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Review: Advanced Audio CM12 Studio Microphone


Can this Chinese-made mic really compare to a vintage classic?

Item: Advanced Audio CM12 Studio Microphone

Price: $695, E715

Mic Rating: micrating_5

At A Glance: The Advanced Audio CM12 is a studio condenser microphone with tube (valve) circuitry based on the famous AKG C12 vintage microphone. Like the original C12 it is designed to be the perfect choice for recording great sounding vocals in your studio as well as acoustic instruments such as guitar or piano. To keep costs down the basic microphone is built in China, then upgraded in Canada by Advanced Audio to improve the quality of the mic so that it comes closer to the quality of a vintage (and now hugely expensive) AKG C12 (the Chinese tube is swapped for a true 6072a tube, and the transformer is upgraded to a high quality 5:1 ratio, BV11 dual-bobbin transformer).

High Notes: Like the original C12, the Advanced Audio CM12 is particularly flattering on female vocals, with a forward sounding high end and rich lows (however it can also sound great on male vocals too). The capsule has a frequency response matching within ±2dB the response of the AKG CK12 capsule; however, its reworked transformer gives around 6db more headroom than the original circuit with better low frequency and high frequency response. The CM12 comes with its own power supply unit which has a switch that lets you select from nine different pickup patterns on the mic, meaning it can be used in a wide range of studio situations.

Off Pitch: Due to cost-saving compromises in its design, its sound is not exactly the same as a C12. This might be countered by spending more money on further upgraded components (additional options) than found on the basic CM12 reviewed here (Advanced Audio produce the CM12SE, which includes these additional upgrades). Also, if you are in Europe, the microphone is relatively more expensive once you add VAT and shipping; meaning is faces stiffer price competition from larger manufactures such as Neumann, AKG, and sE Electronics.

VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: A good vintage AKG C12 can cost you over £7000, and AKG’s own reissue costs £2500, making the Advanced Audio CM12 great value for money. Although the Advanced Audios CM12 is not exactly a clone of the legendary C12, it is clear they have borrowed heavily from the design of the original in its looks and circuitry, and it does have a similar sound. Ultimately, if you are looking for an exact replica of a vintage C12 you should probably look elsewhere; however if you are happy with a great sounding mic that has a similar sonic character, the Advanced Audio CM12 should not disappoint.

Manufacturer’s Website: http://advancedaudio.ca
Europe: http://advancedaudio-europe.com

Other Reviews:
Review 1
Review 2
Review 3

  • Dave Thomas

    Thanks, for the review!!!. We no longer sell the CM12 and only make the CM12se which was the vocal microphone on Elvis Costello and The Roots.

    We manage to get a very HiFi and larger transformer to fit into the bell housing of the microphone. The new transformer has a slightly higher ratio with 3db more transformer loss that the CM12. We find the larger transformer with its slightly larger ratio will take 3db more level and has 3db less output overall. We hear more low end with the larger transformer.

    The psycho acoustics of this is, it sounds a bit warmer much like you would expect an original C12 to sound… while the high end transparency is preserved along with the extra headroom of the circuit.

    The CM12se can be used over drums and the hammers of a Yamaha C7.

    In our CM251 we use the same capsule and transformer with the same tube circuit topology but change the headgrill and gently bring down the high end above10khz about 3db to give us the ELA M251 “sound”. Ours, sounded about 2db brighter to me at 12khz when I put up against the nicest ELA M251 we could find. However, one of our favourite producers loved the sound and bought two. You will hear the results very soon on some very high profile recordings that I am sworn to secrecy on.

    Cheers, Dave Thomas

  • Hi Dave. Thanks for the update about the microphone – I’ve heard great things about your CM12SE. Glad you like the review. :)