Neumann U47 and Similar Mics

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Nicky, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. JJ Blair

    JJ Blair Senior Member

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    Cool article that I've never seen. A couple stories I've never heard. Strange that he calls the M7 a "PVC K47." It was always an M7, and is even listed as such on the schematics.

    No discussion of NDWR having designed and developed the M49, and the MSC2 tube being the original tube.

    He also leaves out the development of the M50 gold and aluminum capsules. The aluminum is everybody's favorite. I wonder why that was glossed over.
     
  2. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Ok, I get what you mean, I was just confused by your mention of 12 KHz shelving which I took for a -3dB @12KHz data point continuing downwards at a given slope. But if I understand you correctly you're saying that at 12 KHz the response, whatever it may be starts dropping off at a steady rate. In the case of the M49 that creates a bump just below 12 K, correct? A bump as a result of some built in frequency boost and the inherent HF drop based in the capsule design. Did the response change significantly when the b and c variants were introduced?

    As far as 20KHz and beyond goes, in my line of work (post for broadcast among other things), a LPF set somewhere between15 to 20 KHz (depends on content) is my best friend in the digital domain. Quite some garbage up there @ times. Maybe not the same issue as what you describe regarding vocals but extended HF response isn't always what sounds best.

    FWIW and already mentioned by me but IME there are a few mics that seem to be able to do something that nothing else will do, certain Schoeps mics make off-axis sounds appear sonically unchanged just at lower volumes, no other mic can do that, M50s in a classical recording setup seem to have more reach than other Omnis yet also have more thump, U 87s make woodwinds' section micing work better than anything I've ever tried, U47fet does something magical onoutside the Kick, Sennheiser 416 shotguns have a thunderous response that picks up sports sounds better than anything else, and so forth. The common thread here is that it's more than a frequency graph can show that makes these mics special. When I see a shootout about 47's with some vocalist eating the mic I'm not convinced that no other mic can do that.
    What applications other than closemicing vocals does the U47 excel at?
     
  3. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    For me the best part is that when you stand a vintage tube Neumann in front of a singer, most can't help but feel privileged and in awe of its mystique. :)

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_a46WJ1viA[/ame]
     
  4. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Sure, I get that. But my question is this
    "what does singing at close distance into a U47 give you that no other mic can?"
    Here's a curious video from rode mics, made me wonder
    A: is this a healthy specimen of U 47?
    B: Can I reliably hear and identify the difference? The point being, in this application as well as in the VK shootout video there are many mics that'll do the trick nicely. For the mics and applications I listed in my previous post not so much.

    https://youtu.be/VnrXFC5Pyhs
     
  5. JJ Blair

    JJ Blair Senior Member

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    Even on my laptop, I hear a difference. The second mic is more sibilant and leaner in the low mids.

    What does a real U47 give you? First off, a real Neumann K47. I've heard several copies by some fairly good capsule makers, and nobody has done one that has been indistinguishable in my tests. Better or as good is subjective, but they are certainly different. But in terms of a U47 in particular, no other mic gives you what Klaus calls that "midrange authority." It is unique to the VF14.

    The article posted earlier talks about something that I have long suspected, that part of it might be due to the highly microphonic nature of the tube, but there is also a specific frequency response found in the pairing of the VF14 and BV8 transformer. Even the glass tubes that Oliver was using in the CS4, which were electrical identical to the VF14, still sounded leaner. There's something about that tube which nothing else can replicate.

    Now, can you make a great record without it? Of course. Like I think I said earlier, I can name dozens of classic records that did not use a U47, because they either didn't have one, or it was broken. And my favorite recording I ever made was done with a Blue 47 with their K67 capsule on it. It had a thing that was just right for this singer.

    So, there's a couple things to consider: What's your purpose? By that, I mean, are you a commercial studio who needs to attract clients through your gear list? Think about it like guitars. You can get the job done with an R9, but if you have a choice to go somewhere that has a Burst and somewhere that had an R9, you go where the Burst is. Same things for studios that have Neumanns, and studios that have Rodes.

    I also look at my mics, like my guitars as investments. I've gotten into my mics for way under the market value. They happen to make my life easier, in terms of getting the sounds I'm looking for, but I know I'm going to sell them for a huge profit some day. But they really are such a joy to use. Last week, I put my pair of vintage 251s on the piano, and there was a such a great sound, without the need for EQ or anything. It sounded like god. I could have gotten a really good sound with other mics, but man, there's just something magical about 251s that nothing else even comes close to. And the new ones can't touch the really good examples of old ones.

    But U47s have a different type of magic, and you have to ask yourself if you really absolutely need that particular magic to make your recording special. You go to Capitol, and half the 47s have Nuvistors, and almost nobody even notices. I don't know if that answers your question or not.
     
  6. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Thanks, JJ, it sure does and then some. Really appreciate the response. I listened to the Rode clip again and find the difference to be negligible in this particular application but I'm not claiming that I'm qualified to make sweeping judgments about that, just my personal opinion, I could work with that Rode in that situation and be happy.
    But it strikes me as odd (hence my "mirage" comment) that most of these clips never (to me) seem to highlight what I suspect are the best qualities that do set these mics apart from lesser examples. You mention R9s, seems to me these clips are equivalent to comparing R9s to great vintage guitars using tons of gain and micing them up with a haphazardly placed 57 into a zoom recorder, the go-to format for equally as many useless comparisons, again, just my opinion.
    Do you believe that the U 47 in this clip is in good working order? I know that's hard to say from a youtube clip.
    IMO the Rode mic sounds way better than the ones I've used, I blame the pre.
    What I'm trying to say is that I think of certain "go-to" mics that, based in my experience as user or listener would be hard to impossible to substitute and get the job done without compromising the result. Maybe that's not the standard by which to evaluate the 47, I dunno.
     
  7. JJ Blair

    JJ Blair Senior Member

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    I have no idea of the condition of that U47. But when I A/B microphones of the same type to test for differences, a female singer in this method is not one of my tests. But I'm sure the Rode is a good mic. They make nice mics.
     
  8. Frogfur

    Frogfur Senior Member

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    Thanks for that interesting link Nicky
     

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