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The Neumann Story
Look in any top-tier studio, and you'll find at least one Neumann. Classic tube designs like the U 47 and U 67, modern transformerless innovations like the TLM 49 and TLM 67, and affordable offerings like the TLM 102 and TLM 103 can be heard on countless recordings. And the legendary U 87 is as close to a studio-standard as you'll find.An Innovator from the Start
Early microphones employed a pair of metal plates separated by granules of carbon, with openings on one side to admit the sound. Carbon mics sounded horrible, yielding a thin sound that was devoid of low frequencies. A gentleman named Georg Neumann improved upon this design by stretching a rubber membrane over it, imbuing it with the lows it had been missing. While Georg's microphone sounded much better than its predecessor, with a linear frequency response of 50Hz-1kHz, a 10dB peak at 4kHz, and a 15dB dip at 10kHz, it was hardly impressive by today's standards. Nonetheless, the Marconi-Reisz microphone, as it was called, became quite popular in its day.The First Condenser Mic Arrives
Although it was a hit, Georg was not impressed by the popularity of the Marconi-Reisz microphone. He knew he could do better. That's why in 1928, he and Erich Rickmann founded their own company and began experimenting with capacitive transducers. Their first commercially available mic was the CMV 3, dubbed by users as the "Neumann Bottle." This massive condenser mic was 3.5" in diameter, 15" high, weighed almost 7 lbs., and delivered sound quality that surpassed everything that had come before.The Modern Studio Microphone is Born
In 1949, Georg created a new microphone with dual polar patterns called the U 47, which was a major influence in the development of modern studio microphones. Distributed by Telefunken, the U 47 can be heard on numerous classic recordings by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and others. The Telefunken U 47 remains one of the most iconic tube mics in existence. When someone says "classic tube mic tone," they're likely referring to the U 47.Georg Ditches Tubes and Embraces Transistors
After the success of the U 47, Neumann continued releasing tube microphones. One popular mic was the U 67, which was similar to the U 47, but featured three polar patterns, a -10dB pad, and highpass filter. The pad and highpass filter were designed into the U 67, due to the growing popularity of close-miked vocals. In 1965, Georg began designing solid state microphones. The successor to the U 67, a FET-based condenser with a transformer-coupled output, was named the U 87. The Neumann U 87 has achieved near mythical status amongst engineers, and is one of the most highly coveted, best known, and widely used microphones in the world.Neumann Adapts Phantom Power to Microphones
Around the same time, Georg adapted "phantom power," a powering method used by telephone systems, for use with condenser microphones. This meant that each microphone would no longer need a separate power supply. The 3-pin XLR connector also became a worldwide standard during this time.TLM: Another Slam Dunk
1983 was another win for Neumann. Their new Transformerless Microphones (TLM), delivered unparalleled dynamic range and unbelievably low noise, as well as wide-angle cardioid and hypercardioid polar patterns. Lauded for their incredibly detailed sound, modern-day classics like the TLM 49 and TLM 67 take classic Neumann character and combine it with contemporary circuit designs. Also, thanks to streamlined production, Neumann has been able to provide their coveted microphones to project studio owners at a realistic price. Take a peek inside of any high-end home studio, and you're likely to find a TLM 102 or TLM 103.
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