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1949 Neumann U47 Microphone

The U47 was not Neumann’s first microphone or even its first mass-produced condenser mic

The U47 was not Neumann’s first microphone or even its first mass-produced condenser mic; those honors go to the CMV3 “bottle” condenser mic, which first appeared when Georg Neumann founded the company in 1928. However, as the first multipattern condenser, the U47 ushered in the era of the modern studio mic, and even more than 50 years after its birth, it remains one of the world’s most sought-after and desirable studio tools.

The U47 featured a high-performance (and now nearly impossible to find) VF14 tube and the dual-diaphragm M7 capsule—essentially back-to-back cardioid capsules that combine to create an omni pattern, or can be used singly for a cardioid pickup.

But the birth of the U47 was far from easy: Soon after the war, Neumann moved its plant back to Berlin in a rented building on Genestrasse, where the 10 Neumann employees had replaced the blown-out windows with cardboard, as no glass was available in the capital. But the company was determined, and Georg Neumann had a backlog of new ideas (such as his invention of the sealed NiCad battery) and was anxious to contribute to the reconstruction of Europe.

Due to distribution issues with Telefunken and post-war production snags, the U47 officially debuted in 1949. The Telefunken U47s—which other than the logo, were 100% identical to the models bearing the Neumann name—were sold to European broadcasters and to the U.S. market, where they soon replaced RCA ribbons as the studio mic of choice. Over the years, the accolades for Neumann products have been many. The company has garnered an unprecedented seven TEC Awards for microphone excellence, and received a Technical Grammy® Award in 1999 for the contributions of the Georg Neumann company over the years.