Top producer/songwriter Mitch Allan—also an engineer and good at multitasking with a variety of artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez—notes that his new microphone of choice is the Telefunken ELA M 251E.
Allan acquired the ELA M 251E, handcrafted in America and a re-creation of the time-honored large-diaphragm tube microphone, at Vintage King in Los Angeles.
“My first wow microphone was my vintage (AKG) C12,” he recalls. “I explained to Chris Bolitho at Vintage King that this mic changed my view of microphones and asked him what else I might need.” Allan then took a tour of the new showroom at VKLA. “To look at all the gear you want in one room, it’s not online, it’s not a picture, it’s in the room. It kind of blew me away. They handed me a flight-case with the TELEFUNKEN ELA M 251E and I took it back to my studio to try it out.”
Allan has sold over a million records as an artist, and over 20 million as a producer and songwriter. He’s had two #2 singles, was nominated for a Grammy and has worked with such diverse and respected artists as Chris Daughtry, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, Simple Plan, The Jonas Brothers, and Bowling For Soup. Besides his gifts as a songwriter, his biggest strength has been his intuitive ability to get the most out of creative collaborations.
Back at his studio, The Guest House, there is a array of quality recording gear, including a Dangerous Monitor ST, BAE and Chandler pre-amps, with API 512s and Shadow Hills pre-amps for guitars. Compressor/limiters are Urei 1176s and 1178s, plus a Distressor, among other vintage and current gear.
“I set up the new Telefunken mic and I had no idea what to expect,” Allan explains. “I turned it on and sang with headphones; that’s how you know when something sounds so great. Then I came out here to listen back, and I’ve heard myself on the C12 a lot and I know the color—it was drastically different, it’s a great microphone, crystal clear.”
The ELA M 251E, the 2003 winner of the TEC Award for studio microphone technology, includes an amplifier designed around the GE 6072a vacuum tube, a newly manufactured CK-12 capsule, output transformer custom made by the original European manufacturer, and a 3-position, sliding polar-pattern selector.
“After my initial testing, I tried the Telefunken mic on some of the talented ladies I’ve been working with,” Allan continues. “Chris at Vintage King said this mic really comes to life with a big vocalist and he was right. I had never heard anything like it before. It is literally the best microphone I’ve ever put on a human voice.”
Allan tailors his creativity to enhance each session. “When I enter a room, I figure out what an artist or co-writer’s biggest strength is and give them their space to create,” he says. He then offers what is needed, providing lyrics, melodies, vocal coaching, and of course, top-notch recording gear.