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The Neumann UM 57, from 1957, is one of the very best microphones ever made in the German Democratic Republic.

It is a tube condenser microphone, for studio use, with three different recording characteristics, which are chosen on the external power module.
The element is the famous M7 capsule (with an ultra-thin gold layer on PVC), which had already been used in Neumann's CMV 3A , and the absolute top model U47.

In fact, the M7 has two diaphragms mounted back to back. By switching electronically, this allows the three different recording patterns: directional, when only the front diaphragm is used, omni-directional, when both diaphragms are used, and figure-eight, when the diaphragms are used in phase-reverse.

As a result, the UM57 has more extensive options than the West German U47, which was only adjustable between directional and omni, via a switch on the microphone body. In fact it resembles the system used for the M49, another great microphone, designed for radio by IRT (the West German Institute for Radio Technology) and built by Neumann.

The UM57 is electronically practically identical to the model CMV 563, from the early 1950's, witch uses interchangeable capsules, to achieve the different recording characteristics.
According to Jochem Kühnast, who worked for Neumann in Gefell from 1961 and led the company for many years, the design of the CMV 563 is 100% perfect, the UM57 only 97%..

While the UM57s were fantastic microphones, Gefell had always struggled to find quality materials for some parts, especially the transformer. As a result, not all UM 57s sounded optimal, after replacing the transformer the pure quality became audible again.

Today, Microtech Gefell, as the company has been called since 1991, is producing a re-issue of the CMV 563, with the original M7 capsule, which the company has continued to make all along. The Berlin Neumann branch, now owned by Sennheiser, has not made these capsules for more than sixty years.

A limited edition of 75 copies of the UM 57 was released in 2003: the UM 75 LE, celebrating 75 years since the company's foundation in Berlin.
The UM 75LEs were made using the old technology, but the output transformer was sourced from microphone guru Oliver Archut, who made an improved design of the original transformer (the AMI/TAB-Funkenwerk UM 351). With this (and with a better western EC92 tube) the sound of the UM 57 comes close to the famous Neumann U47.

Today, UM 57s are used in many studios worldwide, especially for female voices and acoustic instruments, which make them sound lush.

Microtech Gefell still provides all services to ensure that these purebred horses continue to perform optimally.

In recent years, the prices of this type have increased enormously, for a well-functioning copy between € 2000 and € 4000 is paid.
With that, such a microphone had become unreachable for me, but coincidentally, I still had a vintage Marshall guitar stack, which I was able to exchange for a UM 57. Now that Corona seems to be over for the time being, I hope I will be able to make some great recordings with it.

During its life, my UM 57 underwent several upgrades, inside (capacitors and resistors) and outside; the original grill and casing were replaced.

Many more types feature in my book Witnesses of Words. More information about that can be found at

wow cover