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What is stopping Neumann from making new U47's?
Old 8th October 2013
  #1
What is stopping Neumann from making new U47's?

I don't understand why it would be so hard to make them today. Granted you may want to use some newer technology to keep the cost down a little, but it should not be more costly to make one than a Brauner VMA microphone,
Old 8th October 2013
  #3
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The U47 clone market is vibrant and thriving and some of them are damn close to being true clones, minus the proper badges, etc. I think Neumann would have a hard time making this project fit into their current economic plan. I also think it would do great harm to their greatest mystique: the vintage U47. Perhaps the most cherished and lusted-after product in the history of recording. The ability to buy a brand new "proper" U47 today would not please a long list of 47 owners because it would affect the value of their mic locker (not kill it, but it wouldn't be pretty), some of which are highly influential in this business.
Old 8th October 2013
  #4
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Also, it couldn't be considered The Real Thing without a VF14.
Old 8th October 2013
  #5
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The reason they don't is because it's not really the original company, nor the original Telefunken...Neumann has been sold off multiple times and while it's got a long history...it hangs on name brand value which is expensive to advertise. All of their mics cost too much for what they are, but they always manage to keep cutting costs to build them while hiking advertising costs overall every year. Stick with genius builders like David Bock, or the dudes at Lucas, Flea, Wunder, Cathedral, Horch, etc. Guys who love microphones but who strive to keep costs down while making the very best products possible. A Bock 251 is $5,700...but it's cheaper than what a company like Neumann would charge for a mic with same components since they have to recoup on advertising.

The real question is why everyone is obsessed with brand names? Mic pres get cloned all the time and many of them are essentially the same idea...what's wrong with going for the best possible product that's under the radar and doing your homework first?

That being said...the current Telefunken DOES make the original mics...TO SPEC! They're expensive as heck...but amazingly well made...and still cheaper than Nuemann would charge for the same I'd bet.


Also this link Pasarki quoted has even more detailed reasons having to do with the supply and demand in the market for them.

While I think that for cheaper clones which are not 100% accurate there is a wider pro-sumer market (see what I did there?), I also think guys like Fletcher in that thread are spot on with there being so few who can afford a potentially $8,000+ new microphone every time they decide they want one.
Old 8th October 2013
  #6
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If it's anything like the quality of their current u87ai and other models, maybe we should be glad they don't make a u47??
Old 8th October 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
If it's anything like the quality of their current u87 and other models, maybe we should be glad they don't make a u47??


I just think Nuemann makes too much money off of aspiring kids and people who don't know any better with their consumer level line. They're a brand that will always get people defending them, even though they keep making subpar mics I would never by year in and out.

It's sad. But...I'm less nostalgic for a company than I am for people who care about what they do and why create these wonderful mics.
Old 8th October 2013
  #8
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I remember hearing a story a few years ago about them finding a spool of the required wire to wind the trannys with.
I believe this was the missing link.
Does anyone know the story?
Old 8th October 2013
  #9
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Some of the above issues (like vf14, etc), but I also believe that is the same reason why Ford doesn't produce the model T anymore..
Beside commercial reasons, I believe that they still want (maybe?) try to go further..

Just my 0.02$,

Cheu
Old 8th October 2013
  #10
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Drumsound's Avatar
They just don't care.
Old 8th October 2013
  #11
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I think they don't make one in the name of technological progress.

This may or may not be correct, but it could be and it sprang to mind instantly so...


1. Take this article, replace mention of games or story to engineering and albums.

2. Then switch Half-life 3 for U47, and "gamers" to "engineers".

A Message From Gabe Newell - Dorkly Article
Old 8th October 2013
  #12
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Neumann is not Neumann anymore after Sennheiser bought Neumann in 1991.
That also may explain things.
Old 8th October 2013
  #13
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Neumann, for all it's faults, still makes some fine microphones like the M149, M150, TLM 102, and the U87Ai (which is still a good mic in my opinion dispute the haters on this forum). I don't know how anyone could use an M149 and say it's not a good microphone. Ask Al Schmitt what he thinks. Unlike any company I know of, Neumann still services virtually every microphone they ever made, even CMV3's from the 1930's. So by keeping these historic mics working, it's sort of a substitute for not making new versions of their historic products. Also, their capsule designs have largely remained the same over the decades and most people would agree that the majority of the sound of a mic comes from the capsule.

An accurate re-creation of a real U47/U48 is impossible without the Telefunken VF14 tube and no one is going to be able to remake the VF14. It was possibly the most complex tube ever made, the materials are long unavailable, and the specialized machinery was destroyed in the 1950's. This topic has been covered extensively. No VK14 = No U47 remake, period, end of story.

Neumann has its problems too. A good example of what is wrong with Neumann is the $8,000 Solution D model. If you are recording classical music in a perfect room, I am sure it is stunning in it's clinical clarity, but to the average pop music guy, I don't know why on earth someone would buy a Solution D when for the same price, they could get a used U67 or M269. While a remake of the U47 is impossible, Neumann COULD remake the U67 if it wanted to as the EF86 tube is still available and recreations of the transformer can be made. Neumann did make a limited run (about 100 - 200)of accurate U67 reissues in the early 90's and they too sell for $7,000 - $8,000 today. One of the reasons Neumann gives for not remaking the U67 is they claim the price would be too high (maybe $8,000) and the market would be too limited for a mic this expensive, but then they put out the $8,000 Solution D! It's potential market is much SMALLER and it's just as expensive as a new U67 would be!

The issues with Neumann are:

1) Their engineers are way too obsessed with technical specifications, like eliminating tiny bits of noise no one can hear, over trying to get the TONE of the older mics (tiny bits of noise and all). It's almost like their engineers make microphones designed solely to impress other engineers rather than to impress the people who actually buy and use their products.

2) It's impossible for Neumann to admit their older technology was better. It's just too painful for them to think they hired all these engineers, spent millions on Research and Development, millions on new state of the art manufacturing equipment only to produce inferior products.

3) The old mics were largely hand made but Neumann no longer has the staff and production lines to make mics that way. Trying to reduce labor costs, they have moved to modern automated surface mount technology and that won't work on a vintage re-creation.
Old 8th October 2013
  #14
Baz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
The ability to buy a brand new "proper" U47 today would not please a long list of 47 owners because it would affect the value of their mic locker (not kill it, but it wouldn't be pretty), some of which are highly influential in this business.
Huh? Do really think Neumann would care about how owners of their vintage line would feel about their decsion to reissue, especially if it was a viable business move? I sure as hell don't
Old 8th October 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
A good example of what is wrong with Neumann is the $8,000 Solution D model. If you are recording classical music in a perfect room, I am sure it is stunning in it's clinical clarity
Correct, and in its very low distortion, colouration, and noise. In other words state of the art and worth the money. Also it doesn't wear out or spit over time like a tube mic, so it's reliable as well in expensive classical music session recordings.

Quote:
...but to the average pop music guy, I don't know why on earth someone would buy a Solution D when for the same price, they could get a used U67 or M269.
Well he can use anything he likes from the thousands of alternatives that offer plenty of noise, colouration and distortion, you mention two right there.
Old 8th October 2013
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
...Neumann has been sold off multiple times
No - it's been sold once, after Georg Neumann died it was sold to Sennheiser.
Old 8th October 2013
  #17
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Here's the link to my Neumann conversation from January..... now that Namm 2014 is almost here, guess I'll have to follow up with them-
I was just talking with Neuman about u67s

I definitely got the impression when speaking with their US and Vienna guys (or wherever they all flew in from), that they don't feel like just slamming another model in amongst the clones.... regardless of it having the Neumann logo. The idea that their next product that may actually have "47" in the name will be fet, is sure to bring up heated conversation. On the other hand, the tlm67 is indeed a mighty fine mic, even if not a tube u67.

Maybe there will be some sort of "47" news in January.
Old 8th October 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Neumann has its problems too. A good example of what is wrong with Neumann is the $8,000 Solution D model. If you are recording classical music in a perfect room, I am sure it is stunning in it's clinical clarity, but to the average pop music guy, I don't know why on earth someone would buy a Solution D when for the same price, they could get a used U67 or M269.
Have you heard the D-01? Have you tried it?

It really is a superb mic. and a vocalist I tried it with a while ago commentated that it would take everything he threw at it. Where, with every other mic. he had used, he had to hold back for fear of overloading the mic., the D-01 took everything and he said it was the best vocal mic. he had ever used.
Old 8th October 2013
  #19
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
No - it's been sold once, after Georg Neumann died it was sold to Sennheiser.
I thought it changed hands twice? Hrmn....I know Sennheiser bought it but I thought was another change somewhere in there? To the Google-mobile!
Old 8th October 2013
  #20
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I really like a lot of current Neumann mics. I honestly cannot take the constant Neumann bashing seriously. I think we musicians may just all have hipster tendencies and hate anything mainstream
Old 9th October 2013
  #21
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Vintageidiot's Avatar
Really? Really?? This has to stop.....
Old 9th October 2013
  #22
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bigbone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Gregory View Post
I really like a lot of current Neumann mics. I honestly cannot take the constant Neumann bashing seriously.
I don't take that bashing seriously, 90% of the peoples who bash never heard
the mic......
Old 9th October 2013
  #23
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JoeyM's Avatar
The 3D printer sounds like the perfect opportunity to make a VF14, if it's that complicated.
Old 9th October 2013
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
the U87Ai (which is still a good mic in my opinion dispute the haters on this forum).
But it would be just an "O.K." mic even at a reasonable price. If ai was say $1500 msrp???, you could make an argument for it. But it is not even as good as a ksm44 or some other mics from AT. And at $3500? wow, you can buy vintage FET Neumanns for less than that and in decent shape. So why ai? it offers nothing unique or any sonic value over mics 1/2 its retail price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
I don't know how anyone could use an M149 and say it's not a good
Again $5000? not as good as other offerings in that price range. Put a M149 side by side with a UM57 and there is no contest. Put it up against a wunder cm7. Good luck there too.

It's not that newer Neumanns are not good, it's that they are not good values. It's as if they don't realize that mics are easy to manufacture these days. In addition, "R&D" if you can even call it that, was paid for in the 50s. They must be making 2x-3x the profit of other mic companies. Which is good for them, but bad for us. They are living large off their logo. It's deceiving to unsuspecting consumers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Ask Al Schmitt what he thinks.
but does he really use them?
Old 9th October 2013
  #25
I regularly use a 149 over a mint condition 67. For the right voice and task. I think they're great mics. But often the 67 is better too.

They do need a good, non-electronically balanced pre. They don't work as well with standard interface pres.

87s are ragged on a lot by those who don't realise their use. They're much better all rounders than some listed above...plus the ubiquitous aspect can't be underestimated if you're a freelancer who's all over the place.
Old 9th October 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
87s are ragged on a lot by those who don't realise their use. They're much better all rounders than some listed above...plus the ubiquitous aspect can't be underestimated if you're a freelancer who's all over the place.


87 are really nice tools to work with.
Old 9th October 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred2bern View Post

87 are really nice tools to work with.
as long as they are made prior to 1985
Old 9th October 2013
  #28
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Neumann, for all it's faults, still makes some fine microphones like the M149, M150, TLM 102, and the U87Ai."
Actually, the best sounding Neumann mic in maybe over 15 years is the new Neumann TLM 67 Set Z. The U67 of the Transformerless mic series. It's still a bit overpriced at nearly $2,400 USD...but at least it's an anniversary model where a lot of care was put into it being something that would last. I think the voicing is pretty good on this mic in general and that it's usable. (If money was no object I would audition a pair and think about it.) Still...there's the Wunder CM67 (which is expensive, but half the cost of a vintage U67 and much closer to the real thing), and the Pearlman TM-2 which is in the vein of the U67 and cheaper than the TLM 67 Set Z. (Someone should really do a U67 shootout since we've done U47's to death!)

As for the other mics you just named...well Soundelux E49 mics (Discontinued, but I own one.) are infinitely superior to the M149 and M150 in terms of sound / tone...and honestly the pick up (SPL) of the Soundelux is far greater so you need less gain on tap to make a go of it. Plus the variable polar pattern by David Bock is amazing. I've shot it out against the M149 which is boxy and nasal sounding by comparison...it's not the worst mic I've ever heard, but a used Soundelux E49, the new Lucas CS-9 which is coming out (Modern interpretation but not a strict clone.), and the Wunder CM49 and CM50 (Which are $6,500 mics about...but look fantastic) ALL have something in common. They are closer to the vintage M49 and M50 mics than the transformerless M149 and M150 (Which is entirely overpriced for lacking those types of components.)

As for the TLM 102...it's better than a 103, but I've never really liked either mic to by honest (Brassy, with no body...both always feel strident in a bad way to me.) And the U87ai is a major disappointment to people who love their older U87's (for similar reasons the M149 and M150 don't cut the mustard.), while these mics would do if there was nothing else around...they feel a lot like coasting on the old brand-name value of classic microphones while cheaping out on components and manufacturing (remember they don't hand assemble mics like the real deal classics or clones.)

SO WHY ARE THEY ALL GENERALLY MORE EXPENSIVE THAN MOST CLONES? Because again...advertising pushes the price up on a cheaper product. They have to recoup and they're still competitive to a point where people will pay a bit more money for a Nuemann than other mics in those price ranges simply because they associate the name with quality. A pro-sumer market doesn't understand nearly 80 years of history at a glance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Unlike any company I know of, Neumann still services virtually every microphone they ever made, even CMV3's from the 1930's. So by keeping these historic mics working, it's sort of a substitute for not making new versions of their historic products. Also, their capsule designs have largely remained the same over the decades and most people would agree that the majority of the sound of a mic comes from the capsule.
The capsules on the new M149 and M150 are MUCH smaller than a real M49 or M50 mic...so really this all depends. As for the service...it's expensive and there are other techs out there who can handle vintage mics too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
An accurate re-creation of a real U47/U48 is impossible without the Telefunken VF14 tube and no one is going to be able to remake the VF14. It was possibly the most complex tube ever made, the materials are long unavailable, and the specialized machinery was destroyed in the 1950's. This topic has been covered extensively. No VK14 = No U47 remake, period, end of story.
This is all true...but NOS tubes aside there are new companies and even old companies coming up with better solutions than ditching the transformer on their mics! (Arguably that's a more significant sound change!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
Neumann has its problems too.
(*I'll say.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
A good example of what is wrong with Neumann is the $8,000 Solution D model. If you are recording classical music in a perfect room, I am sure it is stunning in it's clinical clarity, but to the average pop music guy, I don't know why on earth someone would buy a Solution D when for the same price, they could get a used U67 or M269. While a remake of the U47 is impossible, Neumann COULD remake the U67 if it wanted to as the EF86 tube is still available and recreations of the transformer can be made. Neumann did make a limited run (about 100 - 200)of accurate U67 reissues in the early 90's and they too sell for $7,000 - $8,000 today. One of the reasons Neumann gives for not remaking the U67 is they claim the price would be too high (maybe $8,000) and the market would be too limited for a mic this expensive, but then they put out the $8,000 Solution D! It's potential market is much SMALLER and it's just as expensive as a new U67 would be!
You yourself later said this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
"The old mics were largely hand made but Neumann no longer has the staff and production lines to make mics that way. Trying to reduce labor costs, they have moved to modern automated surface mount technology and that won't work on a vintage re-creation."
So therefore...They don't make the U67 because they have no one on staff who hand-builds mics anymore. It's all factory assembled. They simply CAN'T make the U67 without a lab/workshop dedicated to it...and without a builder like David Bock. They could hire people to do this and make a work station for hand-built classics on custom order, but the boutique guys have such a huge lock on that market with famous pros buying those kinds of mics that it's not worth it by comparison to the market share of consumer types who don't know any better. The same people who keep buying TLM 103's as a main vocal mic without auditioning, etc. At least with the Solution D you're seeing them try to make a modern classic mic that's worth the price of admission, though I'll confess that I've not tried one...and I don't know much about them, so the guts could be worth far less after you take advertising out of the equation, depending if they're spending much there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
"The issues with Neumann are:

1) Their engineers are way too obsessed with technical specifications, like eliminating tiny bits of noise no one can hear, over trying to get the TONE of the older mics (tiny bits of noise and all). It's almost like their engineers make microphones designed solely to impress other engineers rather than to impress the people who actually buy and use their products.

2) It's impossible for Neumann to admit their older technology was better. It's just too painful for them to think they hired all these engineers, spent millions on Research and Development, millions on new state of the art manufacturing equipment only to produce inferior products.

3) The old mics were largely hand made but Neumann no longer has the staff and production lines to make mics that way. Trying to reduce labor costs, they have moved to modern automated surface mount technology and that won't work on a vintage re-creation."
To the first point, I like that they are obsessed with technical specs...that's good. But I don't really think they're quite as obsessed as you make them out to be. I think they're dedicated to meeting the home recording market with quality pieces that are more affordable than the vintage hand-made mics. It's kind of like average Sedans Vs sports cars...they know most people only need and can afford the Sedan. We already discussed the third point earlier so ending on the second...the old tech might not be better, but it's better than the new tech assembled in a cheaper way for the pro-sumer market that is in fact Neumann's bread and butter. The prices will never reflect the quality of the product as well as most boutique gear, so they're just in a weird place to me. People think of them as THE microphone company, but they're really focused on kids and hobbyists now...not pro audio guys as much. (Not to say pros don't use some of the newer mics...but most of the big Nuemann lovers own the real deal vintage units.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
"...the U87Ai (which is still a good mic in my opinion despite the haters on this forum.)"
Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
"But it(U87Ai) would be just an "O.K." mic even at a reasonable price. If ai was say $1500 msrp???, you could make an argument for it. But it is not even as good as a ksm44 or some other mics from AT. And at $3500? wow, you can buy vintage FET Neumanns for less than that and in decent shape. So why ai? it offers nothing unique or any sonic value over mics 1/2 its retail price."
I concur with the Rock and I'm featuring this exchange between you two as well, even though it's kind of reusing quotes from earlier...but he is right about the used market right now considering the economy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
"I don't know how anyone could use an M149 and say it's not a good."
Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
"Again $5000? not as good as other offerings in that price range. Put a M149 side by side with a UM57 and there is no contest. Put it up against a wunder cm7. Good luck there too. It's not that newer Neumanns are not good, it's that they are not good values. It's as if they don't realize that mics are easy to manufacture these days. In addition, "R&D" if you can even call it that, was paid for in the 50s. They must be making 2x-3x the profit of other mic companies. Which is good for them, but bad for us. They are living large off their logo. It's deceiving to unsuspecting consumers."

I wanted to add to this point...this is where The Rock and I differ since I don't think Nuemann is deceiving people
, I think that their priorities have changed. They aren't marketing to diserning pros as I've said earlier...they want the young kids who know them by brand name. It's not lying, it's just shifting markets to home studio hobbiyist and pro-sumers. People who only buy their stuff at Guitar Centers, etc. They're just starting to be symptomatic of Wallmart / Amazon syndrome. Now, while I don't think they've been dishonest about this shift...I do think they try to sugarcoat things a bit by glossing over the move away from hand-built classics...but they're a business first...and this is business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmikeperkins View Post
"Ask Al Schmitt what he thinks."
Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
"But does he (Al Schmitt) really use them?"
I would love to know too...considering his favorite instrument mic is the original M50 so I'm pretty sure his collection of older mics hasn't changed too much. This doesn't mean that he hasn't found some of the new TLM series to be useful. YMMV...and just because I don't really love many of them doesn't mean he hasn't found any good uses for some of them. But I have a feeling he probably only uses them for jobs where he doesn't want to risk valuable collectors items on "away game" runs if he does own any of the TLM series. Would you want to risk vintage mics every time you record somewhere else?
Old 9th October 2013
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
as long as they are made prior to 1985
I think the modern ones are fine too.

Put it this way - I've never seen a KSM anything, and precious few ATs, in the studios I've worked at.

I've seen countless 87s, both old and new. I'm not say that means they're better for absolutely everything, but it does suggest they're better all rounders than just about anything else.
Old 9th October 2013
  #30
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I don't know what Neumann's balance sheet is but they seem to be missing a huge market. Never mind a U47, how bout a km84. It seems that Neumann doesn't care that their most revered mics are past history.

The U87 seems to sell fairly well and someone must be buying their KM184s despite the fact that the KM84 is considered a better sounding mic.

Fender, Gibson, Marshall, have embraced their illustrious past with historic recreations of their golden era products with great commercial success. It also has enhanced their brand image. While I don't know how well a Neumann custom shop Sinatra Signature U47 would do, I can say a U47RI even without the vf14 tube, would probably sell a lot more units than the Dimension D.

Hopefully more professionals will stop buying transformerless surface mounted mics and buy the outstanding mics from boutique makers such as TeleUSA, Flea, Bock, BeezNeez, Lawson, Wunder etc. For now Neumann seems to be saying "let then eat cake" and apparently this philosophy has not hurt their bottom line. Until it does, I don't expect them to change and frankly, given the quality of mics from Tele and Flea, I've had the pleasure of using, I no longer particularly care.
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