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Author Topic: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts  (Read 1911 times)

Vertigorecording

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Hello All,
I called Sennheiser in Connecticut this morning to get pricing and availability on a new Neumann K49 capsule. I gave the woman the part
number and she told me that Neumann will no longer be selling any capsules or any parts for that matter. All microphones must be sent back to CT for repair. That is a disturbing development for folks like me who need to replace damaged or deteriorated capsules. What now?
Thanks,
Charlie Bolois
Vertigo Recording Services
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser no longer selling new Neumann K49 capsules or any parts
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2021, 06:26:02 PM »

The information you received is only partially correct.
Authorized Neumann repair personell can still receive original Neumann capsules and other core components, but must provide model and serial number of the mic the part is to be installed in.

What you describe as a disturbing development actual makes more sense, once you know the background of the decision:
Manufacturers and DIYers have increasingly resorted to fitting their Neumann copy mics with original Neumann capsules, housing parts, transformers, etc. to improve their products or market position.

Neumann finally turned off the spigot when it had learned that a major copy mic manufacturer was about to launch a Neumann "tribute" mic, using genuine Neumann capsules. 

I don't believe the most famous of the legacy manufacturers has any obligation to lift up and enable the competition, especially when copy manufacturers are not capable to equip their mics with quality components of their own design.
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Klaus Heyne
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gtoledo3

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2021, 08:03:41 PM »

edit:

I had said more, but I’ll just leave it that it’s an unfortunate turn of events.
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Vertigorecording

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2021, 03:04:35 PM »

I understand why they would want to do it; the proliferation of "47" in the model number of almost anything these days would cause them alarm, and then the actual selling point being the use of a genuine K49 in a competitor's inferior product would be the ultimate insult to both reputation and finances.

I have to do the same thing when I purchase API 2520s from API; I have to take a picture and give them a serial number of the item that will be repaired and will receive the new manufacture 2520 op amps when I do the repair, even if they are 50 years old. I get it.

The problem for me is that although I have been restoring and repairing vintage Neumann microphones for about 20 years now, there's nothing "Official" about me so unless I get help from an official associate, I won't be able to perform some repairs. Modern times!

Thanks for the explanation, none the less. Of course, I already knew it instinctively.
-Charlie Bolois
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David Satz

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2021, 05:38:19 PM »

Klaus, does this new rule apply only to the K 49 series, or does it also include other Neumann capsule lines such as the K 67?
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Vertigorecording

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2021, 06:27:45 PM »

I was told by the person on the phone at Sennheiser that I couldn't buy ANY Neumann parts, at all.
-Charlie Bolois
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2021, 08:09:30 PM »

Klaus, does this new rule apply only to the K49 series, or does it also include other Neumann capsule lines such as the K 67?
It probably applies to all capsules. I ran into this with a K47fet recently.
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Klaus Heyne
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soapfoot

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2021, 10:07:06 AM »

I can't help but wonder whether their capsule supply chains might have been getting strained to the point that they were having a difficult time keeping up with in-house demand? (I'd imagine that keeping quality high while scaling up capsule production would be difficult with the amount of skilled handwork that's presumably still required).

It would make even more sense to me if they were inclined to reissue the M49 and U47 (even with substitute tubes). The modern copies of those mics aren't really in direct competition with anything they currently make, and every copy mic built just adds to the mystique of their brand (the third-party copies haven't exactly caused vintage prices to tumble!)

With that in mind, it's hard not to wonder whether--if protectionism is the motive--it might be outmoded thinking (strictly from a business standpoint, if they have the manufacturing capacity, they could probably sell a lot of capsules if they made them easy to buy... and the existence of FLEA etc. don't really seem to be harming their brand)

I've been very encouraged to see that they've reissued the U47FET (with which they did an excellent job) and the U67 (which I also feel is quite good after a tube swap). I can understand the reluctance to modify the U47, M49 and M50 circuits with substitute tubes for reissue, or to use NOS tubes at any kind of scale (not even possible with the VF14M...)

I do really, really wish they'd reissue the KM84 and (especially!) the KM86... but the latter especially seems like a pipe dream (now I've strayed off-topic)

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gtoledo3

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2021, 11:15:23 AM »

I think one odd aspect, is that if someone bought a Warm or UT mic with a Neumann capsule in it from Zen Pro, well they happened to have bought from a Neumann dealer. If they bought a capsule from them, well it was through a dealership.

I think that popping k47C or k49  in mics that directly compete with Neumann is bad form whatever the agreement is, but I can’t help but think that Neumann is now choosing to come down on some of their biggest aficionados with this move, and lose a lot of good will in the process. It doesn’t do Neumann any good to make life harder for the end user when it is really the middle man giving them the problem, and perhaps mainly just one of them.

It is also oddly passive aggressive. You have a dealer doing activity you don’t want, so the reaction is to do something like this to add grief to the actual consumer’s life. I guess they hope people hear through the grapevine about it, and then have…what reaction exactly? If I bought a Neumann mic or part from a Neumann dealer at some point, and now am getting a hard time from Neumann, what is that supposed to make me think about Neumann?

It isn’t the consumer’s place to know all of these backroom agreements that haven’t gone the way Neumann wanted them to, especially when they have in fact still bought from an authorized Neumann dealer.

Every capsule sold comes with a hefty price tag that has to take it well outside of loss leader type status.

I have an M49 that Oliver Archut built with a k49. I bought four more Neumanns after that. So Neumann sold an expensive capsule, and more mics after. How sad for them! I WAS planning on buying more, but it really does give me some pause to see this has happened. I don’t think I will, and I also think I will zip my lips when it comes to recommending the brand. (Not that they need my recommendation.)

The end outcome was all too foreseeable when a well known website would start adding the capsule to actual production level mics in substantial numbers.
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2021, 11:58:14 AM »

I can't help but wonder whether their capsule supply chains might have been getting strained to the point that they were having a difficult time keeping up with in-house demand?

The motivation to stop selling capsules to people who don't own Neumann mics was as I described. The decision was unrelated to the pandemic.

Quote
With that in mind, it's hard not to wonder whether--if protectionism is the motive--it might be outmoded thinking (strictly from a business standpoint, if they have the manufacturing capacity, they could probably sell a lot of capsules if they made them easy to buy... and the existence of FLEA etc. don't really seem to be harming their brand)

Any outside sales of the core microphone component-the one component that defies reverse engineering by the competition-is harmful to a microphone brand's overall market presence. If you sell your $800 capsules to copy manufacturers, you hurt sales of your $7000+ mic, as reverse-engineeering of other microphone parts is easier, and is currently done by 20+ manufacturers of U47 copies alone.
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Klaus Heyne
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2021, 12:08:28 PM »

I think one odd aspect, is that if someone bought a Warm or UT mic with a Neumann capsule in it from Zen Pro, well they happened to have bought from a Neumann dealer. If they bought a capsule from them, well it was through a dealership.

I never heard this story, but I am pretty sure that if that company indeed did what you suggest, latest when the new policy was implemented, it was the last capsule they ever sold.

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It doesn’t do Neumann any good to make life harder for the end user when it is really the middle man giving them the problem, and perhaps mainly just one of them.

The life of the owner of a Neumann mic will not be made harder through this policy change. Any authorized Neumann Service will continue to get Neumann parts. And I believe the abuse of procuring Neumann capsules, to be installed in copy mics, was not limited to just one entity.
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Klaus Heyne
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gtoledo3

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2021, 01:25:03 PM »

Well, status quo with parts availability and procedures may factor in as criteria for a buyer. I know it does for me. If it is easy to get a part mailed to me, and basically any part in production, that factors into a decision to invest in the products from that brand. It is sometimes far preferable to have a part shipped, as opposed to the entire piece of expensive gear.

It is certainly the best judgement call for most buyers to send a mic to an authorized service center, but I think any studio or professional has valid reasons to want to do some things in-house from time to time. I don’t mean to be too critical at all, and I would guess a company wouldn’t make a move like this unless they thought the alternative to be unsustainable. It is too bad they can’t figure out a viable business model that allows for sending parts to mic purchasers, or even selling the parts for whatever a consumer wants to do with it, as products in and of themselves.

It leads to a thought I was having a few weeks ago in regards to the lack of LDC modular heads for the KM system. It seems almost baffling, but I guess maybe they can’t figure out a viable price point and not gut sales of other mics? Are they so worried people would buy them to pop the capsules out that it would factor in? That can’t be right, could it?
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soapfoot

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2021, 10:05:54 PM »

Any outside sales of the core microphone component-the one component that defies reverse engineering by the competition-is harmful to a microphone brand's overall market presence. If you sell your $800 capsules to copy manufacturers, you hurt sales of your $7000+ mic, as reverse-engineeering of other microphone parts is easier, and is currently done by 20+ manufacturers of U47 copies alone.

It would seem to stand to reason, but I wonder whether this is supported by data?

The automotive industry seems to violate this principle all the time, and has for decades.

Ford Motor Company sold the Cleveland V8 to many smaller boutique car manufacturers (De Tomaso and their Pantera come to mind), and this didn't seem to harm Ford's sales.

The 1990s Lotus Esprit used taillights from the Toyota Corolla, and the Lotus Elise used the Corolla's engine. The Lamborghini Diablo used headlights from a Nissan 300Z.

For higher-end brands... Mercedes Benz has supplied engines to supercar manufacturer Pagani for about 20 years, if I'm not mistaken... the list goes on.

Maybe microphones are different for some reason... but I wonder whether there's any data to support the notion that supplying OEM capsules to a third party would actually harm Neumann's sales?
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2021, 12:44:00 PM »

No, microphone companies are not different from car manufacturers who sell tail lights or even engines to other usually smallish car makers.

But here is why your analogy may be off:
I cannot imagine GM selling engines to DeTomaso if they had the gall to perfectly copy the shape and looks of a Chevrolet, including planting a Chevy logo on the hood of the imposter!
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Klaus Heyne
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David Satz

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2021, 01:19:20 PM »

I can perfectly well understand Neumann's motivation. Why should they prop up their competition by providing the single most important component that determines the sound of a microphone?

Let the imitators struggle to imitate as best they can. Don't relieve them of the dirty work.
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afterlifestudios

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2021, 01:28:11 AM »

I can perfectly well understand Neumann's motivation. Why should they prop up their competition by providing the single most important component that determines the sound of a microphone?

Let the imitators struggle to imitate as best they can. Don't relieve them of the dirty work.

Fully agree.
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gtoledo3

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2021, 09:21:24 AM »

I can perfectly well understand Neumann's motivation. Why should they prop up their competition by providing the single most important component that determines the sound of a microphone?

Let the imitators struggle to imitate as best they can. Don't relieve them of the dirty work.

There is a pretty wide gap between that and stopping someone from ordering a single capsule. I think it’s pathetic to make the lives of the end consumer harder, while some parties involved go right on selling Neumann gear. https://www.zenproaudio.com/brands/Neumann.html

It feels like watching someone get bullied or cheated, and they are too scared to do anything to the
bully so they turn around and slap their friend.

To be very clear, what is pathetic is for Neumann to allow a dealer who was behind doing this to keep on with their sales of Neumann product, while retaliating against the consumers who had nothing to do with it. If Neumann is threatened by someone buying a single capsule, let them close the doors now. Some guy who bought a vintage Sela mic or something like that is now out of luck while actual perpetrators go on business as usual. Not so admirable.
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2021, 11:43:06 AM »

... while some parties involved go right on selling Neumann gear. https://www.zenproaudio.com/brands/Neumann.html

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To be very clear, what is pathetic is for Neumann to allow a dealer who was behind doing this to keep on with their sales of Neumann product

I am not aware how this particular company enabled Neumann copy products to be equipped with original Neumann capsules, yet continues as authorized Neumann dealer. To verify and support this notion, can you please cite a reference? Thanks.
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Klaus Heyne
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gtoledo3

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2021, 02:12:24 PM »

I am not aware how this particular company enabled Neumann copy products to be equipped with original Neumann capsules, yet continues as authorized Neumann dealer. To verify and support this notion, can you please cite a reference? Thanks.

Klaus, unfortunately it is difficult to because the sales were hosted at their site and are no longer active pages. This is one of the relevant URLs, which now just goes to a “page not found”: https://www.zenproaudio.com/warm-audio-wa-47-zenpro-mod-edition

But here is a wayback archive link: http://web.archive.org/web/20201220184340/https://www.zenproaudio.com/warm-audio-wa-47-zenpro-mod-edition

The related audio file is here: https://www.zenproaudiofiles.com/ZPA-Files/Warm-Audio-WA47-Mod-WAV.zip

There is another vestige of it in the language here, but the Neumann related “mods” have been taken down:

https://www.zenproaudio.com/on-sale/limited-time/warm-audio-mic-mods

“ZenPro takes these great mics into dangerous territory with the addition of original Neumann and AKG capsule mods”.
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klaus

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2021, 03:12:06 PM »

Thanks. I cannot comment on Sennheiser's motives to dump, punish or retain retailers of their products, but it seems clear that appropriating Neumann capsules when your own capsule does not cut it has been stopped.

To paraphrase David Satz: make your own capsules if you want to be in the microphone business!
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Klaus Heyne
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soapfoot

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Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2021, 10:00:04 PM »

But here is why your analogy may be off:
I cannot imagine GM selling engines to DeTomaso if they had the gall to perfectly copy the shape and looks of a Chevrolet, including planting a Chevy logo on the hood of the imposter!

In that case, I don't think ceasing to supply engines would be the first mode of recourse, as the issue would be trademark infringement!

Similarly, I remain dubious that such a blunt instrument (ceasing capsule sales to all third parties) is really the most effective tool for addressing the specific issues of trade dress infringement. If a copier were forced to quietly substitute another capsule, would that necessarily be fatal to their business selling imitations?

The broader root issue, in my view, is that there is clearly a significant demand for microphones in the style of Neumann's vintage classics. And like any unfilled demand, it will find a way to get satisfied, by hook or by crook.

I'm sure the preferred choice of most consumers would be for Neumann to offer products like KM84s and quality substitute-tube versions of U47s, U48s, M49s, and M50s (as manufacturers like FLEA and Telefunken USA do). If you owned a commercial studio, wouldn't you prefer your gear list to feature the name brand that prospective clients already know and trust? (I can say from firsthand experience that this matters).

The U47FET and U67 reissues are positive indications that this is on Neumann's radar, at least. But should they instead choose to try and steer consumer demand (toward their nascent technologies) rather than fulfill it (with mature technologies that have become industry standards), there will remain immense market pressure for imitators to fill the void... and those imitators will continue to find an audience (genuine Neumann parts or no).

There may be a good reason I'm not in the business of selling microphones. But wouldn't it make more sense for Neumann to tap into (and profit from) this demand--either by reissuing more of the classics, or by licensing and/or supplying licensed OEM component parts to those manufacturers who will?

I (or any builder) can buy a Fender-licensed Stratocaster neck from Allparts or Warmoth, complete with trademarked headstock silhouette. Fender profits from each sale.

If Neumann have no interest in making a U48, is there a compelling reason why they shouldn't do something broadly-similar and sell OEM K47s to FLEA, demanding a steep licensing fee for their use?

FLEA would probably play ball on the hefty licensing fee if it meant they got to say "now featuring genuine Neumann™ K47." And as long as Neumann could terminate the arrangement if/when they decide to make their own competing product, what would be the downside?
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