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seaneldon

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Posts: 314 Member Since: 07/02/2011

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Aug 31 16 10:56 PM

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For several years, our beloved Oliver Archut not-so-subtly hinted that microphone-grade VF14 tubes could be recreated if someone would put up the significant monies to tool up and make it happen. He'd throw around numbers that tended to fluctuate depending on who he was talking to and when and where he was talking...$300,000...$400,000...$500,000...

You also got the idea that he had a pretty good idea as to how it could be done, the machines and processes necessary, all that.

He also argued that it would never happen. Too much money for too small a market, even at the bottom of that $200k swing.

But look at this. This astonishes me. This should astonish you.

Of course, the crowdfunding campaign for Townsend modeling microphone linked above is marketed to a much different audience -- a large gaggle of people chasing a dream of getting everything for nothing.

But the fact remains -- these people raised A LOT OF MONEY for A MICROPHONE that DOESN'T EVEN EXIST YET.

So with this in mind...what, if anything, is stopping someone with knowledge of tube manufacturing and the dedication and obsession to really do it right from opening up a crowdfunding campaign for the thousands of U 47 owners in 2016 to try and get the VF14 back into production so that every current and future U 47 owner could have the proper tube in their microphone?

If someone who owns two U 47s could pay $1000 toward a crowdfunding campaign to potentially get 10 tubes in return rather than gambling $2k on a tube that may or may not be microphone-grade, don'tcha think that someone would gladly plunk down the $1,000?

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compasspnt

Diamond Forever

Posts: 21,216 Member Since:08/01/2011

#1 [url]

Aug 31 16 11:18 PM


Nope.

Oliver and I talked about 'tube re-making' many times, and the cost ended up well into the millions.

Plus there is NO ONE now alive who has the requisite knowledge to make a VF14.

Plus ANY newly made one would always be suspect to the purist.

I say no way, no how.

Sorry!


PS, but you probably COULD get a whole bunch of people to send in money for a white elephant…



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seaneldon

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Posts: 314 Member Since:07/02/2011

#2 [url]

Aug 31 16 11:26 PM

I'm now looking back at later Oliver forum posts where he states that $500,000 was the number quoted by Neumann for what was probably the most expensive machine to build the tube. But that's a company owned by another company that definitely does not want to be in the business of making tubes. I also recall phone calls with him while asking where the hell my V78Ms were (sing with me: meeeehhhh-moooo-reeeeeeees) where he implied that the $500k number would be for a newly-built machine, and that there were existing machines that could be repaired and restored for significantly less. And we all know that he knew how to do that.

I also don't want to believe that no living person could pull it off if presented with the challenge and given all of the necessary building blocks. Oliver was a living person very recently.

As for the "suspect to the purist" bit -- I get that...but I also don't. How many of these golden-eared, blind A/B-testing purple forum purists are people who don't actually own U 47s vs. working studio owners and engineers who DO own U 47s who want to keep their microphones ticking?

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Mike Rivers

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Posts: 2,525 Member Since:13/10/2012

#3 [url]

Sep 1 16 6:55 AM

Aspen Pittman (ex-Groove Tube) worked pretty hard at getting a tube factory up and running (for guitar amplifier tubes, not VF-14s) and ultimately gave it up. One of the biggest obstacles was getting the manufacturing process to meet environmental standards. Apparently there are materials and processes involved that are serious polluters.

But if you want to see how "simple" it is, there's a YouTube video of someone who made a vacuum tube (with unspecified characteristics) in his workshop. I think he used tin snips, some glass blowing tools, and a vacuum pump.



For a good time, call mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,380 Member Since:04/02/2011

#4 [url]

Sep 1 16 7:42 AM

And Aspen didn't have to tool up to get a machine to do the circular weld-and-vacuum-creating process that Oliver once described to me when I asked a similar question... I think that might have been the half-million dollar machine...

brad allen williams

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seaneldon

Gold Finger

Posts: 314 Member Since:07/02/2011

#5 [url]

Sep 1 16 9:14 PM

The Groove Tubes machines were among the candidates for those that could be inexpensively restored. I'd be willing to bet that they still exist and are in tact.

Aspen Pittman is another person who strikes me as someone who is as stubborn as he is brilliant.

There's always another way to do anything that the brilliant, stubborn mind does not ever see.

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extrememixing

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Posts: 2,340 Member Since:02/02/2011

#6 [url]

Sep 2 16 11:36 AM

Haha! I can testify that Aspen never throws anything away! So I'm sure those machines exist!

I worked in his room a few weeks ago and looked through his warehouse. So much stuff! I have one of his mics. It's a GT44. Sounds good! I'm sure he'd be happy to talk to you about any business ideas that you might have. He's open and friendly. Give him a call.

Steve

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gtoledo3

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,168 Member Since:23/10/2013

#9 [url]

Sep 2 16 4:39 PM

I've thought about this in the past, and have wondered if a baby step might be getting a current manufacturer to make a glass tube that is designed specifically for microphones... trying to get lower noise and general specs, maybe some interoperability with popular past circuit types. Maybe a submini, ECC8X pin, or EF8X series type. Maybe it would be easier to get something going that a plant is already basically geared up for making.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,380 Member Since:04/02/2011

#10 [url]

Sep 2 16 4:50 PM

the current tube manufacturers can't even get their regular garden-variety tubes to approach anywhere near the noise and specs of garden-variety tubes made prior to the 1980s.

brad allen williams

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gtoledo3

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,168 Member Since:23/10/2013

#11 [url]

Sep 2 16 4:56 PM

Yeah, that's why I think that they probably have to at least get a good glass tube going before they try for a metal tube. May be flawed logic on my part... I guess it's being suggested that someone totally different could make the metal tube, theoretically :-)

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,380 Member Since:04/02/2011

#12 [url]

Sep 2 16 4:58 PM

people have tried to make superior tubes in the modern era. Remember TechTube? They folded before they even really got off the ground. The audience for tubes is small, and the discerning audience that cares about the difference between one tube and the next is infinitesimal.

brad allen williams

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,380 Member Since:04/02/2011

#14 [url]

Sep 2 16 5:09 PM

Yeah. The other complicating factor is the human one.

Like-- even if all of the tooling is gone (and most of it is), and even if the tooling is prohibitively expensive to make again... humans are a resilient, ingenious species. I fully believe if we had the requisite knowledge, someone could figure out a way to really make good tubes in the modern era if the profit motive became feasible enough.

But that bit about the 'requisite knowledge' is the sticky bit. For one example, how much knowledge literally died with our friend Oliver? There were things he knew about tubes that I'd wager nobody else alive on the globe today knows. And the knowledge-base that does remain is getting older. We're reaching the point that anyone who ever worked in R&D or even in manufacturing for tubes is probably very old indeed.

brad allen williams

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maarvold

Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,136 Member Since:23/01/2011

#15 [url]

Sep 3 16 10:07 AM

soapfoot wrote:
Yeah. The other complicating factor is the human one.

Like-- even if all of the tooling is gone (and most of it is), and even if the tooling is prohibitively expensive to make again... humans are a resilient, ingenious species. I fully believe if we had the requisite knowledge, someone could figure out a way to really make good tubes in the modern era if the profit motive became feasible enough.

But that bit about the 'requisite knowledge' is the sticky bit. For one example, how much knowledge literally died with our friend Oliver? There were things he knew about tubes that I'd wager nobody else alive on the globe today knows. And the knowledge-base that does remain is getting older. We're reaching the point that anyone who ever worked in R&D or even in manufacturing for tubes is probably very old indeed.

 
First off, I'm starting to think I'd be more excited about someone remaking high quality AC701's.  Also, humans are unpredictable: who would have imagined the recent mainstream excitement over vinyl as playback media?  And so many good tidbits of knowledge disappear every day when the people who possess that knowledge depart.  On top of that, some are very private about their trade secrets.  And when corporations dismantle whole industries and outsource production, more knowledge evaporates.  My advice is try to figure out what's really good now and appreciate and support it while it's still around, easily available and has some 'legs'.  

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,618 Member Since:26/01/2011

#16 [url]

Sep 3 16 10:37 AM

My wife's aunt was forced out of her job as a pattern maker for a famous women's bathing suit company at age 65 when the company went from being privately held to a corporate subsidiary. When she was gone management suddenly realized she was the only one who knew how to translate the designers' drawings into executable patterns that fit real women. They tried to get her to come back and she said no. Ultimately she agreed when they offered roughly twice her old salary plus a car service to pick her up and take her home every day. She was there until she was in her early eighties. Apparently MBAs are taught in business school that THEY'RE the only ones who are irreplaceable.

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jaykadis

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Posts: 2,430 Member Since:24/01/2011

#17 [url]

Sep 3 16 10:56 AM

I wish all the energy that's going into reproducing the past would be channeled into new technologies that might do even better. I have a hard time believing the best microphone of all time will remain an early 20th century design.

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jesse decarlo

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Posts: 1,531 Member Since:24/03/2013

#18 [url]

Sep 3 16 11:21 AM

seth wrote:
My wife's aunt was forced out of her job as a pattern maker for a famous women's bathing suit company at age 65 when the company went from being privately held to a corporate subsidiary. When she was gone management suddenly realized she was the only one who knew how to translate the designers' drawings into executable patterns that fit real women. They tried to get her to come back and she said no. Ultimately she agreed when they offered roughly twice her old salary plus a car service to pick her up and take her home every day. She was there until she was in her early eighties. Apparently MBAs are taught in business school that THEY'RE the only ones who are irreplaceable.

I love this story!

On the original topic: I bet the economics of resurrecting old audio technology would be a lot more favorable if the economics of making records had remained favorable.

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klaus

Gold Finger

Posts: 387 Member Since:19/02/2012

#19 [url]

Sep 7 16 1:06 PM

In the late 1990s the feasibility of reissuing the U47 was discussed by Neumann executives in earnest. The financial effort of reviving the VF14 tube was assessed at around $500k at the time. 
Given the relatively small number of tubes needed for a reissue and as spare part for existing U47/48, the company decided that the revival of that tube was not viable. 

Nothing has changed since then.  Even though prices for vintage U47/48 have doubled, the total output for a reissue and for spare tubes does not justify tooling up for a new VF14, even if the filament construction, special cathode material and application process could be reproduced which this and no other steel jacket octagonal used.

It is also worth noting that makers of U47 copy mics (a considerably larger market than Neumann's) would probably not install a VF14 tube, as its predictable cost would depress or wipe out profitability for these copies, which generally are priced 50% or lower than a genuine Neumann U47. 

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bockaudio

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,537 Member Since:02/02/2011

#20 [url]

Sep 12 16 1:22 PM

[url= of the Market - The Pencil - YouTube[/url]

Watch the video, and please consider that all of the little things that built up to a tube factory are gone, records destroyed, reverse engineering unlikely etc.

 

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