have a preference for the 44 for percussion and most voices. I preferred slightly the CU-41 on strings, sax and flute and shrill-nasal type voices.

I personally don't know another LDC that shares this mics off-axis abilities.

Best regards,
Baithak

ps: I have no experience with the TLM-170 or the new 51s.

Last edited by Baithak; 5th August 2016 at 04:26 AM.. Reason: Added line with preference comment
Old 5th August 2016
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Everyone, thank you very much for the thoughtful input. Everything I'm learning about this mic points me to pursuing it.

It does turn out however that the mic is still very much available as a new mic, and its price seems to be less exorbitant than I thought, so that takes some of the breathlessness out of my pursuit; in other words, not so rare after all.

Baithak, I envy you your recording projects in and around Pune. I love Indian music--from folk/devotional to classical--and one of the great pleasures of India for me is the omnipresence of music. No matter where I was--north, south, east, west--people playing and singing were omnipresent. I was lucky enough to even be invited to join in once or twice. Heavenly experiences there for me.

druhms, I really like the notion of "light and clean." Very appealing.

As it happens, this certainly wouldn't be my first good LDC. I have a bunch, but nothing that really punches at this level. My better mics are mostly ribbons and SDCs, and I've never really warmed to the 414s I have. Chalky...dusty sounding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
Also in the category of "you can't hide from this mic." I LUV Gefell tube mics and here I have two UM 92.1S and one M990.
In fear of pushing my own thread slightly off-topic, since you mentioned both Plush, I'm curious to hear what you hear as the differences between these two mics. The UM92.1S is on my very short list of mics to get. The 990 is intriguing too; as I understand it, the only difference between the two is the capsule, the former with the M7, the latter with the same cap as in the M930.
Old 5th August 2016
  #10
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The two Gefell tube mics mentioned are quite different.

I would describe the M7 based mics as sparkle-y and the 990 mic as flat and accurate with the rising sparkle-y treble happening higher up in frequency than the mics with the M7 capsule.

990 is hardly known in the US but is revered in Europe and has won many "best microphone" shoot outs. You would have to get them in to your hands to hear the difference for yourself.

Right now, the Gefell tube mics are quite inexpensive compared to a number of years ago and are an immediate recommendation for purchase. Buy as many of them as you can all at once.
Old 20th August 2016 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Update, not that anyone is keeping track: I bought the mic.

I have not used it yet, but it is a serious piece of hardware in hand. Very handsome, with the shock mount.

The frequency response plot included with the mic is almost as close to the very definition of ruler flat as I've ever seen. It's a work of art. FLAT down to 20hz, FLAT up to 20khz. It's beautiful. I can't wait to try it.

Since I've not developed any attachment to it yet, and since I intend to invest in a pair of Rens Heijnis' omnis in the future and have been corresponding with him about various things microphonic, I'm thinking about going all-in on this and sending the mic to RH straight away, and having it come back with one of his 60v mic pres to accommodate the mic (and have me positioned to buy a pair of his mics later when budget allows).

It's a bit of a flyer, but I'm feeling adventurous, and he's sure that the mic will demonstrate an improvement with his circuit.

Thoughts? Am I slightly crazy to mess with a known good thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
I would describe the M7 based mics as sparkle-y and the 990 mic as flat and accurate with the rising sparkle-y treble happening higher up in frequency than the mics with the M7 capsule....Buy as many of them as you can all at once.
Plush, I neglected to thank you for this. I'm going to do my best to demo both the 92.1S and 990 when I'm ready to commit to either--or perhaps both. Right now, my journey is elsewhere...see above.
Old 20th August 2016 | Show parent
  #12
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Earcatcher's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pieter k ➡️
Since I've not developed any attachment to it yet, and since I intend to invest in a pair of Rens Heijnis' omnis in the future and have been corresponding with him about various things microphonic, I'm thinking about going all-in on this and sending the mic to RH straight away, and having it come back with one of his 60v mic pres to accommodate the mic (and have me positioned to buy a pair of his mics later when budget allows).

It's a bit of a flyer, but I'm feeling adventurous, and he's sure that the mic will demonstrate an improvement with his circuit.

Thoughts? Am I slightly crazy to mess with a known good thing?
I'm keeping track!

My suggestion: do not mess with this mic's circuit until you have heard it extensively. At least you will know what you spent your money on once you have sent it to Rens. The CU41 used to have a separate power supply with a 60V design. Obviously your model is the newer design, phantom powered, but I would expect Sanken not to have compromised on sound quality when they changed the circuitry. Essentially Rens would put back something similar that Sanken abandoned. So, listen to it first and then decide if an "upgrade" is needed.

P.S.: does Rens realize that this mic has two capsules with cross-over amplification? He would have to build you quite a complex circuit.
Old 20th August 2016 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher ➡️
I'm keeping track!

My suggestion: do not mess with this mic's circuit until you have heard it extensively. At least you will know what you spent your money on once you have sent it to Rens. The CU41 used to have a separate power supply with a 60V design. Obviously your model is the newer design, phantom powered, but I would expect Sanken not to have compromised on sound quality when they changed the circuitry. Essentially Rens would put back something similar that Sanken abandoned. So, listen to it first and then decide if an "upgrade" is needed.

P.S.: does Rens realize that this mic has two capsules with cross-over amplification? He would have to build you quite a complex circuit.
You know, that's a good question. I didn't actually mention this. I suppose I assumed he was aware, but that really is a good point.

You're probably right about the whole thing. I should probably take the conservative route with this mic, especially given its uniqueness.

I think partly I saw this as a relatively economical way to tip toe in to the RH world, as the real big expense are the Sonodore mics, not the preamps.

As an aside, based on my correspondence with him, and based on your notes elsewhere on this forum and your generously shared recording samples, I'm actually leaning towards his LDM-54 over the RCM-402. But this is preliminary. We will continue to discuss it; I'm not that close to buying the mics yet.

Many thanks!
Old 20th August 2016
  #14
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Just buy Sonodore and leave the Sanken alone. It is not a very good candidate for modification.

Better inexpensive candidates for mods include: Neumann tlm 49, tlm 67, and modern DPA mics.

Sonodore is where you want to end up with the 60 volt RENS power supply. Even better is to add the RENS mic preamplifier.
Old 23rd August 2016 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
Just buy Sonodore and leave the Sanken alone. It is not a very good candidate for modification.
Check.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
Just buy Sonodore...Sonodore is where you want to end up with the 60 volt RENS power supply. Even better is to add the RENS mic preamplifier.
That is exactly the plan. Longer term, but the plan.
Old 23rd August 2016 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
CAUTION: TLM 170 does not lend itself to being used for pop vocals.
We recorded Vanessa Williams' "The Right Stuff" with a modified TLM 170. It sold pretty well, sounds great too.
Old 23rd August 2016 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➡️
We recorded Vanessa Williams' "The Right Stuff" with a modified TLM 170. It sold pretty well, sounds great too.
How was it modified?
Old 4th March 2017
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
A sanken CU-41 will give you a MAGIC that you cannot get with ANY other mic. no matter where you apply it - it will work wonders and the results will be more useable than nearly any other mic out there (there are only a handful of mics that can claim such a thing). Warm, friendly, transparent magic... there's NOTHING else out there even remotely like it. they come up so rarely you'd be a fool not to jump on it. hopefully you did.
Old 5th March 2017
  #19
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EleKtriKaz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think you'll love your CU-41. I have a pair of CU-44x's which are incredible on piano and other things. I've used CU-41s as well, and they're fantastic. The transformer makes them a little more usable on a variety of sources.
Old 22nd March 2017
  #20
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Sonic Reducer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Anyone have expériences using the CU-41 on piano?
Old 23rd March 2017 | Show parent
  #21
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EleKtriKaz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Reducer ➡️
Anyone have expériences using the CU-41 on piano?
I've used a pair on piano a bunch. That's one of my favorite uses for my pair of CU-44Xs. The CU-41s sound amazing on piano as well. 41s on piano sound like your typical high end condensers would but with extra detail, and they're less prone to ringing and odd frequency bumps.
Old 23rd March 2017 | Show parent
  #22
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Sonic Reducer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
That's awesome! The few times I've had piano recordings done there were all kinds of unpleasant ringing and oddness and that was with M149s! It was well recorded and sounded great still but yeah, real work at mix time. Good to know the CU-41 might alleviate that a little!

Quote:
Originally Posted by EleKtriKaz ➡️
I've used a pair on piano a bunch. That's one of my favorite uses for my pair of CU-44Xs. The CU-41s sound amazing on piano as well. 41s on piano sound like your typical high end condensers would but with extra detail, and they're less prone to ringing and odd frequency bumps.
Old 29th March 2017 | Show parent
  #23
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John Moran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Reducer ➡️
Anyone have expériences using the CU-41 on piano?
my favorite mic for piano on popular music formats.
detail and accuracy for days. wonderful mics.
Old 30th March 2017
  #24
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vsthalion's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This is my FAV mic outta all the mics i have! Just beautiful on ANY source!
Old 21st October 2017
  #25
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🎧 10 years
I wonder what a CU44 into a Grace 801 would sound like........Brutally honest! and likely useless for rock and roll. Too Damn good. That does not happen often.
Old 21st October 2017
  #26
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🎧 15 years
If you don't have a TLM170, it's worth considering, Sanken or not. I've used it in many different situations, voice-over, solo violin, trumpet etc. It always sounds great, easy to work with. The final result is always great. Well worth its price IMHO. Try it and you'll want to buy one.
Old 23rd October 2017 | Show parent
  #27
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Rumi's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
I wonder what a CU44 into a Grace 801 would sound like........Brutally honest! and likely useless for rock and roll. Too Damn good. That does not happen often.
A pair of CU41 as overheads is fantastic for rock drums overheads. Tight, punchy, extremely defined and clear. Even through an NPNG mic pre. Transparent doesn't have to mean sterile!

I haven't found any use for the CU44 or CU41 on vocals for pop, rock etc. yet, though.

The TLM 170 is "fuzzier", neumannesque, but great. I much prefered it over the vintage (battery compartment) U87i I once had (and sold). A great allrounder that sounds nice and right.
But the CU's are for transparency and reality.
The Sankens have a tightness and compactness that makes them more forward-sounding than the similarly impressive Josephson 700 series mics, for example, which are more relaxed and "wider" sounding, and a bit set back, in comparison.

Last edited by Rumi; 25th October 2017 at 10:58 PM..
Old 24th October 2017 | Show parent
  #28
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EleKtriKaz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi ➡️
A pair of CU41 as overheads is fantastic for rock drums overheads. Tight, punchy, extremely defined and clear. Even through an NPNG mic pre. Transparent doesn't have to mean sterile!

I haven't found any use for the CU44 or CU41 on vocals for pop, rock etc. yet, though.

The TLM 170 is "fuzzier", neumannesque, but great. I much prefered it over the vintage (battery compartment) U87i I once had (and sold). A great alrounder that sounds nice and right.
But the CU's are for transparency and reality.
The Sankens have a tightness and compactness that makes them more forward-sounding than the similarly impressive Josephson 700 series mics, for example, which are more relaxed and "wider" sounding, and a bit set back, in comparison.
I would agree with this. A little hard to explain, but the Sankens are very clean but in an exciting way. Not sterile at all.

I too haven't really dug them on vocals, though between the two the 41s work better on vocals than the 44s.
Old 24th October 2017 | Show parent
  #29
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vsthalion's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I also agree w this... although a nasally vocalist , this is the mic for them!
Quote:
Originally Posted by EleKtriKaz ➡️
I would agree with this. A little hard to explain, but the Sankens are very clean but in an exciting way. Not sterile at all.

I too haven't really dug them on vocals, though between the two the 41s work better on vocals than the 44s.
Old 27th March 2018
  #30
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I've had a pair of CU-41s for many years now, and love them. I would add though that these are *brutally* honest mics; they will *not* color the sound, additively or subtractively, unlike basically all other mics. So, in many applications, they are not my first choice (I have a pretty extensive locker to pick from, including a bunch of other quality LDCs). I find a U87 preferable (no trolls please) when some added 'warmth' is needed, or to take advantage of the related abundant proximity effect; a U47 is often better on vocals, etc. But I find that the CU41(s) excel at a number of things: trumpet, especially loud high ones, where the 41's ultra low distortion gives exceptional cleanliness where other mics break up; guitar amps as the 'backed off' mic (with a dynamic like a 57 as 'close on') for similar reasons - it doesn't add to the distortion you've dialed up on the amp/pedals - it just sort of 'renders' it, and is *very* phase coherent in a stereo pair. That latter reason also makes the 41s outstanding on stereo miked acoustic guitars. It's only rarely optimal IMO on lead vocalists (vs my numerous other good choices) but when it is it's *fabulous*; all the same advantages apply: super clean, super focused. When it's not it's usually thin and lacking in color. YMMV. I use them often on group vocals though, especially loud, brassy ones like some of the Broadway-oriented stuff I do a fair amount of here in NYC, for the same reasons as the trumpet: very low distortion. I cut them flat in that situation, as usual, which can be a bit bright/harsh in the record stage, but once I tame that in the mix with EQ/multiband, etc., the cleanliness shines through magnificently. I tried them early on on piano and was not impressed, so I've pretty much not tried them since. Perhaps I should give them another go. They're also great as drum room mics, as well as room mics in general; again super clean/clear/flat, which lends itself well to that application. Hope this helps.
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