Neumann U47 Microphone

Previously on the Microphone Man pages we have focused on American made mics. But after WWII excellent quality foreign made units began to be available. One particular very high quality German made mic came to the US around 1950 and was an immediate hit with American record companies. This was the Neumann U47 condenser (Capacitor) microphone. The following info is from Professor Stan Coutant’s excellent microphone website:

“The Neumann Model U47 was the first post-war mic produced by Georg Neumann GmbH in West Berlin. It was designed around a Telefunken  developed steel cover radio tube, type VF14m. It became a bench mark mic in the early fifties, but was expensive at around $400. Engineers found out quickly that the sensitivity of the U 47 greatly enhanced the detail of their recordings.”

Broadcasters in the US, due to the high price, were reluctant to start using this mic at first. But later on in the ’50s some stations began to use the U47. One of the stations, KRLA in Los Angeles, used a U47 in their disc jockey studio. This mic required a rather bulky power supply and along with the high price deterred most US radio and TV stations from using this unit.
Safe to say, that most high quality LP recordings in major recording studios in the ’50s were recorded using the U47. One record company recorded major US symphony orchestras using one U47 suspended over the orchestra. The company called this method “Living Presence”. This was, of course, in the “mono” audio days.
Frank Sinatra and his “Tellie”, as he called it at Capitol Records in Hollywood.
The U47 had two basic pickup patterns, cardioid and omni, selected by a switch. The pattern selected was shown graphically in a small window just below the grill. This mic used a vacuum tube inside the bottom part of the body. The mic connected to the power supply box through a cable containing many wires.
The Telefunken branded Neumann U47 showing the heart-shaped cardioid pattern selected.
The inside of a U47 with pickup capsule on top, vacuum tube in middle.
The Neumann U47…one of the the great iconic microphones of the 20th century. More information on this mic can be seen on the Coutant Microphone website.

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