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This is getting crazy! VF-14 prices Condenser Microphones
Old 21st April 2015
  #1
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127Riot's Avatar
 

This is getting crazy! VF-14 prices

A VF-14 just ended for a whopper of a price, $2860 for a tube!

I know it is one of the magic ingredients in the u47, but Gheeze, personally at that price I wouldn't want to own a Vintage U47. Worrying about a tube worth that much failing. It's enough to drive someone nuts. Somthing to think about before you drop 10.k on a mic. What is a vintage U47 without the VF-14? Does it devalue $2???,?

Congrats to the seller, and buyer.

Below is the link to the auction

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item...d=131486983419

Last edited by psycho_monkey; 22nd April 2015 at 08:36 AM..
Old 22nd April 2015
  #2
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natpub's Avatar
Yes that would be scary--tube insurance? I'm sure Lloyd's would do it
Old 22nd April 2015
  #3
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Hi
Valves are only slightly 'overgrown' lightbulbs, they deteriorate and fail.
Still, it is known for people to spend tens of thousands on a 'handbag' which will do exactly what a cheap plastic bag from the grocers will do, carry your groceries!
Matt S
Old 22nd April 2015
  #4
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trustyjim's Avatar
 

Sometimes the maintenance for rarer, high priced things can be unbelievably expensive. I know someone who bought a used Lamborghini because it was "a good deal." Later on he discovered the rear differential had problems and would be $30,000 to fix!
Old 22nd April 2015
  #5
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hasbeen's Avatar
I held on to my spare for years. Finally could not resist and sold it in January. If my current VF14M dies, I am screwed.

But there really is no substitute for the real thing. So if I kept the mic I would shell out $$ for a replacement.
Old 22nd April 2015
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Valves are only slightly 'overgrown' lightbulbs, they deteriorate and fail.

Still, it is known for people to spend tens of thousands on a 'handbag' which will do exactly what a cheap plastic bag from the grocers will do, carry your groceries!
Two fails.

1. A VF14 penthode functions nothing like a lightbulb, and the only faint analogy to a light bulb is that they both use heat-producing filaments embedded in a vacuum, which, in the case of the light bulb, glow bright enough to produce light.

2. But even that analogy is iffy.
The better analogy between lightbulb and VF14 filaments would be that of the faint red light glowing at night over the door of the fire station: It's been continuously on, uninterrupted, since 1910, because its wire filament is severely under-heated, thus avoiding depletion and extending life.
In a similar sense, the severely under-heated VF14, if handled properly, will outlive you and me combined. As a matter of fact, VF14 with severed or burned-out heater filaments are exceedingly rare (and therefore quite unlike the one-time-only-use plastic bag from the grocer).

Investing several thousand dollars in a well-working, quiet, non-microphonic VF14 may not be fallacy, because that tube, if correctly powered as prescribed by Neumann, and handled properly without severe mechanical shocks, will usually be the last one ever installed in that mic.

Last edited by Klaus; 22nd April 2015 at 11:09 PM..
Old 22nd April 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
because that tube, if correctly powered as prescribed by Neumann, and handled properly without severe mechanical shocks, will usually be the last one ever installed in that mic.
Amen Brother

Old 22nd April 2015
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Telefunken Steel Tubes

Oliver (RIP) also has some great info on his site
Old 24th April 2015
  #9
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VF-14 reissue

Telefunken-Elektroakustik sells their new production VF-14 for about $750 (click on "mic replacement" tab.) I'm no expert, but love what I hear from it in an original U47.

WW
Old 26th April 2015
  #10
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Without questioning your love for the sound of the copy tube, it may be appropriate for Gearslutz readers to know that Telefunken Northamerica's "VF14k" is entirely unrelated in its construction to the original German Telefunken VF14. Unlike the original, the "VF14k" is not a steel tube, but a conventional U.S.-made glass tube embedded in a metal envelope that resembles the original in shape.

If you want to get more details: a few years ago, there were extensive discussions on GS about the ethics involved in offering this replacement tube with the name and shape of the original.

Again, the discussion whether this tube compares in sound and static measurements to the original is a different one.

Last edited by Klaus; 26th April 2015 at 04:25 AM..
Old 26th April 2015
  #11
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zione's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
Without questioning your love for the sound of the copy tube, it may be appropriate for Gearslutz readers to know that Telefunken Northamerica's "VF14k" is entirely unrelated in its construction to the original German Telefunken VF14. Unlike the original, the "VF14k" is not a steel tube, but a conventional U.S.-made glass tube embedded in a metal envelope that resembles the original in shape.

If you want to get more details: a few years ago, there were extensive discussions on GS about the ethics involved in offering this replacement tube with the name and shape of the original.

Again, the discussion whether this tube compares in sound and static measurements to the original is a different one.
Klaus,

what do you think, sonically, about the two VF14 replacements by Andreas Grosser?

Thanks!
Old 26th April 2015
  #12
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by zione View Post
Klaus,

what do you think, sonically, about the two VF14 replacements by Andreas Grosser?

Thanks!
+1
for those of us who don't have the disposable income to purchase both and A B …i'm curious what you might have to say too, Klaus.
Old 27th April 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zione View Post
Klaus, what do you think, sonically, about the two VF14 replacements by Andreas Grosser?
I respect Andreas' considerable knowledge of condenser microphones, and have aways appreciated his generosity sharing that knowledge with me, but I have not heard his (presumably solid-state?) solution to replacing an original VF14 tube in a U47; therefore, I have no opinion about it.

Last edited by Klaus; 27th April 2015 at 02:38 AM..
Old 27th April 2015
  #14
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Klaus, thanks for posting. Always so good to see your presence here.
David
Old 27th April 2015
  #15
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Don't go chasing water falls

This past week I tracked a band with a real U47 non VF14, it sounds great. However, I believe the U47 sounds best in it's original state with the original VF14, I never heard the remake tube that Tele USA calls the VF-14 or the solid state offerings. I own a Flea 47 with an EF-12, that sounds great but still think the VF-14 is a little sweeter. IMO & E of course.

On average these tubes are around 65 years old? I think. Is there an estimated life expectancy in normal operating conditions?

I know a lot of factors come in to play, usage, handling, operating conditions, water falling in your studio, humidity, etc...

What is a VF-14 life expectancy can someone give an estimated number?
Old 27th April 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beats workin' View Post
Klaus, thanks for posting. Always so good to see your presence here.
David
+1, again.
Old 27th April 2015
  #17
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Klaus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
Is there an estimated life expectancy in normal operating conditions?
I know a lot of factors come in to play, usage, handling, operating conditions, water falling in your studio, humidity, etc...What is a VF-14 life expectancy can someone give an estimated number?
I've been in the business of restoring and upgrading U47s since 1987. I have never experienced a VF14 which at one point, after a restoration of the mic, worked to later have failed.

As long as the tube is operated at Neumann's prescribed voltages (105VDC B+, 36VDC heater), its chances for failure are extremely small, for the reasons I had posted earlier in this thread. The two deadly enemies of a long VF14 life: mechanical shock and extreme under-or over-supply of heater voltage- both factors are fully in control of the owner.
Old 27th April 2015
  #18
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Klaus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
Is there an estimated life expectancy in normal operating conditions?
I know a lot of factors come in to play, usage, handling, operating conditions, water falling in your studio, humidity, etc...What is a VF-14 life expectancy can someone give an estimated number?
I've been in the business of restoring and upgrading U47s since 1987. I have never experienced a VF14 which, after restoration of the mic, worked, to later, upon re-inspection, to have failed.

As long as the tube is operated at Neumann's prescribed voltages (105VDC B+, 36VDC heater), its chances for failure are extremely small, for the reasons I had posted earlier in this thread. The two deadly enemies of a long VF14 life: mechanical shock and extreme under-or over-supply of heater voltage. Both are factors fully in control of the owner.
Old 27th April 2015
  #19
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Lock it up & hide it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
after restoration

^Key words^

That's preventive maintenance, it makes sense after restoration it could last possibly 2 life times. At this point in their life I think any vintage mic worth having, is worth having a check up and most likely a restoration. 50 years of on, off, whispers, screams, sweat, syliva, moister and tears or worse just sitting there not being used, is not good and time will take it's toll. This shows with how many of these mics no longer operate with the VF-14 tube. They failed because there was no preventive maintenance.

Thank you for shining some light on this Klaus we appreciate your presence as mentioned a few times above. I hope anyone that purchases a VF-14 tube for up towards $3000 would not just pop it in the mic that the previous VF-14 just failed in. This forum is a great vehicle of awareness, I learned a lot from it myself. Thank you GS!
Old 28th April 2015
  #20
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Plan B (well, plan D, at least)
Attached Thumbnails
This is getting crazy! VF-14 prices-8.jpg  
Old 28th April 2015
  #21
One of the truly ironic things about the recording world is that most of the people being recorded with vintage U47s with the correct tube etc. are simply outclassed by the gear. And yet it would be a better world if everyone had a U47, at least I think it would.
Old 28th April 2015
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
I respect Andreas' considerable knowledge of condenser microphones, and have aways appreciated his generosity sharing that knowledge with me, but I have not heard his (presumably solid-state?) solution to replacing an original VF14 tube in a U47; therefore, I have no opinion about it.
He offers two types: solid state and glass tube.
Would love to hear your impressions on them some day should you get your hands on them.
By all accounts they sound great, though a little different to the VF14s.
Old 28th April 2015
  #23
Here is the shop link to Tele USA's replacement.

VF14K Vacuum Tube (U47, U48)*| Telefunken Elektroakustik

Tele USA has a track record of relatively unethical practices, so don't expect anything great.

Telefunken M16 and Apex 460 Comparison

u47u67u87
Old 29th April 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u47u67u87 View Post
Tele USA has a track record of relatively unethical practices, so don't expect anything great.
You may feel that way. If you have any personal experience relating to that claim I would love to hear about it first hand.

While I don't know what constitutes a 'track record' I do know that I am very happy with my own dealings with the company and their service. I own an early U47 from them that was built when they were offering VF14M tubes and reskinned Neumann capsules. It is still one of my best mics. When I visited their factory for a capsule cleaning I was given a tour and treated with utmost respect.

I also own an Ela M 260. Another fantastic mic that is as beautiful as it sounds. Again I received top shelf customer service.

I have auditioned several of their mics including the Ela M 251. One of the best mics I have EVER had the pleasure to use. When I am able I will be adding one to my mic locker.

So when you say "don't expect anything great" I would counter that with an invitation to anyone reading this to try their gear on your own and report back with your impression.

Old 29th April 2015
  #25
Gear Head
 

$2860 for a NOS VF14M....probably money well spent to keep the U47 original.... Used but noisy VF14's...does regeneration of the cathode give long term noise free service?

Remember the AR47 kit and the 13CW4 nuvistor....worked but big impedance mismatch to the U47 output transformer...
WE407A...connect for 40 volt heater, both sections in parallel...worked in a mic I converted from a AR47 several years ago...
WE408A...use two...connect heaters in series for 40 volts, connect one 408A as a triode (G3 to k, G2 to anode) on AR47 base...
Some "fine tuning" on the AR47 board should closely emulate a VF14 for a lot less $$...

The AC701 is going the same route....Oliver (RIP) complained of the AC701's high price and hoarding...he recommended the 5840 (wired as a triode) as a substitute with some mods needed to the power supplies....I used a 7586 nuvistor in place of a AC701, but the characteristics of the triode connected 5840 appear to better match the AC701 output transformer primary....

The Capps CM2250 mic used a 5703 triode...the Altec M30 used a 5840...
Old 29th April 2015
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hasbeen View Post
You may feel that way. If you have any personal experience relating to that claim I would love to hear about it first hand.

While I don't know what constitutes a 'track record' I do know that I am very happy with my own dealings with the company and their service. I own an early U47 from them that was built when they were offering VF14M tubes and reskinned Neumann capsules. It is still one of my best mics. When I visited their factory for a capsule cleaning I was given a tour and treated with utmost respect.

I also own an Ela M 260. Another fantastic mic that is as beautiful as it sounds. Again I received top shelf customer service.

I have auditioned several of their mics including the Ela M 251. One of the best mics I have EVER had the pleasure to use. When I am able I will be adding one to my mic locker.

So when you say "don't expect anything great" I would counter that with an invitation to anyone reading this to try their gear on your own and report back with your impression.

I agree. I bought a U48 from one of their former owners/CEO's. It's still my most asked for mic, it's fantastic. But we were going through a few tubes a year with it.. Everyone was dumbfounded. Turned out that it was a very early one and it had some wiring incorrect in the head. Even though it was well out of warranty they overnighted me tubes and had the mic overnighted to them when things didnt work out, quickly shipped it back and its never been better. Great folks over there!

But I did for a short time have a real VF14 in my mic, and I thought it was quiet before. Jesus. It really is another animal.

I'd be curious to thoughts on the Nuvistor vs the new very expensive VF14K
Old 29th April 2015
  #27
Gear Head
 

Hamburg 58: The U47 with the nuvistor (AR47 kit) "worked" but didn't sound "right" to my ears. The 13CW4 nuvistor was used as a RF amplifier in mid 1960's series string television sets. The 6CW4 was the 6 volt heater equivalent, used for the same purpose in transformer powered TV's. The plate impedance of the 6CW4 was very high and presented almost a 2:1 mismatch to the primary of the U47 output transformer. The WE407A has a 40 volt heater (both sections in series) and is a dual triode used in early phone repeaters. Connecting both sections of the 407A in parallel gives a much better impedance match to the primary of the output transformer. Running the heater at 36 volts is no problem. The 407A mod can be built using a AR47 plug in. The last modification of a AR47 plug in with connecting two WE408A pentodes with the heaters in series for 40 volts, and using one of the pentodes (wired as a triode; g2 to anode, g3 to k) for impedance matching. It seems that triode-connected pentodes work best to get the plate impedance in a suitable range for the output transformer primary.

Any "fine tuning" of the circuitry should be done on the AR47 plug in. If possible, have several tubes on hand to try. Due to the high grid resistance, it is likely several tubes must be tried to find a good quiet one, since none of those tubes was designed to routinely work at 60 meg ohms or higher. It is not necessary to modify the NG power supply.

Sooner or later, as VF14's become more rare, good alternatives are needed to keep U47 series mics working. DIY can save money. My $0.02 worth...
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