Microtech Gefell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Founded by Georg Neumann, Microtech Gefell was originally known as Georg Neumann & Company Gefell, and is considered by many in the audio recording industry to be the true bearer of the well-known Neumann name.

Gefell is the name of the town to which Georg Neumann fled from Berlin in 1943. An incendiary bomb had destroyed most of his original factory earlier that year. He brought his family, his technical director Mr. Kuehnast, his legal adviser Mr. Drechsler and around twenty employees with him, and soon set up shop in an abandoned textile factory. Production continued in Gefell of the microphone models made since the 1930s in Berlin, including the M7 capsule developed by Walter Weber and Hans Joachim von Braunmuhl of the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft and subsequently used in the U47 and M49, and the "bottle" microphones used throughout German broadcasting. By 1948, Neumann had moved back to his home in Berlin, which was finally relinquished by the military, and started up a new company called Georg Neumann GmbH. When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, Neumann's Berlin and Gefell workshops were separated. However, Neumann and his engineers in Berlin were able to stay in communication with the laboratory in Gefell until 1976, when Georg Neumann died.

In 1972, pressured by the GDR,[1] the company changed its name to VEB Mikrofontechnik Gefell. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, an engineer from the workshop in Berlin visited the company and retrieved the microphones developed since the last communication between the two cities. The engineers in Berlin were surprised to find that the technology developed in Gefell was in some ways more advanced than that of Berlin. In 1991, Sennheiser purchased Neumann's Berlin company, which was facing bankruptcy.[2] This is the reason most often cited for the claim that Microtech Gefell is more accurately described as Neumann's company. Other reasons include the fact that some of the technology used in many of Neumann Berlin's best known microphones was developed in Gefell. The nickel membranes used in Neumann Berlin's later measurement microphones and the KM-54 and 56, were developed in Gefell and are still in production there for the Gefell measurement mics. Microtech Gefell is still the only company that manufactures the original M7 capsule whose diaphragms are constructed on a PVC backing rather than PET film. Microtech Gefell's microphones are manufactured using the same techniques developed by Georg Neumann, while Sennheiser's Neumann microphones are now manufactured at the Sennheiser factory in Wedemark. As a January 2004 Sound on Sound article stated: "Currently under the technical supervision of Kuehnast's son, Microtech Gefell still produces the M7 capsule in exactly the same way Georg Neumann taught the elder Kuehnast in the 1940s — hand drilling each hole in the backplate, making the PVC membrane, and gluing it all together by hand just as Neumann specified!"[3]

Throughout the GDR period, the Gefell factory grew and supplied measurement and studio microphones to much of the east bloc. The original operation grew to about 160 employees by the late 1980s, and the East German government funded construction of a new building which now houses research and production for measurement and studio microphones. The company is owned by Georg Neumann KG, the descendant of the original firm that was nationalized by the GDR in 1972 and which is now owned by the Kuehnast and Drechsler families.

Today the Microtech Gefell factory produces a range of studio and measurement microphones that are sold through distributors worldwide. Three generations of the Kuehnast family and two of the Drechsler family are involved in management of the enterprise.

Sources[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]