Founded by Georg Neumann, Microtech Gefell was originally known as Georg Neumann & Company Gefell.
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, 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. 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. 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. Today the Microtech Gefell factory produces a range of studio and measurement microphones that are sold through distributors worldwide.
Sales Manager Udo Wagner gives us an insight into how the history of the company has influenced its current design philosophy and product range.
In which way did the history lead to your current designs?
Company founder Georg Neumann was the first one who had the technical expert knowledge in developing condenser microphones on a high quality level to realize the first serial production. The microphone amplifier CMV 3 with M 7 capsule was the first microphone which was manufactured in a bigger quantity. The “Neumann- bottle” developed to a standard in studios between 1928 and the end of Second World War II. An important event was the Olympic Games 1936 where the “Neumann- bottle” was used. In the 30/40´s a new high quality of sound transmission was important in broadcast and TV stations as well as in film studios.
Next to the development of the legendary M 7 capsule which has been used in quite few models to this day, other capsule constructions were developed combined with tube and transistor preamplifiers as well as special constructions like line-array microphone KEM 970 (cardioid plane microphone) which is known for its use in the German government in Berlin.
The company also developed measurement techniques continuously, at a time when no-one else on the world was focusing in measurement research. These measurement microphones were especially used for own measurements needs to manufacture microphones which are long-term stable. Under the communist regime, the company became important in the eastern countries (“RGW-countries”) in regard to sound level measurements. To this day the company develops continuously and this has resulted in products like the measurement microphone type MV 230 as a digital transducer.
What you consider to be most important to achieve a high quality microphone design and how is this reflected in your current designs?
Especially reflected in current products like the M 930 series which was developed for special requirements to offer one of the most low-noise microphone all over the world which came out as standard.
Based on this, a few other models with other acoustical parameters were developed to cover new customer needs
Examples: studio microphones like the UM 930, UM 930 twin, M 930 Ts and M 1030
In measurement techniques : developments are based on an own production of type class 1 which comply to the highest requirements of sound measurements. Moreover Microtech Gefell GmbH manufactures array measurement systems, sound intensity probes and weatherproof measurement microphones as well as calibration devices.
The company can point to its handmade production including all parts without components supplied from far eastern countries.
Membranes are manufactured in Gefell to achieve a high and exact sound transmission
A manufacturing process consolidated by experts can be realized on the highest level
Cooperation with scientific technical research instituts the company can affect the market internationally.