R/E/P > Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab

Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts

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--- Quote from: klaus on July 22, 2021, 12:44:00 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!

--- End quote ---

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?

Hermetech Mastering:
This is sad news for me as I had previously bought replacement KK84 capsules direct from Sennheiser, and would now like to add a pair of KK83 capsules so I can turn my mics into Omnis. I haven't enquired with Sennheiser yet, and I shall, but it doesn't sound hopeful. :( In which case, will I need to find a "middle person"/qualified/registered Neumann tech if I want to order a pair of KK83s? Does anyone have a suggestion for the contact details for one in the EU?

Contact Bruce Gentry (bgentry@sennheiserusa.com) and get the lowdown.
I would hope that KM8x capsules are sold as accessories, rather than spare parts.

Hermetech Mastering:
I'll contact them next week and report back.

Paul Johnson:
It does make me smile a little that trade protection seems a surprise.
I wanted to buy a specific Yamaha product a few years back, not available in the UK but available in Germany. Yamaha UK refused to get one for me, and worse, told me no spares or service whatsoever would be available from them, if I bought one from Germany directly. S it is their product line, they can refuse to sell it.

I can’t see any business advantage to the capsule issue. Most owners of very expensive mics do not do their own repairs, and those that have the skills can easily send off the required numbers and pictures.

Sennheiser does not wish to promote mics made by somebody else with their parts. The profit margin on spares is hardly a money spinner to a big company, but a service. You would not expect somebody like Land Rover to supply engines to the new Grenadier competitor to their products that clearly looks the same, but different enough to be legal.

I have to say I support Sennheiser stand here.


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