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Stephen Paul Audio Mic mods
Old 7th March 2003
  #1
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cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Stephen Paul Audio Mic mods

Anyone got any mics with mods from SPA? Used them?

What do you think?

I've had some getting rebuilt by SPA for about a year. I have high hopes.
Old 7th March 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I've heard nothing but great things about his mods. I'd like to find a pair of AKG 452 pencil mics for him to work on. Next to km5x's, they're supposedly a real holy grail acoustic guitar/drum overhead mic when used in pairs.
Old 7th March 2003
  #3
SC
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
"I've had some getting rebuilt by SPA for about a year."

-You should see them in about another year, if you call and pester Tony constantly.

I have 4 LD SPA's, all .9 micron, and two AKG 460's being done now with both cardioid and omni capsules. The 460's have been there for aporx 18 months. I call about once a week. my U47 took a total of something like 4 years, but I had to send it back three times until I was satisfied.

My M269 only took about 8 months, absolutely amazing, except it's not quite right and has to go back.

The good things about SPA: Great hand-tuning, impeccable workmanship, and if you're not happy they will knock themselves out to re-tune the mic to your requirements.

But they take f....o....r....e....v....e.....r.....


Sonically, they are great for some things, and not for others. Unbelievable for anything done at a distance, or anything acoustic where absolute transparancy is the goal. I can't wait to hear my 460's w/ omni capsules for A-B stereo.

On vocals, I've never quite been sure. My .9 micron C12 is deadly on vocals, I mean ridiculously good, but nowhere near as fat as a friends stock 251. -and I don't think they got my U47 sounding the way a U47 should. A little thin, or something. -yet that same mic is deadly on large percussion and acoustic guitar.

It's best to think of SPA mics as completely different beasts, not a "modified" anything.
Old 7th March 2003
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
I didn't experience the slow turn around problem. The two mics I sent were back in about 6-7 weeks. I had a U-87 and U-47fet done with the 1.5 micron mod and use them both all the time. Since I've had them back they are my #1 and #2 selections for vocals and voice overs hands down. The only criticisim I have (and this is a minor point) is that the U-47fet came back with different screws that hold the screen in place. They don't seem to fit too well and the screen can rotate about 1/16th of an inch. Stephen has offered to fix it, and I'll probably get him to when I send them back out to get their regularly scheduled cleaning. Outside of that I'm very impressed. I'd like to get my KM-84's done this year as well.
YMMV.

Marc McManeus
Old 7th March 2003
  #5
Lives for gear
 
cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Has anyone had a chance to compare a SPA mic with one of the popular modern top quality mics like blue, soundelux, korby, lawson etc? The prices are comparable unless you're getting a 47 or 251 or 49/50 vintage c12 rebuilt.
Old 7th March 2003
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
wurly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
SPA 452's

They walk on water. They will bring world peace. They will cure cancer.

Did I mention that I love them?

I have a pair of SPA 452 omnis, .9 micron diaphragms, and true 10db pads built into the body instead of the crappy screw in pads.

I've only had them for about 10 weeks.

They are the best drum overheads that I have ever used. The best acoustic guitar mics that I have ever had. And I used to record Leo Kottke in a previous life.

Took 'em out with a classical AE last weekend and taped an 85 piece orchestra, and compared them to the classical guy's Sennheiser MKH 20's.

We both agreed that the SPA 452's slaughtered the MKH 20's. And by the way folks a set of MKH 20's costs about $3000!

Better, cheaper, faster. Pick any two.

I am looking forward to sending my AKG C12VR's (w CK12 Capsule) to Tony and Stephen @SPA as soon as I can.

wurly
ecstatic SPA customer
Old 7th March 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Wurly,

It was your post on RO that got me spinning on that SPA 452 mod. I am actively trying to find a pair! BTW, I did locate several sets of KM53's if you're at all interested. I can't justify the cost, but Stephen said that the ultimate pencil mic comes from his km5x mod.
Old 7th March 2003
  #8
SC
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
BattleAngel,

I might be interested in those KM53's. I you're not getting them, please send me the contact info.

As for the AKG 452 types, I'd say absolutely do it. The types of applications where you typically use 1/2" mics, both cardioid and omni, are exactly those in which SPA diaphrams shine. Kind of a no-brainer, if you can aford the cost and the wait.

Wurly: Re the C12VR mod: Ask Tony about their custom nickel plating. It's not too expensive and looks VERY trick on this mic.
Old 7th March 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Check your PM's =)
Old 7th March 2003
  #10
SC
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks, Battle!

BTW: If you can't find any 452's or even if you can, you should also consider the 460. The 460 is a VERY under-regarded mic, for some reason. IMO, AND IN STEPHEN PAUL'S OPINION, it pisses all over a Neuman KM84. Really. -And you can find omni capsules for it (if you search ebay for a while) which obviously makes it more versatile.

The 452 was more popular, I think, for a few reasons:

1: It came first, and was well-established. Engineers like to go with what works.

2: The 460 has a much flatter response. In the days of analog, that made the 452 a better bet for most pop production. However, especially now with digital, I prefer having a reasonnably flat response and EQ'ing to taste.

the 460 has an overall richer sound, with beter mid-range definition.

Tony is curently doing the final tweaks to mine, and he and Stephen are REALLY impressed with the results.


BTW Wurly,

When working on my 460's, SPA did some careful tests at my request, and found some small anomolies in off-axis response due to the original windscreen material. It's not a major problem, but it's there. They are now experimenting with various types of screen material (that's why SPA is the best, they're insane perfectionists.) I asked Tony about the 452's, and he said that they have the same windscreen, so you might want to give him a call abut this. As good as your mics are, he may be able to very slightly improve them with the new screens, and it probably wouldn't be a very expensive mod.
Old 8th March 2003
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Mats Olsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How much $$ are those mods?

/Mats
Old 8th March 2003
  #12
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
For the small diaphragm mics, he was talking in the neighborhood of $750-800 per mic. Large diaphragm mods run a lot more. I don't know if there is a significant difference to the final result whether the 451 or 452 is the base for the mod.

Bear
Old 8th March 2003
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Mats Olsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hmmmmm....I have a 451 and a 452 and 2 extra CK-8 capsules. It sure sounds tempting.

/Mats
Old 8th March 2003
  #14
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cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]
when I send them back out to get their regularly scheduled cleaning.
Marc McManeus

How long does it take to get your mic back when you send it in for the annual cleaning?
Old 9th March 2003
  #15
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
innerTUBE audio... FourFiftyTube retrofit... large as life down to the last detail.

faeflora, you should have gotten that innerTUBE MagMic last year when you were shopping, some stuff could have been well recorded since then. AKG C-12 VR...
Stayne mods those too... very well.
Basically this Stayne guy is a mad scientist when it comes to tube circuits.
Old 9th March 2003
  #16
Lives for gear
 
cashewcupcake's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That is a mic I would like to demo sometime - mag mic.
Old 10th March 2003
  #17
Lives for gear
 
loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Give Fletcher a call... he's now pimping innerTUBE products.
Old 10th March 2003
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
wurly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Am I allowed to have SPA 452's and a MagMic?????

I make the grilles for the MagMic, and I own one. Now I need some ITA tube 452's.

wurly
Old 11th March 2003
  #19
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Love my 47 spa...............talk about AIR..........
Tony takes forever!!!!! waited 13months once !!!
Old 1st August 2003
  #20
Gear Head
 
Stephen Paul's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just wanted to briefly say that we -could- guarantee a one week turnaround, but we work at sub-wavelength of light tolerances, and there are few people here, my hands no longer work so I cannot help.

But to guarantee that turnaround, well, would you be willing to pay about six times what the current cost of mods are?

If you are, I will guarantee fast turnaround.

But understand something else too...

Every three micron capsule you get from China is a knock off of my own work.

There was no such thing as a sub six micron capsule before I built it.

If we were MacDonald's, and you got a Big Mac that's what you expect. Fast and lousy.

But if you went to Le Dome, and they served you a Big Mac, you wouldn't be very happy with the bill OR the fod, would you?

Please keep this in mind.

Tony has almost no help, and whether you're Celine Dion and having us do your 251, or Joe Blow and we're doing your 452, you will always be treated the same way.

As someone who entrusted us with your investments.

I was a street musician for almost 12 years.

I understand what your 452 means to you when you also add a grand to that.

And so sometimes, when Tony thinks something is right, but he's worked on it to the point of ear fatigue, or even if he's just not sure, it has to make =me= believe.

And if I don't, it goes back.

So remember my basic discovery after years of pro engineering and producing and writing and singing. If we gave it back right on time and it was a dog, would you even know my name? We'd never be frgiven.

OTOH, if we're late, but when you plug it in, it brings in business and creates so much sound that your job becomes 100 times easier, making you look great as an engineer, we will =always= be forgiven.

Don't you think if I could do it in a week I would? Always?

We've been broke for years, precisely because even at the price you're paying, the profit is between 5 and 8%.

Technically we're not even supposed to be running a business at those levels.

So try and understand that it takes time, because if it isn't right it doesn't go out the door, and we are JUST as disappointed as you!
Old 2nd August 2003
  #21
SC
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
"OTOH, if we're late, but when you plug it in, it brings in business and creates so much sound that your job becomes 100 times easier, making you look great as an engineer, we will =always= be forgiven."

I have to agree, even though SPA has had my mics for a total of more than ten years (six mics.) Mu U47 took FOUR trips to get it where I wanted it, but it's now exactly what I wanted. Stephen worked on it personally to make sure I'd be happy.

If you're NOT happy, they will change the sound with no extra charge. Who else does that?

-And the finished product does indeed bring in clients and make life easier.

Just don't send them something that you can't live without, and be PREPARED for a long wait. It will be worth it.

-Allan Speers
Old 2nd August 2003
  #22
Gear Head
 
Stephen Paul's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks Alan.

I should qualify a few things to be fair.

Alan has always ordered our top of the line stuff, and that always takes longer. Also he has a great set of demanding ears.

If you want a 3 micron 87 in a week we can do that.

Order a sub 3 micron and I can only estimate. Thay are much, much harder to build and tune.

Many, many times, unless there is just some really niggling problem, our turnaround in general has improved somewhat.

It is so dependent on exactly what you want, is it tube or solid state, do you just want a 3, or the best? Is the mike trashed or in good shape?

All of these things figure in.

Finally I hope that the many times we have pulled everyone from Humberto Gatica, to (I think even Alan), David Foster, Henley, Massenburg, Whitney, Barbra, REM, Van Halen, and on and on, out of the fire when they really needed perfection overnight, will not be forgotten.

We do try our best, and again, as always, I have tried to ensure that not only am I always available if you want to speak directly to me, but I have tried to act as the link between those who won't give a non fellow star the time of day, and you out there wanting to know how someone did something.

After the release of our first production mike, (we are counting on showing it this AES.... sweat... sweat...) things will ease up also, as then we should be able to afford help.

It's hard to deliver perfection when you're also trying to just keep them from turning off the power, and doing office chores that anyone but Tony should be handling, and so on.

Your patience is, as always, deeply appreciated.

I just feel there needs to remain (as I have always been the only in existence) one place on earth where you can walk in, and say, "This is what I've always dreamed of having," and we can and will build it to your custom desire, =guaranteeing the sound=, or we will continue to even rebuild the capsule as often as necessary until you are in heaven.

Alan's experience, I'm happy to say is unusual in the total time it took to get things right, but it's true, as the old saying goes, "The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer."
Old 2nd August 2003
  #23
SC
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
That's not the first time someone said I'm impossible!

Yes, to be fair I should have mentioned that I'm extremely, extremely picky. and yes, there was one time in an extreme emergency when Tony and Stephen really came through.

Hey, Stephen. Glad to know your new mic is almost ready. -it should be a killer.
Old 2nd August 2003
  #24
Gear Head
 
Stephen Paul's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You're almost as bad as I am Alan! You do hear things that only I and a couple of others seem to notice. Tony Bennett was pretty picky about his 47 too. heh Actually Joel's, but...

Anyway, I'm a total newbie here really, so I just hope I'm forgiven if I put something in the wrong place until I know the categories. shouldn't take more than twenty or thirty years.

But it came to mind from your last post (not a bad sequitur, non?) that one thing I noticed that concerned me a little, (and we might be close enough so I could if desired try and explain them somewhere here,) but I've noticed from a lot of the email I've gotten, when I spoke about some of the mike's features (some are still Blacked Out, since prior tech appropriation from my Mix articles, and mods by other companies and manufacturers wildly exceeded even my wildest dreams of avarice, though unfortunately I didn't get any of it!) and also posts I've seen, have brought to my attention that many feel that the explanations I've previously given of those features I did choose to reveal, however, were over their heads.

Maybe on my website would be the best place to put deeper and more easily understood by non-designers explanations of why a feature is important, but I didn't know if it's considered cool to write about that here.

And finally, (here's a saying that even Alan couldn't take personally ) "The misery of poor quality is still there, long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten."
Old 2nd August 2003
  #25
Lives for gear
 
mr.gefell's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
nah..stephen doesn't really modify the mics

he uses magic!!!!




hmm.i got some gefell sms2000,,that could use some magic.
Old 2nd August 2003
  #26
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
got contact info for innertube?

thanks john
Old 5th August 2003
  #27
Lives for gear
 
loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Did you get the email?
Old 5th August 2003
  #28
Gear Head
 
Stephen Paul's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
In answer to many questions, Stephen Paul Audio can be reached at 818-905-9952.

Tony is sometimes available, (right now we are minus our receptionist/Friday person, so it's a crapshoot, though we will always get back to you) if you wish to speak to me about a mike or whatever, contact the lab, tell Tony what the scoop is, and he'll put you in touch with me.

If you have written me and are awaiting a reply, please be patient, I get a lot of mail and even with assistance, it can take a little time to get to everybody.

Okay?

Sites:http://www.spaudio.com
http://www.mp3.com/stephenpaul
http://www.sp.mp3
Old 5th August 2003
  #29
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
yes, thanks for the inner info...

peace john
Old 23rd July 2008 | Show parent
  #30
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
This is one of the remaining threads of the late Stephen Paul, and maybe if you have a beef instead of changing the direction and tone of this thread you should start another. I don't know, it seems strange to bring one of these old threads back and make it about something negative.

War
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