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Author Topic: “All Original” - What does that really mean these days?  (Read 1212 times)

Offline klaus

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“All Original” - What does that really mean these days?
« on: December 21, 2013, 03:02:56 pm »
I notice a disturbing trend in our world: Vintage microphones are (mis)labeled as “all original”, even when original components having been substituted. Usually, the motivation for the obfuscation is a desire to get the highest price possible for the "vintage' mic, even if that requires fibbing some facts.

A prerequisite for a fair transaction between seller and buyer is the use of factual language when describing the material condition of a microphone. Words should be used whowe meaning have a common understanding:

An 'all original' microphone, means that all of the exact same components that were present when the microphone left the factory are still present. And I mean ALL of them, from screw to transformer, from resistor to capsule.

These days, when I look at the wording of any eBay auction, or at brokers’ descriptions on their sites, I will find that the definition of ‘original’ has been stretched far beyond the word’s traditional meaning:  If a mic looks on the outside approximately "period-correct”, it is often advertised as “all original”.

Yet, when head and housing covers come off, the claim often becomes untenable. In most sellers' opinion, replacement transformers, capacitors, capsules, wiring, etc. don’t seem to register as enough of an alteration from the original state to merit disclosure.

And so it seems, the old (original) definition of the word 'original' is now frequently replaced by a new, more convenient one: As long as any layman's first impression when seeing the mic would be that it "looks original", it will be described as such, damn the negative consequences and repercussions for the seller, and, most importantly, for the financial position of the buyer.

But isn’t subterfuge and ignorance a good-enough excuse to let ist slide? Or, what if the seller claims he does not fully know whether or not his mic is really “all original”?

I suggest this simple solution for a more truthful, more honest representation of a vintage mic:

A. If the exact level of originality of a mic is known, it should be disclosed. Something like this:[
i] “all original, except new, genuine Neumann capsule was installed in 2007”[/i]. Or: “all original, except resistor R7 and capacitor C4 were replaced.”

B. If the seller does not fully know or understand the state of originality of his mic, he should say so: "Sold as is. No claim is made as to the level of originality of components present in this mic".

Disclosing what is and isn’t truly known about a vintage microphone's level of originality will lead to a good, honest, outcome for all parties involved.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 05:00:22 am by klaus »
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

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Re: “All Original” - What does that really mean these days?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 08:59:12 am »
Its interesting because there ARE some gray areas, and they're definitely worth being precise about.

For instance-- is a microphone "all original" if it has all of the correct parts by the correct manufacturers, even if one or two were not originally sold with the microphone? 

For instance, imagine that a U47 has a good VF-14M, but one that was not the very first tube ever installed in the mic. Is that mic "all original?"  What if it has an era-correct Bosch coupling capacitor, but the "correct" cap was obtained later and installed by someone other than Neumann. Is the microphone no longer "all original," even if no expert could tell that the mic had ever been disturbed?

And do we extend our standard here to the power supply?  What if the electrolytic smoothing capacitors in a power supply had been replaced with high-quality, fresh caps?  Does that disrupt the originality of the mic?  It's an important distinction to make, because many think of electrolytic capacitors in power supply applications as consumables with a limited lifespan, to be replaced as part of regular maintenance. I think of a vintage car-- would it be more desirable to buy a '57 chevy that still had the original tires, brake pads, and spark plugs, or one that had been regularly and impeccably maintained? Would the latter no longer be considered "all original?"

Offline klaus

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Re: “All Original” - What does that really mean these days?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 01:50:12 pm »
Thoughtful comments, thank you.

I did not comment on the efficacy or necessity of changing parts. That's really up to buyer, seller and user (which does not mean it is trivial, hence my post!), I only called for truth in advertising.

How much or how little change constitutes deviation from "original"?
If, as you write, not even an expert can tell, then the question is moot. If the seller knows (or did the change himself) then it needs to be revealed, no matter how minor.

I would even go so far as claiming that it will benefit the parties involved if the seller is so much into his tool that he finds it relevant to disclose that "the original VF14 has been replaced with another genuine VF14". That type of change will not affect collector's value one bit (especially if it's an 'M' tube; even if it is not, it will be a minor issue), but will nevertheless add valuable information about the piece.
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com