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Author Topic: M49: Does it look authentic? Does it Matter?  (Read 25983 times)

brightmillion

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M49: Does it look authentic? Does it Matter?
« on: November 13, 2013, 06:10:25 AM »

Hi everyone,
My first post here, been lurking at all the posts in this forum, but since I don't know much about vintage mics, i don't have a lot to add.. but thank you all for the great info, i have learned a lot!! I am on the hunt for my first of the "big five" and thought I'd pick your brains.

I am looking at an M49 and am going to have it checked out in person by someone to verify, but I though I'd post a few pics to see if there is anything that stands out to you experts about this mic. Seller says it is all original including capsule and tube,so hopefully it is  :)  For all I know, those could be radioshack parts in there or macaroni noodles.. so thats why I'm asking those who know!

I assume, Klaus, you are far too busy to do a buyer inspection service, but can anyone recommend a tech to have this looked at? I have read here that James Gangwer is recommended for this type of thing?

(thanks in advance for any input!)

here we go::






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brightmillion

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2013, 06:27:17 AM »

These are the only photos I have received so far, I don't have the mic in my hands...I have been communicating with seller (in the same town as me) but by email. I will ask for more close up photos, including the serial number plate.

On a quick look does it seem even worth checking in to? I really don't know the inside of a M49 at all and I don't want to waste anyone's time on this forum.

thank you
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klaus

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2013, 06:46:07 AM »

I'll help you out, especially because you posted before my lengthy response. The exact information on the i.d. plate (exact microphone type and serial number, as printed on the plate) are very important here.
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Klaus Heyne
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brightmillion

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 07:21:31 AM »

I apologize if I have offended or seem just trying to make financial gain. I am more than willing to pay to have this mic authenticated and assume that I need to pay for this service. - (I did say this in my original post) - I am not just trying to get free info and run -  I have actually sent you an email last week from your website inquiring about your services and asking if you are able to offer this service for hire.  I assumed from what else I have read in this forum, you are far too busy to offer this sort of inspection service and I may not hear back, and I very much understand that.

My intention from the get go was to have this mic sent to a pro mic tech to have checked out- because, yes, I am new to vintage mics, I have no idea about these mics-  but I do understand what knowledge is worth. I am assuming the cost of authentication to be part of the price paid for vintage equipment. I understand that the knowledge of a handful of people are literally what keeps vintage mics in existence and I very much respect that. I am willing to pay every penny of what a mic and a tech is worth, i'm not just trying to get a bargain or use the info I get on this forum as a way to negotiate with a seller. I literally do not know who to turn to as a newbie.

I just thought I'd post some pics here in case anyone was interested in taking a look.  I do have a genuine interest in vintage mics and have read almost every post on this forum to try and learn. I am not a tech, nor will I any time soon feel comfortable to open up my own mics, I have just started my journey in vintage gear (I've been saving up for over 2 years to buy my first vintage mic) but I have a genuine respect for vintage gear, recording, and music in general.  I am new here, and I may have misunderstood the protocol for posting/asking questions, and if I have overstepped my welcome asking for too much as a newbie, I understand. It was not my intention to illicit free professional advise that I should otherwise pay for, so I am sorry if it came off that way.
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brightmillion

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2013, 07:22:36 AM »

OK, thank you, I will get that exact info and report back.
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Uwe

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2013, 08:52:51 AM »

The microphone pictured appears to be a genuine Neumann M49c of relative late production. I can not spot any modification, non-original parts, signs of soldering or other service activity. The one possible exception may be the capsule. It looks somewhat too pristine to be 40+ years old, but it does look to be a real Neumann K49.

As to the question raised by Klaus, I do wonder whether maintaining various specialty forums is not in itself a form of marketing, driven by an intent for eventual commercial gain. Anyone marketing themselves to be an expert authority should expect to be consulted for expert advise, opinion and recommendation...

In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently still the Technical Director at Neumann|USA and Sennheiser Electronic Corp. with the intent to retire by the end of this year after over 50 years in the business (plus another 8 years before that of involvement as a hobby).
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klaus

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2013, 01:04:01 PM »

Soapfoot and Uwe,
Thanks for your stimulating thoughts which I will respond to after work, tonight.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

J. Mike Perkins

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2013, 03:16:24 PM »

I am not an expert, more like a vintage mic student, but 2 things are obvious.  One, the mic was made between 1963 - 1974 because Neumann changed the red pilot light on the front of the M49 to a Neumann badge around 1962 and this mic has the badge so it must be 1962 or later (and it's the "c" version introduced around 1963).  Neumann discontinued the M49 in 1974, so it can't be later than that.  Secondly, the original K49 capsule has obviously been replaced by a new, but apparently genuine, Neumann K49 capsule.  The correct AC-701k tube also seems to be present but I can't tell you if it's original or a replacement (not that it matters as all AC-701 tubes are new old stock as that tube was discontinued decades ago).  Beyond that, I don't know enough to tell you what has been replaced and what is original. 
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brightmillion

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2013, 08:50:39 PM »

thanks for the input guys. I have received more photos and you guys called it, serial plate says M49c. 






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klaus

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2013, 09:46:03 PM »

The reason why I was curious about the i.d. plate early on:
yours did not come with this mic originally (as far as I know, there is no M49 serial number that high*) plus, its rivet was hammered in unprofessionally deep into the bottom bell, and is not period-correct; plus, during the period the "c" model was made, the metal surface sheen was different-different grain from the media blast, so was the basket weave pattern and surface sheen.

Your i.d. plate is one of those late-design spare plates that were embossed with different stenciling than was originally used during production runs, and in your case under circumstances I cannot guess.

Also, housing parts, circular board and inner suspension were not properly attached- all of which indicates to me an after-the-fact job commissioned or done by a previous owner: an M49c amp mounted in an older M49 housing/head basket (see also the bright red sealing lacquer dots on the frame screws), then provided with new serial number way ahead of sequence.

Capsule looks curious: it indicates a 2013 production, but as recently as last month, Neumann K47/49 capsules I received, fresh from stock, were all still made in 2012. There is also that unusual letter "E" on the side….? Only a physical inspection could reveal whether this is an authentic Neumann K49 or a reskinned one, done in 2013 by a third-party provider.

* Someone once requested dating history of a similarly high M49c serial number in the archive section of the Neumann Pinboard, and Martin Schneider responded that there are no records, because the number was beyond production numbers for the model.

I will respond to the larger issue of free help I brought up later.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Uwe

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2013, 04:10:14 PM »

From everything I see in the pictures provided, and my experiencethroughout several decades of my affiliation with Neumann, I am sorry, Klaus, but i am unable to agree with your comments about the type label design ('i.d. plate'), the way it is riveted, the stenciling, the housing parts, the circuit board, the suspension or the head basket. As mentioned in my earlier post, the capsule looks too pristine to be around 40 years old. But that too is OK, as it appears to be an original Neumann K49 capsule. If it required replacement before offering this specimen of a microphone for sale, it can only reflect very highly on the seller's integrity.
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klaus

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2013, 04:40:08 PM »

Hello Uwe,
I respect and have always appreciated your expertise as Sennheiser's U.S. - technical director, and your long history in the company, which gives you a unique and valuable historic perspective. Needless to say also, that my electronic knowledge of electronics is minute, compare to yours. But I may have expertise in a slightly different field than yours: I may have seen, authenticated, and restored a few more vintage Neumanns than you have, and I may have developed an eye for even some of the smaller incongruities one encounters when looking at a mic as a whole, which simply comes from doing this a lot. And when you do one thing a lot, you normally get better at it.

But, rather than arguing impressions, let's investigate the main point of contention (and the one that would affect the price of this mic the most): The probability that this M49 was delivered ex factory with that specific (high) serial number, and originally as an M49c. Please check with Neumann's historic delivery date list in Berlin (I am sure you have instant access), and report back what they say about this mic.

By the way, I am not claiming that the amp shown is not a genuine M49 'c' amp (all components on the printed circuit board and the lay-out are that of a genuine M49c), but the whole thing looks oddly re-assembled to me, as in: put together after the fact.  The production records should support either your or my claim. I am eager to find out

Thanks,
KH

P.S.: If this is K49 is indeed from 2013 Neumann production, I am sure the seller still has Neumann's sales receipt and warranty documentation, which should ease the buyer's mind instantly. I would be suspicious, on the other hand, if that was not provided, and would then recommend a closer inspection of the capsule.

P.P.S. (addressed to the thread starter): Regardless of my gripe, you will end up with a free, expert authentication including major discovery work. Not bad?
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Klaus Heyne
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brightmillion

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2013, 09:17:34 PM »

I appreciate all the info everyone.

Klaus, I am grateful for the free expert advice, thank you, and again, do not feel it is my "right" to get it for free just because this forum exists. I am more than willing to pay for this sort of service. Based on the small details that Klaus has detected, it remains the fact that there is some knowledge that can only be attained by constant effort and years of experience. And of course is valuable information, since after all, I am asking the question because the mic costs money. These seem to be details that even the best intentioned mic tech will less hands on experience might look at the schematics, verify that it is indeed correctly an M49c and send it on its way as "original". Which is what the seller is claiming that it was recently looked at by a known tech, and they verified that it was all original. Of course, just hearsay from my point of view since I don't have documents to prove this. But, still shows the incredible resource that folks who know this stuff are, especially Klaus.
I realize I am the one benefitting from this post directly and am grateful. I hope also, that the information gleaned will be a resource to teach others the finer points of being a mic detective.. that its not just about schematics, but also the small details of workmanship inconsistencies to reveal possibly post-factory work, rather than just the correct components being present. I'm sure if I compared photos of this mic and another M49c I would probably just assume it looks right on, given my no experience. But I have already learned to question all the details more closely.

To get off topic of this specific mic and back to the "bigger issue" of free advice.. I will talk a bit about my situation to see if you all have recommendations for me to proceed, which hopefully will shed light on a different perspective to this issue, opposed to most folks here who are already knowledgable of these mics and maybe already have one, two or a locker full of them. I understand the feeling of being used when the person asking is someone like me, who knows nothing and has nothing to add to this forum's worth. and seems to just be jumping in quick to get free advice and then disappear.

please excuse my rambling..
I am a young guy who has played music all my life and assisted in various studios with the "Big Five" and have experience first hand of the magic that they bring to recordings when compared to newer off the shelf mics. I don't currently own any vintage mics, and I am always disappointed with my own recordings missing this unexplainable "mojo" and have been saving for a long time to start a mic collection of my own. To use for myself, in my studio, and also just for the sake of I think its cool to have and preserve these pieces of history that many young people in our industry don't seem to care about. (laptop and USB mic, time to make a record right?) When I hear great classic recordings it just gets me, its the reason I make music in the first place like (probably) everyone else here. The first time I heard in person a vintage drum kit in a nice room recorded by a single C12 overhead through the neve console and I was hooked. how could one mic capture the magic of music so great..
ok, end of my backstory ramble (I guess as a newbie here I am trying to justify my place that I really am not just trying to get in the mic buying/selling gain to make a buck, that I really am passionate about mics, even though I know nothing about their insides.)

So, that all being said, I am on the market for a vintage mic, namely a M49. From all I have read around here, it is VERY possible that most mics being sold on the used market are not original either knowingly or not by the seller. So, I am very wary of what to purchase and my goal is to get the most original mic I can. not just to get a deal/ have bargaining power on a sorta original mic, but find a great one to be proud of.

I have always planned to have any mic I was going to buy inspected by a tech to authenticate, but, with the wide variety of mic specimens out there it seems I could literally keep buying mics, having them checkout out only to find none of them are even close.. since for someone of my (lack of) knowledge, I'm only going on the sellers word.
A service such as what you all are giving me for free here seems to be a possible service that is needed for people like me - and I mean PAID service. sort of a "pre-inspection" service. Where the buyer (me) would send as many photos and info as possible to the tech, and for a fee they can at least spot/recommend whether its even a tree worth barking up. I know a personal inspection is needed still in the end, but it seems Klaus, you can spot most things even in photos. To tell someone like me, who says, I want an all original M49, "yes" or "no" not worth even going through the buying/inspection process.
in my hunt for a great mic, I'd gladly pay for this service. even if i had to pay the fee a number of times each time I found new mic before I even moved forward on getting one inspected in person.

What is a guy in my position to do? And I'm not saying that in a pity kind of way, I mean, literally what do you all recommend for someone with little knowledge to go about purchasing a mic? Do you guys know reputable and knowledgable mic brokers that would really know what they are selling that would warrant the premium in price.. there seems to be a much greater availability of mics through the general used market.

ok, sorry for the long winded post, I'm just excited about getting a mic and really don't know where to turn for this sort of guidance.

Klaus, would you consider offering such an email photo inspection service?  It obviously takes your time to look at this post and respond, and I'm willing to pay for that knowledge, I just don't know how to go about doing it.
but, I'm sure you can think of a million reasons not to get into such a game..!
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klaus

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Re: M49 photo game - does it look OK?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2013, 09:49:10 PM »

I do not want to continue to dominate this discussion as I have so far. But you are in parts of your post addressing me directly.

1. I have for many years offered pre-inspection services- in person or remotely. Please contact me privately, if interested. Though I am booked for any months in advance, I maybe able to help you over the phone with some tips. Unfortunately, I am not aware of anyone else doing this in the U.S., but hope that readers here can point out trustworthy alternatives.

2. I may disagree with you a bit on the absolute necessity to only buy 100% stock-original vintage mics.
As you so eloquently explained, you work in a professional studio environment, and can detect with confidence when a mic's sound hits your soul. For all you know, the M49 offered to you, and which you pictured in this thread, may be such a mic- even if some items may not be 100% period-correct. If you are willing to go strictly by sound, and don't mind deviating from perfect appearance and adherence to originality, by all means, go for it! After all, no one will ever see the mic which you made beautiful music with.

What I would try to avoid though, is to pay a financial premium for any mic that may not deserve it, because the next, better-educated buyer after you will likely not pay it, leaving you with a financial loss in a market that usually does not incur losses.  That's where a pre-purchase check-out would come in handy.
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Klaus Heyne
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brightmillion

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Re: M49-does it look OK? Or: How to verify authenticity.
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2013, 08:59:18 AM »

Thank again Klaus, I appreciate the insight on choosing a mic, and that sound and feel is what to go on first and then base price on "market value"

I am thinking that this mic will be a good piece for capturing great sounds at  the "right price". I appreciate everyone's helps with identifying that at least whats inside the mic on first look appears to be what "should" be in an M49c, even if the mic wasn't originally off the factory line as a "c" (or at least that's how I understood everyone's speculation)

As far as the details of this mic go- I have asked the seller about the capsule, since there was some speculation about it, here's what I found out:  the capsule is not the original and has indeed been replaced only 3 months ago with a genuine Neumann K49 capsule. Seller has receipt to verify. THe original was toast and they opted for a new one as opposed to a reskinning job. So,it seems it could be a 2013 capsule in there..
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