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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab => Topic started by: boogietube on November 01, 2010, 10:18:30 pm

Title: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: boogietube on November 01, 2010, 10:18:30 pm
With all of out modern technology, why can't the famous VF14M be manufactured? Is it a question of process? economics?
It seems to me that someone should be able to do this.  

Sean
Title: Re: Stupid Question? Maybe? VF14M
Post by: compasspnt on November 01, 2010, 10:32:02 pm
This has been discussed here several times before.

Not going to happen.

It's all of the above and more.
Title: Re: Stupid Question? Maybe? VF14M
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 02, 2010, 01:25:33 am
...and, as had been discussed before, the devil is in the detail:

super-rare materials, obsolete manufacturing processes, loss of institutional memory, lack of a corporate cooperation between a huge tube maker (Telefunken) and the, at the time, largest condenser microphone manufacturer in the world (Neumann).
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: johnR on November 02, 2010, 09:47:24 am
The thread in the following link contains a general discussion of why tubes can't be made like they used to. Many of the reasons also apply to the VF14M:

http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/m/438090/0/?srch= tube+manufacture#msg_438090
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: jpaul_bordon on November 02, 2010, 12:46:04 pm
Was the VF-14 (M or non M) ever used in a piece of equipment that we could be looking for in yard sales or electronic swap meets here in the USA?  I guess I am asking for non microphone factory installed applications.  I have picked up more than one non functioning old organs for the near NOS vintage tubes!
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 02, 2010, 03:29:49 pm
The VF14 was specifically designed for the Neumann U47 microphone. Though some of the rejects that were found not suitable to work in mics were resold on the amateur/hobby radio market.

Therefore, VF14 are almost never found on garage sales or flea markets.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Jakob Erland on November 03, 2010, 06:57:02 am
I'm pretty sure that the rejects were also used in a commercial UHF- or FM-converter box to interface old receivers to the "new" standard

edit: http://www.radiomuseum.org/tubes/tube_vf14.html

Jakob E.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 03, 2010, 03:05:21 pm
Please cite a reference to the "commercial" availability and application of this box.

From the link you gave, the bread box shown and the reference to the owner looks to me like a one-off home made project by a hobbyist.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: jpaul_bordon on November 04, 2010, 09:55:19 am
It sure looks like a one-off to me. I wonder if this unit is sitting in a german basement of stacked boxes marked "Grand Dad's Experiments"

index.php/fa/15790/0/
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 04, 2010, 02:02:36 pm
That's an expensive experiment!   LOL.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: volki on November 05, 2010, 10:38:39 am
Klaus Heyne wrote on Tue, 02 November 2010 20:29

The VF14 was specifically designed for the Neumann U47 microphone.


Wow, is that so? I was under the impression that the first tube ever custom designed for a mic was Hiller's MSC-1 (sub miniature) from around 1946. Especially if you compare the dimensions, it surprises me that Neumann would have gone with a steel tube of that size for a custom design... of course, "normal" miniature tubes weren't introduced commercially until a few years after the U47's developement, but the technology for even smaller tubes obviously was around already...

Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 05, 2010, 01:39:25 pm
Steel body octagonals were of course already in use at the time the U47 came into being, but the particular octagonal Neumann settled on was exclusively manufactured and delivered to the microphone company.

Another myth is that the VF14 tube was a war or pre- war tube. Not so. The first  VF14 was manufactured two years after World War II ended.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Fletcher on November 10, 2010, 06:10:23 am
Klaus Heyne wrote on Fri, 05 November 2010 13:39

Another myth is that the VF14 tube was a war or pre- war tube. Not so. The first  VF14 was manufactured two years after World War II ended.


All due respect - I am curious to the source of this information - I don't know if some of the people I have been speaking to over here are regurgitating "the myth" or have alternative / factual information.

If you're not comfortable posting that source - PM or email would be fine.  I have no agenda or dispute with your statement, but like many other, am in search of the truth.

Peace.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 10, 2010, 01:23:49 pm
Primary information: date codes. I have never come across VF14 date codes that preceded 1947.

Secondary information: two former Telefunken (the original company) tube factory employees, one now dead, the other old.

I am also not aware of any other tube that Telefunken has ever issued that was exclusively made for and sold to one manufacturer only.

To my knowledge, neither Neumann nor anyone else had made microphones or other products prior to 1947/1948 (introduction of the U47) which used that tube, and no one used it after the U47's phase-out period, starting around 1959 (when Gotham's strong hand was felt in Berlin.)

I am of course open to modifying the information I publicised, if it can be corroborated.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 10, 2010, 03:03:50 pm
The main source  for production numbers is the Telefunken production code book,  the last sales director of the tube plant in Ulm has it, he save it when the factory was closed. His VF14 numbers match the documentation I have from the tube plant in Berlin, in the time frame 1946 to 1958 27500 VF14 were made in three production runs. The VF14 was one of the last steel-tubes ever made.
Also 38000 glass VF14 were made by the former Telefunken tube plant in Erfurt, those ones were made 1948 and labeled with the diamond shape but Telefunken was replaced with Funkwerk.
Only a hand full of them are still around, the majority was discarded and ended up in a landfill/wetland in Erfurt due to production/quality issues.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 10, 2010, 10:16:12 pm
Klaus Heyne wrote on Tue, 02 November 2010 12:29

The VF14 was specifically designed for the Neumann U47 microphone. Though some of the rejects that were found not suitable to work in mics were resold on the amateur/hobby radio market.

Therefore, VF14 are almost never found on garage sales or flea markets.


It's funny, but I just mentioned this fact to a friend who came back from AES.  He was told by a very well known mic designer, who makes great products, that "the VF14 was not made to record music," and justified this statement by saying how microphonic the tube is.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 11, 2010, 02:37:59 pm
He is right about the VF14's microphonics-but on a static base only: it does not affect the tube's intended use in microphones much.

Through the mounting system of the tube inside the mic, and because the tube's filaments respond to external agitation with a fairly broad spectrum resonance rather than the usual pure sine waves/identifiable notes, the microphonics you get when you tap a VF14 or the mic's housing tube usually don't show up as audible disturbances.

The exception to the above being some of the non-M-selected VF14, and VF14 M approaching the end of their life cycle.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: kats on November 11, 2010, 06:52:36 pm
boogietube wrote on Mon, 01 November 2010 21:18

With all of out modern technology, why can't the famous VF14M be manufactured?

Sean


By now you should be questioning your faith in modern technology.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 11, 2010, 06:58:21 pm
Klaus Heyne wrote on Thu, 11 November 2010 11:37

He is right about the VF14's microphonics-but on a static base only: it does not affect the tube's intended use in microphones much.

Through the mounting system of the tube inside the mic, and because the tube's filaments respond to external agitation with a fairly broad spectrum resonance rather than the usual pure sine waves/identifiable notes, the microphonics you get when you tap a VF14 or the mic's housing tube usually don't show up as audible disturbances.

The exception to the above being some of the non-M-selected VF14, and VF14 M approaching the end of their life cycle.


Yeah.  I'm aware of it being microphonic, but the premise he was asserting was that the tubes were designed for something other than recording music.  I think it probably goes to that urban myth that the tube was developed for Nazi era military radios, or some such story.

I can't see the microphonics being an issue in the recording applications of the late 40s.  We weren't multitracking, and sticking these things 5 inches in front of saxophones, etc.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: boogietube on November 12, 2010, 12:03:46 am
From the wealth of information presented here, I've learned a few things.Thanks folks!
I think the most important thing was about modern technology.
From viewing the video of the hand making of a tube, it is apparent that craftsmanship certainly plays a large role in the reason we can't reproduce the VF14.
A shame, really, and you see it in every modern product. Things were made to last then. Not as much nowadays.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 12, 2010, 01:55:16 am
Oh, it is possible to make the VF14; the production drawings are available, but there is no market large enough.
Telefunken made over 10,000,000 steel tubes, so the machinery and tooling costs spread across that number is minute: For maybe 10,000 VF14 the cost would reach $500 per tube. Yet, even if the tube would be made 100% the same, there still would be some people putting the authenticity in question.

Best regards,

Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 22, 2010, 07:18:22 pm
Good point Oliver. Have you priced out what the initial investment would be to manufacture a vf14 from the ground up?  I am curious to know what kind of money we are talking here.

Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 22, 2010, 07:30:03 pm
In a meeting I had with Neumann executives, 10 (!) years ago, it was calculated a $500K initial investment would be necessary to reproduce the first tube.

This was assuming no technical glitches, and we did not go into the details of the exact Wolfram (tungsten) composition for the cathode, and other metal compositions and manufacturing tricks so important when formulating filaments in tubes.

Needless to say, no Sennheiser executive would green-light such expenditure, given the parent company's disdain for tube-based technologies.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 22, 2010, 07:44:24 pm
Good point Oliver. Have you priced out what the initial investment would be to manufacture a vf14 from the ground up? I am curious to know what kind of money we are talking here.

I was contacted by two organizations that were serious in footing the bill, but after talking to them in detail they figured out very quick that making a real VF14 would be a money losing business.

The cost that Klaus points out was unreal, even 10 years ago.
Just to build the right machinery to vacuum seal the steel envelope (the two metal pieces need 180,000 Ampere at 35V to be joined together), plus the specialty machinery to make the footplate would be about $500,000.

Best regards,
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 22, 2010, 07:56:35 pm
So add the obligatory 25% for,"unforseen" circumstances and we're looking at roughly $625,000 just to manufacture the first tube. Or, was that already calculated in? Do you have an estimate of the number of u47's originally sold, and how many exist today?

I doubt Neumann's aversion to the project was based on disdain for tube mics.  Most likely it was an issue of no single individual wanting to be the schmuck who gave a thumbs up on a potential half million dollar sink hole.  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 22, 2010, 11:15:32 pm
Neumann is now owned by Sennheiser. And even before the take-over, Old Man Sennheiser was never too shy to say in public what he thought of that old tube junk.

Sennheiser is a multi-billion dollar revenue company  which most likely has little patience for VF14 aficionados unless they would bring in profits, which is highly unlikely.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 23, 2010, 02:20:01 am
Less than half a billion actually.  I suggested it was a Neumann call.  I can't imagine a parent company dictating to a subsidiary on "how" they should go about being profitable.  Why have an executive staff at your subsidiaries if you're going to make the calls from the mother ship?  Stranger things have happened I suppose.

Anyway, I have no idea how many u47's were ever made, but if there are 1000 in existence and you got half of those owners to put down $1000 each, you've got your half a mil.  The power of the internet and these types of forums are probably the perfect outlet to communicate and gather data for such a project.

The money we are talking is pocket change for anyone who owns a U47.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on November 23, 2010, 03:16:42 am
According to the latest full annual report, in 2008 Sennheiser was valued at 3.058 billion Euros (   http://www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser/globals.nsf/resources/F inanzbericht2008.pdf/$File/Finanzbericht2008.pdf. page 66)

Very little is Neumann's call anymore. Sennheiser keeps tightening the belts of the boys in Berlin: every part installed in every microphone designed by Neumann's engineeers is scrutinized by Sennheiser manufacturing logistics experts in Sennheiser's Wennebostel factory (where all Neumann mics are now made) to find ways to trim costs further. I could go on.

I don't believe there is a Neumann advocate-inside or outside the company- powerful enough to have the ear of Sennheiser's management for a project like remaking an obsolete speciality tube for... what? A reissue of a U47?  
Where are they going to get the other vital U47 ingredients from to make a credible re-issue?

In the case of revisiting a VF14 or even a U47, your dream would need to be fertilized by individuals with no connection to the original manufacturer of this product. (Besides, Telefunken is long gone, all machining melted down, and no other company made octagonal-socket steel tubes.)

But then, stranger things have happened: Fender, anyone?
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Jakob Erland on November 23, 2010, 07:37:19 am
Klaus Heyne wrote on Tue, 23 November 2010 08:16

 (...) Besides, Telefunken is long gone, all machining melted down, and no other company made octagonal-socket steel tubes.


Valvo did...

Jakob E.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: joeyhavoc on November 23, 2010, 09:33:42 am
rphilbeck wrote on Tue, 23 November 2010 01:20

I suggested it was a Neumann call.  I can't imagine a parent company dictating to a subsidiary on "how" they should go about being profitable.  Why have an executive staff at your subsidiaries if you're going to make the calls from the mother ship?  Stranger things have happened I suppose.


I was an executive for a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro and later an executive for a wholly owned subsidiary of Topps.  In both cases, Hasbro and Topps were publicly held companies who purchased successful privately held companies and made them subsidiaries.

In both cases, the parent company had the authority to veto any "investment spending" in the proposed budget for the upcoming year.  In both cases they dictated the profit level that the subsidiaries needed to achieve and could change those during the budgeting process to force the subsidiary to cut all "discretionary" investment spending.

So yes, Neumann can put in their budget that they would like to set aside $600K for an investment into making VF14 tubes, but Sennheiser can easily tell them their budget is disapproved until they cut another $800K in costs.  I'm not saying that they have done that, but that I have first hand experience in that type of back and forth between a parent company and its subsidiary.

Joe Hauck
AMI, Inc.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 23, 2010, 10:22:53 am
Valvo did...

Philips bought the tubes at Telefunken....

But Tungsram did quasi steeltubes for a short while during the war. Quality was pretty low compared to TFK.

Philips did glass versions, as well as Tesla, Lorenz, and Loewe did.
The quality of those tubes is pretty low due to war time raw material supply.

After the war the former Telefunken plant in Erfurt then Funkwerk made Glassversion of the Steeltube, in 1958 the production was transfered to Muehlhausen (a former Lorenz plant).
The quality of those glass versions are substandard.

Even Telefunken made Glass versions of their steeltubes in Ulm.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 23, 2010, 06:03:18 pm
Well it's fun to hypothesize how it might be done anyway.  I don't own a u47 and I doubt I ever will, but I find this conversation very enlightning and interesting.

I thought that some company had recently recreated the vf14?  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: burp182 on November 23, 2010, 06:38:11 pm
How much does the steel casing play into the sonic characteristics of a VF14M? If it is simply a matter of being a slave to recreation as opposed to an actual sonic issue, I'd buy a glass one. Or five.
I understand that everything else about making tubes in the modern world is a certified nightmare but if the case is one of the major issues in the massive expense, then...
I know this seems like a know-nothing question, but it is something I've wondered about across the years. Education, please, gentlemen.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 23, 2010, 07:53:08 pm
It is possible to make a VF14 replacement tube in a glass envelop, there has been a huge advancement in material science since 1958. But will the market take it up as good enough? That is the difficult question.

If every specialty point of the VF14 is replicated that matters, there should be no problem with a glass envelop, but even making a tube like that is a challenge, the current manufactures are unable to do because nobody has the machines left to make double helix filament.
Sovtek/EH/Reflector started to make spiral filaments a few years back to get better hm rejection, but it is in the end a single Helix filament.

Also the gettering process of the steel tubes was quite unique compared to the standard ring getters. So many points to talk about without getting to a real comparison, unless a tube like that is made.

Best regards,
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 24, 2010, 01:32:08 pm
rphilbeck wrote on Mon, 22 November 2010 23:20

(...) I have no idea how many U47's were ever made, but if there are 1000 in existence and you got half of those owners to put down $1000 each, you've got your half a mil.  The power of the internet and these types of forums are probably the perfect outlet to communicate and gather data for such a project.

The money we are talking is pocket change for anyone who owns a U47.



If you can find a real one for around that price (I bought my last two for that ballpark), then why bother?  

BTW, nobody recreated the tube, recently.  They modified another tube to work in its place, and stuck it inside a steel tube body.  Nobody whose ears I trust has had one to compare against the real thing, so the jury is still out for me.  Besides, that company is not selling them, and is using them for their own mics only, AFAIC.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 26, 2010, 12:42:03 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 24 November 2010 13:32


If you can find a real one for around that price (I bought my last two for that ballpark), then why bother?  




I see your point, but I would think that this supply is getting extremely small, and anyone who understands the value of a u47 sound would be interested in seeing one of the prime components to that sound become readily available.  I found this info online from Oliver Archut:

http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/tag/vf14

Quote:

Oliver Archut

Only 27,500 VF14 tubes were ever made by the original Telefunken company in Germany, and they stopped production in 1958. Only about 1/3 of the VF14’s passed Neumann’s rigorous standards for being considered “microphone grade.” So, with about 9000 tubes and approximately 5500 U47/U48 mics made, there are virtually no spare tubes left.


5500 u47s manufactured.  If half of those still exist you've got 2750 potential buyers.  Anyone who can afford to have a $10k mic is likely not going to think twice about plunking down a grand to assure it's continued operation.  If only 75% of the potential 2750 owners bought a new vf14m than you are looking at a gross profit of $2,062,000.  That's a 400% potential return on a $500,000 investment based on a very conservative estimate of the total opportunity (5500 mics).

P.S.  $1000 per tube is peanuts.  You could easily charge $1500 - $2000 per tube and double those profits.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 26, 2010, 02:22:39 am
You're making a lot of assumptions.  A very big, famous studio in LA has had opportunities to buy VF14s at $2,000  for some of their non functioning U47s, and balked.  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 26, 2010, 11:41:31 am
Very true.  There is going to be some risk in any investment though.  You just have to look at the Risk Of Investing and weigh it out.  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: David Bock on November 26, 2010, 12:18:24 pm
I love it when people who would never provide the cash speculate about the profitability of a venture they think someone else should start.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: compasspnt on November 26, 2010, 01:28:12 pm
Oliver Archut wrote on Mon, 22 November 2010 19:44

Just to build the right machinery to vacuum seal the steel envelope (the two metal pieces need 180,000 Ampere at 35V to be joined together), plus the specialty machinery to make the footplate would be about $500,000.



The $500k mentioned is just for one part of the tooling.

To actually make these finished tubes would cost far, far more than that.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: KB_S1 on November 26, 2010, 01:35:00 pm
Also the startup costs only have been discussed here.
How much per unit?
Delivery, insurance, marketing and so on.

Then there is the difficulty convincing a very cynical and sometimes entrenched target market, as Oliver hinted at.

What would be genuine amortisation levels required?

If someone does go ahead it will be very tough and deserving of enormous respect.
Or they are certifiable.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Fenris Wulf on November 26, 2010, 02:19:29 pm
The precursor of the U47 was created when an industrialized country was taken over by a fascist dictator who relied on vocal inflections to invoke the desired response in his audience, and who devoted unlimited government resources to developing the perfect microphone to reproduce his voice.

That combination of factors is unlikely to happen again, thankfully.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on November 26, 2010, 06:37:41 pm
A friend of mine tried to talk Paul Allen into this adventure recently.  I don't think he got anywhere.  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Tim Campbell on November 26, 2010, 07:55:51 pm
If you could get the right materials I'm sure it would be possible
to handmake small batches of these tubes  with minimal equipment in a glass envelope. A neon sign shop could do the vacuum for you.

If you were going to do this though the AC701 would be much easier to produce.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on November 26, 2010, 11:51:27 pm
dbock wrote on Fri, 26 November 2010 12:18

I love it when people who would never provide the cash speculate about the profitability of a venture they think someone else should start.



You know you really touched on a nerve there because I fully and totally respect any individual or entity's decision to, or not to, invest capital in whatever venture they see fit.

I am not sitting here complaining or whining about how some corporate outfit will not invest their capital to provide me with some esoteric good that I want.  I stated earlier in the thread that I was only speculating, and found the conversation very interesting.  I am simply exploring, learning, and discussing sir.

Let me say again that as a working, taxpaying, employed, and former small business owner that I fully understand, appreciate, and respect any entity's capital and their decision in how to invest it!   I hope that is clear.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Jeff D on November 27, 2010, 02:47:36 am
If a modern VF14 existed I think you'd see new microphones designed around it.  Sales would be far greater than the remaining U47's require.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: ratite on November 27, 2010, 03:29:37 am
I was thinking the same thing.Also people who own 47 inspired mics would be rushing to swap out their EF tubes (and mod their mics) for the new VF.That could be a much larger potential market than original 47 owners.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Tim Campbell on November 27, 2010, 12:24:03 pm
I don't think you'll see a big rush of people designing mics around a modern VF14 if it costs in the ballpark we're discussing.
You can buy AC701's easily at 600 dollars each or much less but you don't see modern designs built around them, only expensive recreations.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: David Bock on November 27, 2010, 06:12:52 pm
Quote:

I am simply exploring, learning, and discussing sir.
I wasn't invested in the thread enough to criticize any one member's contribution, just the speculation in general. What creates a business success is not likely to be a general public internet committee decision.  
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Oliver Archut on November 28, 2010, 10:56:04 am
If you could get the right materials I'm sure it would be possible
to handmake small batches of these tubes with minimal equipment in a glass envelope. A neon sign shop could do the vacuum for you.


Sorry, no neon shop pump will work here. They used just basic mechanical pumps.

Original materials? Hoesch in Hohen-Limburg/Germany made all the needed materials up to 1989 when the plant was closed. There is no off the shelf manufacture anymore, so getting the ball rolling with newly made materials is quite expensive.

AC701? The first 1000 tubes were all hand-built at Ulm, it is possible but even here, just too expensive.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: joeyhavoc on November 29, 2010, 11:28:25 am
KB_S1 wrote on Fri, 26 November 2010 12:35

Also the startup costs only have been discussed here.
How much per unit?
What would be genuine amortisation levels required?

That's the right question and the real problem.

The tooling is $500K.  I believe that the materials could be made again, however, since no one is currently producing them, going and finding a company in the US (or somewhere) who COULD produce them and then working with them to get it right would probably take about 18 months, a lot of development costs and a large minimum order.  Then another 12-24 months would be needed to "practice" making the tubes and fine tuning the production process, destroying raw materials in the process.

A VERY rough ROI (return on investment) scenario looks something like this:

* $1-1.5M cash investment to get to the first acceptable production units ready for sale (maybe)
* 3-4 years until that end result is realized or it is determined that more time and money must be invested or the project should be killed
* Market demand and product pricing is purely a guess at this point

Pending the price, the profit level and the rate of sales, you may be looking at covering the original investment 6 years after the initial investment.  That's a tough sell to any investor.  I don't think that it is impossible, but it will take someone who loves microphones AND has $3M (in case round one doesn't work or the estimates are wrong...) that they are prepared to just throw away if the project does not succeed in the end.

Joe Hauck
AMI, Inc.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: MDM, on December 01, 2010, 12:42:44 pm
So it's not possible to modify EF14 tubes?
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: David Satz on December 08, 2010, 08:51:53 am
Just wondering, since your evidence seems quite strong--if initially, the only prospective market for the VF 14 was that a selection of them would be used in Neumann's U 47, isn't that a rather small quantity of sales to justify Telefunken's developing and producing this new line? I seem to recall that in the early post-war years, Neumann (quite understandably, given the conditions) considered themselves lucky if they could build three or four microphones per week of acceptable quality. It almost seems as if the original economic basis for the VF 14's production was as mismatched with reality as the idea of reproducing it today.

Do we know whether the EF 14 was produced at the same time? And if I recall correctly, there was also a third model with some other filament voltage; was it introduced at the same time as well? Were those other versions more widely sold and/or more profitable for Telefunken than the VF 14, perhaps?

--best regards
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: KB_S1 on December 08, 2010, 09:09:47 am
I am sure others know the facts but as Telefunken were state subsidised, the usual ROI/profit margin arguments probably did not apply.

When the U47 was being produced there was possibly a 'need' for the microphone and not the profit.
Now of course there is no state subsidy or need for that specific product.

There was a use for the lesser grade VF-14 tubes, too, I think, which would spread that cost.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on December 08, 2010, 01:18:34 pm
Maybe we could "vote" it into production.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on December 08, 2010, 02:22:51 pm
David Satz wrote on Wed, 08 December 2010 05:51

Just wondering, since your evidence seems quite strong--if initially, the only prospective market for the VF 14 was that a selection of them would be used in Neumann's U47, isn't that a rather small quantity of sales to justify Telefunken's developing and producing this new line?

The tube was indeed exclusively used by Neumann (see previous posts).
What made the start-up of the VF14 at relatively low expectant numbers feasible:
It was not a new development, but a variant of existing octagonal tubes. Basic start-up construction for a new tube was not necessary, as manufacturing of similarly constructed tubes were already in production at Telefunken, and at high output (EF14, UF14.)

The deviation of the VF14 from similar octagonals-filament arrangement and cathode material-was probably not deemed that much of an extra investment within a giant electric company like Telefunken that it mattered. Besides, who could have foreseen in 1947 the transistor revolution two decades hence?

Quote:

It almost seems as if the original economic basis for the VF 14's production was as mismatched with reality as the idea of reproducing it today.

Given that the machinery for any of the octagonal steel tubes is gone, you can apply that statement to the reality of today.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: MI on December 08, 2010, 03:31:40 pm
rphilbeck wrote on Wed, 08 December 2010 13:18

Maybe we could "vote" it into production.


I would be curious to see how many "Voters" would remain if the producers demanded
a cheque for 2,000$ immediately...I think very few would remain in the room.

MI
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: rphilbeck on December 08, 2010, 05:03:00 pm
MI wrote on Wed, 08 December 2010 15:31

rphilbeck wrote on Wed, 08 December 2010 13:18

Maybe we could "vote" it into production.


I would be curious to see how many "producers" would remain if the voters demanded a cheque for 2,000$ immediately...I think very few would remain in the room.

MI



I switched around some of your words to support the political quip I was trying to make in the original post.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Arf! Mastering on December 08, 2010, 11:38:30 pm
I think the sonic attributes of the VF14 do not live up to its reputation.   It's just a tube, and with a proper transformer and circuit, there are many good tubes that can do the job just as well.  Oliver has amply proven this with a few of his designs. The perception of the U47 as God's microphone, IMO, is thanks to the god-like voices that sang through it - Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, etc., not to any supernatural attribute of the mic itself.   That's not to say that a good U47 doesn't convey an inspirational sound for singer, but, for example, I've heard an aftermarket U47 clone built with an original Neumann K47 capsule and an AC701 tube go up against one of the best all original U47/K47 mics in NYC and you could barely tell the difference.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Klaus Heyne on December 09, 2010, 03:47:14 am
Arf! Mastering wrote on Wed, 08 December 2010 20:38

(...) I've heard an aftermarket U47 clone built with an original Neumann K47 capsule and an AC701 tube go up against one of the best all original U47/K47 mics in NYC and you could barely tell the difference.


Knowing your experienced ears, Alan, then the playback system's resolution must have been pretty poor, or you were not used to the room/speakers/environment.
An AC701 in a U47? It's like a woman in men's clothes- the two shall never be confused.

In this context I wanted to share this: I just finished a U47/K47 Nuvistor re-conversion for a local client whose mic I not only intimately knew, but which I had tweaked to the limit over the years, trying to get "that" U47 sound out of it. The client finally had saved enough money and bought a VF14 on eBay (the parties agreed: I would check the tube out first);
Then I did the conversion. The improvement in the mic's rendering of depth was uncanny. It's as if the mic was telling me: "thanks for giving me back what I needed to make you respond on an emotional, rather than cerebral level!

Give people a relaxed listening environment they are familiar with, exchange just ONE variable in the test set up of a U47- the tube- and I bet you, 99 of 100 listeners will blindly and rather quickly choose a VF14 over any other contender.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: Mike O on December 09, 2010, 09:43:09 am
As info, I happened to notice this VERY strange "U47" (hardly) on ebay yesterday with a 701: http://cgi.ebay.com/Neumann-Telefunken-Vintage-U47-M49-Tube- Microphone-/300502117993?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item 45f7526e69

The text of the auction:

Hello Bidders, Here is a 3 pattern cardioid, figure 8 and omni Telefunken/Neumann U47m (M for Meyer) with AC701 tube.  This microphone was built in Holland from nearly all original Neumann parts and embodies the characteristics of a original Neumann M49 and a Neumann U47.  This microphone will compete with any M49 and U47 out there today at half the price.

Original parts include:

* M7 Capsule,
* AC701 tube,
* German professional vintage Mihak transformer,
* power supply modified to includes 3 pattern selector like an M49
* New nos Neumann elastic spider mount,
* mic body,
* head grill
* connectors and cable.  

Not original is the wooden jewelers box, stand mount connector and other pieces are manufactured to Neumann spec.  Comes with two cable systems, one for the Neumann elastic spider mount and a stand mount connector cabling system.  Everything seen in the pictures are included in the auction.  Buyer pays shipping, Thanks for looking and good luck.  

 
Who knows, might sound great, but a U47 (or an M49) it is not.


Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: radiovinheta on December 09, 2010, 09:54:25 am
Frankenstein mic  Shocked
M49 + U47? I will prefer ONLY a U47 OR an M49...
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: piedpiper on December 09, 2010, 11:36:25 pm
I was also intrigued by this listing. It sounds like it might be closer to an M49 circuit but in a U47 body, with the effects of the head grill being perhaps the only element of the U47. I can't help but wonder that if Neumann had made such a model as a stepping stone between the 47 and 49, how many nay sayers here would be singing its praises.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 10, 2010, 10:25:37 pm
Maybe we should change the name of the thread to "Why Can't People Accept That the VF14 Won't Be Made Again?"
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: David Bock on December 11, 2010, 02:11:28 pm
i wish there was a "like" button for your post, JJ.
Title: Re: Why Can't The VF14M Be Made Again?
Post by: ratite on December 11, 2010, 08:09:37 pm
I don't know,all it takes is one 47- loving Russian energy magnate...