It is quite a few years since AKG stopped manufacturing the remarkable D224 cardioid dynamic. There are still some appearing on eBay but the supply of ones in good working order is dwindling. I was therefore very curious when I spotted a Russian microphone which I had never seen, or heard of before, that looked somewhat reminiscent of the D224. It had a similar twin capsule design with separate elements for treble and bass, which means that like the 224 it would not exhibit proximity effect. It also appeared that the frequency response was not dissimilar (30Hz – 18kHz). It even had an almost identical-looking stepped roll-off filter at 50Hz. So to satisfy my curiosity I bought 2!
When the mics arrived I was immediately reminded of a well-known brand of margarine which has the slogan ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter!’ However, unlike the margarine that wouldn’t fool anyone, these Russian microphones look and sound very similar to their Austrian counterparts. Even the nickel plating appears to be as good as anything found on an AKG. It rapidly became clear that the Oktava MD-186 is not simply a cheap ‘knock off’. It is a very solid, well-engineered, high quality, professional microphone.
So does it really sound anything like the classic AKG D224 ?
Below are links to 3 very different sample recordings:-
My two MD-186s are from the tail end of the Soviet era (1989 & 1990) when Oktava was still wholly owned by the Russian State. Although manufactured around a year apart they sound identical to one another. So much so that I would not hesitate to use them as a stereo pair.
Looking on Oktava’s Russian website I was excited to find that the MD-186 appears to be still in production!
However, upon further investigation I can find no retail outlet actually selling them! It has been suggested to me that maybe they are only on sale to Russian TV and Radio Stations. Or it could be that they are no longer manufactured and Oktava simply haven’t updated this web page on their Russian site! Whatever the explanation it seems a great pity that these classic dual element dynamic microphones are no longer available from Oktava………… or AKG !