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Author Topic: State of the M7 Address?/How Good Is The Current Crop of PVC Capsules?  (Read 3732 times)

PhrazeMaster

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Hi Klaus,

Just wondering if it's time for your State of the M7 address?

I found an old post from you in 2009 in which you were working a little bit with Mr. Thiersch, but I couldn't find any followup to that discussion...did that "collaboration" or "suggestion-sharing" come to an end? Were there any improvements to his PVC Blueline following this?

Just curious, as well as if you had any more thoughts on the current state of M7's. I'm going to build a U47 clone soon, and probably will go with Mr. Theirsch's blueline, but then again I may get a real K47.

Thanks, and although I almost never post, I've imbibed mass quantities of all the great sharing here; thanks all!

Mike
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klaus

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2015, 01:51:07 pm »

The "M7-State" is still in a mess, at least as far as high end capsule connoisseurship is concerned:
Siegfried Thiersch made it clear in conversations with Oliver Archut and emails with me, that he is essentially happy with his PVC M7 products: enough people love and buy them as is, so, what's the point to satisfy a need you don't feel, when the money coming in seems to confirm that decision?

The Thiersch stuff is now widely used by aftermarket modders and vintage copy mic manufacturers, and is a regular subject in Gearslutz capsule discussions. People seem just happy enough with, what I consider, less than 100 percent of aural satisfaction, compared to Berlin's and Gefell's original M7.

No, the Thiersch PVC M7 approach has not changed; these capsules, both the re-diaphragms and the M7 remakes are still too thick and forward in the upper mids, lacking in high frequency transparency and volume, with a boxy bass. No elegance, damn it. None of that immediate, spontaneous YES! There's obviously not enough demand for something better (that's why prices for K47 from the early 1960s are shooting through the roof lately).

I install these PVC copies upon request, especially when adhering to cosmetic authenticity is important to the client-some collectors don't want to mount a different capsule holder and capsule type.

Speaking of which: The current crop of K47/K49 is maddeningly inconsistent in quality. There are a few of these capsule made in the last years, and through 2015, which are absolutely on the same level of audio quality as the ones made before 2002, as good as the famous brass ring versions. Yet, there are too many of the new ones which suffer from the same hardness as the K87/870 suffers from (I talked about this elsewhere). In the final analysis, I still bet on Neumann's capsules, because no one else has so far landed a good shot into the realm of sonic excellence required to make a U47 or M49 truly sing and transport the listener into another world. The technology for excellence is obviously still available to Neumann, even today, judging from the good K87/47 I install.

P.S.: I am not hopeful, now that Oliver is dead, to explore alternative versions, maybe even illegal versions, of PVC material. We had planned to source some of the old, illegal powder, and experiment. I get the sense that the currently available PVC material is at the core of the dissatisfaction with Thiersch and Gefell M7 capsules: the similarity in the type of sonic shortcomings in both products is too great.
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Klaus Heyne
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2015, 02:24:09 pm »

Hi Klaus,

Thanks dearly for such an eloquent and well-thought-out response.

I had the thought to go with a K47/49 as it seemed they would have the Neumann quality you speak of, but now hearing of the inconsistencies it's not so clear...

I would not be surprised if the issue stems from the PVC material itself as you posit; hard to know if no one is willing to even experiment with it.

Complacency is the bane of any business, or life for that matter. It's a shame the other capsule maker isn't interested in taking his work to the next level. It would only result in more business for him, and in fact he could charge a lot more for the same product - win-win situation!

I know there are some "up and comer" capsule makers, such as Dany Bouchard (poctop) at another forum, and Max Kirchner, and also a guy named Eric and also of course our Ben.

So here's the clarion call to capsule makers: there's an unfilled need here. Maybe perhaps you could take it on, and even get some guidance from Klaus...wouldn't that be something?

Thanks again,

Mike
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aremos

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2015, 02:55:33 pm »

... The current crop of K47/K49 is maddeningly inconsistent in quality. There are a few of these capsule made in the last years, and through 2015, which are absolutely on the same level of audio quality as the ones made before 2002, as good as the famous brass ring versions. Yet, there are too many of the new ones which suffer from the same hardness as the K87/870 suffers from (I talked about this elsewhere). In the final analysis, I still bet on Neumann's capsules, because no one else has so far landed a good shot into the realm of sonic excellence required to make a U47 or M49 truly sing and transport the listener into another world. ...

Klaus, I thought you had said that in the last couple of years, or so, the quality of that capsule was up to par again and that you very happy with what was coming out from Nuemann - specially in the U87 & the re-released U47fet. Maybe I'm misunderstanding it?
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klaus

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2015, 04:18:21 pm »

Quote
I had the thought to go with a K47/49 as it seemed they would have the Neumann quality you speak of, but now hearing of the inconsistencies it's not so clear...
I would not be surprised if the issue stems from the PVC material itself as you posit; hard to know if no one is willing to even experiment with it.
Just to be clear: I was referring to Neumann's Mylar large diaphragm capsules. The company does not issue capsules with PVC diaphragms. Gefell and Thiersch PVC capsules are quite consistent.
Quote
Klaus, I thought you had said that in the last couple of years, or so, the quality of that capsule was up to par again and that you very happy with what was coming out from Nuemann - specially in the U87 & the re-released U47fet. Maybe I'm misunderstanding it?

The number of K87/67/870 capsules that were on par with previous series of the same design had increased noticeably in the last couple of years, as I reported, but as someone who goes through quite a few new or almost new U87, i.e. those with capsules which were not abused, in the sum, quality is still maddeningly inconsistent. There seems no middle ground - the capsule is either full-bodied, with pleasant, not overemphasized presence, and with all the high frequency subtleties its original design was famous for, or, when it's bad, i.e. hyper-dry and hyper mid-rangy, it's really ugly and unmusical sounding, and there is not much I can do to alleviate that, even after beefing up low frequency amp response, and various diaphragm manipulations.

It's hard for me to pinpoint the cause of the 'bad' batches, but the hint I have is still what I wrote about before: pinging the diaphragms reveals a noticeably higher diaphragm tension in those capsules with attenuated low frequency response and elevated midrange honk.

In my opinion, the K870 quality inconsistency makes it imperative for any discriminating user to test the actual mic before purchase.

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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2015, 05:09:46 pm »

Well it's a cryin' shame Neumann has consistency issues.

In about 2000 I rented an old U87, and loved it. I then naively went out and bought a new U87ai, and it was absolutely terrible! Nothing like the old saw I had rented, to my chagrin. I still have that mic, and although it's been improved by some of the folks you know, it's just not that great.

Klaus, to be clear, are you saying that the Neumann K47/49 capsules sold new today also have inconsistencies? That was my fallback. I guess the only other option would be to have someone like you or Mr. Grosser hand-pick and install a capsule...

Thanks,

Mike
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klaus

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2015, 07:18:35 pm »

Even Andreas does not have the clout to hand-pick Neumann capsules. They need to have a provable defect to be returnable under warranty.

My sample rate for the K47 is too low to make a definite statement yet that things are back to normal. I bought two or three over the last couple of years. One was superb, the other not so much, and one with hard mids and overall unpleasant.

Then, again, the sample U47fet reissue I reviewed in detail here a while back had an exquisite sounding capsule (no, it was not hand-picked by Neumann for review, but came from a genuine customer).
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2015, 07:24:47 pm »

Thank-you Klaus; that's genuinely useful data.

Tells me it's still a crapshoot...Not sure I want to spend near a grand for something that may or may not live up to the standards Neumann themselves set. Wish there was a way to select the capsule, or at least have the option to exchange it, if it doesn't appear to be up to spec. But that would cause Neumann to lose face...I can see why they wouldn't admit it.

It's amazing how politics and ego can creep into such basic things as buying a product.

I guess you can see why people opt for a known, in the bluelines then...at least the quality is consistently very good, as you said, even if they are ultimately not perfect recreations.

This was great info; thanks!

Mike
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klaus

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2015, 01:27:59 am »

Quote
I guess you can see why people opt for a known, in the bluelines then...at least the quality is consistently very good, as you said, even if they are ultimately not perfect recreations.
That would be a misquote. I don't think the Blue Line PVC capsules are "very good". They are project-studio quality, as anyone who has ever heard a genuine Berlin or Gefell PVC capsule would probably attest to. I would probably not install these in my personal microphones as a first choice, but would more likely search for a pre-2003/4 Microtech Gefell M7, a pre-2002 Neumann K47/49 or a well-selected, current crop, Neumann K47/49.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2015, 01:35:45 am »

Thank-you Klaus. I misunderstood.

I can see there's a lot of passion in you on this subject, and I can understand why...it would be so nice if we had access to high quality M7 capsules new.

Thanks much,

Mike
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PhrazeMaster

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2015, 11:31:46 am »

I just wanted to mention, Max Kirchner at GDIY is actively working on an M7 recreation. He's been experimenting with various PVC formulations, and has been at it for 3 years!

Perhaps this is cause for a little hope...

If it's not inappropriate, here's a quote by him (Klaus please remove if this violates anything):

"Hey Mike,

indeed I'm working on my take on the M7 capsule, on and off since nearly three years now.
I'm experimenting with all kind of different PVC films in various thickness, often sourced from outside EU for regulation issues.
I have come close to what i want it to sound, a pristine original Berlin M7 i use as a reference, but there's still a small difference, and i want to get it 100% right.  Testing is done by myself and by three sound engineers who have a U47s with original M7 capsules.
I recently found a Swiss manufacturer for specialty films and they will send me a couple of samples next week, I'll make an appointment with the research lab for the gold evaporation after that. I have a good feeling with the new film but we'll see."

Thread page found here: http://groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=50694.580

I have cause for a little excitement!
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klaus

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Re: State of the M7 Address?
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2015, 12:33:19 pm »

Thanks for sharing. The quote is appropriate here, it informs the reader of attempts by an individual enthusiast to come up with something new. Let's hope for  good outcome.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com
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