Rare Telefunken Mic Preamp

Developed by the North West German Radio (NWDR) in cooperation with the Institute of Broadcast Technology (IRT) of Hamburg in the early 1950s, the V72s was used by most European Recording Companies such as EMI, Decca and Telefunken as a microphone preamplifier and featured a fixed gain of 40 dB and lower input impedance. Production ceased in 1966 when it was replaced by the transistor version (the V72t).

So what’s the big deal? A big sound, that’s what.

Twenty years ago I spent an afternoon with tech maestro Neil Perry comparing V72s with my all-time favourite (class A/B) Neve 33114 preamps. The upshot? I really couldn’t hear much difference; both were fat, full, fast and detailed. I was surprised that the V72 didn’t display the ‘tubeyness’ of other valve gear I’d tried. Personally I’m not a fan of tube mic preamps used with tube mics as there is too much third harmonic distortion resulting in a sluggish woolliness (I liked to use an EAR 660 when tracking). The Telefunken lacked this, possibly because of the superb engineering and solid transformers which seemed to capture every nuance and reflex of the signal.

I have a pair at SNAP! Studios which are in constant use for tracking, particularly vocals and acoustic instruments with a wide dynamic range. But before we get into debates about which preamp for which job (as happens all too often) I should point out my tired mantra that to my mind there are only two types of mic preamps – good and bad. I like transformer balanced discrete preamps, or a Telefunken style well-engineered transformer based design, and although I have always had a preference for my Neves (which give me what I’m looking for on pretty much everything), I’m happy with API, Class A Neves and similar well designed units.

But enough of me…no, too much of me in fact… The last point I’d make is that well serviced properly racked classic units such as these are a superb investment that also offer a lifetime of recording joy.