Ocean Way Mic Descriptions

Learn about the microphones modeled in your Sphere Ocean Way Mic Collection plug-in. The Ocean Way Mic Collection also includes the mics in the Sphere Mic Collection.

In this article

Large Diaphragm Mics Custom Mics


Created in 1947, the U47 has stood the test of time as the ultimate studio mic. For Ocean Way Studios, Allen Sides acquired (and sold) more than 400 U47s over the years, which is all the more amazing given that only about 5000 U47s were produced. Allen critically listened to every U47 that came through his studio. Of course, he kept the best and sold the rest.

The OW-47 model is based on one of Allen’s favorite 47s, serial number 2679, that he kept in his personal collection. This mic has a large condenser K47 capsule and a VF14 tube.

Some of the notable artists that recorded with a U47 at Ocean Way Studios include Andrea Bocelli, Radiohead ("Hail To The Thief"), Frank Zappa, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Beck ("Sea Change"), Paul McCartney, Barry Manilow, Anita Baker, Patti Austin, and Lionel Ritchie ("All Night Long").

OW-12 #1

Released in 1953, the C12 is an iconic microphone with a gorgeous high-end sheen and sparkle. The C12 is often a great choice for lush, breathy vocals, without overly accentuating sibilance.

The unique sound of the C12 is largely due to its specially designed CK12 capsule. This capsule is one of the most complex and intricate large diaphragm condenser capsules ever made, and exemplifies craftsmanship and precision engineering. Modern versions of this capsule bear little resemblance to the original, partly because it is not cost effective to manufacture for today's market.

The OW-12 #1 model is based on a C12 from Allen Sides' personal collection, which has that classic bump around 10 kHz for which C12s are known.

OW-12 #2

"The OW-12 #2 model is based on one of Allen Sides' favorite C12s from his personal collection. This C12 is warmer and smoother than any other C12 we have ever heard.

The CK12 capsule used in the C12 is unusual in that it has chambers in the backplate that could be tuned at the factory to achieve different sensitivities and frequency response curves. Even though all C12s have a unique flavor in common, this is part of the reason why all C12s don’t sound exactly the same.

For drum overheads, the C12 is almost always Allen's mic of choice. Allen used this mic to record Frank Sinatra for the album "LA is My Lady". Allen also used four C12s to record the "We Are The World" all star choir.


The M49 uses the same capsule as the U47, but the response of the M49 is slightly smoother and less colored due to a more transparent headbasket. Also, the U47's VF-14 tube is replaced with an AC701.

The OW-49 model is based on an M49b from Allen Sides' collection, which was likely manufactured in the late 1950s and has a K47 capsule. The M49 was the first remotable multi-pattern mic and allows for continuous pattern adjustment. The center position is roughly cardioid, but was often set more precisely to get the best cardioid pattern. The OW-49 model uses this "best" cardioid position when the plug-in is set to cardioid.

Vocalists recorded at Ocean Way Studios with a 49 include Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Phil Collins, Winona Judd, Bobby McFerrin, Mel Torme, and Joni Mitchell.


The M269 is a variation of the U67 designed for the German broadcast market. The M269 uses an AC701k tube instead of an EF86. Some would say the end result is a mic that sounds even better than a U67.

One other notable change to the M269 is that it has a continuously variable pattern switch on the power supply, whereas the U67 only has three patterns which are selectable from the mic body. The M269 also has a switch on the body that provides a dedicated cardioid mode.

The OW-269 model is based on the dedicated cardioid mode when in the cardioid setting and the continuously variable knob for all other patterns. Notable artists that recorded with a 269 at Ocean Way include Kenny Loggins, Little Richard, Alanis Morissette ("Uninvited"), Goo Goo Dolls, Johnny Rivers, and Louis Miguel.


The OW-800 model is based on a prototype C800G from Allen Sides' personal collection. Allen Sides and Ocean Way were involved in the very early development of the C800G, and Allen was given two C800G prototypes for listening tests. This prototype has a slightly warmer character than a production C800G.

Notable vocalists that have recorded with Allen's prototype 800 include Faith Hill, Ron Isley, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, and Brian Setzer.


The M50 is a very unusual omnidirectional small diaphragm condenser microphone that has the capsule mounted on a plexiglass sphere. This design produces a nice high-frequency rise and an off-axis response which becomes more directional at higher frequencies, resulting in the sound the M50 is known and loved for. The mic uses the same body, headbasket, and tube as the M49, but in terms of sound, they are nothing alike.

The OW-50 model is based on the earlier M50a variant with serial number 294, which has an aluminum diaphragm. Allen Sides chose this as the best M50 specimen in his collection.

Many famous movie scores have been recorded at Ocean Way Studios using this mic including E.T., Superman, 1941, Jaws II, Star Trek, Taxi Driver, and countless others.



Released in 1953, the KM53 is an end-address small diaphragm condenser, which utilizes the Telefunken AC701 subminiature triode. The KM53 has an omnidirectional capsule derived from the M50, but has a very different sound due to the body configuration.

The OW-K53 model, when set to an omni pattern, is based on a KM53 from Allen Sides' personal collection.

The 53 is configured with a nickel diaphragm, which at 0.7 micron, is extremely thin and has an amazingly good transient response. However, this capsule is also very fragile and is difficult to maintain.



Released in 1954, the KM54 is a cardioid end-address small diaphragm condenser, which utilizes the Telefunken AC701 subminiature triode. The OW-K54 model, when set to a cardioid pattern, is based on Allen's favorite KM54 from his personal collection.

The mic is configured with a nickel diaphragm, which at 0.7 micron, is extremely thin and has an amazingly good transient response. However, this capsule is also very fragile and is difficult to maintain.

At Ocean Way, the KM54 has been put to great use recording acoustic guitar and strings for the likes of Larry Carlton, Ry Cooder, Yo Yo Ma, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, and Eric Clapton.



The Sony C-55P might just be the most underrated mic of all time. Allen Sides has said it is all around one of the best microphones he has ever used and that Sony should consider manufacturing it again. At one point Ocean Way owned about 30 Sony C-55P microphones.

Allen especially loves the C-55P on acoustic guitar and he has used it on virtually every album he's recorded that has stereo acoustic guitar. Clearly, he loves this mic!

The C-55P is a cardioid small diaphragm condenser and is unique in that the capsule swivels 90 degrees inside the headbasket so it can be used either side-address, end-address, or any point in between.

The OW-55 model emulates the sound of the C-55P in Allen's preferred side-address mode, but also models other capsule orientations when the Axis control is set to a value greater than zero. For example, when Axis is set to 90 degrees, the model emulates the mic in end-address mode.


The RCA KU3A, sometimes referred to as a 10001, is an extremely rare cardioid ribbon microphone from the 1940s. These microphones were reportedly hand-built in Hollywood, CA by RCA technician Charles Gant, specifically for the motion picture industry. It has a unique sound which provides a good dose of vintage flavor.

The cardioid pattern is produced using an acoustic labyrinth filled with cow hair! Being a fixed cardioid design the off-axis response is smooth and well controlled, particularly compared to other cardioid mics of its day.


The now ubiquitous SM57 was introduced in 1965 and utilized the relatively new Unidyne III capsule which had first been used in the Shure 545. Production changed slightly over the years, with some people tending to prefer the older US-made 57s. This model is based on a US-made 57 from the late 60s.

Articles in this section

See more