Very few events in audio history have had as much impact on the industry as the founding of the Neumann microphone company in 1928. Georg Neumann started production in Berlin with the first industrially manufactured condenser microphone, the CMV 3 (Neumann bottle). He continued to make many other models over the years, including the Neumann M 49.
Product PointsVital Statistics: Large diaphragm condenser microphone
Description: Tube microphone using a dual-diaphragm design.
Key Features: Cardioid; figure eight and omni patterns; continuously variable.
Specs: Frequency response 40 Hz to 16 kHz; weighted noise voltage (DIN 45 405) “d 4 uv; total noise voltage “d 14 uv; maximum sound pressure for 0.5% distortion at 40 Hz, 1 k and 5 k “e 125 dB.
Original Release Date: 1951; last release: 1974
How many sold: 2,673 (1951 to 1971)
Price at release: $495
Usage: Broadcasting, film and CD recording.
Chief Designer: Codesigned by Neumann and the Nordwestdeutcher Rundfunk.
Designed in 1951 for recording and broadcast in difficult acoustic conditions, the M 49 is quite versatile. The designer’s idea was that an engineer could adjust the directional characteristics from the continuously variable pot on the power supply placed in the control room. This was the first microphone to have this capability – a breakthrough when you consider that mics were often suspended high in an auditorium for live recording or broadcasts.
While the M 49 is physically identical to its omnidirectional cousin, the M 50 (the M 49 has a red dot and the M 50 has a white dot above the Neumann logo), the innards are quite different. The M 49 had the M7 capsule in modules produced from 1951-1960 and the K 49 (Mylar version also used in the U 47) from 1960-1974 when production ended. The M 50 had the smaller diameter omni K 50 capsule, with a metal diaphragm, which was mounted in a plastic sphere.
Both mics employed the AC 701K tube (Telefunken). This is the same tube used in many of your favorite mics (269, KM54, 69 and the SM2). Part of the beauty of the M 49 mic is its modular design, which affords the possibility of switching to an extra K50 capsule (if Allen Sides didn’t own every last one in the universe!).
The Neumann M 49 is a wonderful microphone with many uses. Vocals, saxes and various other solo instruments are the most popular applications, but I’ve also had good luck with it in orchestral situations. Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and Barbra Streisand have all done quite well in the past using this mic. I’m lucky enough to own one and never tire of its stunning looks and warm sound.