Review by Jeff Laurence Gill, Autumn Hill Studios
Franklin, NC USA

These microphones are destined to be the benchmark standard for the "new classic sound" and will surely go up in value.

When I began my career as a voice talent in 1970 doing radio and television commercials, along with industrial narrations I had the opportunity to do work at a commercial studio in Toronto, Canada using a Neumann U47 tube microphone.  I had used many of the microphones of the time..including the Shure SM5B, and the venerable Sennheiser MD421..but I had never been to a studio that used these huge, independently powered microphones. 

 
Well...I was hooked! 
 
I knew I possessed the ability to read scripts..and take direction..but I had no idea that one microphone could make such a difference interpreting my words to tape.  It was then that I vowed to someday operate my own studio, and I was going to one day OWN one of these magic microphones!
 
As the years passed I was fortunate to do work for studios all around North America, and only on few occasions was I able to find one that had a U47.  When I inquired if they would be willing to part with it..the answer was always NO.
 
These days I now own my own successful production facility in the mountains of North Carolina, and I've seen the advertisements for "vintage quality" microphones..."close to the original" knock-offs, and otherwise imitations of the great U47.  You can type in "Neumann U47" right now on the internet and find scores of sites that sell "mint condition" vintage mics,  "restore" these mics, and still more that offer studio tube microphones that are "just as good" as the U47..with some tipping the 10 thousand dollar mark.  I must say that with no other alternative I bought one of the "restored" Telefunken branded U48's (same mic with a different pattern selection) and up until August  of 2003 I loved it like a new baby...but it was not quite the same.
 
I had read with great interest the website of Mr. Gunter Wagner..a well known microphone technician, and one of only a very few who could repair the costly Neumann U47.  He did so with such a commitment to the original sonic quality of the U47, and attention to detail that was beyond comparison.  It was obvious that Mr. Wagner knew his stuff!
 
In August of 2003 I began looking for a pair of U47s that would be suitable for a new studio project that we were building, and I had just about given up my search for any two that would sound as good as that original U47.  I was about to just purchase two of the "almost as good as" spin-off microphones from an audio supply house when I saw a link to a website called www.german-tubemics.com  and there...posted only weeks before was a page showing two U47's side by side..and one of them was a NEW mic!  A NEW U47 hand built by Gunter Wagner!  I HAD to have one!
 
 These are hand made in Germany and Australia and these are the REAL DEAL. Gunter has been in the business of repairing Neumann and Telefunken mics for decades, and he KNOWS what they are supposed to SOUND like..and that is the key.  Many manufacturers will publish graphs, and show technical specs that look good on paper, and a few take great pride at how their mics "look just like the original".  In Mr. Wagner's case he has taken into consideration the most important characteristic for any studio mic...how it SOUNDS on the final production.  Then,  he has a keen sense for the one extra ingredient that yesterday's tube mics possessed, and today's mic's would like to have...the MAGIC.   Most of these vintage mics were built nearly 50 years ago, and as most electronic components change or just go bad, each mic that's still out there sounds different from when it was new..Plus you can't get original tubes for them any longer.  There are some "restoration" companies out there that don't restore...they modify to accommodate for available parts etc.  I have a "restored Telefunken U48" that I am using now, and it's great, but these Wagner re-issues are true to the ORIGINAL sonic specifications, and there is simply nothing as good as this out there...at ANY price!  The only thing better might be a "wayback" machine to get a few when they were only 500 dollars or so..but alas there is not.
Today..right now, we have the finest microphone available on the planet right here..for a price that is much less than many "vintage" mic dealers are getting for their "mint condition" U47's..and less than many of the newly built "look-alikes"  In either case you take a chance that the vintage unit will not have problems (most do), and that the new unit's manufacturers will be around in 3 years (many aren't).  With a Gunter Wagner re-issue, you get the pristine hand-made microphone, hand-wired power supply, OEM style elastic shock mount, and hand wired and tested connector cable..along with a service warranty provided by several reputable companies worldwide.  Because the microphones are totally hand made, and production capability is limited the actual price will vary..but if you want to make a "sound" investment, both in your careers as a studio owner, voice talent, singer or musician..and in a fine piece of audio history, I would encourage you to immediately reserve your U47w as soon as you are able.  These microphones are destined to be the benchmark standard for the "new classic sound" and will surely go up in value.
 
Jeff Laurence Gill
Autumn Hill Studios
Franklin, NC USA
[email protected]

 

----- Original Message -----
From: Jeff Laurence Gill
To: Gunter Wagner
Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2003 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: ready to go

Well...were do I start?  Just amazing!  These are the cleanest mics I have ever heard.  I am very impressed with the sonic quality, and the brilliant high-end, but also with how well your new U47W accepts a slight amount of processing..We needed to put a very slight expander section onto it so there would be less room noise.  Now I can hear that I need to do a little more work on my announce room. (grin)
 
Your low end curve reminded me of the exact sound that I was searching for..reminiscent of the first U48 that I used in the late 60's.  Up until now I had not found that same "sound" but these microphones will be permanant fixtures in our studios for decades!
 
Bravo Gunter, on a product that has your mark of passion on it with every project that I do!  I am so grateful to have found you!
 
Jeff Laurence Gill
Autumn Hill Studios
Franklin, NC USA