Neumann is one of the oldest and most respected names in the microphone market. Its mics are noted for their high sound quality and build and are used both in broadcasting for voice work and music recording, particularly on vocals. The company still bears the name of its founder, Georg Neumann, who trained at electrical firm Mix & Genest, later part of ITT Corp, and in the electric cable division of AEG.
He set up his first company in Berlin in 1928; Georg Neumann & Co would later move to Gefell further into eastern Germany and eventually become an independent operation under the name Microtech Gefell. In 1947 Neumann set up Georg Neumann GmbH in Berlin, with the two companies working independently but also sharing technologies up until the mid-1970s.
The Berlin firm's first product, featuring the M7 capsule developed in Gefell, was the mic that went on to be the benchmark not only for Neumann's own products but mic technology as a whole. The U47 was the first switchable pattern condenser mic, featuring a double diaphragm capsule that could be polarised with the same voltage or neutralised in relation to the central electrode, producing either an omni-directional or a cardioid response pattern.
A special version, the U48, was also produced, with the ability to polarise the diaphragms with opposite voltages to create both cardioid and figure of eight characteristics. Neumann built up its range over the years, including more mics considered classics, including the M49 remote-switchable model and the U87 studio condenser.
The company expanded into manufacturing disk cutting lathes for vinyl records, a successful business until the onset of the 1980s and the arrival of compact disc. Changes in the technology market coupled with ownership upheavals - including the Neumann family selling its shareholding - caused difficulties for the company, culminating in its being taken over by another leading Germany microphone manufacturer, Sennheiser, in 1991. Production was eventually moved to the parent company's factory but Neumann's distinctive look and sound continues in mics including the M147 tube, KMS104 and 105D digital-based handhelds, KMR 82 shotgun, the TLM170 R transformerless studio model and the modern version of the U87.