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Old Mics vs New Mics - McCartney with Capitol Neumann U-47
Old 10th September 2012
  #1
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Old Mics vs New Mics - McCartney with Capitol Neumann U-47

PBS recently broadcast a show of Paul McCartney with Clapton and some other greats at the Capitol studios in LA doing a session with a small audience. Paul was singing into a Neumann U-47 with the "Capitol" logo on it. No pop shield, either. Now I am assuming he gets whatever mic he wants and he likes the U-47's. I think that Abbey Road had some for the Beatles use when they recorded there. There is a pattern here. And these mics are currently up in the stratosphere in price, USD$15,000+ when they can be found.

So here is the question: with all the engineering talent out there and really good microphones now being designed why is it that this 60 year-old mic has not been bested? Or has it and folks like its sound even if it is not better? Is this part of the audio nostalgia for tubes, analog, LP's, and tape? Have these mics ever been ABX'ed and proven to be better? Or is it just accepted that they are better on the basis of precedent rather than fact? Whazzup?
Old 10th September 2012
  #2
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edva's Avatar
 
26 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
There's another thread on the show elsewhere, with some nice details.
With regard to the mic, yeah, there's got to be some magic there, but the price is also greatly affected by rarity, "cachet" and "provenance" (Frank! Nat! Tony!) as much as anything, IMHO.
Old 10th September 2012
  #3
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum ➑️
...
in the stratosphere in price, USD$15,000+
...
Or has it and folks like its sound even if it is not better? Is this part of the audio nostalgia for tubes, analog, LP's, and tape?
It's like a haunted house, can be very expensive.
Separately, the house is junk and ghosts is a pale... nobody wants.
Old 12th September 2012
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I think it is a combination of things. First off, a really good U47 is a truly great microphone, no doubt.

But much of it I think is that the great recordings from the 50s and 60s in particular were often done with one of these on vocals. Certainly for the Beatles this was true. So we are used to that sound. And the performers, such as PM, are used to that sound. It's part of their signature they way that a Strat through Marshall amps was for Hendrix, for example.

Part of it is psychology, they way it is for violinists or guitarists. We "feel" better playing a vintage instrument, especially one with provenance, even if it is no better than another example that doesn't have the fancy name or papers to go with it. When we like the instrument, for whatever reason, we tend to play better or sing better. So in a way the effect is real, but not for the reasons we probably think.

Live Sound: Purple Sounds Best: A Matter Of Mass Psychology - Pro Sound Web

So it comes down to a question of "what is better?". Better specs? Better sound? Better performances because this mic or this instrument is in front of the performer?
Old 12th September 2012
  #5
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
^^^^^^^^^

I have used a Leica twice and I can tell you I did get better pics with it than any other camera. Part if it was the surety of the machine itself. That does play a role.
Old 12th September 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum ➑️
PBS recently broadcast a show of Paul McCartney with Clapton and some other greats at the Capitol studios in LA doing a session with a small audience. Paul was singing into a Neumann U-47 with the "Capitol" logo on it. No pop shield, either. Now I am assuming he gets whatever mic he wants and he likes the U-47's. I think that Abbey Road had some for the Beatles use when they recorded there. There is a pattern here. And these mics are currently up in the stratosphere in price, USD$15,000+ when they can be found.

So here is the question: with all the engineering talent out there and really good microphones now being designed why is it that this 60 year-old mic has not been bested? Or has it and folks like its sound even if it is not better? Is this part of the audio nostalgia for tubes, analog, LP's, and tape? Have these mics ever been ABX'ed and proven to be better? Or is it just accepted that they are better on the basis of precedent rather than fact? Whazzup?
I read here on Gearslutz that Barbra Streisand likes to use the same mic all the time. A U49. And she means THE same mic.

https://gearspace.com/board/q-engine...-broadway.html

But I agree with what your saying. Different mics have a different sound and I don't think there is a best. It's just what someone likes.
Old 13th September 2012
  #7
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The Listener's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum ➑️
PBS recently broadcast a show of Paul McCartney with Clapton and some other greats at the Capitol studios in LA doing a session with a small audience. Paul was singing into a Neumann U-47 with the "Capitol" logo on it. No pop shield, either. Now I am assuming he gets whatever mic he wants and he likes the U-47's. I think that Abbey Road had some for the Beatles use when they recorded there. There is a pattern here. And these mics are currently up in the stratosphere in price, USD$15,000+ when they can be found.

So here is the question: with all the engineering talent out there and really good microphones now being designed why is it that this 60 year-old mic has not been bested? Or has it and folks like its sound even if it is not better? Is this part of the audio nostalgia for tubes, analog, LP's, and tape? Have these mics ever been ABX'ed and proven to be better? Or is it just accepted that they are better on the basis of precedent rather than fact? Whazzup?

For this case it is a simple answer - if you have it in your locker - which mic would you put in front of a legendary singer for an elite broadcast? A funky looking legendary piece that summarizes audio recording history, represents the legendary status of your studio and that is almost of the same fame as the singer himself, a cool looking (and sounding) mic that many would recognize and drool over...

McCartney was singing into anything live - also SM58 (I even saw a video of him singing into 58 in the studio with a live band playing along) and he has no objection to sing into modern LDCs in the studio - namely Brauner here: http://c438342.r42.cf2.rackcdn.com/w...rtney-2012.jpg

A rich collegue of mine had a nice working original Neumann U47 on loan to hear if he MUST own it, too... He already had Brauner VMX, Sony C800g, Neumann U87, Neumann M149 in his collection.

He said it was a really cool mic, but he didn't hear a reason to pay the "collector's" price since he could already get any vocal sound he wanted with the rest of his mics. And he is not cheap - if he would hear a definite reason that he MUST have it he has the means to buy it.

There are equally good modern mics out there... but U47 has this special "aura" I guess...

I always repeat - that Pollock's painting is only worth over 100 million $ because someone was prepared to pay that much... there are other great contemporary paintings from not yet known painters that you can buy for as little as 1000$ and could evoke similar feelings or be even nicer to contemplate over and visually enjoy on your wall... but... you can't say - hey, look, I got this legendary painting and I payed over 100 million for it - cool, hey?

McCartney with U47 at Capitol looks cool and just "right": http://i.ytimg.com/vi/J8Tgq2C1U9w/0.jpg
Old 13th September 2012
  #8
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
TL -

I agree that, yeah, it looks good, it sets the tone, it is a salute to the man and so on. But there is that fan base that swears nothing sounds like the U-47, or [plug in some other old 50's German mic] and nothing ever will. It is the "magic of the tube" or the magic of the diaphragm or something. I do not know. I sometimes wonder if there might be a bit of The Emperor's New Clothes aspect to this. It does seem possible that the sound alone is not the source of the magic. OTOH there are singers, Streisand, Franklin come to mind, who have their favorite antique mic. And that could be, to use another children's story analogy, like Dumbo's feather. You just think you need it. As I am convinced a Leica makes me take better pictures. It does, I swear it. ;o)

It seems there is no definitive answer other than it is a damned good mic, has panache and looks good. It may have been bettered?
Old 13th September 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I seem to remember the first German Caps being disliked
To hot ,to toppy,not invented here.
After the magic of the low level,ultra smooth RCA ribbon, a high level ,flat to UV mic was difficult to mix and meld.
Somehow Abbey Rd and Capitol learned to love them.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
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boojum's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 ➑️
I seem to remember the first German Caps being disliked
To hot ,to toppy,not invented here.
After the magic of the low level,ultra smooth RCA ribbon, a high level ,flat to UV mic was difficult to mix and meld.
Somehow Abbey Rd and Capitol learned to love them.
As a "hi-fi nut" in HS I can remember a Capitol 10" LP of some sax player and I was amazed at the quality of the sound, the crispness and presence of the way it projected. I liked it a lot. Nothing I had heard up to that point could match that Capitol sound for excitement and presence. Perhaps it was a Neumann. It sure was brighter.
Old 13th September 2012
  #11
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
I have this Roy Hargrove record, Earfood, and the trumpet sounds soooo sweet. It had to be a vintage 67, or maybe a 77 or 44 cause I know Roy's used em in the past with Al Schmitt and Russell Elevado.

Wrong. It's a Royer 121. Sounds sexy as hell still. Might also have something small to do with the horn and the player too, maybe.... :-)
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
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didier.brest's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedupsteve ➑️
I read here on Gearslutz that Barbra Streisand likes to use the same mic all the time. A U49.


U-47, U-48 and U-49 are WW2 German submarines.
U 47, U 48 and M 49 are Neumann microphones.
Old 19th September 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Neumann did name its mikes after subs though
The made hydrophones and asdic.
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