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Kenji Nakai Purchases Matched Pair of TELEFUNKEN AR-51s

Large Diaphragm Tube Mics For Kenji Sano Solo Project

Pictured (L-R) with a matched pair of TELEFUNKEN AR-51 microphones at LA’s Westlake Recording Studios are recording artist Kenji Sano and engineer Kenji Nakai. Photo by David Goggin.

Before starting on the long-awaited Kenji Sano solo project, recording engineer Kenji Nakai purchased a matched pair of new TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik AR-51 microphones. Nakai, who came to the US in 1990 and has worked with such artists as the Red Hot Chili Pepper, Celine Dion and Tom Petty, chose the AR-51 for its versatility in a wide range of recording applications.

“I wanted a new microphone that has some of the properties of the classic Telefunken Ela M 251,” explained Nakai, who is a frequent guest lecturer in his native Japan. “The new AR-51 is

a phenomenal microphone and it’s really a Telefunken, so I took a chance, and I was right about it.”

Kenji Sano, who has played bass in the respected Hawaiian group Kalapana for 30 years, is also one of Japan’s most popular producers. For his first solo project, the bassist has assembled a top group of musicians, including drummers Gregg Bissonette and Alex Acuna, guitarists Jay Gradon and David T. Walker, and vocalist Bill Champlin.

“I first used the AR-51 for lead vocals and found it to be a excellent sounding mic,” remarked Nakai. “It beautifully captures the nuance and detail of the voice and the sound you get is very easy to deal with when you come to mixing. All of the information is there, so you are free to work with your favorite EQ and compression. I also used the AR-51s as a Blumlein pair for a choir and achieved a perfect balance between direct voices and the sound of the church. Not too roomy, not in your face, it was exactly the right combination.”

The new TELEFUNKEN R-F-T AR-51 utilizes a vintage New Old Stock (NOS) tube and a circuit board designed for superior current handling, permitting the amplifier to have full access to the necessary “power on demand” for low frequency and transient information. Included is the same European manufactured output transformer found in every ELA M 251 E built since 1960.

“I also used the AR-51s as drum overheads and the panoramic image is very accurate,” added Nakai. “There is a pleasing crisp high end, but it isn’t overbright. There are no unnatural frequency bumps or dips and the bass response is very natural, blending easily with the various close up mics. All in all, the AR-51 has the versatility to capture a wide range of instruments with the highest quality.”

The Kenji Sano solo project is recording at Westlake Recording Studios, Conway Recording Studios, and at Threshold Sound + Vision.

To learn more about TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik, visit: