SP, MXL and Neumann mics.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by sign, May 19, 2003.

  1. sign

    sign Guest

    Today a SP B1 mic was brought by the postman.
    It came in a carton box, with a nice clip and a foam windscreen. The mic in a sealed plastic bag with a sachet of silica gel, very well done!

    I have a pair of MXL tubes from the dealer. The V69 tube and the V77 tube. The 69 comes in a nice suitcase, with a solid PSU, a shockmount, foam windscreen, all necessary cabling and it's also in a plastic bag with a sachet of silica gel.

    The 77 is more expensive, but comes in a carton box, also with all the things like the 69.

    The SP manual says: "Studio Projects was designed with German engineering in mind. We offer German quality and sound for a fraction of the cost".

    That must be a typical way of American advertising IMHO, but we Europeans don't like that very much, and IMO it's a little besides reality.

    I have a Neumann M149. It came in a carton box with a shockmount, a little wooden box for the mic, a dustbag and a special cable. The PSU is a little metal box with a wallwart. Nothing special, a little cheap looking though.

    The mic sounds very good, but it costs 12 times a V77, some 23 times a V69 and 50 times a B1.

    The sound of the V77 though is very German IMHO.

    I wonder, are the days of Neumann limited? They raised the prices of the M149 some 30% in april.

    I would very much like to have 20 Neumann tubes, but on the other hand, how many great other mics would I have for the same amount of money?

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    You should record a 16 bar, original, of acoustic guitar, as a mic comparison of all your mics, through the same mic pre and at the same level, and post it on the NWR for us all to listen to. Sounds like you have a nice collection of contemporary mics that would be relevant to compare... Kurt
  3. HiString

    HiString Guest

    QUOTE:......"I wonder, are the days of Neumann limited?"

    Have a read of the following article. Admittedly, it is just one person viewpoint but it does raise some questions...........

    Aplogies for the size of the link.

  4. The postman brought me two B-1s last week, and so far I've been keeping the dog in the backyard... (not LittleDog). Doc
  5. sign

    sign Guest

  6. lowdbrent

    lowdbrent Guest

    The days of Neumann are not numbered. The people that can afford to buy used vintage, and new re-issues will continue to do so. The people that can only afford budget mics are not Neumann's primary target market.

    Having just done a review myself of many new modern mics, I can safely say that there is justification for the difference in cost between budget mics and vintage mics.

    The differences become blurry between budget mics. Just about all of the budget mics have inferior shockmount harware. The cables that come with budget mics are usually high-momory, cheasy cables. The Marshall would be exception with the Mogami option.

    Having a case or a carton is no big deal to me. Most of the cases fall apart in no time anyway.

    If you want to see a great case, check out the new Telefunken ELAM mic.
  7. I think the B-1 beats the c-1000s. I sold my c-1000s. Doc
  8. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    I fortunately enough have a 50´s Neumann tube-mic. It works perfectly and sounds great. I would not be surprised if a great number of the new Neumanns are in working condition in 50 years. I don´t think the chinese budget ones will be. Just a thought.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I have to agree but for different reasons. A mic that costs $2500 new is likely to be taken much better care of that one that sells for $150.

    I you purchase one of the standard high end mics by a reputable European manufacturer, you will be making an investment. Mics like the U87, C12 or 414 are standards and will most likely always be in demand. These types of mics can even keep track with inflation if they are taken care of and if are purchased wisely, may even be considered an investment.

    But don't lose sight of the fact that many of the new affordable designs and knockoffs, are well designed and will do the job at a significantly lower cost. I have had some of these mics in my hands and they don't really seem to be built any cheaper that the European ones. The difference is in the rejection rate of the capsules I would guess. So you will have to be a bit more discerning when you pick one or two out to purchase.

    Even the European manufactures are guilty of shooting at the bottom and the middle of the market with many of their more "affordable" offerings. I for one have not been as impressed with many of these, as I have been with offerings from Studio Projects, Rode and ADK. These companies have the luxury of emulating a great design and selling it at a lower price point. If Neumann were to market a U87 "lite" they would essentially be cutting their own throat. Kurt
  10. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    My apologies if, as a non-pro, this comes off as impudent and presumptuous.

    I've never used a Neumann, Brauner, or any of the other great European mics. I'm prepared to take the word of people who have far more experience than I that these are probably some of the finest pieces of gear made.

    With regard to Neumann raising its prices, I wonder however. I know that no one in this thread is necessarily defending that, but I just gotta ask. Is that mic that now costs 30% more any higher quality than the exact same mic you (not you personally but rather the collective Neumann consumer/advocate base) purchased before the price hike? Will it last any longer than the exact same mic you purchased before the price hike? The quality of these mics is legend, but does that quality warrant a fairly steep price increase? I mean, they weren't cheap to begin with. Yes, quality costs. But if the quality of these mics is to remain the same - same components, same tolerances, etc. - at what point does even the most diehard Neumann advocate say, "OK, that's just ridiculous"? I just have to wonder what Neumann is thinking with this move.

    I can understand if the price hike is due to increased costs of manufacturing the mics but if, as Rip Rowan asserted, Neumann was raking in fat margins on the product, one might reasonably look askance at a higher price for them. OTOH, I'm not in any way defending the marketing hype any of the Chinese mic manufacturers use. My day gig is in product/service oriented marketing and engineering so I know all too well what marketing is about. I personally have a number of SP mics and find them to be quite good, however, product marketing didn't factor into my decision to buy any of them.

    Kurt asserts that higher priced gear is more likely to be taken better care of. Perhaps I'm in a tiny minority, but I take exceptionally good care of my gear whether it costs 200 dollars or 2000. Every piece of gear I have, while modest in name and stature, was paid for with my hard earned coin. I try to wring every ounce of performance I can out of every piece and none of it would do that for me if I abused it or otherwise took less than loving care of it. I may not be involved with turning out Grammy-winning albums, but I still treat my gear as if I were. If I were suddenly to find myself in posession of a U87, it would get the same care that my SP C1 gets.

    Now, whether or not either of them still works in 50 years is another matter. Assuming I live that long, I'd be in my mid 90's and likely wouldn't be too concerned about it.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I think the increase in the price of Neumann and AKG and other Europeian manufacturers are reflective of inflation and the falling value of the United States Dollar, more than anything else. You will see increases in the cost of goods from Asia as soon as the SARS scare is contained. In regards to the units sold before the price hike, their resale value just went up.. Kurt
  12. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Kurt -

    I'm not sure about the inflation aspect. Wasn't Greenspan just up on the hill trying to calm people's fears about DE-flation? Besides, even if inflation were a factor, a 30% hike seems a little excessive. I know things like import duties and strength of the dollar to the euro are factored in as well, but still. I make no claims to be a financial markets guru, but unless I've missed something really drastic I don't think there have been any legitimate cost pressures that warrant that kind of increase.

    With regard to products from Asia, consider a couple of counter-examples. The SP VTB-1 pre and T3 tube mic just went down in price, and this during the very height of the SARS scare. According to Alan Hyatt, this was due to improved cost efficiencies (or something along those lines) in building those products and they passed the savings on to us. If memory serves, ART and Alesis are asian based/owned companies and I believe they just dropped the price on several of their products.
  13. sign

    sign Guest

    I have no idea why Neumann increased their prices, I just don't know.

    What I do know is that my M149 sounds very good and on any acoustic instrument turns out to be the best mic for the job.
    But the price is ridiculously high IMHO.
    There's not more in that mic than in an MXL tube.

    A couple of years back it needed a new tube, so the mic was opened. In that big body is a small print with a couple of resistors, caps, a few transistors and a tiny military tube. That new tube was also very expensive, some $450.
    What I want to say with it is, the cost cannot be the amount of material that's in the mic. So it must be the quality, the Neumann name and the Neumann knowledge, which is top without a doubt.

    Today I had some time to try the new SP B1 in my own situation, on my own board, with a Sennheiser HD580. I used my own voice of course and a bluesharp, which is a tricky instrument.

    I compared it to an AKG C1000 and a Rode NT3 (I'm not going to fire up that Neumann tube for a couple of minutes).

    The winner without any doubt is the B1, a microphone that costs 1/40 of the M149.
    And that my dear fellow forum members, is a tragedy. The B1 sounds killer for that price.

    Imagine a car that costs 40 times the car you have now and you are happy with. What kind of car would that be?

    Peace, Han
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I haven't been following the news much lately so I could be wrong but I thought I heard that the value of the dollar was declining... Kurt
  15. sign

    sign Guest

    Kurt, the euro is $1.17 now.
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    There you go! 17% of that 30% increase right there. Probably just trying to stay ahead of the curve...
  17. sign

    sign Guest

    Kurt, Neumann increased their prices some 25 to 30% in Europe as well.

    Mmmmmm......... :eek:
  18. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    I don´t really get it...if you think the cheaper mics sound as good as Neumann, then why complain ?? Buy the cheaper one. Simple.

    Or even more bang for the buck, buy a SM57. The most allround and price-worthy mic ever made. With a good pre it sounds fantastic on most anything. You get at least 20 SM57:s for the price of one U87.

    So what´s the big deal?? Everything seems to be about home-recordists demanding "the-best-mic-ever-designed" (whichever that is..) for peanuts. Doesn´t make sense. There are mics in different price ranges for different reasons. Accept it. You don´t get an Armani suit for $50 either just because there are cheap copies of it around. I´m sure there´s a reason to why Neumann is keeping their prices up.
  19. sign

    sign Guest

    Marcus, if I have given you the impression I am complaining, then I'm sorry, that's not my intention.

    I started this thread to have some discussion about the inexpensive LDC mics. This is a forum right?

    I've said a Neumann is a superior mic, my best sounding microphone happens to be a Neumann.
    But over the last years a number of very inexpensive LD condensers appeared on the market, even some very nice sounding tube mics.

    It seems to me these inexpensive mics are getting better and better. I am really impressed about the SP B1, a microphone that costs as little as the SM57 which you like so much, but the B1 will give you a much better sound in most situations IMO.

    You say the SM57 is a bigger bang for the buck, but I respectfully disagree here. I have some 45 microphones, but only one SM57 that's almost never used. IMHO the 57 has a not so nice off axis response. I have used it a couple of times for snare, but the hat bleed sounds really nasty.
    A Beyer M201 is a big improvement, less hat bleed and a better hat sound.

    Coming back to the LDC subject, Neumann is a very big name, like Rolls Royce in carworld, but listen to a TLM103 or an M147 and a Studio Projects tube or an MXL tube.

    I don't have any problem with buying Neumanns, my studio is not a home studio. But when I buy my next Neumann I'll do that mainly because it's a Neumann. And it probably will be a vintage one.

    Let's have more discussion! :)
  20. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    Han, I did not mean you are the one complaining. My apologies if you got that impression. I meant more in general. I´ve seen/heard/overheard this topic in other forums, music stores, magazines...all over together with questions like "I need a pro soundcard for max $150" etc. Seems to me like amateurs and semi-pro recordists seem to think that (only because the cost of making decent-quality recordings are significantly cut down, and made available to everybody thanx to DAW:S) pro-gear for everyone for the price of toys is almost like a human right declared by the UN. Ok, that´s a bit out of line but I´m just sick and tired of this whole budget-gear thing and all the whining (again, not you Han ;) ) about why all the high-end stuff is expensive. That´s just the way it is, and always will be.
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