Neumann Hero

Inside Neumann’s Microphone and Monitoring Day at TYX

Decamping to Tileyard’s Dolby Atmos Studio, Neumann presented their fresh spin on a microphone legend, and wowed the ears of attendees with their Atmos-tailored KH monitoring setup

Revered by those within the audio industry – and a name of some repute for those beyond, Neumann’s heritage is a major factor as to why their position at the upper tier of the microphone sector is still held to this day. While other manufacturers might bandy around terms like ‘legacy’ and ‘prestige’, the Berlin-based company’s story is one of the music technology world’s foundational pillars. Since launching the very first commercially sold condenser microphone – the famous bottle-shaped CMV 3 back in the late 1920s – Neumann subsequently developed numerous era-defining, industry-standards including the hailed U 47, widely used by Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, amongst others. In 1991, the company joined the Sennheiser family of brands.

On November 16th, Neumann invited us to Tileyard’s new TYX studio complex, to learn more about their evolution, as well as allowing us to hear the company’s latest monitoring solutions in a breathtaking Atmos context, within Tileyard’s own Atmos Studio. We also got a chance to test out their acclaimed range of microphone offerings. These included the U 47 FET and the brand new M 49 V.

Attendees included journalists and artists, such as A1pha Romeo, who was on the lookout particularly for a microphone that saved him time in the studio later. He told us, “I’m looking for something to help me get more efficient, and get the best out of the experience I enjoy. Especially working in a place that isn’t professionally treated.”

Firstly, we were given a presentation in Tileyard’s 7.2.4 Atmos room, which is already equipped with Neumann’s KH420 midfield monitors, KH 870 subwoofers and KH 120 nearfields. “All of our monitors can be used in Atmos configurations” Jonas Næsby, Sennheiser’s Pro Audio Technical Application Engineer explained to attendees, “It’s also most likely one of the cheapest options out there. People think Neumann is expensive, but that’s really not the case in the monitoring world.”

Neumann Monitoring Atmos


With the acquisition of Klein and Hummel by Neumann’s parent Sennheiser back in 2009, Neumann engaged with the innovative company’s design philosophy to craft the K&H series, it’s name a cap-doff to the speaker pioneers who were held in supremely high esteem. “[Klein and Hummel] used to do PA speakers, and column speakers and things like that. There are plenty of other people doing that so we didn’t pursue it, but their studio monitor philosophy absolutely excelled. Now branded as Neumann, their brilliance is now revealed to a global audience.” Jonas said.

A chief ambition of the day was in demonstrating the standalone power and precision of the newly released KH150 monitors. These DSP-driven low-end heavyweights seriously wowed when put through their paces– particularly when Jonas revealed that the room’s KH870 subwoofer was deactivated, and the room-shaking rumble was emanating solely from deep within the pair of 150s, which sport a bass response extending down to 39 Hz. Jonas also stressed that the solely Berlin-based construction, testing and fine-tuning can take time, only ending when the quest for perfection is met. “We would have loved to release that speaker three years ago, but then it wouldn’t have been as good as it now is.”

Built around a 6.5 inch woofer, the KH150 is nothing short of a masterclass in monitor design. Its 20 litre bass reflex cabinet, highly precise drivers and MMD waveguide are impressive enough, but once you factor in DSP room calibration the true extent of KH150s studio monitoring prowess becomes apparent.


Neumann Monitoring Day


Jonas demonstrated how Neumann’s proprietary MA 1 Automatic Monitor Alignment microphone and software is used to scale their response to the room. While all Neumann’s monitors have DIP switches, the precision of the DSP reigns things in on a whole different level. Jonas stressed that DSP alignment shouldn’t replace acoustic treatment, but that it certainly helps to tame untreated rooms.

Jonas illustrated the MMD waveguide around each of the KH series tweeters, which controls its dispersion across the frequency range; he also demonstrated how the build quality of the monitors tamed harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion. “Basically, what we wanted to do was build a speaker that makes your life easier. We want it to be as accurate as possible, and be the best measurement device. Which means you can make good mixing decisions.”

The day’s most exciting moment came when we got to hear the KH-kitted Atmos Suite at Tileyard in all its glory. “Mixing in Atmos requires you to think in terms of objects, wherever you place the sound object in the Atmos mix, the appropriate speakers will render it as good as possible. The more speakers, the better the localisation” Said Jonas, before allowing us to listen to a choice playlist of Atmos-mixed tracks. Ranging from Tiesto to Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift, the various mix elements circled, swooped and teleported themselves astoundingly around the room.

As Jonas explained, “We also make monitoring plugins which means you can build a large Atmos system, just like this one, on a pair of headphones. We can virtualise a speaker configuration, and our software knows how to make a headphone sound as close to a control room as possible. That means you don’t necessarily need a large room like this to mix in Atmos, you could even be in a hotel room.”

Next on the agenda was to take a look – and a listen – to Neumann’s hallowed microphone range, recently joined by the M 49 V. This re-birth of the original M 49 valve microphone (first released in 1951) maintains the original specifications of the classic original, including its continuously variable polar pattern, while also bringing new adjustments to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range.

Neumann Microphones

The M49 V was situated alongside fellow Neumann heavyweights, the TLM 103 cardioid condenser, the legendary U 47 FET, and the M 149. Vocalist Etoile Marley tested the various mics vocal capabilities and allowed us to listen to the isolated stems she recorded with each. The M 49 V was particularly impressive, bringing pinpoint clarity of vocal reproduction and something we could only define as ‘sparkle’, while the mighty U 47 FET brought depth and warmth to Marley’s vocal take.

Neumann Mic Test

Listening back to tracks using Neumann’s new headphones, the closed-back NDH 20s and open-backed NDH 30s, gave us the chance to dip our ears into the company’s latest diversification. Both headphones bring extreme isolation and detail, as well as that all-important comfort factor. It’s highly likely this branch of the company will continue to grow, however cards were being held close to the chest on what further additions to the headphone line might entail.

Neumann Headphone Test


The day comprehensively underscored Neumann’s continuing brilliance in making some of the best music technology on the market today. It also revealed how being part of the Sennheiser family has broadened the company’s scope, and how this nearly century-old company is leading the charge into the future, with some of the most mind-blowing – and affordable – Atmos-ready monitors around.