M49: The Magical tube microphone

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The Neumann M49 is known to be the first condenser studio microphone of great standard which has a switchable remotely pickup pattern with a constant sensitivity, This microphone’s pickup pattern can easily be adjusted remotely using the dial on power supply.

original Neumann M40 from 60’s

It has the best remote switching with options of three different directional characteristics, enables it to be used in different types of situations. One good thing is that It usually comes with its special cable and power supply and it’s incredibly good for all kinds of applications. Though other than anything else, it is best recommended for recording. it was specifically designed to have a multipattern large-diaphragm tube with important new creativity: As a pattern selector, the PSU is doubled and has an endless variable potentiometer which is added advantage in case you want to choose between Omni-directional, figure-8, cardioid, or any preferable position amongst the three.

Evolution of Neumann M49

Neumann M49 though designed in the year 1949, the same year it was jointly developed with the popular Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk Northwest German Radio (NWDR).  It was later released in the year 1951, the M49 made a great success, adding to the fact it became not only the standard broadcasting microphone used on the radio in Germany but also a staple in every orchestra hall and eventually became the main overhead microphone being used for recording. It first got its popularity in Germany and all over Europe.

The Neumann M49 was originally designed with a unit that had the popular M7 dual-diaphragm capsule, which in 1960 was later switched to K49 capsule, (this capsule and that of K47 capsule which is being used in the U47 microphone are identical). The Hiller MSC2 was the main original tube, And this also was later switched to the iconic low-noise AC701K tube in the year 1960.

The M49B is the name stamped to the updated and newer versions. The Model M49C came as a result of some further minor alterations which were made in the tube biasing. Later In the year a different teacher connector was introduced mainly for broadcasting work and was designated as the M249 model. But eventually, in the year 1974, the existence of this microphone was put to an end.

The Neumann M49 is one special equipment best recognized for its use on Duke Ellington, Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis and Garfunkel, and Simon, but it has also been noticed to appear on some other classics. This microphone has a magical rich and round tune that could transform any sounds, no matter the harshness to a much more warm and pleasant one. Its known to be Aretha Franklin’s favorite, Nora Jones also made use of one on her first-ever album and is believed to be superb on most females vocals.

Analysis of the Neumann M49

The Neumann M49 microphone capsule is fitted underneath the detachable wire mesh housing and it comes with rubber support on a Perspex cover. And as a result of this construction, these microphones highly insensitive to any disturbances of low frequency for example; floor vibrations caused by walking. (The M49 life some decades later, presently, it has been observed that the rubber mounting on the microphone, with time, usually generates some issues as the rubber either gets extremely soft and becomes too weak to hold the weight of the capsule or becomes too hard and breaks. Since there is no original replacement made available, to make suitable support, some professional hands are going to need it.)

 The Neumann M49 signal output connections and the input supply voltage to the mics were crafted on the M49 through an 8-pin Tuchel plug attached with a bayonet locking as used on U67 microphones. Neumann has built different versions for years now, first started with the M49 version, which was built around 1949, and used the same M7 capsule which was used in the U47 version. Later the Omni M50 version came into production in the year 1951, initially with an identical gold plated PVC as that of M7(KK50).

Both microphones made use of the MSC2 vacuum tube. But some years later(after 1954), Neumann rebuilt the MSC2 vacuum tube with AC701k (Low Noise Telefunken Triode) for M50 and later did the same vacuum replacement for M49 after 1960.

 After remaking to the new AC701k tube, Neumann decided to remake also the inside capsule of the M49 to Gold plated/PE diaphragm while it also altered that of the M50 to a unique aluminum (KK53) capsule and also later changed it to the same Goldplated/PE (KK83) diaphragm used in M49 in 1965.

Since 1961, Neumann has been able to manufacture newer versions like the M249 and M250 which come with a smaller Tuchel Standard connector (7-pin) same as the ones adopted in U67.

The Neumann M49 is warmer and most especially sounds more vintage and very versatile when compared to this modern-day version since it is indeed older.

The AC701 original tube

 The quality of sounds delivered by the M49 is a perfect thing for exigent sound engineer and can’t be compared to any.

The Neumann M49 has one exceptional new feature which is the ability to maintain a nearly balanced level of output and sensitivity across patterns, that which the U-47 cannot do, for instance, the 5dB hotter in Cardioid than the Omni.

In such a case, maintaining the same output level required some changes in the circuitry polarization voltage. But in Cardioid mode, this would split up the U-47’s circuit capsule’s diaphragm, whereas both diaphragms were always polarized in the case of the M49 – with the front at a constant of 60Vdc while the rear maintains a range of 0Vdc to 120Vdc. But the rear diaphragm voltage would be polarized to 0Vdc whenever it’s set to Cardioid.

Conclusion 

The Neumann is simply the best at what they do and genuinely do make the best mics in the world. These mics are designed for engineers and professional studio owners.  This is why the microphone’s prices are seen to be more expensive than most microphones and comes with its price tag.  So if you ever want the best tube condenser microphone, then you would be impressed to have the Neumann M49.

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Mic & Mod is specialized in DIY Vintage Microphone Kits since 2013. Why buy expensive vintage microphones in poor condition when you can build them yourself?

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