Common name: Neumann M 50b
Production Status: Discontinued / Vintage
The M 50b is the second version of the M 50 manufactured between 1959 and 1964. It is equipped with the Telfunken AC701 k tube and bears a black Neumann logo. In 1951 Georg Neumann GmbH launched a special microphone derived from the M 49 that was developed in partnership with NWDR – Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (Northwest German Broadcasting) with the headquarters located in Hamburg. The M 50 has the same body of the M 49, the same amplifier following M 49 subsequent upgrades (b and c versions). The first version was recognizable by the absence of the Neumann logo replaced by a red “jewel”for the M 49 and white one for the M 50. The M 50 is a pressure microphone (omnidirectional) featuring a 21 mm small diaphragm capsule installed on a spherical body whose diaphragm is aligned with the surface of the plexiglass sphere. For physical reasons the flush mounted diaphragm exhibits particular behavior, depending on the diffraction sphere diameter. The transducer has a very smooth response up to the frequency in which the wave length becomes comparable with the sphere diameter, then, for higher frequencies with smaller wave lengths, the frequency response is boosted. In the M 50 this limit is around 1 kHz, thereafter the frequency response rises gradually with an overall +6 dB boost in the 8000 to 16000 Hz range. The polar response is at the same omnidirectional for lower frequencies and directional for higher ones. The transducer practically works like a pressure one for low-end and like pressure gradient for higher frequencies. These features make the microphone the perfect choice for high distance environmental orchestra recordings, as high frequencies are more prone to long distance attenuation than low frequencies. Upon first release in 1951 the K 50 capsule employed a PVC gold sputtered diaphragms, then aluminum diaphragms with the K 53 in 1954, Nickel diaphragms with the K 53 in 1958 and finally gold-sputtered polyester foil (MCF) diaphragms with the K 63 / K 83 in 1965. To achieve high sensitivity and low equivalent noise level, the distance between the moving diaphragm and the back electrode is narrow (10 µm) and the diaphragm is highly tensioned. Decca records Ltd. used these microphones extensively for classical “FFSS” (Full Frequencies Stereophonic Sound” productions in their “Decca tree” arrangements (three microphones) as “out-riggers” microphones (side microphones). RCA Victor Living Stereo (LSC series) often used M 50s with A-B center-fill techniques. The M 50 was also popular as spot (close distance) microphones for woodwinds and strings. The “white Jewel” M 50 initially used a MSC 2 metal tube made by Hiller, although most of them were later upgraded to Telefunken AC 701 k “b” or “c” circuits either by the Neumann factory or by recording studios maintenance laboratories. M 50s are quite rare and high value microphones. In recent times Neumann manufactured the TLM 50, M 150 and KK 133, all working with the same transducer principles. The microphone was manufactured, in various versions, from 1951 till 1971.