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

Neumann M49V: Complete Tear Down and Analysis

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David Satz:
What is a KM 107 ?

Thank you Klaus, for your predictably intelligent and thorough review of this new release. I've been a big fan of the M249 ever since my first experience with the model some time in the early '90s; it's inspiring to think that Neumann has gotten it right this time: I was one of the poor souls who trusted that the M149 was going to fill this space, purchasing one the minute they became available back when they were released. Oh was I ever wrong about that!

In 2006, you evaluated an M249 that I was considering purchasing. Based on your glowing evaluation, I purchased the mic, and I've never regretted it. It's been the source of some of my favorite recordings since then. Every time I power it up though, I hold my breath... There have been a couple of occasions, one just recently, where the mic wasn't working on startup. I'm not enough of a tech to adequately troubleshoot this mic when it goes down, and as you recently pointed out in another post, qualified mic techs are increasingly rare. And in my experience, it's next to impossible to find NOS AC701Ks.

I know you've already basically stated this, but divesting myself of my M249 is a big decision so at the risk of asking you to be redundant, which I suspect you won't be terribly fond of, am I understanding you correctly that as far as you're concerned, functionally speaking, other than every mic (of the same model) being at least subtly different than every other mic of the same model due to subtle differences in tolerances and such, the M49V is essentially equivalent with a vintage M249? If so, based on your review, I'm pondering selling my beloved vintage M249 and replacing it with an M49V on the assumption that this new version of the mic should be serviceable by Neumann, at least for awhile, compared to the vintage model, which if I understand correctly, once the tube supply is officially extinct, will be an impossibility. Am I thinking clearly?

And one other question: Is the M49V cable assembly that connects mic and power supply identical to the vintage model? My M249 cable appears to be original and has become quite noisy when moved. When the cable is perfectly still the mic sounds beautiful and the idle is quiet, but even the slightest handling of the cable produces significant noise. I'm thinking that it makes sense to either try to purchase a new cable assembly from Neumann, or if that either is technically not going to work or they won't sell the cable assembly separately, can you name replacement connectors that will work with the vintage model?

Should you sell your vintage M249 to replace it with the Reissue? You should not, for the following reasons:

a. Investment.
Why sell an investment that has seen steady growth over the last forty (!) years, whose appreciation has lately risen to astronomical proportions with no reasonable expectation of a trend reversal? Clean specimens like yours are fast approaching $30,000 and more. I advise all my clients: sell equipment that depreciates over time and keep the kind that appreciates. The investment potential of the Reissue is unknown as of yet, regardless of its utility as a superb recording tool.

b. Utility.
Your M249 has proven to be a winner for the type for recording you do. The next vintage M2/49 you may come across or the Reissue you may replace it with may not possess that specific personality that speaks to you, that synergy of all the parts humming the same tune.
At one point I owned fifteen M2/49. I compared all of them repeatedly, endlessly. While they were all of the same family of sound, some were special and spoke to me when others did less so.

c. Emotional attachment.
A very good microphone like yours is a strange beast. It behaves unlike other recording gear*, capable of touching a nerve, hitting our pleasure center, helping us feel music in all its glory. A friend like this is precious - it does not come easy and does not come often.

None of the above should dissuade you from considering the M49V as a serious recording tool that would add another flavor to your tool box, available at a very reasonable price, considering its high quality. It came just at the right time, when M49 prices were running away from less fortunate souls desiring what you already own.


I do not share your worry about AC701** scarcity. I know of at least hundreds, likely a thousand or more of these tubes having been stashed away.
And your cable cracking issue is likely not due to material deterioration but incorrect termination of the cable shield (you can call me and I will explain the likely fix).

* the one exception I have experienced: original Neve 1073/66
** After 1958, the "k" suffix disappeared - the microphonics of that tube were tamed enough that the suffix was dropped. So, no need to chase a unicorn


Words don't adequately express my gratitude for your candor and wisdom; as you tend to do so eloquently with technical questions, you've broken down my multi-faceted concerns into manageable parts—investment, utility, and emotional attachment, and given each an informed, rational look. Brilliant—thank you for giving me exactly what I hoped you might! I experience mics in the same way I experience musical instruments—in fact I think of mics as just one link in a musical/sonic chain. Just as with instruments, each mic comes out of the hands of its maker with unique attributes—some instruments sing and feel good in the hands, some don't.

As for the AC701 situation, first, thanks for the information regarding the "k" suffix—I was completely unaware that the k was dropped in 1958. Over the years I've managed to acquire a couple of spares, one "k" and the other no k. Thanks to you I'm now a bit more hopeful that they both hold relatively equal potential for the next time I need one.

As for the availability of AC701s, as I stated, it's been my experience that it's become next to impossible to find them—I'm not particularly interested in speculative investment, but owning both an M249 and a KM54, and wanting to be able to use them without constantly being concerned that every power-up could be the final one, it would reinforce the rationality of holding on to these two mics if I was certain that if I really needed one, I could find one, so I'm going to believe you and hope that when my time comes, I'll be able to connect with one of those people you indicate are sitting on a stockpile of them.

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.


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