Update (August 11, 2022): Today, Nemann formally announced the Neumann M 49 V (V as in Variable) as a limited re-incarnation of its emblematic tube condenser microphone. The M49 V is 100% hand-soldered and assembled at a rate of about 25 units per month. It’s available for order now, priced 8,495 € / 8,499 $.
Neumann M 49 tube condenser microphone
Released in 1949 following joint development with the Northwest German Radio (NGR), the M 49 is notable for its warm, soothing character. It lent itself well to harsher-sounding voices and instruments which the microphone smoothed out just right. It also became a reliable choice for other purposes, such as radio broadcasts and overhead recording in orchestra halls.
The M 49 legacy also includes notable technical innovations. It was the first tube condenser microphone to have remotely switchable pickup patterns at constant sensitivity. Its hefty power supply featured a continuously variable knob to freely shift between cardioid, omni-directional, figure-of-eight, and in-between polar pattern configurations. This system is an NGR invention that Neumann licensed for the M 49.
Importantly, the microphone managed to keep practically equal input sensitivity across the different polar patterns. Prior, it was common to have a mic like the famous U-47 run hotter in Cardioid than in Omni. Another important change was the slanted grill. It stopped standing waves from occurring inside the microphone assembly.
It all made for a versatile microphone that was considered exceptional and enjoyed success in the recording industry of the era. The M 49 underwent at least five revisions before being discontinued in 1974.
Neumann M 49 V – the reissue
The M 49 V is made according to original specifications and design documents sourced from the Neumann archive. It uses the same circuitry as the last and most popular historical revision, the M 49 c. It improves on it with lower noise and hand-selected subminiature tubes. Field tests claim renowned microphone experts cannot hear a difference in sound, timbre, and dynamic behavior. In other words, the M 49 V is ‘identical to a historic M 49 in top condition.’ The price tag of about EUR 8500 reflects that, but it’s still much saner than what you’d pay for an authentic vintage unit.
Additionally, detail improvements are made to the pattern control unit – it automatically adapts to the mains voltage and is compatible with old M 49 microphones. However, the M 49 V uses the RF-tight connector instead of the old bayonet connector.
The infrasonic filter, which protects the BV11 output transformer from unwanted distortion, can be lowered from 30 Hz to 12 Hz. This shifts the replica’s frequency response to that of an early M 49 up to 1957. Moreover, the M 49 V can be set to a fixed cardioid pickup pattern and this improves the signal-to-noise ratio by around 3 dB.
Price and availability
We were pretty sure that modest pricing is out of the question for the M 49 V. That’s because the original M 49 is marveled vintage microphone with prices for authentic units reaching as high as USD 19,995. Meanwhile, available clones from manufacturers such as FLEA Microphones and Wunder Audio (among others) sell for as much as USD 4725 to USD 7345. That’s a lot to pay for a microphone replica. It’s not entirely unjustified, however, given the demands of producing a respectable clone.
Regarding availability, Neumann CEO Ralf Oehl states: “…we can only hand-manufacture about 25 pieces per month with three specially trained employees.” So expect some waiting around in the cards. Regardless, the Neumann M 49 V comes as a set with remote pattern control unit, microphone cable, and classic “yoke” swivel mount – all delivered in a high-quality, handcrafted case.
The list price is EUR 8,495 / USD 8,499. The microphone can be ordered from Neumann and its dealers, such as our affiliate partner Thomann *:
- The original Neumann M 49 : Neumann
- Neumann M49 V in case: Neumann
- M-49-V-With-NM-V-Top-View_Neumann-Studio-Tube-Microphon: Neumann