TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik

Switched On: The Brand Reborn

TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik was born out of the desire to develop restoration parts for some of the world’s most prized vintage vacuum tube-based microphones, and in turn, preserve their legacy. Now in production for over two decades, the Diamond Series consists of the most historically accurate recreations of a handful of the most sought-after microphones ever made. The Telefunken Diamond found on every product continues to represent premium quality and craftsmanship.

TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik’s origins began in 2000 with the reverse engineering of a single part known to break over time: the original ELA M 251E polar pattern selector switch. The true story is that after purchasing an original 251E with a broken polar pattern switch and realizing there was no suitable solution for this common issue with the original units, current owner Toni Fishman set out to create a replacement and decided to revive the historic brand in the process.

After acquiring the rights to the name and iconic Diamond logo for use in North America and recreating the switch, the next two years were spent meticulously reverse engineering the rest of the ELA M 251E microphone to original specification, as dictated by original documents and drafts. With the 251E revived, the C12 and U47 soon followed before Telefunken created the R-F-T Series (predecessor to the Alchemy Series), a line merging vintage-inspired microphone designs and modern manufacturing practices. Dynamic and phantom-powered designs utilizing the same principles soon followed.

Legends Never Die: The Diamond

The Diamond Series features three primary microphone models that epitomize vintage vacuum tube microphone technology, which characterize and color the sounds of popular recorded music from the 1940’s through today. These three pillars of the vintage microphone world were selected to preserve their legacy not only because of their extremely high-fidelity sonic abilities, but also because they exemplify the nearly gone culture of high-quality manufacturing and hand-made workmanship.

TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik of South Windsor, CT, USA was incorporated in 2001 out of the desire to remake restoration parts to keep these iconic recording instruments working. This passion grew into the ambitious goal of recreating the ELA M 251 in all of its original glory, both sonically and structurally. The new production 251 was first showcased at the 2002 Audio Engineering Society convention and 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. The same attention to detail and expertise were applied to other classic microphone models that make up the Diamond Series.

Currently, the Diamond Series comprises of five microphones: three main models and two variants. They are the C12, ELA M 251E, ELA M 251T, U47 and U48. All of the parts for these products were reverse engineered and recreated exactly to the originals in order to manufacture new models and provide restoration parts for the vintage versions. Almost all of the parts are custom tooled and machined in the USA where TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik is located. Every microphone is hand-built and assembled from the ground up and tested in the TELEFUNKEN facility located in South Windsor, Connecticut.

The dream of TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik remains to preserve these iconic microphones and their history, and to develop new microphone technology that draws inspiration from them. TELEFUNKEN continues the tradition of producing high fidelity recording instruments to benefit the recording and performing world, and to continue to characterize music for generations to come.

Modern Meets Vintage

R-F-T Series, Alchemy Series, & SDC Series

In seeking to release new microphone models designed for a new generation of sound engineers and musicians, Telefunken began to apply modern manufacturing techniques to their in-depth knowledge of iconic vintage microphone design and sound. The first microphone designs applying this concept were released as the R-F-T Series in 2005. The name R-F-T is a nod to the East German brand that manufactured communications electronics including microphones and vacuum tubes in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The biggest departure from the historically accurate Diamond Series was the use of circuit boards and standardized metalwork, which significantly reduced the overall cost without sacrificing sound quality. What also made the R-F-T Series, and later the Alchemy Series and SDC Series, stand out in a crowded microphone market was Telefunken’s rigorous quality control and testing procedures, all performed in South Windsor, Connecticut, USA.

The next few years saw refinement and expansion of the R-F-T Series, all with the goal of delivering vintage-inspired sound in a more accessible package. The line at this point included the C12/251-inspired AR-51, the M49/U47-inspired AK-47 MkII, the unique-yet-classic CU-29 Copperhead, and the C24-inspired AR-70, a stereo version of the AR-51. Also in production at this time was the vacuum tube-based small diaphragm ELA M 260 which, like the R-F-T models, is a nod to a classic microphone design but made with modern manufacturing techniques.

After over a decade of making the R-F-T Series, it was deemed time for a ground up reevaluation of all designs. In-house skill and knowledge learned over this time of microphone technology and manufacturing and a goal of improving all current models led to a full rebranding as the Alchemy Series in 2019. Improvements included circuit tweaks, component upgrades, improved accessories, an American-assembled power supply, and a headgrille redesign. While based on the original R-F-T designs, enough was changed and improved to warrant new names for all models. The Alchemy Series at this time was comprised of the Cardioid-only TF29 Copperhead, multi-pattern TF39 Copperhead Deluxe, German-voiced TF47, & Austrian-voiced TF51.

During the years of R-F-T improvement and eventually replacement, new technologies found their way into Telefunken’s product line. 2015 saw the release of the M60 FET, Telefunken’s first transistor-based microphone. Utilizing the same form factor and thread-on capsules as the vacuum tube-based ELA M 260, these two models are now known as the Small Diaphragm Series and are made in South Windsor right beside the Diamond and Alchemy Series models.

A similar FET design was later used in the development the phantom-powered large diaphragm condenser TF11, released in 2020, and more recently the TF17 in 2024.

Taking the Stage: Dynamic Series & Direct Boxes

Telefunken entered the dynamic microphone market with the release of the M80 in 2008. Featuring a uniquely low mass voice coil and a custom-wound output transformer, the M80’s condenser-like response, excellent feedback rejection and high SPL handling bolstered its acceptance and overall praise as one of the premiere dynamic microphones on the market for vocals and snare drum applications.

2012 saw the release of the M81, a variation of the M80, which offers a flatter frequency response more suitable for instruments including speaker cabinets, toms & brass. Like the M80, the M81 got its fair share of praise, including winning the 2013 TEC Award for Microphone Technology in Sound Reinforcement.

The following year saw the development of wireless versions (-WH) and low-profile versions (-SH) of both the M80 and M81, as well as the release of the M82; a large diaphragm microphone with two switchable filters designed for specifically kick drum and broadcast vocal applications. The M82 won a TEC Award for Microphone Technology in Sound Reinforcement in 2014. The M80, M81, M82 and their variations now make up the Dynamic Series.

In meeting the demand of touring musicians and home studios alike, 2013 also saw the release of the DD4 and DD5 Dynamic Drum Packs. After the release of the M60 FET in 2015, the DC6 and DC7 Drum Packs were released, both including a pair of M60 with Cardioid capsules.

Looking to expand their presence in the Live Sound arena, Telefunken released a series of Direct Boxes in December 2016, offering passive and active transformer-based DIs in both mono and stereo packages. Their 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.

Raising the Bar: Testing & Manufacturing

From reverse engineering the Diamond Series models to designing new microphones, TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik has amassed a wealth of information related to critical analysis of microphone components, test procedures, and electronic fabrication over the last 2+ decades. This expertise in design, testing, analysis, and assembly has led to a superior product with increasingly tighter tolerances in mechanical assembly, frequency response, and noise floor figures.

All TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik microphones are assembled and tested in South Windsor, CT, USA by a dedicated team of roughly 20 technicians. Critical components, including capsules, transformers, and vacuum tubes, are tested individually before production and again at certain important stages of assembly. Vacuum tubes and full amplifiers are burned-in to ensure consistent, quiet operation, and transistors are tested based on gain and noise with a strict pass/fail threshold.

Diamond Series microphones, power supplies and cables are hand-built in small batches in Connecticut. The microphones are built as they were decades ago, with point-to-point wiring and not the use of circuit boards. The power supply designs have been improved over the original circuits with the use of modern regulators and tighter tolerance, high-quality components. Almost all parts for the Diamond Series are made in the USA, with some critical parts (like the Haufe T14/1 transformer) being imported from the EU. All Diamond Series capsules are made in South Windsor, Connecticut.

Alchemy Series and Small Diaphragm Series microphones are all assembled on the same production floor as the Diamond Series models and undergo the same component-level and final product testing. Some components found in the Alchemy, SDC, and Dynamic Series models are made overseas, but they are all critically tested and installed in South Windsor, CT, USA by an elite team of professional microphone technicians. No microphones are passed without sonic listening and frequency response testing against well-established benchmarks.

The same rigorous component selection and testing procedures are applied to TELEFUNKEN’s line of Direct Boxes, which are also assembled and tested in South Windsor. All DI models feature UK-made OEP/Carnhill output transformers, premium components, and a rugged metal enclosure designed to withstand the road; all decisions informed by TELEFUNKEN’s thorough research and development.

In 2022, TELEFUNKEN completed the construction of a state-of-the-art critical testing suite that will further the efforts to put out only the highest quality professional audio products possible, with ever-increasing confidence in both the mechanical and sonic quality. Few manufacturers can match the level of dedication and attention to detail given to the hand-built TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik product line.

Moving Forward

As TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik moves forward, one foot is rooted in the rich history of the brand, and the other in new pro audio innovations. The company has continued to introduce high quality products, including a series of XLR and instrument cables and a line of new production vacuum tubes, and will continue to innovate and provide professional audio solutions for the live music and recording community. Telefunken has evolved exponentially from a single pattern switch to one of the industry leaders in top-quality microphones and professional audio equipment for the studio and the stage, and plan to continue to do so for decades to come.


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Live From the Lab

TELEFUNKEN provides these multitrack audio files for the sole purpose of allowing individuals an opportunity to utilize them for home studio use and for educational purposes only.

No commercial use is permitted.  Any commercial use or reuse is strictly forbidden.

By downloading any track hereunder the user agrees to properly attribute all copyrights and to display the following on any non-commercial reuse of the video and multitrack audio files as follows:

All audio files have been engineered and recorded by TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik and are presented for educational and demonstrational purposes only.

Live From the Lab

The LIVE FROM THE LAB live music video series is recorded and filmed at TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik’s facility in South Windsor, CT. Each session is tracked live exclusively with TELEFUNKEN microphones and features unique performances from a variety of local, regional, national, and international artists and ensembles.

The multitrack audio files from these sessions are available for free download via clickable links below the individual performance videos. All audio files are presented in .WAV format and were recorded at 24bit / 48KHz sample rate. They are clearly labeled in the same format with the source listed first (LEAD VOX, ACOUSTIC, PIANO), followed by the microphone used (C12, AR-51, etc) and can be downloaded and imported into your Digital Audio Workstation of choice.

For more additional content please visit livefromthelab.net