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R/E/P => Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab => Topic started by: Vertigorecording on July 13, 2021, 11:55:24 AM

Title: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: Vertigorecording on July 13, 2021, 11:55:24 AM
Hello All,
I called Sennheiser in Connecticut this morning to get pricing and availability on a new Neumann K49 capsule. I gave the part
number and was told that Neumann will no longer be selling any capsules, or any parts, for that matter.
All microphones must be sent back to Connecticut 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
Title: Re: Sennheiser no longer selling new Neumann K49 capsules or any parts
Post by: klaus 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 sense, once you know the background for the decision:
Manufacturers and DIYers have increasingly resorted to fitting their Neumann copy mics with original Neumann capsules, housing parts, transformers, etc. to improve the sound of their products or their resale value.

Neumann finally turned off the spigot when it had learned that a major copy mic manufacturer was about to launch a line of Neumann "tribute" mics 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 making.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 on July 13, 2021, 08:03:41 PM
edit:

I had said more, but Iíll just leave it that itís an unfortunate turn of events.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: Vertigorecording 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
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: David Satz 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?
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: Vertigorecording 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
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus 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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: soapfoot 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)

Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 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 canít 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 doesnít 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 donít want, so the reaction is to do something like this to add grief to the actual consumerís life. I guess they hope people hear through the grapevine about it, and then haveÖwhat 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 isnít the consumerís place to know all of these backroom agreements that havenít 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 donít 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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus on July 15, 2021, 11:58:14 AM
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?

Try to even as little as change the dial or hands on a Rolex watch you own to a different color. Guess what? You have to surrender your old parts in order to obtain the genuine replacement parts from Rolex and Rolex alone. Why? Because of the lucrative market for fake Rolexes with real Rolex parts to help sprucing them up. Rolex obviously believes that these actions protect the high value of the brand.
So, it could actually be worse with Neumann- at least you don't have to surrender you old capsule...

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)

See my comments above.
Name one high-end company in any market which sells famous core components of their products to help the competition sell theirs.

Any third-party sales of Neumann's capsule- its core microphone component, the one component that defies reverse engineering by the competition-is harmful to the Neumann brand and Neumann's overall market presence. Besides, if you regularly sell your $800 capsules to copy manufacturers, you hurt sales of your $7000+ mics, as reverse-engineering of other microphone parts is easier, and is currently done by 20+ manufacturers of U47 copy mics alone.

Quote
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.
How would you distinguish legitimate from illegitimate sales of core parts a continent or two away? Selling one capsule to a DIY'er is ok? Three is still OK? Five? Not practical and again, not adding value to the company or its standing.
I don't believe the life of the owner of a Neumann mic will be made harder through this policy change. Any authorized Neumann Service will continue to procure Neumann parts.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus 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.

Quote
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.

I don't believe the life of the owner of a Neumann mic will be made harder through this policy change. Any authorized Neumann Service will continue to get and sell Neumann parts. And I believe the abuse of procuring Neumann capsules to then be installed in copy mics, was not limited to just one entity.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 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 donít mean to be too critical at all, and I would guess a company wouldnít make a move like this unless they thought the alternative to be unsustainable. It is too bad they canít 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 canít 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 canít be right, could it?
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: soapfoot 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?
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus 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!
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: David Satz 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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: afterlifestudios 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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus 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

Quote
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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 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 ďpage not foundĒ: 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 ďmodsĒ have been taken down:

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

ďZenPro takes these great mics into dangerous territory with the addition of original Neumann and AKG capsule modsĒ.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus 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!
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: soapfoot 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 Neumannô 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?
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: Hermetech Mastering on October 22, 2021, 03:58:46 AM
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?
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus on October 22, 2021, 11:35:05 PM
Contact Bruce Gentry ([email protected]) and get the lowdown.
I would hope that KM8x capsules are sold as accessories, rather than spare parts.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: Hermetech Mastering on October 23, 2021, 06:09:54 AM
I'll contact them next week and report back.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: Paul Johnson on October 24, 2021, 03:50:02 AM
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.
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: klaus on October 24, 2021, 11:33:44 AM
I can’t see any business advantage to the capsule issue.

Let's say, a company copies my mics, even uses the exact same shape and name of my mics, but lacks my company's skills in capsule manufacturing. In order for that company to compete better against my products, it now wants to purchase (through a middleman) quantities of my company's world-famous capsules. If I were to let this go through, I would invite a huge business disadvantage for my company.

I don't believe that a better control over who gets Neumann parts, specifically replacement capsules, is about Sennheiser grabbing service business by choking off parts to independent service organizations. I see it as a necessary response to an abuse of the previous, all-too generous policy.

The collateral damage caused by this brazen attempt to the rest of us Neumann owners is regrettable, but ultimately, I am sure, will be worked out by Neumann, so that any owner of a Neumann mic will continue to get access to Neumann parts.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: ilcaccillo on January 11, 2022, 11:17:55 PM
Last month I asked for a price quote for a K49 capsule from my local Neumann distributor and received a quick reply with a quotation for the capsule. No need to explain the reasons or give the serial number of the M149 microphone it was supposed to be installed in.

By the way the price quote was 859€ (VAT included)
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 12, 2022, 02:07:43 AM
Did you purchase and have you received the capsule?
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: Jim Williams on January 12, 2022, 11:04:46 AM
I installed a K-89 capsule inside a cheap mic for Ty Ford. That capsule was a left over from a repair. The back side didn't work but in cardiode it worked fine. It's an excellent sounding mic.

My Wife's Honda Civic has 3 Ferrari stickers on it. It's Ferrari red so it does turn a lot of heads.

"People are going to do what they do"  ~ Nancy Pelosi
Title: Re: Sennheiser No Longer Selling New Neumann K49 Capsules or Any Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 14, 2022, 12:26:38 PM
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 can't speak for Land Rover, but the "Big 3" US automakers--Chevrolet, Ford or Mopar-- will all sell a crate engine to whomever wants to buy one.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 14, 2022, 01:58:20 PM
...as long as "whoever wants one" does not also then copy a Ford, GM or Chrysler automobile - even if just in its outline.
That's when the lawyers are activated.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 14, 2022, 02:55:37 PM
Many of those crate motors go in kit car replicas of the Shelby Cobra--a car that Ford no longer makes and appears to have no interest in making (kind of like Neumann and the U47, or KM84!)

More on-topic: If Neumann have no interest in fulfilling the robust demand for legacy products like the KM84, I'm not sure I understand declining money from potential customers who will do the best they can to fill that demand on their own--with or without Neumann's capsules (particularly as the new policy also makes service of genuine Neumanns more-burdensome for any commercial studio's technical staff).

I have respect for everyone who believes that declining to sell product is good business. I just don't happen to agree.

I recognize that commercial studios with in-house technical staff probably represent the minority of Neumann's business now, but I've personally replaced the capsule on one of our U87s, and the total turnaround--from ordering and receiving the part to doing the swap--was much faster than the turnaround that would've accompanied shipping to an authorized repair facility.

It seems as though compromising this facet of professional use is seen as collateral damage for the sake of maybe slightly discouraging the copying of mics that Neumann isn't even interested in making any longer.

This is disappointing, but is probably in line with broader industry trends of "protectionism at the expense of professional user" (ever tried to get a service manual or even schematic for a pro-market audio product made after the year 2000? What about replacing an IC in a Distressor... the part numbers are sanded off!)

With the "right to repair" movement gaining strength (https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/what-is-right-to-repair/) and even having some legislative victories, I expect that Neumann will ultimately prove to be lagging on this issue.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 14, 2022, 05:36:57 PM
If you can corroborate that Neumann will not sell you a capsule for a mic you own, and for which you can provide a serial number, please let me know and I will investigate what I can do about this.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 14, 2022, 08:42:00 PM
If you can corroborate that Neumann will not sell you a capsule for a mic you own, and for which you can provide a serial number, please let me know and I will investigate what I can do about this.

I see, I may have spoken out of turn if they are still providing repair parts to individual customers. The original post of this thread says:

Quote
I called Sennheiser in Connecticut this morning to get pricing and availability on a new Neumann K49 capsule. I gave the part
number and was told that Neumann will no longer be selling any capsules, or any parts, for that matter.
All microphones must be sent back to Connecticut for repair.

I think I must have forgotten that you replied with the info that they will still sell to individuals provided they share the serial number of the mic they wish to repair.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 on January 15, 2022, 01:01:09 AM
I doubt that Neumann is appreciably losing sales because of this, but I did recently choose not to buy Neumann, and instead bought (multiple of) a competitor’s product, specifically because this irritates me. I realize that’s probably weird!

My view is, I am the client. If I don’t want to be bothered to get up to look at a serial number, I shouldn’t have to if I know the part I want to buy. Further, I think if I have bought products and I want some other part for - for whatever reason - it’s just, shut up and sell me the part! It’s just the courtesy I expect for spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on a company’s products.

These kinds of added aggravations are, on a fundamental level, in precise opposition to what I seek get to out of the art of music and recording to begin with.

I dislike when industry leaders make moves like this that are overall injurious to the profession and art. (I can’t help but think of a major manufacturer who refuses to publish frequency response for their mics….Oh, now I’m remembering two). When Neumann does this with the parts supply, it just gives other companies an excuse to.

I think it’s out of sync with older ideas about service and professionalism. The parts service I describe expecting isn’t a daydream, I’m just describing the service I’ve had in the past from many companies *as well as Neumann*. And you still do get that kind of parts service from many of the long running companies.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 15, 2022, 01:42:55 PM
Quote
... just the courtesy I expect for spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on a company’s products.
But what if one day you won't be able to spend your money on an excellent product from that company anymore, because the company went out of business, as a consequence of unscrupulous business practices by a competitor who sold an inferior product camouflaging as the real thing?

How is that preferable to reining in these abuses before it's too late?

Put simply: I'd rather go through a few hoops buying an essential part that will revive the signature sound of my excellent product than not being able to ever buy that part again because the company folded.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 on January 15, 2022, 04:31:34 PM
I agree with, and am sympathetic to the concerns.

The most constructive thing I can do would just be to describe purchasing scenarios I find myself in.

If I am in control of purchasing a number of mics that will ultimately be used for tv/streaming/podcast type production, I have to consider all of the real world factors involved. There are obviously many concerns to weigh.

One issue, is that in the situation where maintenance on a mic has to occur, if the product is limited to having to be sent through the mail for service, you start getting into issues with the insurance, shipping, keeping track of the gear, etc. In some cases you simply canít insure the full value of the gear, and if you can, it amounts to quite a bit of money. Neumann is very competent, and their service is an upside in some ways, but it just doesnít suit every situation.

Then you have turnaround time to consider. You also have to consider what the staff/crew of a company or production actually would want to or be able to easily deal with. Funny enough, Neumannís current status quo with this is kind of a pain for people who arenít very technical, while also kind of objective/offensive to productions that DO have competent techs on hand.

As much as I think that Neumann has a lot of great options sonically, the real world factors increasingly lead Neumann to miss out on a lot of mic sales that would be my call to make. Iím sure that most people do not care about extra hoops to jump through or whatever, but anytime I can head off a potential time drain/aggravation/lost item/potential of shipping damage/needless employee hrs, before any of it happensÖwell, thatís going to likely be the way I go.

When I knew you could go onto B&H and a handful of other websites, and that you could order parts to have on hand, it is much more reasonable to make the decision to purchase Neumann.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: ilcaccillo on January 19, 2022, 06:54:33 PM
Did you purchase and have you received the capsule?

No I didn't order it in the end, because a simple cleaning fixed the K49 capsule we had.
But I could have ordered if I wanted, the distributor was just waiting for my decision whether to order.

Description was "T3-053291 - K49 microphone capsule"
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: David Satz on January 21, 2022, 12:20:01 AM
If I understand Neumann's decades-long position on this--they sell complete capsule heads (Kapselkopf = "KK"), which are modular and field-replaceable by a typical recording engineer using reasonable care. Studios and broadcast organizations that use dozens of Neumann microphones could reasonably keep a few of each type of capsule head on hand, so that a session need not be interrupted for long in the event of a failure. Other leading manufacturers have long done this as well for at least some of their professionally-oriented products. And as far as I'm aware there's been no change in Neumann's policy about selling capsule heads to any customer who wants to buy one (someone please tell me if I'm wrong about that).

The actual capsule (Kapsel = "K"), however, isn't field-replaceable in any manufacturer's professional condenser microphones that I know of. In Neumann's small-diaphragm microphones the capsule isn't replaceable even on a repair bench--not even by Neumann themselves! If you send Neumann a KM 84 or 184 for repair and the capsule proves to be defective, a new complete capsule head is the only remedy that they offer. Such is the level of modularity that they've designed into that class of product for a variety of reasons. With Neumann's large-diaphragm microphones the capsule itself can be replaced, saving you considerable expense. But to do so requires a repair environment, plus skills and knowledge that a typical recording engineer can't be assumed to have. Most recording engineers I know don't use soldering irons regularly or skillfully if at all.

So you may well have a "right to repair" a product that you buy--but if you lack the skills, knowledge and equipment and you botch the job, you can't hold the manufacturer responsible. Sometimes reasonable care means not doing it yourself, even though you wish you could. I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that manufacturers are within their rights to be cautious about who they sell certain repair parts to, when they know from hard experience that those parts can't be installed properly by many customers. Some would even say that they have a duty to avoid implying that "just anyone" can install those parts properly.

I can also understand very well their being cautious when they know that some of those parts aren't being used for repairs at all, but as key, value-enhancing components in competing products. Since Neumann is by choice a manufacturer and seller of condenser microphones, not a commodity parts manufacturer, as I see it they have a right to choose not to be in that business.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 21, 2022, 11:30:40 AM
Under current law they do have that right, and it's probably reasonable that they retain it (even if I don't like it or agree with the reasoning).

It's also reasonable, in my view, that customers retain the right to assess for themselves whether they're capable of carrying out a repair (on a product they own, using replacement parts they buy). Many people would botch their first brake job, too--but we can all go to AutoZone, buy pads and rotors, and give it a go.

I find the view that companies are "protecting us from ourselves" to be needlessly paternalistic, particularly when there's no risk of bodily injury. Manufacturers of smart phones and automobiles are increasingly adopting that view, and I don't see it as an improvement for the end user. The ability to carry out small repairs with proper instructions isn't exceedingly rare.

Replacing the capsule in a U87 requires a couple of solder connections, a clean space, and a lot of care. I succeeded on my first try and have done it multiple times since. Much easier, in my view, than replacing brake pads and rotors!
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: Jim Williams on January 21, 2022, 11:47:54 AM
It's a private company. They can make the rules they want. If a customer doesn't like that they can buy a competing product.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: Kai on January 21, 2022, 12:54:15 PM
It's a private company. They can make the rules they want. If a customer doesn't like that they can buy a competing product.
For EU the legal situation has changed since March 01. 2021:

Manufactures must provide spare parts at least during a period of 7 to 10 years from sales to a qualified repair shop.

Since Neumann uses the same capsules in current models, this period will not end up soon.

Basically this rule is for various domestic electric and electronic devices, but there is no reason why it shouldnít be applicable for other electronics.
The wind has changed in Germany, in our new government the ecological party participates.
Sustainability and repairability becomes mandatory.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 21, 2022, 04:00:22 PM
We're lagging this policy in the States, but only slightly. On July 9, 2021 a presidential executive order was signed instructing the Federal Trade Commission to enact policies that require manufacturers to offer parts to individuals and independent repair shops.

At this stage, I understand that these policies do not yet have the force of law, but at least some political will appears to be there.

As you said, the initiative is more about reducing e-waste (and the environmental impacts thereof) than consumer protection--at least ostensibly. But the growing movement of people interested in the consumer protection side have not been shy with their advocacy, either.

While it's unlikely that many U87s end up in the landfill, Neumann is a manufacturer of electronics and will certainly be held to the same standards as other manufacturers of electronics if/when these policies develop into binding regulations.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: uwe ret on January 21, 2022, 04:57:05 PM
How do you define spare parts?
For Neumann that may mean for end users the complete head assembly. Arguably, in the interest of assuring to meet the manufacturer's specifications, the capsule is considered an integral part of the microphone head. As such it should not be available separately to unqualified buyers.

So, where do you draw the line defining 'parts'? The diaphragms are 'parts' of the capsule, as are the back plates, screws, spacers etc. Shall the manufacturer be obliged to stock and supply them as spare parts for repair?
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 21, 2022, 08:02:22 PM
Just to remind everyone:

Neumann stopped selling capsules without proof of microphone ownership because a competitor company wanted to use these capsules for a new microphone line to be launched and that was unrelated to the Neumann brand.

This was not about preventing the sale of 'spare' parts to repair existing Neumann mics.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: gtoledo3 on January 22, 2022, 12:47:37 PM
One aspect of Neumann asking for serial numbers that I find distasteful is that historically they have been insanely indiscreet with that information, sharing it in public, in print, near countless times.

I shouldnít have to exchange that information to get parts Iíve been able to buy on websites for, what, a couple decades now?
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 22, 2022, 01:05:01 PM
That's why they stopped publishing serial number data linked to owners of mics.

The process currently used is uncontroversial. It's only a two-way conversation between owner and company which is not shared with third parties.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 23, 2022, 02:25:59 AM
Klaus, I wonder whether you've got information on how Neumann is administrating the serial number check, or do you know someone whom we can ask?

If someone supplies Neumann with a valid serial number upon request, do they simply trust that the person actually owns the microphone, or is some proof of purchase required?

If the former, I'm not sure much would stop a determined DIY enthusiast from simply "borrowing" the serial number of a perfectly-functioning mic (owned by themselves or a colleague... or even an eBay/Reverb photo!). But the requirement probably would prevent someone from ordering several hundred capsules at once for a production run (which may be the only real goal here?)

A proof of purchase requirement could make things tricky with older vintage mics, particularly those that might have had parts swapped out over the years. One of our U77s actually has a body tube from a U67 (it came to us that way) so determining provenance could get messy.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: klaus on January 23, 2022, 03:11:37 AM
Stating model and serial number of the mic when I order a capsule has been sufficient so far to avoid Neumann microphone detectives knocking at my door.

Come to think about it: the way mics are bought and sold would make it impossible for anyone to trace ownership changes, especially for a small staff at Neumann who probably has better things to do in times of Covid.
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: ilcaccillo on January 23, 2022, 12:25:05 PM
Just to remind everyone:

Neumann stopped selling capsules without proof of microphone ownership

Just to be clear, in my country I can buy the K49 capsule (T3-053291 - K49 microphone capsule) directly from Neumann's distributor without having to provide a serial number or any proof of microphone ownership.
Maybe it's not the same everywhere (I'm located in Europe)

I received a pro-forma invoice for it
Title: Re: Neumann/Sennheiser Stopped Selling Capsules And Other Parts
Post by: soapfoot on January 23, 2022, 02:42:54 PM
Based on the last two responses, this whole thing might have been a tempest in a teacup