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Neumann U47 vs....
Old 13th September 2012
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Neumann U47 vs....

I'm goin here and while I've been recording and producing for about 15 years, I'm finally getting bigger name gigs and stuff with budgets. I know... counting my blessings.
That said, I have a great space, lots of outboard gear and PT10 Accel 3, apogee converts, big ben, summing mixer, a lot of great pre's and comps...
I have a lot of mics too but only a TLM 103 on the Neumann end. I have nothing like a Neumann U47 and read a lot in TapeOp and Mix that people use U47 for vocals and all kinds of stuff. I have used one on drums, kick, but just never had access to one for vocals and acoustic instruments.
So I'm seeing them on craigslist and ebay rarely and seems like the prices vary. If you guys had a bit bigger budget to add a classic nice mic, is a U47 these days worth the money and the name? I like the idea that its an investment too and that someday when I'm all done with music production and sell stuff, that maybe (just maybe) its still worth something, or even more! Like a classic car :-)
Anyway, ideas for me? Got some money but would want something I would use a lot. Mostly male, female singer-songwriter vocals. Seems like a limited thing, so... anyone I should contact and ask (vintage king?)
Ideas?
Old 13th September 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Sorry and want to add... what is the 'i' add to the end? Neumann U47 FET i? And do they all have 'i' at the end?
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
To my way of thinking I would look at a U67 and maybe a vintage U87 first.

U47's are great, and on the right voice they can be magic, but the other two are way cheaper and probably more versatile.

For instance a lot of folks prefer M49's and C12 type mikes over U47's on females. U47's are great male ballad mikes, real big sounding for that, maybe not as good for screaming rock. Just reciting conventional wisdom here, YMMV.

I would think that a U67, if you can find a good one, will get you into the Neumann game for much less, and help you to see what the vintage Neumann thing is all about. I like them on male and female voices pretty often. An older U87, pre ai, would do the same, and is a a real studio staple.

Also, U47's are really expensive to retube, if you can even find one, though alternatives exist.

U47FET is a very different mike, I don't have much experience with them.

Last edited by bluejbill; 13th September 2012 at 09:12 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 13th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
KRStudio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You are in the LA area, don't buy--rent.
Old 13th September 2012
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Rascal Audio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Question: Do your clients want to work with you, or do they just want to record in a facility with cool gear? If the former, then I'd recommend against a U47 until you have more broadly applicable mics (like U67/87 mentioned above). If the latter, then the ability to provide clients with a U47 may have real value.

A good U47 is wonderful, but many haven't been maintained.... they're all OLD, so if they haven't been maintained, simply acquiring it could be just the beginning of a long and expensive journey towards a wonderful mic.

Joel
Old 14th September 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
jmikeperkins's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The i after U47FETi referrs to an XLR connector on the mic. I assume you realize there are 2 versions of the U47? There is the tube U47 and there is the solid state U47FETi and while both are great, they are quite different from each other. The tube U47, like the ones the Beatles used at Abbey Road, if original and not modified, contain the very rare and super expensive Telefunken VF14k tube and if this goes out it can easily cost you $4,000 to get a replacement tube. The VF14k tube was custom designed for the U47 and U48 mics and they were the only mics or electronic devices that ever used that tube so you are not going to find a box of them at the radio swap meet. When the VK14k's ran out, Neumann made a retrofit kit using a tiny Nuvistor tube and even sold some U47's new with the Nuvistor and called those U47a's. The U47 and U48 mics are similar. The tube U47 is cardoid and omni and the U48 is cardoid and figure 8. A U47, in decent condition, with an intact and working VF14k tube will run you about $13,000 - $15,000. The mic is worth MUCH LESS with the Nuvistor, maybe $5,500 - $6,000 (depends on what other mods were done) and the Nuvistor changes the sound of the U47 for the worse. You have to know what you are doing and you have to be careful buying a tube U47. Some have been so heavily modified, with nothing original inside, so you are buying a totally different mic in a U47 shell. Others are in horrible condition and need major restoration. The mic is most famous as a male vocal mic.

The U47FETi is a different animal than a tube U47. The FET is cardoid only, is obviously solid state and runs on phantom power. The most popular use is an an outside kick drum mic but some people do use it for vocals. It's still a good mic, but not a tube U47.

If you are buying your first high dollar vintage Neumann, I would consider a U67 because the tube is easy to get and it's a newer more modern mic. Older, original with the place inside for the battery, original U87's from the 1970's can be also great vocal mics. You can turn a U87 into a tube mic with the Innertube Audio U87 tube kit. I have one and its amazing.
Old 14th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
cinealta's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Unless your a collector, save your money on a vintage mic. Get a Flea 47, with a readily available tube, for $4K. Close enough (especially when mixed). U47 is not necessarily even a first choice for vocals. Depends on gender, genre, vocalist etc. You're in Southern California, you could be renting anyway.
Old 14th September 2012
  #8
Gear Guru
Get a c800g instead, it has that modern sound.
Old 14th September 2012
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
radiovoiceone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The tube is a VF14. Neumann used a selected VF14 with an "M" added to designate a selected low noise tube for use in it's microphones.
The VF14K is a tube developed by Telefunken USA.
They will only sell you one in one of their microphones or as a replacement for one of their mics.
Also, the VF14 was a radio tube, used by the Germans in radio manufacture.
There are still quite a few around, many being hoarded by people who want to keep their mics alive, even though the tube is extremely robust and will last a long time if it's not abused by high voltages.
AFAIK, the U47/48 were the only microphones ever made to use the VF14.
Old 25th September 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Yes while I'm in the LA area... renting is such a drag cause I'm not close to a freeway AND traffic... (need I say more)

Yea I'm open to other models and mics that have the reputation that might make them either retain or appreciates over time.

I just saw the VKLA new spot where you can shoot out mics and pres for yourself so I may make an appointment with them.
I have been very good over the years to buy stuff that is lasting, and usefull and built my sound around it. Its my own personal studio so, that gives me the chance to take care of stuff and offer clients high end sonics and stuff that they wouldn't get in someone elses home or garage studio. :-)
thanks all for the words and insights into this mic! This board really can help alot as to the flaming and biased rants that can also be part of audio related boards. :-)
you guys rock,
Sam
Old 25th September 2012
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Larry Villella's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have a mint U-47 that hung in a choir-loft for over 40 years.

If anyone wants to PM me about 47 alternatives, great!

That way I can avoid any appearance of "pimping" on this thread.

Find out what Chuck Ainlay and The Manhattan Transfer already know. . . .
Old 28th September 2012
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
I'll give another quick +1 for the vintage U87. I bought a 1974 "Made In Western Germany" U87 a few months ago, and I've been trying it out in a number of spots since then. Today was the first time tracking my own vocals with them rather than clients, so it was interesting to hear the mic on a source I know so well. Really fantastic mic. I've used it so far on a few male and a few female singers, and it's been great. With one female singer an SM7b sounded better on her voice than the U87, but that's to be expected. But it's a great counterpart to it. I like the SM7b for being really smooth and dulling things down when things are a little aggressive, and I like the U87 for the opposite, picking up EVERYTHING and making sure to get every little detail. Great partners.

Granted, I've never used a U47 here. I heard the new (Telefunken) U47s for about 20 seconds at the last AES show in NYC (which did sound really great, though it's a terrible place to judge anything). A vintage U47 would be incredible to own, but these days if I wanted that sound I'd be going after one of the recreations, probably a Flea or Wunder. The idea of hunting a U47 down, eventually finding one and paying a not-tiny fortune for it, and knowing that the tube alone is as rare as the mic and half as expensive..eesh. I baby my gear but I'd be scared to put that into use with clients. I'd be happy with the new U47 version, but for that money I'd buy a Wunder or Flea that might be just as accurate if not more (and a great mic regardless) or try to find a U67.

U47's are really difficult to find in okay condition, crazy expensive when they are, and if something goes wrong with the tube it's going to cost you a ton. Meanwhile, U67s are at least more common than U47s, and seem a little more reasonable to maintain.

I'm happy with my vintage U87 myself!
Old 28th September 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
studio1117's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
This post is kind of all over the place.
What I will say is that the U67/87 idea is a fine idea as both mics are great, but they are not a U47. I'm not saying one is better than the other, that's pure choice, but the comparison is like somebody asking for a honda accord and you suggesting a civic. Same maker with similar ideas but not really the same car.
The mics don't sound the same. As to buying a vintage U47 vs. new that's another "life choice" but I can say the new U47's made by some builders are probably a far better choice for reliability and inexpensive tubes.
Old 28th September 2012 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
lakeshorephatty's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rascal Audio ➑️
Question: Do your clients want to work with you, or do they just want to record in a facility with cool gear? If the former, then I'd recommend against a U47 until you have more broadly applicable mics (like U67/87 mentioned above). If the latter, then the ability to provide clients with a U47 may have real value.
This question is the kicker. The U47 tube version which most people really feel "bling" associated with, is a hella expensive mic with crazy expensive tubes as mentioned. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing with the wunder GT version. For me its 90% of the way there. Its a world class mic at about 1/3rd the current going rate for 47's and an inexpensive tube. Probably 90% of the sound is there. This isn't going to help you if you need bling factor..

Chances are there are a rare number of times when a client even high end ones would care about specific mics. If they did I would just make sure you have the ability locally to rent the fantastic stuff. If you have that ability save yourself loads of money and pick up more "staples" of the classic neumann catalog and great quality clones.

Example. My stereo tube SM69 was a load cheaper than the going rate for U47's. Dramatically more useful all over the place, killer on almost all voices, and stereo of course. When its not about the name you can for instance pick up a used Gefell UM70 and get 70% of the way to the U47 for around 1500 instead of 8-9k. This is where you're going to get maximum audio bliss for $$$

Russell
Old 7th October 2012 | Show parent
  #15
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chrisdee's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studio1117 ➑️
but I can say the new U47's made by some builders are probably a far better choice for reliability and inexpensive tubes.
Do you mean like the new Telefunken U47 ?
TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik :: TELEFUNKEN U47
Old 9th October 2012 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Multicore's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Villella ➑️
I have a mint U-47 that hung in a choir-loft for over 40 years.

If anyone wants to PM me about 47 alternatives, great!

That way I can avoid any appearance of "pimping" on this thread.

Find out what Chuck Ainlay and The Manhattan Transfer already know. . . .
Ooops! too late.......
Old 9th October 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
GYang's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Don't know if Gunther still builds them, but the first choice for U47 these days would be Wagner 47, even before opting for original vintage in 99,99% case, price not counted. Except for collectors of course.
Old 11th October 2012 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Multicore's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GYang ➑️
Don't know if Gunther still builds them, but the first choice for U47 these days would be Wagner 47, even before opting for original vintage in 99,99% case, price not counted. Except for collectors of course.


Also, you might want to check with Oliver Archut (Tab-Funkenwerk /AMI) to get a qualified opinion about U47's and their alternatives and check out his kits. You will find a wealth of knowledge on their website. It aint rocket science, the schematics are readily available and any good tech can put one together if you were to consider the DIY option. It's one thing to simply own one "mint" mic that never gets used (or it wouldn't be mint) and quite another to know the mic designs and performance like the back of your hand because you actually deal with, design and work on and with historic mics on a daily basis and have done real world comparison. Oliver is great! And the best customer service on the planet. I have used his 47 alternate tube schematic mic (for use with EF14 / EF 80 / EF800), and I can say it's amazing. Really though with tube and component failure simply from age there ain't no such thing as a "mint U47" unless you just have it to look at. There are a lot of options out there!
Old 12th October 2012
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I have use of a telefunken u47 and a Neumann nuvistor u47 and when they work right they are amazing. The inner tube audio 87 mod sounds as big, clearer and it always works. My two cents. It is also a fraction of the cost.
Old 4th November 2012
  #20
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I am very lucky to have a matched pair of U 47 feti's. i am a total newbie at recording and am listening and learning a lot from the pros on this site. My friend Tom and I have put together quite a nice studio and really like the advice we get here. I did want to say though, when I first got the u-47s they didn't work. So I called the name on the case, Gotham Audio, I spoke with a guy there who told me to do a "spit test" on them. That is, breathe a heavy moist breath on them to grt the capsule going again and it worked. About an hour later my phone rang and it was the owner of Gotham and he told me "I dont care what condition they are in, I will give you $6,000.00 each for those U-47s"
I'd like to find out what would be a good insurance value for them. They are kind of our pride and joy so I'd like to so advice on them.
Old 4th November 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
"Anyway, ideas for me? Got some money but would want something I would use a lot..."

When I reached your situation I examined the vintage mic market, and quickly came to understand that I was a babe in the woods, the proverbial sucker born every minute, and I had no business trying to buy an authentic vintage microphone that cost as much as the down payment on a house. Plus, the cost of ownership, as has been expressed here in the price of a replacement tube for the U47, gave me pause.

So I started looking at clones and emulations: not $99 specials, but mics from guys like Lawson, Soundeluxe, Korby, and some of the others that have been mentioned here. Careful shopping for a modern emulation can get you close enough that no one listening to a mix would ever know that the mic used was or was not vintage.

I wasn't looking for a 47, I was interested in either a U67 or a 251, could not make up my mind. As it happened at the time, I lived close to Tracy Korby. He had been my mic repair guy for years. Tracy had a new mic in development at the time which was going to use replaceable capsules to emulate several popular vintage designs. I had a 251 and a U67 in the studio at the time, and Tracy's emulations sounded the same on the side by side recordings I made on voice and guitar. (Now, a lot of nay-sayers here will say that this is not possible; and I'm not going to argue the point. None of the guys I brought in to listen to the recordings that I made could tell the difference. and yeah, they were sound guys and/or studio engineers.) I bought a Korby KAT-4, with a 251 and U67m capsule. Later I bought an older Korby Empyrean voiced as a U47, and two more capsules for the KAT-4. You might be interested in a product like the KAT-4, which would allow you to change the mic from one style to another by throwing a switch and changing the capsule. It is financially sound for a small studio where you might not need to have four vintage mics going at once (or the ability to afford them) but it would be nice to have the ability to have four different sounding vintage emulations rather than just one, be it authentic or an emulation.

There are several other companies that make reasonable emulations of some of the popular vintage mics.... and also several wherein the only recognizable closeness is in the model number... so you have to be careful what mic you pick. Oliver is pretty manic about getting things right, and now there is TelefunkenUSA and a bunch of other companies that weren't around when I was looking to buy. These mics aren't cheap but they will get you there, you'll know what you bought, and the cost of ownership is much more reasonable.

Like several of the other guys here, I'd be looking at the 67 or a 67 emulation... but that was what suited me and my work. If you are like the rest of us, even if you get a 67 it won't be long before you are looking for a 47 or a 251; and if you get the 47, same thing will be true, you'll be wanting one of the others... I'd love a U48....
Old 5th November 2012 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
DarkSky Media's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadManMatt ➑️
I am very lucky to have a matched pair of U 47 feti's. i am a total newbie at recording and am listening and learning a lot from the pros on this site. My friend Tom and I have put together quite a nice studio and really like the advice we get here. I did want to say though, when I first got the u-47s they didn't work. So I called the name on the case, Gotham Audio, I spoke with a guy there who told me to do a "spit test" on them. That is, breathe a heavy moist breath on them to grt the capsule going again and it worked. About an hour later my phone rang and it was the owner of Gotham and he told me "I dont care what condition they are in, I will give you $6,000.00 each for those U-47s"
I'd like to find out what would be a good insurance value for them. They are kind of our pride and joy so I'd like to so advice on them.
Hmmn... I suspect there may have been a misunderstanding somewhere. $6k each in any condition is the kind of offer you might expect to get for a 'matched pair' of tube U47s, but for the FETi variety not so much. Mint FET 47s generally seem to fetch something in the $3k to 3.5k range on the open market.
Old 5th November 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
T_R_S's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Get an M269C - great vintage mic amazing sound - way less than a U47.
It an underrated mic IMO so it's much easier to find a deal.
Old 5th November 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
I wasn't looking for a 47, I was interested in either a U67 or a 251, could not make up my mind. As it happened at the time, I lived close to Tracy Korby. He had been my mic repair guy for years. Tracy had a new mic in development at the time which was going to use replaceable capsules to emulate several popular vintage designs. I had a 251 and a U67 in the studio at the time, and Tracy's emulations sounded the same on the side by side recordings I made on voice and guitar. (Now, a lot of nay-sayers here will say that this is not possible; and I'm not going to argue the point. None of the guys I brought in to listen to the recordings that I made could tell the difference. and yeah, they were sound guys and/or studio engineers.) I bought a Korby KAT-4, with a 251 and U67m capsule.
Bill, did the U67 have its filters removed? I ask because I'd say it's pretty much impossible to emulate both an 251 and an original U67 so closely by using the same circuit and just changing out the capsules. The 251 basically has a flat circuit while the 67 has a circuit with de-emphasis of the trebles (to tame the deliberately overly bright K67 capsule), among other things.
Just curious.
I agree the Korby concept, like the Blue Bottle, is an interesting and flexible one that deserves looking into. Also for 47-ish tones.




Henk
Old 5th November 2012 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Vintageidiot's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Multicore ➑️


Also, you might want to check with Oliver Archut (Tab-Funkenwerk /AMI) to get a qualified opinion about U47's and their alternatives and check out his kits. You will find a wealth of knowledge on their website. It aint rocket science, the schematics are readily available and any good tech can put one together if you were to consider the DIY option. It's one thing to simply own one "mint" mic that never gets used (or it wouldn't be mint) and quite another to know the mic designs and performance like the back of your hand because you actually deal with, design and work on and with historic mics on a daily basis and have done real world comparison. Oliver is great! And the best customer service on the planet. I have used his 47 alternate tube schematic mic (for use with EF14 / EF 80 / EF800), and I can say it's amazing. Really though with tube and component failure simply from age there ain't no such thing as a "mint U47" unless you just have it to look at. There are a lot of options out there!

+1 on this. Totally floored with Olivers kit.
Old 5th November 2012
  #26
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
U47 is the 50's vocal sound, and 60's Beatles sound.
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