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Microphone Capsules NOT "Made in China"... Condenser Microphones
Old 6th September 2011
  #1
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Microphone Capsules NOT "Made in China"...

...alot has changed on the microphone manufacturing landscape over the past 10 years...many of the legendary European brands are now under new ownership and much of the manufacturing has been moved to Asia...there are numerous "boutique" brands using Chinese capsules in their mics, but some continue to claim they make their own capsules...we know Tim Campbell has replicated an accurate C12, right down to the correct mylar material he acquired, and Thiersch still produces an accurate K47, and two flavors of M7 capsules in Germany, but what other companies are really manufacturing their own capsules outside of China?...

...if you can't document with pictures, accurate and specific documentation, or the word of some absolute unpeachable source, it ain't happening...it's the belief of many knowledgeable folks who work in the industry that more of the capsules being utilized in today's mics, regardless of pricepoint have their origins in the once dreaded Chinese clean rooms...

...if you know dfifferent, chime in...
Old 6th September 2011
  #2
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John Willett's Avatar
 

All the major European companies make their own capsules - Sennheiser, Neumann, Schoeps, DPA, Gefell and MBHO.

MBHO also make capsules for Soundfield, Brauner, Ambient and others - all made in Germany.

FLEA make all their own capsules in Slovakia and have spent four years researching to clone the very complicated C12 capsule.

I have personally visited the factories of Sennheiser, Neumann, MBHO and FLEA.
Old 6th September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
All the major European companies make their own capsules - Sennheiser, Neumann, Schoeps, DPA, Gefell and MBHO.
John...are you stating that Sennheiser/Neumann do not manufacture any capsules or capsule components in China?...or the others, for that matter?...
Old 6th September 2011
  #4
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capnreverb's Avatar
 

Josephson.
Old 6th September 2011
  #5
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidvybes View Post
...are you stating that Sennheiser/Neumann do not manufacture any capsules or capsule components in China?...or the others, for that matter?...
Not to my knowledge - Neumann certainly make all their own - Sennheiser certainly make all their important ones - for the cheaper evolution mics. they spent a fortune on a fully automated production line, that is run by just two people, so that they could keep manufacture in Germany.

I can't be sure about the very cheap tie mics. and the mics. they use in their consumer communications stuff - but I didn't think that was of interest to Gearslutz.

FLEA and MBHO certainly make all their own capsules.

I heard that AKG moved a lot of manufacture to the Far East, but that doesn't mean everyone else has.
Old 6th September 2011
  #6
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Yeah, right...'s Avatar
 

Rode. AFAIK all capsules since the NT2 are made in Oz...
Old 6th September 2011
  #7
John, I currently make the capsules for FEA's F12 microphone. I am listed on their webpage. There's also Pearl, Milab, Korby, Lawson, Beesneez, Beyerdynamic, Audio Technica,Sony and the company (which I can't remember the name of) that used to make Blue's capsules.
Old 6th September 2011
  #8
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Microphone Capsules NOT "Made in China"...

There are two fundamentally flawed premises at work here.

One; that to be any good the mic has to use 30+ year old materials and technology. When those classic Neumans and such were made, the designers availed themselves of the best stuff they could find. Why would someone suppose that 40 years later that a talented designer couldn't use modern materials to further improve performance. If it wasn't for advances in metallurgy we'd still be driving cast iron engines with 5000 rpm redlines.

The other fallacy is that origin is directly related to quality. They are completely independent variables. Who is to say that a unionized German worker with a near assured job no matter what they do, after a weekend of hard partying, is going to make a higher quality widget than a 22 year old Chinese trying to hold onto his job so he doesn't have to go back to Grandpa's farm and hoe rows by hand.

The quality comes from the specification. Not the location.
Old 6th September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
The other fallacy is that origin is directly related to quality. They are completely independent variables. Who is to say that a unionized German worker with a near assured job no matter what they do, after a weekend of hard partying, is going to make a higher quality widget than a 22 year old Chinese trying to hold onto his job so he doesn't have to go back to Grandpa's farm and hoe rows by hand.
The Chinese guy is so worried and stressed he puts too much high frequency into the capsule, hense the thin high end of all chinese condensors. The hungover German takes his time Jimmy Buffet style and makes capsules with a nice mid presence with a fat bottom like a hot german bar girl.
Old 6th September 2011
  #10
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But, the analysis comes from real world assessment of real world mics. And the old ones sound better. And the ones made outside China sound better.

Completely opinion, but not hypothetical at all.

Your premise that a new designer using new materials can make a better mic is flawed only in that it hasn't happened. Until it does, it's a hypothesis and nothing more.

Thing is...with the sheer volume of models released these days, it almost assures that the best will NOT rise, but instead be obscured in the run for the dollar of the home recordist. There MAY be an M269 equivalent out there somewhere...but, how would I find it? In a market with 9000 LDCs available from companies with no track record, and others that change designs every 6 months...so, let's assume that little mic makerX NAILS it. There's a segment of the population who already HAVE an M269 or ten...they don't care...then there's a segment who don't have any access to ever use one--they don't KNOW...and with print having died, there's no one being paid to review gear (that I know of)...who exactly finds it and reports it to the world?
Old 6th September 2011
  #11
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Josephson Engineering is clearly an example of a relatively newer company making superb quality microphones.

As David pointed out to me a few years back, the Chinese industry generally developed under Soviet guidance until being abandoned in the late 1950s and was strongly influenced by the Soviet approach. Who cares if 5 to 10% of the products are duds if you cheaply make enough that function adequately to meet the market's demands?

Mikes are made with a knowledge of quality of materials used, and the training, tools and expertise of the techs making the mikes and the precision which the process can produce. Acknowledging that different factories have different target markets, engineering tolerances, levels of tech training and expertise, and other relevant factors is not a false premise, it's merely a recognition of real differences that exist in various products.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 6th September 2011
  #12
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I know CAD used to make all their capsules at one point....anyone know if they still are?
Old 6th September 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
But, the analysis comes from real world assessment of real world mics. And the old ones sound better. And the ones made outside China sound better.
...hmmm...maybe, maybe not...Larry Vilella's ADK Custom Shop capsules are changing some minds...ShuaiYins's (Feilo) capsules are being used in TAB Funkenwerks/Blackspade mics...some of Telefunken's RFT mics still use the most basic 32mm K67 Chinese capsules...I suspect ShuaiYin and Shengke (iSK) capsules are being implemented in more "boutique" brands than we know...

...QC is the critical issue, and the Chinese manufacturers who are implementing better QC are getting closer and closer to the mark...the ADK's custom capsules may be the ones to bust the "made in China" stigma...
Old 8th September 2011
  #14
Something not mentioned in this thread is the amount of time a company spends on each individual capsule. It's fairly easy to produce a decent sounding, stable, almost average sounding CK12 type capsule. The amount of time it takes to transform that same capsule into one that's on par with a real CK12 is much greater than you'd imagine. The most detailed sounding capsules are also among the most fragile and will fail easily, something a factory turning out thousands of capsule won't bother to waste time on. Then there is customer service. I have always been available to custom tune a capsule for any customer. A few times customers have come to me wishing that their capsule could be darker or brighter or in some way fit their need better and I have always obliged. I will gladly match all groups of capsules . You can't do that by reaching into a drawer and pulling out another Chinese capsule and sending it in the post. I don't know how many hundreds of dollars of my own money I have spent calling customers to help them in anyway I could even when it turned out in the end that their problem had nothing to do with my product. I'm not mentioning all of this to only blow my own horn. Most people building capsules would do the same. I'm mentioning this because only people actually building capsules can provide these kinds of services.
Old 8th September 2011
  #15
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Fletcher's Avatar
...what Tim said... I have watched this process many a time in the Connecticut T-funk office and have to say it is pretty remarkable for a layman to watch. When the CK-13 was first being developed I have no idea how many tunings those went through before we decided one was really "right"... a laborious process to say the least, and one [as Tim mentioned] that really can't be fully attained in a "mass manufacture" kind of process.

Peace
Old 8th September 2011
  #16
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by abechap024 View Post
I know CAD used to make all their capsules at one point....anyone know if they still are?
I believe that all of CAD's capsules are now built in their Asian facility.

...and it doesn't bother me one bit.
Old 8th September 2011
  #17
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Yes, CAD does not build capsules locally. They do build most of the CAD e100s mic parts in the USA, the 1" nickel capsule is made in China. The mic is assembled completely in the USA too.

All of their other mics at the time of this writing are 100% built in China.

War
Old 14th February 2014
  #18
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DistortingJack's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by capnreverb View Post
The Chinese guy is so worried and stressed he puts too much high frequency into the capsule, hense the thin high end of all chinese condensors. The hungover German takes his time Jimmy Buffet style and makes capsules with a nice mid presence with a fat bottom like a hot german bar girl.
This post is the stuff of legend.
Old 14th February 2014
  #19
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VO Guy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by capnreverb View Post
The Chinese guy is so worried and stressed he puts too much high frequency into the capsule, hense the thin high end of all chinese condensors. The hungover German takes his time Jimmy Buffet style and makes capsules with a nice mid presence with a fat bottom like a hot german bar girl.
Old 14th February 2014
  #20
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telegramsam's Avatar
 

A product designed to a price point will always include compromises. Most Chinese mics on the market, seem to me to be engineered from parts bins, and are sold more to consumers than professionals.

There are so few audio professionals with enough money to spend, to warrant developing products without a strict price point. I recently started mod'ing an Apex 460. I'm taking it slowly and trying to make small revisions, listening along the way. It has been quite an education, so far. It seems to me thus far, that a good design is more important than the quality of any one component. In the Apex 460's case, I doubt the engineers that designed it were any better or worse than a German Engineer, but obviously were limited to using only electrolytic caps, and carbon resistors. There is also a misguided attempt to eliminate rf, but it seems the correct size caps were not in their parts bin, perhaps so they used large values than appropriate. It isn't hard to calculate the effect that has on the signal, I would think any engineer could do the same.

However, I'm still planning on trying the Microphone-Parts rk-12, as a $100 price point for a microphone capsule does not seem overly restrictive, to produce a good product. I also plan on trying a more expensive capsule, eventually. But when I do, I want to make sure that I actually appreciate the differences.
Old 14th February 2014
  #21
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FireMoon's Avatar
The Cathedral Pipes M7 capsule is all made in North America.
Old 14th February 2014
  #22
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

...very high quality, American-made capsules from Eric Heiserman (tskguy) on the Group DIY Forums:

Made in the USA HK67 HK87 HK47 style capsules..AND NOW HK12 PRE-ORDER!!!!
Old 14th February 2014
  #23
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
The other fallacy is that origin is directly related to quality. They are completely independent variables. Who is to say that a unionized German worker with a near assured job no matter what they do, after a weekend of hard partying, is going to make a higher quality widget than a 22 year old Chinese trying to hold onto his job so he doesn't have to go back to Grandpa's farm and hoe rows by hand.

The quality comes from the specification. Not the location.
You make the assumption that the 22 year old Chinese person has a clue what they are making, much less a chance to voice an opinion.


There is no doubt in my mind that given the proper oversight, a quality product can be made in China. However, there few reasons why having something manufactured in the same country it was developed in can inspire confidence, especially when it's manufactured by the same company.

The obvious one is quality control. This can be hit or miss and for some companies, they are finding it to now be more expensive to get precise quality control in China with rising cost. Secondly, companies often only manufacture low end gear in China if they lack control of the factory. A small company cannot keep tabs on things. Many are not willing to compromise intellectual property and "dumb down" products manufactured in China. Some will make a lesser product on a lesser budget to mitigate damages before they happen. Lastly, a company manufacturing in a 1st world country just shows the consumer they have faith in a product and are not trying to take a short cut. That is perceived, may not be the case but is usually true.
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