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

Neumann M49V: Complete Tear Down and Analysis

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klaus:

--- Quote from: gtoledo3 on November 23, 2022, 10:52:34 AM ---(...) The sonic difference between the new and old is audible across multiple units, in person and in recording.
Just factors I have considered in assessing the idea of purchase.

--- End quote ---
Do you have personal recording experience with the M49V? Or are you basing your opinions of the sound of this mic entirely on internet "shootouts"?

gtoledo3:
Yes, two units, two different owners. Multiple sources, alongside more than one original M49, “clones”, and other high quality mics. However, the focus was on music making, not in depth comparison.

When I refer to “recordings” overall, I’m speaking of those mics *as well as* other recordings people have shared that have been made with M49V.

They are very fine mics, especially if one is considering comparison to currently manufactured tube mics. That’s a more clearcut thing to me, vs how it compares to vintage. I didn’t really want to get into that kind of characterization because in my view, how much one cares about some perception of difference is kind of personal, somewhat nebulous, and may change depending on context.

BUT, I do think it is often possible to zoom in on some audible phenomena, even very small, and fairly reliably detect it. What is a bit of a head trip for me, is the way something can start out as a small difference. Yet, if I can consistently detect it, is it small? This is the kind of thing that get pretty philosophical. This is what I mean by nebulous. I think I hear consistent differences in the rendering of consonant sounds and another kind of difference in the low midrange.

klaus:
Thanks for your clarification.

brucekaphan:
A couple of days ago, I took Klaus up on the invitation he posted in this thread to phone him for his advice on reasons why the cable for my M249 might be microphonic.

We had a predictably informative and interesting conversation. If I understood him correctly, Klaus explained in detail that if the cable was the original Doerffler cable (rather thick, dark grey, no graphics), and if the cable had been well maintained (no pinching under closed doors, etc.), and if the cable was properly terminated, there was no good reason to think that the cable shouldn't be perfectly functional, even though in all likelihood the cable is approximately 58 years old.

Based on its appearance and experience with other Neumann mics from the '60s, I believe the cable is the original Doerffler. Klaus said that off the top of his head he wasn't 100% certain, but for a properly terminated cable, he thought he remembered that for the M249, the center pin (I later saw in schematics online that this is considered to be "Pin 7") should be tied to Pin 3, and that both of these should be tied to the shell of both connectors connectors.

Though my German is sorely lacking, I sought out schematics online and to the best of my ability verified that Klaus was right about the assignment of ground to pins 3, 7, and connector shells. Using my ohm meter, I tested these connections, and all connections were solid. Klaus said that if the termination was properly done, the next thing to suspect was that at some point, the cable might have been pinched, disrupting the shield. Following his recommendation, I carefully ran the cable through my fingers, trying to find physical evidence of such a disruption. I couldn't see or feel any damage to the exterior of the cable, and didn't feel any anomalies underneath the jacket of the cable.

The first time I noticed the cable being microphonic, it was when I was testing the microphone after it had returned from repair at Tom Onofrio's shop. I didn't bother to put the mic on a stand—I was holding it in my hands. I can't remember ever having done that before, so the microphone cable had always been stationary, fed along a mic stand, and even now, with the cable having proven itself microphonic when handled, it still doesn't present a problem when the cable is stationary.

I don't like the idea of there being even a small possibility that a good take could be marred by a singer or player moving around a mic and the cable reacting noisily, so after exhausting the suggestions that Klaus had given me, I powered up the mic, ran it through some headphones and once again carefully ran the cable through my fingers. I held one end of the cable still with one hand, and twisted and pinched the other side of the cable with my other hand. Sure enough, at approximately eight feet away from the microphone end, the cable was microphonic in the same way I had noticed the one time I had hand-held the mic. The other twenty or so feet of cable are dead quiet. My studio is small, so it's a no brainer to lose the eight microphonic feet at some point in the near future.

Thank you Klaus for the instructive and helpful phone conversation. I hope this post pays your kindness forward.

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