Neumann Microphones - Early History

Neumann has an enviable reputation as a supplier of high quality microphones and other Audio equipment. Their name is almost synonymous with the word 'microphone'.Many of their old microphones command very high prices in the Vintage Gear market and they continue to innovate with new microphone technology.

Georg Neumann GmbH was founded in Berlin in 1928 by Georg Neumann. In that year he developed the first mass produced condenser microphone the CMV3 which gained the nickname 'Neumann Bottle'. It measured approximately 9 cm in diameter and 40 cm in height and weighed nearly 3 kg.

In 1947 The U47 was developed, this was the first switchable pickup pattern condenser microphone. It had a double diaphragm capsule. Both diaphragms could be variably polarised with respect to the centre electrode, so enabling omnidirectional through to cardioid characteristics. A U47FET was released in the 1960s and became very popular with radio DJs and in studios for recording Bass Drum and Bass Amplifiers. In 1949 the M49, became the first microphone that could be remotely switched.

Neumann SM2
Neumann SM2
Neumann U47
Neumann U47
Neumann U47 FET
Neumann U47 FET
NeumannCMV3-Bottle
Neumann CMV3 Bottle

Neumann produced the SM2 in 1956 which was to remain the only stereo microphone in the world for many years.

Neumann U87
Neumann U87

The U67 was developed in 1960, it was Neumann's last tube-driven microphone circuit for many years. Also in that year the original U87 was released now in the U87A version, it is probably the world's best known studio microphone.

In the sixties, transistors increasingly replaced valves (tubes) in their use as amplifiers and impedance converters. When field effect transistors (FETs) were invented Neumann used them in the "KTM" 1965. A short time later Neumann developed "phantom power" with 48V thus removing the need for a separate power supply for each microphone. Each microphone input at the mixer could be fed centrally with 48V. Multi-core microphone cable was replaced by three-core standard cable and three-pin XLR connectors.

Neumann TLM170R
Neumann TLM170R

At the 1983 AES-Convention in Amsterdam, Neumann unveiled a new series of transformer-less microphones of the "FET100" series. The first of these was the switchable TLM170 with five directional pickup patterns. They were the first to provide wide-angle cardioid and hypercardioid directional patterns in addition to the usual omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-eight patterns and they allowed greater modulation without distortion and reduced self noise figures.


Neumann KM100
Neumann KM100

Hybrid technology made it possible to incorporate all the electronics into the capsule housing, thus creating the KM100 series "active capsules". Their small size plus a wide range of accessories e.g. swivel mounts, goose-necks, stereo mounts and hangers make them ideal for unobtrusive use in television programme making.

Neumann Microphones - Recent History

Neumann TLM193
Neumann TLM 193 and TLM 102

In 1991 the Neumann family, which held a controlling interest in the company after Georg Neumann's death in 1976, decided to sell its shares to Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG. Then in 1993, a decision was taken to move microphone production to the parent firm's factory north of Hanover.

In 1993 Neumann launched the TLM 193 large diaphragm microphone, its low price, allowed a new set of customers to buy a "real Neumann". It was followed by the TLM 102 and TLM 103.

M149-M147
Neumann M149 and M147

The demand for vintage valve microphones led Neumann to issue a new M149 Tube in 1995 and the M147 Tube in 1998. The '47' and '49' in the names is no accident, since their characteristics are based on those of their ancestors through the use of the K 47/49 capsules. The tube impedance converter determines the sound while the modern circuitry contains a transformerless, solid-state amplifier capable of handling high modulation levels along long microphone cables. This was a problem for the original microphones.

Neumann KM104
Neumann KM 104 and 105
Neumann KM104
Neumann KM104 Wireless

The development of the Neumann KMS 105 in 1999 heralded an expansion into the live stage market. A wireless version utilised Sennheiser's SKM 5000 / 5200 wireless systems. Neumann microphones are now regularly seen on television and at large concerts.

Neumann D01
Neumann D01
Neumann KMD
Neumann KMD Series

In the early 2000s Neumann worked on the development of the first digital microphone, the D-01, which has been joined by other digital microphones e.g. the KMD series along with their AES42 protocol remote control technologies. See our digital microphones page.

Neumann BCM 104 and 705
Neumann BCM 104 and 705

In 2003 the first of the Broadcast Line microphones, the BCM 104, was introduced for radio studios. The next microphone in the Broadcast Line, the BCM 705, became the first dynamic Neumann microphone in the company's history.

Specialist Neumann Microphones

Neumann KU80
Neumann KU80
Neumann Dummy Head
Neumann Dummy Head

In 1973 at the International Radio and Television Exhibition in Berlin, the KU80 "Dummy Head" was introduced. This invention of "binaural" stereo recording was developed in close co-operation with the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut. It was designed for true to life recordings that have to be listened to on headphones, they don't sound as lifelike through speakers. An improved KU81 Dummy Head was released, followed by the third-generation KU100 in 1992.

The Neumann KFM100 Spherical Surface Microphone was introduced in 1992 as an additional stereo recording method. It had two small condenser capsules on the diameter of a head-sized wooden sphere.

Neumann RSM191
Neumann RSM191

The RSM191 stereo shotgun microphone was developed especially for outdoor recordings. It uses Mid and Side capsules to create a stereo output. For more information about stereo recording see stereo recording page

NeumannKMR81
Neumann KMR

The Neumann KMR 81 shotgun and KMR 82 rifle microphones were developed for drama recordings on location, they should be used with windshields such as the Windjammer WJ81/82.

If you would like to read an in-depth history of the Neumann company you can do so starting at and then clicking on the History Part 1 (etc) buttons in the side menu. Here you can read about other audio related products that Georg Neumann invented or refined and interestingly also read about his invention of the first sealed Ni-Cad re-chargeable battery which until very recently were the only type of re-chargeable battery available to power Laptop computers etc.

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