OKTAVA MD-186 A Classic Clone?

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!

Oktava MD186

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.

Oktava MD186 Logo Closeup

Oktava MD186 Roll-off switch

Oktava MD186 Frequency Response Graph

Oktava MD186 Frequency Response Graph

So does it really sound anything like the classic AKG D224 ?  

Below are links to 3 very different sample recordings:-

CLICK HERE for Voice recording comparing an AKGD224 and the Oktava MD-186.

CLICK HERE for  Clarinet recorded on the MD-186

CLICK HERE for Live recording of Guitar and Cajon on MD-186 x2 

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.

In Conclusion.

Looking on Oktava’s Russian website I was excited to find that the MD-186 appears to be still in production!    

 http://www.en.oktavatula.ru/production/dynamic_mic/

  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 !

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5 responses to “OKTAVA MD-186 A Classic Clone?

  1. Hi Martin, thanks for this. I have wondered about these mics ever since running across a pair for sale about a year or two ago. Anyway, as a result of your sound tests, I found a pair and ordered them. However, I have one question: since you have used them for recording live gigs, I assume you think they are fairly road worthy? The AKG 224 had a reputation for being fragile. (I own one, but have never taken it outside of my home studio.) I record a fair bit of live music, mostly jazz, and would love to give the Oktava pair a go… No one plans to drop a mic, but it does happen… Has it happened yet to you? What are you thoughts on how tough these mic may or may not be? Thanks again for posting the review and clips. -Jeff

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    • Hi Jeff,
      It’s a good question. I have owned mine for a few months and I have used them on gigs for guitar, sax, percussion and as drum overheads. I have also used them as a stereo pair on a recent orchestral recording. So far I have avoided dropping them! They do appear to be very solidly made but whether they are any more robust than the D224 I really can’t say. If I do have the bad luck to drop one I’ll report back. Anyhow, I’m glad you found the post useful.
      All the Best
      Martin

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      • Thanks Martin, and I will do the same… Just dropped a Beyer M88 last week and it survived… (Actually, someone stepped on the cable which pulled it out of the holder.) But Beyers seem to be tough. Never had one fail. I am curious if the Oktava MD-186’s will usurp my Beyer M201’s, which are workhorses for me.Thanks again for the entertaining and informative blogs.

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  2. The Oktavas arrived today from the Ukraine. They are a bit bigger (in both dimensions) and heavier than the AKG. They do not feel fragile at all… More importantly, they sound great. To my ears, they actually sound better than the one example of the D224 that I own. These are keepers. Thanks again Martin for drawing attention to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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