“Blow Your Pants Off” Employs M80 Dynamic and AK-47MkII Microphones
Pictured is Lawrence Manchester, music mixer for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” with his TELEFUNKEN AK-47MkII large diaphragm tube condenser mic.
NYC, February, 2013 – Lawrence Manchester, music mixer for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” used his AK-47MkII large diaphragm tube microphone and six M80 dynamic mics from TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik to record Fallon’s Grammy-nominated Best Comedy Album. “Blow Your Pants Off” features live recordings as performed on the hit television show and three tracks recorded at Avatar Studios and in Lawrence’s private studio.
“I tried the AK-47 on a couple of projects and came to like that mic a lot,” explained Manchester. “I bought the one that had been sent to me and now that’s my go-to vocal mic when I travel around to studios and need to have a consistent vocal chain. So many projects these days start in a big studio and then go to a smaller studio, or to an overdub facility. Having a consistent mic that I could bring with me was my goal.”
Manchester is a prominent producer/mixer/engineer with multiple Grammy nominations. He has worked with Beyonce, Bono & The Edge, Justin Timberlake, Mumford & Sons, Paul McCartney, and dozens of others. In film, he has recorded and mixed music for Martin Scorsese, Danny Elfman, Carter Burwell, and Howard Shore. As music mixer for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” he has worked with hundreds of artists in live performance.
“I’ve used my AK-47 on many different singers, both men and women, for a variety of different albums. When we were doing Jimmy’s record, I made a decision to bring that mic to Avatar, the studio where we were cutting live with the band. For any vocal overdubs that had to be done, I took the same mic with me.”
The R-F-T AK-47 MkII began as a unique design to incorporate key elements of classic circuits such as those of the U47 and M49. These design decisions created a microphone with a rich and warm low-mid frequency response, ideal for vocals, bass, brass, and drums.
“The recorded sound of the AK-47 sits really nicely in the mix,” Manchester continues. “It doesn’t require a lot of EQ or processing to result in a good vocal sound that works very well in the final mix. I also find that the variable patterns are very helpful when recording in a space that offers a nice room sound, or for a group of singers that require a wider pattern. I use it on acoustic guitar too, especially when recording singers who play at the same time. In those instances, the variable patterns can really help with rejection.”
Manchester employs six TELEFUNKEN M80 dynamic microphones for the live performances on the Fallon show. “We’ve been using the M80s now for a couple of years. We first tried them out in an ongoing quest to find the right tools for the trade and have really made them the centerpiece of our musical performance setups whenever possible. Some bands have their own mics, we usually try to reach for the M80s. We primarily use them on vocals, but we’ve put them up on guitar amps and drums too.”
The TELEFUNKEN M80 has been adopted by many touring bands, such as Phish, Taj Mahal, and Green Day, all three of whom have performed on the Fallon show. The microphone is prized for its precise directional pickup, natural tone, and ability to isolate the vocalist from unwanted stage ambience.
“We have a small stage and performance space,” he continues, “and the isolation of that mic from onstage ambient sound is terrific. The musicians are close together to begin with, often near the drums, and we regularly have drummers who sing. The isolation from the stage sound and rear rejection from the monitor wedges and PA is incredibly valuable.
“At the end of the day I am able to get more gain, more of the desirable vocal from the microphone, relative to the leakage, than I get from many other mics that I’ve tried. Sonically, it just sits in the mix really well, with many different types of singers and different styles of music. What leakage that does come in, tends to be pretty complementary in nature. I don’t have to spend a lot of time EQ-ing out all kinds of artifacts and unpleasant room tones. The room tone that is in there oftentimes can be used to build a better mix.
The M80 combines a low-mass voice coil with an extremely thin Mylar membrane and a high quality step-up output transformer. “It’s a very durable mic and it looks beautiful,” adds Manchester. “We have six M80s with two sets of grills, the silver grills which shipped stock and some black grills which cause less glare on TV.