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Oktava MK-012 Detailed Review: Everything You Need to Know!

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When talking about legendary and top-class brands in the microphone manufacturing industry, for many of us, the name Oktava might not be among the first few to come to mind. 

But the truth is that Oktava (founded as far back as 1927 in Tula, USSR) remains one of the most iconic and legendary microphone manufacturers in the world. 

Throughout the years, Oktava has not only gained popularity (however esoteric this popularity might be) but has also become a world-famous brand with a highly respected name in the microphone manufacturing industry. 

A fact you must know is that Yuri Gagarin, who is a Soviet astronaut; also the first human to journey into outer space, uttered his famous words “Let’s Go!” into an Oktava microphone. 

Currently, Oktava products are popular everywhere around the world (including the United States and the United Kingdom). These iconic microphones are favoured by legendary musicians such as Sting, Iron Maiden, U2, Marilyn Manson and Radiohead.

That being said, when talking about flexible, natural/clean-sounding and superbly crafted microphones that are also affordable, the Oktava MK-012 will always make it to that list. Unarguably, this remains one of the best microphones you will ever lay your hands on. 

In audio recording and microphone application situations where nothing but ‘purity’ and precision is the utmost need, the Oktava MK-012 will work better than any other microphone you will possibly lay your hands on. This makes it an absolutely great choice for sampling. 

The MK-012 is a compact, top-quality capacitor microphone with interchangeable capsules that will offer users the choice of cardioid, hypercardioid or omni-directional polar patterns. Its wide, flat-frequency response ensures that all sounds are captured with a high degree of accuracy.

In this article, we will review the amazing and widely talked about Oktava MK-012. 

A Brief History of Oktava Microphones

As we said, it all started in 1927 in Tula, a city in Russia renowned for its skilled metalworkers. Oktava began its journey with the production of carbon-granule microphones and telephone equipment.

As the years passed, Oktava’s ambitions grew. The company aimed to create microphones that would capture pivotal moments in history. 

A testament to their success is the already mentioned space travel by Yuri in 1960, using one of these microphones, was not a small step for the brand. Oktava’s reputation for quality and innovation continued to grow.

Oktava’s journey from a small factory in Tula to a globally recognized brand is proof of its commitment to quality and innovation. With products like the MK-012, it’s clear that Oktava continues to be a leader in the microphone manufacturing industry.

For a more in-depth look at Oktava’s history, you can check out this YouTube video:

More information is also available on Oktava’s official website.

What is the frequency response of the Oktava MK-012?

If we take a look at the manual that comes with the microphone, we can see that the frequency range in which this microphone operates is between 20Hz to 20.000Hz, which is the human audible range. 

So this is the range of frequencies it can capture. Now, every microphone (or every piece of audio gear), often doesn’t have a flat response to all frequencies, meaning that it captures some frequencies with higher intensity than others. 

That being said, the frequency response of the Oktava is quite impressive and provides a great response across the whole spectrum, with a slight boost in 7k Hz (i.e. 7000 Hertz) in all of its setups, Omni, Cardioid and Hypercardioid. 

In Cardioid and Hypercardioid, we find a boost also in the lower end, between 20 and 40 Hz, and then a slight shelf between 400 and 2k.

Oktava MK-012 Technical Specification

Here are the detailed technical specifications:

  • Mic Type: Small diaphragm condenser microphone
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Hyper-cardioid, Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Range: 20 to 20000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: At 1000 Hz 10 mV/Pa
  • Phantom Voltage Required: 48 Volts
  • Output impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Nominal load resistance: 1000 Ohms
  • Weighted SPL (ref. DIN 45412): 18 dBA
  • Equivalent noise level: 18 dBA
  • Max SPL at the nonlinear distortion coefficient of 0,5%: 140 dBA
  • Connector: XLR-3
  • Dimensions: Ø24х135 mm
  • Weight: 110 grams

Oktava MK-012 Detailed Review

Capsules (patterns)

As we said before, you have three different setups for polar patterns (basically, how sensitive it is to the 360 degrees field from the capsule). Let’s explore each one.

​​Omnidirectional: This pattern picks up sound from all directions equally. It’s great for capturing a natural and realistic sound. It can be used to record room ambience or a group of instruments. 

However, it may also pick up unwanted noise from the room. Also, it can be harder to control factors such as the natural reverb of the recording room.

Cardioid: The Cardioid pattern is more directional and picks up sound primarily from the front of the microphone. It is the most popular and most used pattern in general. It’s useful for isolating a specific sound source and reducing room noise. 

It’s often used for vocals, as well as for miking individual instruments in a multi-instrument setup. It provides a natural and dry sound for an isolated sound source, but also, in my personal opinion, has the benefit of allowing the performer to be more relaxed and free in terms of movement. 

This is because it will still capture if they move within the polar pattern’s reach. This can be useful when recording a violin, for example, or a flute, and the performer has the tendency to move around. The signal will be consistent regardless of that factor.

Hypercardioid: The Hypercardioid pattern is even more focused than the Cardioid pattern. It offers the highest level of sound source isolation and is ideal for situations where there’s a lot of background noise. 

However, it also picks up some sound from directly behind the microphone and it can be a little bit more demanding in terms of positioning. Mostly recommended for video and film field recording.

Remember to check the graphics for each pattern’s frequency response above (even though as we said and will repeat, it’s pretty flat).

The Build

This is one of my favourite aspects of this microphone. Have you ever bought a product online that looked solid and sturdy, only to realize that it’s light and frail when you unbox it? This will not happen to you with the MK-012. 

The MK-012 is built from a single metal piece, not plastic. The capsule changing will be uncomplicated too. 

You simply screw the capsule you want to use, and you can place the -10dB pad between the capsule and the preamp if desired. It’s very easy to carry around in its wooden box which is light and small.

Sound Quality

The sound quality is outstanding, delivering a very pure signal and capturing the source with impressive transparency. Drum overheads are one of the most typical uses for this microphone. I recommend you try this mic with acoustic guitars, violin, grand piano or upright piano. 

To be honest, almost any classical music instrument will make a wonderful team with this mic. It also makes a lot of sense to use it in human-speech situations too. A lot of YouTubers love recording their videos with it.

One of its most remarkable features is its transparency and its flat response, and one of the reasons it is like that is that it has a transformerless preamp. 

This means it doesn’t use a transformer for tasks such as impedance matching, balancing the signal, and providing electrical isolation. Transformers are a great way to deal with these aspects, but they are also known to add some EQ to the signal. 

They also add size, weight and cost to the product. It’s important to note that a transformerless solution, which incorporates components such as capacitors, transistors, and resistors, must be meticulously designed to effectively handle the task. 

Achieving the desired performance and sound quality with this approach is a complex engineering challenge, but when done right, it can yield excellent results, as you can see with the MK-012.

What comes with the Oktava MK-012?

The MK-012 will usually come in a wooden box that fits easily in your hand. Inside the box, you’ll find the manual, the body (the pre-amp), one or three capsules (if you bought the 03 version), the pad and a holder. 

Of course, this is if you buy it new. If you buy it used check two important things:

  1. That it comes with all the pieces you’re paying for
  2. That it is not the Chinese version (massive drop in quality)
  3. Overall state

Pros and Cons

Transparent sound, flat response across the whole spectrumIf you’re not careful, you could lose or damage the separated capsules
Reasonable price for a 10/10 microphone (around $450)It doesn’t come with a figure 8 pattern capsule
Small and light, very portable, perfect for travelling/tripsIt requires phantom power (like every condenser microphone) so you need an audio interface with phantom power (industry standard nowadays)
Easy to use
I really love that it has no buttons (as we said above, you actually interchange the capsules by screwing them to the body, as well as the pad), which for me is definitely a plus
It works well with almost all instruments/voices


Here, we will share some demos so you can hear the sound of the microphone.

Here’s a video of a pianist using different mics to record the same fragment, and you can find the Oktava recording on this link (it’s interesting to hear the other takes too, so we encourage you to do it) 

Also, by the same channel, here’s a recording of an acoustic guitar: 

Here is ‘Ok Computer,’ an album by the celebrated band Radiohead, that uses this microphone.

Oktava MK-012 Application

This microphone is extremely versatile. Here we’ll take a look at the most recommended and popular uses, exploring its application on drums as overheads, in sampling, vocal recording, and on acoustic instruments

Each of these applications showcases the unique capabilities of this microphone, explaining why it has become a favourite among professionals in the recording industry.

Application on Drums as Overheads

The Oktava MK-012 is often used as an overhead microphone for drum kits. Its clear and balanced sound captures the overall picture of the drum kit, including the cymbals’ shimmer and the toms’ resonance. 

When used as overheads, these microphones are typically placed a few feet above the drum kit, and slightly towards the front, to capture the full range of the drum sounds.

The MK-012 microphones are known for their ability to capture the high frequencies of the cymbals while still providing a good representation of the entire kit. 

A famous scenario where the Oktava MK-012 was used as drum overheads is in the recording of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album, where the detailed and natural sound of the drums is a testament to the capabilities of these microphones.

Application in Sampling

The Oktava MK-012 is also a popular choice for sampling. Its accurate frequency response and ability to handle high sound pressure levels make it ideal for capturing a variety of sounds for use in digital music production. 

Whether you’re sampling percussive sounds, ambient room tones, or the intricate details of a musical instrument, the MK-012 can capture it with clarity and precision.

Application in Vocal Recording

When it comes to vocal recording, the Oktava MK-012 shines in its ability to capture the nuances and details of the human voice. 

Whether used in a close-mic setup for a pop vocal or a bit further away for a more ambient, roomy vocal sound, the MK-012 delivers a clear and detailed sound. 

Its smooth high-frequency response helps to capture the breathiness and airiness of vocal performances, while its solid mid-range captures the body and depth of the voice.

Application on Acoustic Instruments

The Oktava MK-012 is a favourite for recording acoustic instruments, such as guitars, violins, and pianos. Its small size allows it to be placed close to the instrument, capturing the intricate details and resonances that larger microphones might miss. 

The interchangeable capsules also allow for different pickup patterns, enabling the recording engineer to choose the best one for the specific instrument and room acoustics.

Spoken Word/Videos

Some YouTubers have the MK-012 on the top of their list, because it is very comfortable and small, in contrast to some heavier and bulky models. 

Also, it gives YouTubers some advantages such as elegance aesthetics-wise and easier placement on the ‘shot’ (without taking too much visual space) and portability.

Application in Classical or Jazz Ensembles

The MK-012, particularly with its omnidirectional capsule, is often used for spaced-omni recording of classical or jazz ensembles. It’s prized for its natural sound, capturing the intricate details and nuances of these types of performances. 

The omnidirectional pattern allows for a more ambient capture of the ensemble, providing a sense of the room and the ensemble’s placement within it.

Application in Live Sound Reinforcement

While it might seem counter-intuitive given its studio reputation, the MK-012 can frequently be used in live sound reinforcement applications, particularly on acoustic guitar. 

Its ability to accurately capture the sound of the instrument and reject unwanted noise makes it a valuable tool in a live setting.

Application with Large-Diaphragm Capsules

The MK-012 body is compatible with a variety of capsules, including medium and large-diaphragm capsules (you can usually buy these separately). 

This allows the microphone to be used in applications typically reserved for large-diaphragm microphones, such as vocal performances that require a more intimate, warm sound.

Application in Project Studios

Given its low cost relative to its performance, the MK-012 is a popular choice for project studios. It can handle vocals and all kinds of acoustic instruments, functioning as a top-class sampling mic. 

Its versatility allows for usage according to the specific requirements of the project, making it a valuable addition to any studio setup, even for recording engineers starting out.

Does the Oktava MK-012 Need Phantom Power?

Like every condenser microphone, the ML-012 needs phantom power to work. Phantom power essentially refers to the 48 Volt DC power that is supplied through the microphone cable. 

It’s called “phantom” because it doesn’t interfere with the audio signal that is also carried on the same cable. This power is used to polarize the microphone’s transducer, which is necessary for it to function. In short, yes, the Oktava MK-012 does require phantom power.


We have reviewed the applications, the features, the components and the quality of a great microphone within the reach of almost all budgets. 

The Oktava MK-012 is an example of what excellence means in audio engineering, not only in build, durability, and comfort of use but also in performance and end result.

This doesn’t mean it is the perfect microphone for each and all recording situations, but it does mean that it’s an outstanding option to choose from, especially when the diversity of recording situations you might be in is considerable. 

From drum overheads and classical music ensembles to Youbue videos and podcasts, this microphone is definitely an exceptional choice that keeps gaining popularity across the music production space.