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Neumann UM 57

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by hollywood_steve, Mar 15, 2001.

  1. hollywood_steve

    hollywood_steve Active Member

    This is a little too expensive for the "Sleeper" thread, but they are damn cheap compared to other tube Neumanns. Can anyone explain what these are exactly and how they compare to the more well known U series Neumanns. (U47, U67, others?) It seems like Eastern Europe and the old Soviet states have an endless supply of U57's that they are dumping via EBAY and through several US and international dealers. I know better than to expect "sumthin for nuthin" but I still need to learn why a $1400 Neumann tube mic isn't a good deal. I'm ready to listen..... :confused:
     
  2. Guido

    Guido Guest

    I believe you are referring to a UM 57 and not a U 57. I own one with a a BLUE power supply and I love it. It sounds, to my old guy ears like a C12a or a tube 87. I do not know the history, however....
     
  3. hollywood_steve

    hollywood_steve Active Member

    That just proves how little I know about these things - although there are one or two being incorrectly advertised as U57's not UM 57's. But I stand corrected. I'm ready for more, come on, learn me something.
     
  4. The UM57 is a Gefell mic-- ie made not by the Neumann we generally think of.

    (what follows probably contains some errors)

    As I recall it....

    In WWII Neumann moved from Berlin (in an effort to avoid getting bombed)to the country-- to the town of Gefell. This little town became part of East Germany after the war, and Neumann moved back to (the West German side) of Berlin, where they continue to make mics today.

    BUT the east Germans continued to make mics in Gefell at the now 'liberated' "Neumann" plant. The Neumann folks in Berlin had no contact with them and worked together on nothing. Allow me to repeat: From the end of the war, they had *no* contact with the Gefell plant.

    The E Germans, tho, continued to make mics using the Neumann name-- even tho the Berliners were VERY displeased with this. Legally, they could do nothing.

    When the Berlin Wall came down, these mics became available in the west. Brand name became Gefell, and now the brand is "Prime" or something-- or perhaps that's just the US distributor of Gefells. Or something.


    Aside from Neumann Berlin being pissed about the illicit use of their name, they have a legit gripe that the Gefell mics were/ are not made to the kind of workmanship & tolerance standards that the Berliners use. In short, they are not the same thing as a Neumann Berlin mic-- not in workmanship, not even in design-- just in name (stolen). Also my understanding is that parts/ service for these mics are bad or even nonexistent compared to 'legit' Neumanns .


    Nevertheless, they are used by many people and may be good mics compared to many other brands. BUT I get mad when they are passed off as "Neumanns" by salesmen who know their history and know that they are not the same as the Genuine Article.

    These 'East German Neumanns' are usually easy to identify by the fact that the Model numbers do not correspond to any Berlin Neumanns-- also by the Neumann logo being placed not in a diamond but in a circle.

    Does this help?

    Folks- please correct errors in my above recollections.

    WOE
     
  5. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Weird, I'd heard a lot of talk of the Neumann connection and I even remember the earliest ads which pointed out that history, but I've never heard an out and out claim that "this is an authentic Neumann mic." There is more of a pedigree than most of the cheapo geetar center mics, and they have a right to claim heritage they have. And Neumann did have a rep before the war, so it's not like it's entirely riding on coat tails.

    If I saw claims that x model is the same as y Neumann, though, then I would be entirely skeptical. But I've never heard them plugged as cheaper Neumanns, just an alternate mic for less money. All I know is that they have some mics in their line that are pretty good and are priced rather low for what they are. I've heard a couple are dogs, though, but never which ones.

    da Bear
     
  6. dgooder

    dgooder Guest

    Don't know the history, but I've used them on winds with exceptional results. I tried one on a guitar amp once and was really happy with what it gave me. For the $, I would give it a look if I were in the market. If you can, try before you buy to see if it is for you.

    Dave g http://www.groovestainproductions.com
     
  7. hollywood_steve

    hollywood_steve Active Member

    W-O-E, thanks for all the info, that clears things up pretty well.

    The reason that I originally asked is that, yes, they are occasionally being sold as "Neumann UM57's" with no mention of Geffel or any other info that they are not "real" Neumanns. In some case the current owner could just be as clueless as I was, in other cases they could be trying to take advantage of those of us who haven't done our homework prior to purchasing.

    thanks again for all the info.

    steve
     
  8. Just to clarify-

    I didn't mean to imply that Gefell or their distributor were REALLY trying to deceive everyone into thinking these were the same line of Neumanns as the U47, U67, etc.

    Also- the Gefell line of mics is useful sometimes, regardless of this name issue.

    I AM saying that one who is considering a UM57 or any Neumann with a circular name plate should be aware of the reasons WHY it is relatively inexpensive-- and of the fact that after-purchase support and parts for that mic will not be coming from Neumann Berlin. One of the reasons the W German Neumanns can last so long is that parts & service & expertise are still available for mics many years old. Another is the workmanship that the mics were built with in the first place.

    Few of the sales outlets on the web & Ebay mention the whole subject-- for obvious reasons. I imagine they would rather no one brought it up. I DO have a problem with THEM.

    Caveat Emptor.

    WOE
     
  9. salvito

    salvito Guest

    It is true. The old Neumann mics from east germany do rock. That's what I bought! The build quality in the 1950s in east germany was still primo! (They slacked off later on , but that's a story for another time...)

    UM 57s are basically the same animal as a CMV563 with M7 capsule (I have 6). They rock. From what I understand they sound virtually identical (same tube same capsule). All of these mics have the the same capsule as a U47. Every bit as good as an M49 (we have both). I did a shootout with two vocalists between a 47, a 49, a C12, a C12 A and a CMV563 and a Lawson L47. The CMV and the Lawson took top honors.. Go figure!

    If you want one with a warantee with an old mic and a new psu (you have to dump the original one) that will work for a long time... get one from http://www.micshop.com. You will pay more, but it will work like new. By the time you buy a cheap one and have it rebuilt, it is well worth the money to buy a pair and have them work from the get-go...

    The new ones that are being made from "Microtech Gefel" are cheesy and sound cheap however. They are not the same. I had a solid state one at my house for about 10 seconds... The capsule is about the only good thing in there... the amplifier sounded worse than my $100 audio techinca C87s... They are to be avoided in my opinion... the words "suck donkey dick" come to mind...

    Speaking from experience,

    Sal Vito
    The Man of Sound
    salvito@hotmail.com
    312-409-0176

    Sal Vito
    The Man of Sound
    salvito@hotmail.com
    312-409-0176
     
  10. Hitmachine

    Hitmachine Guest

    Sorry to bring this up after two or three years, but I just have to.
    I don't want to make mistakes myself so I highly recommend to go to the Gefell homepage for details about their history. The above, whatsoever, is oviously NOT true.
    Neumann has never been "ashamed" of their other brand, Gefell and during the GDR they were named Gefell or R.F.T. and they belonged to Georg Neumann until the late sixtees.

    Gefell make WONDERFUL microphones. Their craftmenship is simply incredible and they're very nice and helpful as persons too.
    The trouble is that they kept using glued diagrams whereas Neumann started screwing their stuff. Maintainance with Gefells is more of an issue than with Neumann from the same era.
    They are named "Microtech Gefell" nowadays and their mic's are highly regarded, at least here in Europe. Ten times more than Sennheiser 89ai's.

    I've yet to hear an overhead microphone (including u87's, AKG's etc) that kick the Gefell's mv692/m94 buttom.

    Just because America didn't have acces to the stuff made during the cold war, doesn't mean it's not as good.
     
  11. Fruition2k

    Fruition2k Active Member

    Something to check for is that if it still has the original M7 capsule. They were prone to spider-web like cracks in the mylar/gold which is why W. German Neumann switched to the KK47 capsule in the mid 50's and stopped using the M7. Most prefer the M7 in the U47 especially if the mic was cared for thoughout the years. You may not be able to see the cracks with your naked eye, but an expert can check the diaphram and amplifier for you. The M7 is still made which is good news, I've seen UM57's go for $700-2500 and they vary greatly in tone more than most tube mics out there.
     
  12. A lot of reputable engineers (e.g., Fletcher) just hate the new Neumann stuff and assert that the Gefell stuff is what you should get if you really want that classic Neumann sound. From what I understand about the new Neumann stuff I would tend to agree with them. Mind you, I haven't ever used either.
     
  13. volki

    volki Guest

    alright... today the company is called "microtech gefell". check out http://www.microtechgefell.de/eng/home.htm
    to get the lowdown about their history.

    well, not quite - first there were 2 Neumann companies, one east, one west. where the eastern one still consisted of a Neumann main person and original employees. during that time, the eastern company was referred to "Neumann/gefell".

    in 1972, by pressure of the socialist system, the company was transformed into the state-owned "mikrofontechnik gefell". they also produced gear for the national consumer/pro audio brand "rft".
    after the wall came down, they renamed into "microtech gefell". btw, shortly after, the western Neumann were bought by sennheiser! (wonder how many people are aware of this)

    so, in short, gefell evolved out of Neumann and are a separate company today. they may have (had) different design approaches, but the standard is definitely just as high!

    plus, they're very dedicated and helpful, also when it comes to servicing their vintage stuff. (btw, one of their pr people, a former Neumann employee, supplied me schematics for Neumann eq's which the Neumann people wouldn't give to me themselves... :D ok, that's german ebay, of course...
     
  14. Hitmachine

    Hitmachine Guest

    Sorry for my false history lesson. As I said, I'm afraid to make mistakes myself.
    Thanks for backing up Gefell folks. Don't bad mouth it, if you don't know it
     
  15. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    I had an MT71s here for a while, and it sounded very U87-ish. forward mids, smooth highs, solid lows.
     

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