U47 classic microphone

the Wagner Remake 

by Phil Punch 

I’ve often wished I could turn the clock back to say… 1956 and buy a brand new U47…”

Recently I had the opportunity to try a new microphone - the Wagner U47. This is a beautiful remake of the classic Neumann U47.

There's no doubt that Neumann got it right when they presented the recording and broadcast industry with the original U47 in the late 1940's. It changed the sound of popular music and together with the tape recorder and microgroove vinyl helped usher in the first golden age of high fidelity in the 1950's.
Listen to a good vinyl pressing or CD re-issue of a Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee or Sinatra Capitol recording, Beatles, Blue Note or Contemporary Jazz, Mercury Living Prescence Classical, Elvis in the early 60's..... it's easy to hear why the U47 is still revered.
Getting hold of a good U47 today, however, can be a frustrating and expensive experience! These are very old microphones! The capsules all sound different - some good some not so good. (Even when these mics were new the capsule consistency was far from perfect).
The Telefunken VF14 valve used by Neumann is now virtually impossible to find. Ever tried swapping VF14's in your U47? Try 4 different valves and you'll get 4 different sounding microphones…

 I've often wished I could turn the clock back to say.... 1956 and buy a brand new U47 with a perfect M7 capsule and brand new Telefunken valve. Thanks to Gunter Wagner, this is now possible!
The Wagner U47 arrived at my studio in a well made flight case with power supply and a quality shock mount. The microphone looks superb and is virtually indistinguishable from an original Neumann. The model I tried was a "chrome top". The slightly more conservative all nickel plated version will also be available in the future.

Initially I tried the mic with my brother Mark. He is a very experienced studio singer and I have recorded him with many different mics over the years.
I immediately felt that this was the best sound I'd had on his voice. With a good preamp (I used a gain modified TAB V72 and Neve 1272) this microphone has an uncanny ability to make you feel that there is nothing between you and the singer!
The tonal balance is fantastic - just the right amount of top and upper midrange prescences coupled with mid/bass weight (together with a really workable proximity effect)
 
U47's are far from neutral but if everything is working right, they have a magic quality that really places a singer in the spotlight. The Wagner U47 certainly does this.
I next tried the mic with Elana Stone, a Jazz singer with a lovely delicate, yet quite resonant voice.
Once again I was thrilled by the sound of the Wagner U47. Once again a feeling that there was nothing between me and the singer.... beautiful top end texture. Shawn, the piano player on the session commented on the beautiful vocal sound - unaware that I was trying a new microphone. 

The Wagner U47 is noticeably quieter than a typical Neumann U47 (about 3dB I'm told).
Gunter spends a lot of time selecting valves and then optimizing circuit values for a given valve. Well worth the effort!
Reluctantly at this point, I had to return the mic to Gunter.

I own an original Neumann U47 Made in 1954. The capsule has been re-diaphragmed to original Neumann specs and I love it.... but I don't think it sounds as good as the Wagner U47 made in 2003! 

Phil Punch/Electric Avenue Studios

July 2003