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This section offers you a comprehensive introduction to the Neumann company, as well as an extensive overview of the company history and the products which have previously been placed on the market.

If you would like to visit Berlin, you can find interesting links with information about this fascinating metropolis, which has been in a state of constant change since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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From Tubes to Transistors
The aforementioned miniature microphones of the fifties and sixties were, of course, all tube microphones. Considering the small diameter of these microphones, this continues to amaze many users even today. The tube used was usually the Telefunken AC 701 tube, which had been developed especially for use in microphones. For the time being, Neumann's last tube-driven microphone circuit, developed in 1960, was destined for use in the U 67 switchable large-membrane microphone. It also marked another milestone. This microphone model, which survives today as the U 87 A, can rightfully be called one of the world's most well-known studio microphones.

In the sixties, tubes used as amplifiers and impedance converters were increasingly replaced by transistors. Upon the market launch of the field effect transistor, at the latest, condenser microphone circuits proved to be no exception. In 1965, Neumann introduced the "KTM" 1965, his first microphone with transistor circuitry. A short time later, Neumann developed the concept of "phantom power" with 48V. Now it was no longer necessary to have a separate power supply for each microphone. Instead, all microphone inputs could be fed centrally with 48V. The special, multi-core microphone cable was dropped in favour of three-core standard cable, The numerous connector types were unified and have now been replaced world-wide by three-pin XLR connectors.

The variety of microphone models, however, increased: First the existing, well-tried models of the 60 Series (e.g., KM 63, 64, and 65, U 67) were replaced by successors using semiconductors. Starting in 1966, these were the small and large membrane microphones KM 83, 84, 85 and U 87 of the "fet 80" series for 48V phantom power.

The remote-switchable SM 69 fet microphone was joined by the locally switchable USM 69; the KMS 84 and KMS 85 microphones for vocalists were developed, as well as the KMR 81 and KMR 82 as representatives of a new microphone type, the shotgun microphone.

U 87 (1967)
U 87 (1967)
KM 84 (1966)
KM 84 (1966)
KMR 81/82 (1978/1983)
KMR 81/82 (1978/1983)
Artificial Ears Learn to Hear
At the 1973 International Radio and Television Exhibition in Berlin, the world witnessed the debut of the "Dummy Head". This marked the invention of "binaural" stereo recording. Neumann developed the first KU 80 Dummy Head in close scientific cooperation with the Berlin-based "Heinrich-Hertz-Institut". It was designed for true-to-life recording of environmental acoustics. Later, these recordings could be played back to test persons via headphones in order to subject the recordings to an objective evaluation. It quickly became apparent, however, that this three-dimensional auditory experience also permitted very exciting radio productions, and the dummy head established itself as an additional stereo microphone alongside the "classic" models mentioned above for the so-called "coincidence method". Soon the improved KU 81 Dummy Head came on the market, followed by the third-generation KU 100 in 1992.

KU 80 (1973)
KU 80 (1973)
KU 100 (1992)
KU 100 (1992)
Semiconductors for Studio Mixing Consoles
While the developments at Neumann can be chiefly related to advances in its condenser microphone technology, the company remains very much involved in the manufacture of disc cutting equipment, as well as the more directly associated field of complete sound mixing systems.

In the initial years of semiconductor development, the world was flooded with tiny "six-transistor radios". Everybody had one, and they crackled and hissed music and information wherever one turned. In terms of quality, however, they were nothing to write home about. This had less to do with the semiconductors themselves than it did with the application of this interesting component back then.

Throughout the company's history, Neumann had continually pushed the limits of physical possibility with regard to studio engineering equipment. Why shouldn't one be able to manufacture a studio-quality amplifier using transistors, too? The development contract was awarded, and the first amplifier built was a 34 dB amplifier, designated "TV", which had excellent specifications. It was to become the heart of a series of studio devices and gave rise, for example, to the TEV equaliser and the TRV channel controller. The individual components were developed in the early sixties. Then at the 1963 Radio and Television Exposition in Berlin, Neumann debuted its first all solid-state mixing console. It had 10 input channels, four groups, and two output channels. Its design corresponded to the "Large Basic Unit according to AK 3" and it met the conditions of the corresponding German standard. All inputs and outputs were balanced and floating, but the circuit inside the console was unbalanced. The maximum output level was +6 dBm, which is very low by present-day standards. The only transistors available at the time, however, were Germanium transistors. Nevertheless, transistors had cast off the stigma of amateurishness once and for all. Things had gotten off to a good start.

The development of silicon transistors then opened the way for more powerful amplifiers. Neumann built such devices and began manufacturing mixing consoles which, in electrical and mechanical terms, made customers' wildest dreams come true. Neumann enjoyed a great deal of success with this technology and delivered several hundred custom-made mixing consoles to numerous German and European radio and television broadcasting corporations, movie and recording studios, theatres, opera houses, and concert halls.

Development progressed with the realisation of computer-controlled switching equipment. In the late seventies, for example, Neumann equipped the main control room of what was then the radio station RIAS-BERLIN with a computer-controlled routing system. Other objectives were mixing consoles that permitted storage of static settings, for example, settings for microphone amplifiers, equalisers, controllers, and connecting points. This reduced set-up time considerably. Neumann delivered consoles of this type to the Schillertheater and the Theater des Westens, both of which are theatres in Berlin. The first broadcasting corporation to accept delivery of a console of this type was Hessischer Rundfunk.

For the time being, continuing automation of master control board equipment reached its zenith in the N 7000 series, which offers fully automated operation, for example, through static and dynamic storage of all values and time-code-driven automation of motor controllers and VCA pan pots. Consoles of this type were delivered to the Berlin Philharmonic and several broadcasting corporations, as well as the Media Centre of the German Federal Defense Forces.

Mixing consoles at the theatre ‘Theater des Westens’, Berlin
Mixing consoles at the theatre ‘Theater des Westens’, Berlin
Mixing consoles of the N 7000 series at the Berlin Philharmonic
Mixing consoles of the N 7000 series at the Berlin Philharmonic


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