Is it impossible to make great new mics?

MichaelK

Member
Messages
6,476
This discussion of vintage Neumanns, C12s etc. and great old vacuum tubes...

Is it utterly impossible for a mic manufacturer today to make a mic as great as the old vintage mics? Are there NO tubes made today that, even if not exactly the same, are as good, or can be made to sound as good?

Let's assume price is not an obstacle. I'm not asking "under $500" or anything like that. I'm wondering, can it be done? IS it being done? Are there any mics today that, if the supply dried up tomorrow, would be as highly sought after as a U47?

If not, why not?
 
H

heinz

Originally posted by MichaelK
Are there any mics today that, if the supply dried up tomorrow, would be as highly sought after as a U47?
I think Royer and Josephson are both making mics that stand up to the classics, even breaking new ground as far as that goes.
 

loudboy

Member
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27,346
Originally posted by heinz
I think Royer and Josephson are both making mics that stand up to the classics, even breaking new ground as far as that goes.
You can add Soundelux, Brauner and Telefunken to that list, too.

Loudboy
 

Bryan T

guitar owner
Messages
19,936
I think it is similar to what we see in guitars - nostalgia drives most of the market. There are new guitars being made that are technological improvements over the guitars from the 50s and 60s, but they do not have the mystique of having been used on the classic records.

Bryan

P.S. I love my Josephson C42s on my acoustic guitars.
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,341
Originally posted by MichaelK
Are there any mics today that, if the supply dried up tomorrow, would be as highly sought after as a U47?
Not until they have decades of history, lore, and classic tracks behind them. With vintage stuff, there'll always be that cahe, same as with guitars.

But yeah, i'm with loudboy - killer mics are still made.
 

LSchefman

Member
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13,435
I agree. Killer mics are still being made, and in my humble opinion, you can add some of the Blue mics to the list.

The question is, "Is killer MUSIC still being made?" ;)
 

MichaelK

Member
Messages
6,476
I regret having responded to that question, so I deleted my response.

Can we please not hijack this thread with the same stuff about "music these days" that's in every other thread on this forum? Thanks.

I should have mentioned that my question was intended to be about large diaphragm tube vocal mics in particular. Sorry I didn't make that clear.
 

Chiba

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,832
I had the opportunity to sit in on a session that had a pair of BLUE Cactus tube mics being used for vocals - on a barbershop quartet, no less.

They picked up every nuance, every subtlety of the singers that I could hear with my ears in the live room. I can't say it was a result of anything else in the signal chain, as the mics were jacked in pretty much straight to a ProTools HD system with no mucky-muck in-between. No compressors, no EQ, no nothing, just straight in.

I don't have any experience with using or even hearing first-hand any other high-dollar tube mic, but as far as clarity, warmth, and presence is concerned, if I had the money I'd be after a Cactus.

--chiba
 

LSchefman

Member
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13,435
>>an we please not hijack this thread with the same stuff about "music these days" that's in every other thread on this forum? Thanks.<<

I only said that in jest. There's tons of killer music still being made, including yours, Michael.
 

MichaelK

Member
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6,476
Originally posted by LSchefman
I only said that in jest.
I knew that... it just took a little detour for a few posts, which was my fault, not yours. :)

So have you heard the Cactus? If so, what did you think? What kind of capsule does it have?
 

Impulse 101

Member
Messages
1,010
The Manley reference mic is truely a classic, it wasn't even designed until a few years ago.

As for Les's question about music. Hell yes it is!

JT:D
 
G

glasman

The question is, "Is killer MUSIC still being made?" ;)
Good point, I don't think you need a U47 for death metal.


But in all fairness there is still some good music being made as well has a handful of extremely well made mics. Just look at those new Tele's releaseed about a year ago.

As far as the tubes, I am sure that even todays manufacturers can come up with good tubes. Even the old VF14 has to be hand selected for the use in the U47.

Gary
 

LSchefman

Member
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13,435
>>So have you heard the Cactus? If so, what did you think? What kind of capsule does it have?<<

Yes, I thought it was great. It's a multipattern condenser, which, if I recall, you select from the power supply.

Which in and of itself is a work of art.
 

muddy

Member
Messages
5,717
gunter wagner, who lives in oz, is widely respected as THE u47 restorer in the world to go to. so when the guy chooses to make a u47 clone, you can trust that he knows what he's doing if he chooses to use or do something different. from his website:

My name is Gunter Wagner and I am specialized in tube microphone service since 1983.

With over two decades restoring and servicing old U47 we had started to re-manufacture some unavailable parts many years ago to keep old U47's alive. Over the years more research was done and some original materials were located to make more U47 parts, so many of our clients kept asking "why don't you make me a complete new U47?"_

Still some original parts (which are very hard to get) were needed to do this and even my 20+ years experience restoring old U47 were not enough to simply take the parts and build new U47 equal to the original quality and sound performance! (So don't believe anyone inexperienced who offers you to build you a copy of a classic mic...!)

Finally it took years of researching, testing and prototyping until we were able by combining some original parts with our re-manufactured parts to make this strictly limited quantity of complete, re-manufactured U47's, all identical down to the last screw!_
Meanwhile we built several U47w for clients around the globe who find this microphone amazing. Amazing its appearance inside and out, amazing its sound and its quality, amazing that it is equal to its famous old ancestor!

Some technical background:

The capsule:
Yes, the capsule is the heart of any mic. We offer both classic U47 capsules: The very early M7 or the later K47.
Read about the capsules in the Neumann U47
We started making complete capsules years ago to service old U47. Many old Neumann U47 meanwhile have one of our capsules inside. Our M7 is unique and absolutely identical to the old original M7. We use the same procedures and even the same brass materials to make the backplate as they used when these capsules were made originally in the ?50s). _

The Transformer:
The BV8 transformer in the U47 is a special cross-wound type. Apart from the old mics, this method was commonly used in the old German tube equipment like Telefunken/TAB/Siemens V72 and V76. The winding method has a certain influence on its sonic specs and any other transformer would inevitably make the mic sound different. Our BV8 has been made to original specifications for several years now, using the old techniques and materials.

We have used our replacement for many years as a 100% compatible spare part to replace broken BV8 transformers and it has repeatedly proven to be sonically equal to the old BV8.

The Tube:
Most people have heard about the old VF14 in the U47 and a lot of speculation and hokus pokus continues to surround this tube and its possible replacements.
The main reason why it is difficult to replace a broken VF14 in an old U47 is the fact that there is only one single supply voltage (105V) coming from the power supply. Neumann came up years ago with a 'quick-and-easy' solution using a Nuvistor as a replacement to the VF14. This tiny tube also works with the high voltage to heat it up, so it could be used with very little change in the old U47 design. Unfortunately this never worked out very well._
You can read about this in the "U47 history section" here

But there are some tubes in the Telefunken "steeltube" family which are perfectly suitable to replace the old VF14 if they get an independent filament supply.

We use a Telefunken steeltube in the new U47 which works excellently in the circuit and provides the same sonic quality as the VF14. Each tube is selected individual and the selection parameters are the same or even better as Neumann used for the VF14..

Technically the only difference to the old U47 is that our U47w has a separate filament supply coming from the power supply.

Output gain, frequency response, noise, distortion ? all specs are identical to the old U47

ml
 

elambo

Member
Messages
2,362
Gunter is the man - i agree - but that was sort of my point: even HE can't make them like they used to because the components just aren't around anymore. I'll bet he is running out of what little supply he once had.
 

LSchefman

Member
Messages
13,435
Ah, but this Gunter stuff begs the question -

You definitely can't exactly re-create things made using techniques that no longer exist, etc. You'll get no argument from me.

However, there are great new mics still being made. They sound different from the old classics, it is true. But they still sound very good indeed. Case in point: Blue Mouse.

I no longer have my Mouse, sold it to get the Kiwi, which, while a great mic, still doesn't sit in a track the way the Mouse did. Yes, it has more patterns, yes it is more expensive, and no, I just don't like it as much. I had the original version with the heavy transformer (but not with the black rear grille, which version wasn't as good). That Mouse, in its own way, gave me sounds that I'd consider the equal of anything in terms of quality of tone. Different? Yes. But still "classic sounding" in its own unique way.

Huge mistake letting that one go.

Also, I've used the Blue Bottle with several capsules, and it's also a very interesting mic.
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,341
Originally posted by LSchefman

Huge mistake letting that one go.
As you may recall, I was pretty blown away with the vocal tracks you cut with that one. I was a bit surprised when you sold it. Have you tried another Mouse since?
 

elambo

Member
Messages
2,362
Very true, LSchefman - there are some great modern mics, like the Blue stuff, but the thing about the vintage mics is that they've been proven to sit well in a lot of different genres over and over and over again. Plus, we're all used to the sound after hearing it a few thousand times over many decades. It's hard to compete with that.
 




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